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Celebrating A First Birthday Or Mom And Dad Surviving The First Year?

I have a 9 month old daughter who will be turning one in August. I really want to throw her a huge first birthday party, but not one of those “everyone sit around and stare at the baby” 1st birthday parties.  Instead I want throw a barbecue for all of our friends and family where copious amounts of burgers, hot dogs, cornhole, and beer will be the main stars of the show.  Of course we’d have a few other babies in attendance, do a little cake for my daughter, and put up some cute decorations.  My husband thinks we should do something tiny with just grandparents.  I’m not against that for future years but let’s face it….1st birthdays are really for the parents and I think this is a great excuse to get all our friends together and have a blast (and celebrate that we made it through the first year despite quite a few unexpected medical issues with our daughter).  The problem is, how do we specify that if people want to bring a gift for my daughter they can, but there’s absolutely no obligation to since this will be more of an adult bash anyway? 0529-14

You invite your guests to a BBQ Bash with no mention of it being a birthday party, that’s how you “specify” to guests that gifts are not necessary.  Given that the celebration of the baby’s birth is really a secondary reason for having this adult oriented shindig, a low key approach with the invitations seems quite apropos.   You can still do the birthday cake during the dessert portion of your festivities so there is little hoopla and guests won’t feel like they have somehow goofed by not bringing a gift.

But my questions are these…do you intend to host future huge parties on the occasions of your daughter’s birthdays and significant life events to celebrate her parents surviving the Terrible Twos, the hormonal teen years, drivers’ education, 12 years of education, etc.?   I’m not sure it’s a great precedent to start off celebrating a child’s first birthday with the idea that the party is more about the adults’ needs than the child’s.    (Psst…in other words, you sound like you want this party to be about you, not your daughter, and if you were really putting your daughter first, you’d probably have a small birthday party more in keeping with what she can handle and save the BBQ Bash for another date.)

{ 124 comments… add one }
  • Shoegal June 5, 2014, 1:15 pm

    My sister had a rather large picnic style 1st birthday party for my niece. She called it a birthday party but also wanted to throw a large, fun party to blow off steam because my niece was a rather nice surprise, her 4th child and at a time she thought she was done having children. She thought the first year was brutal having to revert back to being a full time mommy again. I see nothing wrong with having a large party to celebrate this fact coupled with a birthday cake and party. We all sang to my niece and had cake and it was quite nice but there was plenty to enjoy about the celebration after my niece was put to bed. I think if you put out the invitations in such a way as to say come out and enjoy a party and help us celebrate our daughter’s 1st birthday you’ll get the message across. I see nothing wrong with just saying that gifts aren’t necessary.

  • Sarah June 5, 2014, 1:44 pm

    A note…. 4th of July is coming up. That’s a way better excuse to BBQ than a 1-year-old’s birthday is.

  • Lisa June 5, 2014, 1:54 pm

    The “big” birthday parties were for ages 1, 13, 16, 18. At age one, I was just going to do something small, but the grandparents and great-grandparents on BOTH SIDES insisted! Some chimed “I’m old and it may be the only one I go to!” and others “Its a tradition!”. So for both kids, I conceded. Age 13 was the one where they could invite friends and we usually had something cool. My youngest had a ‘dance party’ and we rented the local place ($50), had food (I ‘catered’), cake (I baked!), and in the side room there was a place where the music was set up and everyone had a great time! We had about 40 boys and girls. I spent a total of about $250. (The party was her gift!). At age 16, she had the choice of what she wanted to do. Her choice was a weekend in Chicago with some friends. I drove her and 3 friends to Chicago for two nights. (Free Hotel due to FF miles) She and her friends brought their own spending money. As a surprise, I booked a dinner cruise for all of us! (LOVE GROUPON!) All total, about $300. All of the “in-between” ages consisted of the child being able to choose where they wanted to go for dinner (the pancake house was the most chosen!) and they got a gift. We always asked the grandparents if they’d like to join us.

    • Stacey Frith-Smith June 5, 2014, 9:57 pm

      I like this! It sounds lovely that you can celebrate on a different scale for different years and still have great fun while not breaking the bank!

  • Cat June 5, 2014, 1:57 pm

    I am in favor of a small gathering for the child’s birthday. I can see god parents, grand parents, siblings, etc. being invited. Nothing to over-whelm a small child.

    Some friends of mine combined a Christmas party for adults with their five year old’s birthday party. He picked up one of his old, dirty trucks and proceeded to “drive it” up and down the dessert, which was his birthday cake. Ick.
    He was bored out of his mind. It was a very awkward party as he was the only child there.
    It was an annual event. That was how his birthday was celebrated in his family. He did not get presents as it was a Christmas party with no mention of his birthday.

    • Anonymous June 6, 2014, 9:48 am

      Poor kid. Hearing that story makes me want to travel back in time and organize a proper birthday party or outing for your friends’ son, even if it was, say, a sledding excursion (free), or games at home followed by cake (I could make that happen for probably around $20 all up, if I was allowed to use stuff I already have). Yes, Christmas birthdays are hard, but every child deserves to feel special on his or her birthday. It might mean that the Christmas-birthday kid (or the middle-of-summer birthday kid) gets a birthday outing instead of a birthday party, but it shouldn’t mean that the event gets ignored entirely.

    • Angel June 6, 2014, 1:25 pm

      Cat that is just awful! Couldn’t imagine having a birthday party for my kid–with the kid being the only kid there! Christmas birthdays can be difficult–but come ON! Even just inviting one or two friends over–really not a big deal and at least he would have kids to play with.

    • NostalgicGal June 6, 2014, 7:44 pm

      School classmate that lived across street, eldest, and had been born on Christmas Day. Relatives would no matter how much the PARENTS asked/begged/pleaded/cajoled/ordered, would give her combined Christmas and Birthday presents. So when she started school, about two weeks before her birthday, they’d let her have a kids only party; we would mostly take over the basement that was semi-finished and she got about 5 hours of mayhem and presents. That way she got something special that was separate from the Holiday. I think this is the way to do it.

      I think those parents are horrid, that they force a small kid to have to hang in an adult holiday party as the only kid around. Cousins, friends, have a few his own age, for awhile, at least. I sorta don’t blame him for running the toy around ‘his’ cake…

      • NostalgicGal June 6, 2014, 7:50 pm

        Adding, when I did end up as the only kid; by the time I was in first grade I could play cards (not very well but, pinochle), monopoly (board game), battleship, and a couple of other board games that were adult enough not to drive others insane; and most of the older ones could find some time to join in a game so I wasn’t left alone. I could or would be sent for nap or bed, even at my aunt’s place (I almost grew up there, it felt like it) I could go into a back bedroom and borrow a bed to sleep on until my parents were ready to go. [social skills, manners, and playing well with others]. I still couldn’t see doing that to a 5 year old, Cat.

        • Anonymous June 8, 2014, 11:05 am

          I know that there are a lot of lessons that kids can learn from their own birthday parties (and also from attending friends’ and family members’ birthday parties, for that matter), but I don’t think that the birthday party should be deliberately set up as a Life Lesson for the child–as in, “we’re having an adult party, and passing it off as your birthday party, in order to teach you how to interact with adults.” There are plenty of lessons to be learned that come up naturally in the course of a birthday party actually geared towards the guest of honour, when that guest of honour is a child–keeping the party on the down low around people who aren’t invited, accepting gifts graciously, even unwanted or duplicate gifts (unlike Eric Cartman from South Park, who threw a fit when Kyle got him an Ants In The Pants Game, because he couldn’t find the requested Red Megaman), being a good sport (winning and losing graciously at games, not pushing and shoving at the Laser Tag arena, etc.), mingling around the party and interacting with EVERYONE, not just your BFF, saying goodbye to everyone, writing thank-you notes for gifts, and so on, and so forth. The fact is, though, a birthday is still a special occasion for the birthday kid, and some part of it should really be ABOUT the birthday kid, within reason. I mean, I’m not saying that the kid should be allowed to go all Birthdayzilla, and be allowed to invite the whole class to Disney World, but a simple request of “I don’t want a family party, I’d prefer a picnic at the beach with my soccer team” (for example) should be honoured, with no complaining or guilt-tripping on the part of the parents.

          • NostalgicGal June 9, 2014, 2:01 pm

            Exactly. Not every event or party I was at was kid oriented; or for me. I was just pointing out that I was taught to behave; learn to play well even if it wasn’t another kid, and in ways others could be more comfortable (pinochle wasn’t that interesting but it *was* a card game) with it. And by same token I could or would be removed from the hustle at a reasonable hour and could sleep without needing tending. It wasn’t my bed but it would do.

            When it was my party, it definitely was more about me; but other than one kiddie party at age six (and being allowed to attend a few of my classmate’s parties if invited per school year… and I was made to write RSVP notes and mail them) it was low key with family.

            The point being, I wasn’t IGNORED and bored out of my skull.

            I so feel for the five year old because it sounded like nobody bothered. He was just THERE and nobody gave him any time or attention; I totally don’t blame him for rolling over his cake. My extended family at least would find some time and attention for me; I couldn’t be the CENTER of attention all the time; and as pointed out, I had to learn some ‘meet them partways’ skills and manners; but. It’s not impossible.

    • Weaver June 9, 2014, 6:08 am

      Cat, the image of that poor 5-year-old running a dirty truck over his cake is one of the saddest I’ve ever had in my mind, and a lesson to all of us who’d put our adult wants above our children’s needs. I don’t have kids yet, but your story really made me think. So, as sad as it is, thank you for sharing it.

  • monkey's mommy June 5, 2014, 2:11 pm

    OP, for my last child’s 1st (he is 3 now so not that long ago), I went all out. 3 tiered 200$ monkey cake, balloons galore, pizza and wings from my favorite parlor, ice cream, the works. It was really all for my happiness, I mean hello he was turning one he won’t remember that, but the difference is that my party was all about my SON. It was HIS birthday, not mine. The pictures will show him face first in the top layer of a monkey cake, surrounded by his family, not mom and dad drinking beer and playing corn hole.

    • Ceru June 12, 2014, 4:00 pm

      I’m unclear on the distinction between “the party was for my happiness” and “the party was about me.” Why was your choice better than OP’s because it appeared less self-indulgent, but was in reality equally self-indulgent?

      Not that self-indulgent is bad at a 1-year-old’s birthday party. Like you said, they don’t remember. My point is that OP isn’t doing anything wrong by having a BBQ on her kid’s birthday, and there’s no reason to get all judgey about it.

  • Cherry June 5, 2014, 2:14 pm

    The thing I focused on in this is the part where OP said about her daughter having medical issues during her first year. Without that info, yes, the OP might sound a touch self-absorbed, but when the factor of her ill baby is counted, I think it changes things.

    The party sounds to me like it’s as much a celebration of OP’s daughter getting through a rocky patch and being in better health, and it could be a way to thank all the friends and family who stood by the family during constant trips to the doctor or hospital, let them vent, helped where they could etc.

    It sounds like it’s been a rather rough year for the OP, and not just in the “sleepless nights, nappies and teething” way that comes free with all babies. Getting through that is a cause for celebration in my book.

    • NostalgicGal June 5, 2014, 10:03 pm

      I mentioned elsewhere about memories and I don’t remember my first certainly…. I was a preemie back in the days were that was still an issue and I was born in a small rural hospital to boot, several hours to any hospital of size (and born in a blizzard). My folks said my first two years were hard, I was sick a LOT and they paid for a long time on the bills I racked up. The pictures I have of the first birthday is me being held up in someone’s lap in front of a round cake with 1 candle on it; my parents and godparents and a supper with a cake dessert I’m told. Two was similar, and I still had to be held up (I didn’t walk until after that). Three was one I had some memory of, just my parents and myself, again a cake for lunch not supper as dessert, and a couple of presents. Four, was at my godparents’ (an aunt, mom’s sister) and we had supper then the cake, and I remember when my older cousin was teasing me about snitching some of that cake and I was verbally fending him off as much as a kid that age could; and they took the picture. A few presents. Fifth was at home with the godparents for supper… sixth, I did get to have a kid party and it got delayed because of the blizzard where everything had to shut down for 4 days… and after that, no party to speak of. We did have the birthday person could have whatever they wanted for supper… so pancakes, waffles, or pizza got to be favorites…. and cake for dessert.

      I can relate to the parents wanting to celebrate, but. They should hold their party for say, the 4th of July and it’s THEIR party. Hold something small for the kidlet on their birthday. I don’t think my folks ever held a ‘hallellulah, our daughter and us survived this roller coaster’ party.

  • Tracy W June 5, 2014, 3:17 pm

    I suggest something low key. My little boy had sailed through several parties before he turned 1, including my parents’ ruby wedding anniversary where he was the centre of attention but he got really overtired at the big one year birthday party we had. I think maybe being around the set up was a bit too much disruption compared to parties where we were all guests.

  • Rosie June 5, 2014, 3:25 pm

    OP, I think it would be fine to have a BBQ with friends to celebrate the birthday. Yes, birthdays are about the birthday girl, but they’re also about the village coming together to celebrate the birthday girl. Particularly as you describe that it’s been a difficult year with medical issues and many friends and family that have been a part of the year, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to celebrate your daughter and the village that helps to raise her.

  • Elizabeth June 5, 2014, 3:39 pm

    Your party should be separate from your daughter’s party.

  • Surianne June 5, 2014, 5:32 pm

    I don’t see a single thing wrong with wanting to throw a big party to celebrate getting through a difficult, scary year with your baby. I hope you have a blast at the party, OP, and I wouldn’t worry too much about gifts — some people will bring them, and that’s fine. If people ask you, you can say no gifts are needed.

  • Stephanie June 5, 2014, 5:46 pm

    As someone who works at a venue that specializes in young kids birthday parties, I have to say that it’s better all around when parents just do what they want. People spend WAY too much money to pay me to “facilitate” a baby party when all the grownups really want to to is hang out and visit and relax. If we can’t get parents to participate, they end up just paying for free play at an expensive indoor park. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hosting parties, but they are way more fun, and worth the price, when each kid has parent(s) who are participating and playing with them. And honestly of all the parties I’ve ever attended, my favorite was for a boy I used to nanny for- they had a barbecue in the courtyard of their apartment building, and everyone came out to have fun and hang out.

  • AnnaJ June 5, 2014, 6:01 pm

    You have a birthday. Your partner has a birthday. Those are the ‘it’s about me’ time, not a birthday party for your daughter. Have a BBQ if you want to blow off steam, but a birthday for a child will automatically result in gifts.

    As someone else asked upthread, doesn’t your husband get a say in this?

  • The Elf June 5, 2014, 6:03 pm

    Honestly, I LOVE the idea of a “we survived a year” BBQ. I’m down with nearly any excuse for a BBQ! Tack a cake on as dessert – or have a pre-party family-only small celebration – and you’re golden. People really close to you will do the math and realize the timing and bring a gift if they are so motivated without feeling like they have to.

  • nk June 5, 2014, 6:26 pm

    It sounds like you want to have a big party for adults, you’re looking for an excuse to have one, and you hit on your daughter’s first birthday and thought, “Sure, that’ll work.” If you want to have a BBQ party, have a BBQ party on some other occasion (4th of July, maybe, or even “just because” some weekend). For your daughter’s 1st birthday, either don’t do anything since she’s too young for a party or have a small gathering of grandparents like your husband wants. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to start a tradition of celebrating your child’s birthday as a “We made it through x years of raising this kid” celebration for you.

  • Allie June 5, 2014, 9:04 pm

    Big, splashy parties for the first birthday are the norm in my husband’s culture, and although I managed to limit it to family for the most part, his family is rather large. I allowed myself to be bullied into it and I have vowed NEVER again. She’ll be two next December and I’m already gearing up for the inevitable battle : )
    My husband’s brother and his wife have the big, splashy party for their boys (age 3 and almost 6 currently) every year and it is sheer torture for everyone, especially the so-called guest-of-honour when they are babies; once they are three and up it starts to get better for them.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith June 5, 2014, 10:13 pm

    I think that parents can absolutely do as they please as long as the needs of their child are attended to. Big party? Great! Small party? Okay! No party until they are older? Also fine! The key is simply this- if the parents are loving and considerate of the needs of their own offspring and use common sense, as the OP seems to have plenty of, they can DO AS THEY PLEASE. It’s not going to bother little Susie that much that her first birthday was one way or the other. (Or her tenth, for that matter.) The key is how the story is told, how she experienced the reality of it and whether (at the end of the day) her community of family and friends has been a positive and balanced shelter from a somewhat chaotic world while she grew. OP, seriously- ditch the guilt, remain a mindful and engaged parent, and have a good time all through the coming years. Your little one will benefit far more from your ease with yourself as you express your own “style” as a parent than any amount of angst over these smaller concerns. If you’re a “granola/ whole foods” mom who stays home (or who is coincidentally a corporate attorney), an introvert who hates crowds or someone who never met a stranger- it doesn’t matter. My point (sorry for being long winded) is that the trappings and trimmings of your daughter’s childhood are much more about your attitude and your mindfulness than they are about the specific ways that you choose to celebrate these milestones. Congratulations!

    • Brit June 6, 2014, 3:12 am

      Then why is the OP not willing to do what her husband pleases?

      She says: “My husband thinks we should do something tiny with just grandparents. I’m not against that for future years but let’s face it….1st birthdays are really for the parents”

      In other words, she wants it her way.

      They need to find a compromise or do both. Overriding how he’d like to celebrate his daughter’s birthday – given she won’t remember it – doesn’t sit well with me at all.

      • Stacey Frith-Smith June 6, 2014, 2:00 pm

        I see your point. In a case like this, however, “both/and” would be an acceptable compromise. A small party tailored to dad’s tastes and preferences and a bar-b-que tailored to mom’s. If their styles are too far apart to compromise and they want a single party then they can alternate years, trade other occasions and preferences, or hammer out a mutually agreeable middle ground. It’s not a “right and wrong” issue. I’m not even sure it’s an etiquette issue, per se- more a matter of taste, personal preference, and the ability to communicate and collaborate with dad and other relatives. Great “en vivo” practice for other issues that will arise as their family grow.

        • Brit June 6, 2014, 3:29 pm

          That’s exactly my point. They could compromise. But nowhere does she show any intention of taking his wishes into account or of saying that they could do both. It’s just ‘he thinks we should do this, but *I* want that’. Etiquette or not, to me that is totally the wrong attitude to her husband and it makes me wonder what kind of party the mom would throw if she’s that dismissive of the father and thinks her kid’s birthday is really for HER.

        • Anonymous June 6, 2014, 3:41 pm

          Also, keep in mind that the “both/and” compromise that the parents hammer out, will only need to be in place until the daughter becomes old enough to express a preference. Right now, she’s only turning one in August, so it’s too early to tell whether she’ll become a “big party with the whole class,” or a “small outing or sleepover with a few friends,” or a “family dinner at a restaurant” kind of kid.

          • Stacey Frith-Smith June 7, 2014, 6:25 pm

            I think it’s a bit harsh to load the mom with guilt for being “dismissive” of the father’s wishes. You might be okay to say she doesn’t appear to emphasize them a great deal but you cannot assert her motives, analyze her character, or accuse her of something that is so tenuously derived from a few paragraphs with any real claim of accuracy. It’s a fair possibility to posit- but hardly the objective truth of the matter.

  • Sans H June 5, 2014, 11:01 pm

    I’m apparently evil, all my kid’s 1st birthdays were huge “we survived the first year!” type parties with our adult friends (with a handful of kids underfoot). Maybe this is what parents with sick/preemie babies do. I know that it was a great time, celebrating his health and survival, and the guest of honor was cuddled non-stop by everyone throughout the whole thing.

    Subsequent parties have been more toned down, appropriate to their ages… but a 1 year old just wants cuddles from everyone willing to spoil them and to smash cake.

  • marbar June 6, 2014, 12:03 am

    Along the line of the admin’s first suggestion, we threw a big party for all of our friends for our twins’ first birthday…we just didn’t tell any of the friends about the birthday part until we brought out the cake at the party. Their birthday is around a major holiday that’s a frequent inspiration for parties in general and for us specifically, so no one thought we were doing anything besides throwing our somewhat-annual holiday shindig.

    And how did our kids feel? They had a blast. But they deal well with large groups of people. Not all children do.

    Look, this isn’t going to be the right approach for everyone. Our kids didn’t really have “friends” their own age — they were NICU vets, so we didn’t put them in large child-care situations for their first year; plus, we were used to throwing regular parties for all of our friends. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves — it was basically a regular party, just with delicious cake and ice cream! (Though we did the “cake smash” with cupcakes a couple of days later, after the party was over, and took pictures.) So, this was a good approach for us. Others would hate it.

    So, OP, I think you’re likely on the right track *for you*, but if you’re going to go with the big party approach, I strongly suggest that you go along with the admin’s suggestion to invite people to a general BBQ party, then spring the “birthday” angle on them after they arrive. You can always give a brief speech pre-cake thanking them all for their help and support during an adventurous year that brought you your wonderful child. (Just keep in mind that you can only pull this off as a surprise *once*!)

  • Brian June 6, 2014, 9:41 am


    • NostalgicGal June 6, 2014, 1:30 pm

      It involves a board or box with a slant to it and a hole in it, and tossing beanbags at it. I’ve seen them sold painted and coordinated in ‘team colors’ and put out at parking lot tailgate parties.

    • The Elf June 6, 2014, 1:37 pm

      That can be taken *soooooo* many ways.

  • Martha June 6, 2014, 12:32 pm

    When my son was little, his birthday was always a big cook out with friends. Some friends had kids, some didn’t, but it was fun for adults and kids. I don’t think it’s wrong for the OP to want to do this, and I don’t think it’s wrong for the dad to want something else. But I do think the 2 of them need to learn to compromise now, before each birthday becomes a tug of war to see who wins.

  • Angela June 6, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Have a big party for friends, and then have a more “official” small thing at grandparents.

  • Miss Raven June 6, 2014, 1:39 pm

    My, but there is a lot of judgment going on in this thread!

    OP is absolutely correct. First birthday parties are for the parents. Whether it’s a large or small party doesn’t change the happy photographs that the child will have to look back on in later years. Some children do really, really well with large groups, and some don’t. I’m assuming the OP knows whether or not her daughter can handle this type of environment and will do what’s right for her.

    My cousin has three children, and their birthday parties have always been large, at-home, BBQ-style affairs with beers for the adults and cornhole in the yard. Everyone, old and young, enjoys themselves, and I have never felt that just because the adults are also catered to, that the birthday child has somehow been neglected.

    What a silly, silly thing to cast judgment over. OP, do what you want. It’s your family and your baby’s birthday and your gosh darned party. Don’t sweat the gift issue.

    • nk June 6, 2014, 5:11 pm

      The problem here is that the OP’s husband does NOT want a large party. Having a party for yourself that your kid won’t remember may not be an etiquette faux pas, but steamrolling over your significant other to do what you want with no consideration for what he wants certainly is boorish behavior. I’m not sure why you’re so shocked that people are judging her for her special snowflake attitude about this; that’s pretty much what this website is for.

  • MM June 6, 2014, 6:04 pm

    wow, a lot of interesting and somewhat odd reactions! I don’t really see how OP is being selfish. I feel like some people are assuming that OP’s party will be her having a great time drinking while the kid is crying in the corner. I think it should go without saying that even if this were an “adult” party, the parents will be tending to the baby. With a new baby, I feel like all gatherings sort of become all about the baby regardless of the “official occasion.” I don’t really see why a party even has to have an official occasion. I’m sorry but the suggestion to have 2 parties seems rather odd to me.

    And Admin, respectfully I take issue with the last part of your response. Nowhere in the post does OP suggest she’s going to make this a precedent that will extend to the teen years. I think she just meant that since newborns aren’t really aware of a party being thrown in her honor, the party can be “more for the adults” who want to play with the child and maybe hang out.

    Someone above mentioned how the baby will feel in the future to see pictures of her 1st birthday being a party for the adults. Maybe she’ll be upset. But maybe she’ll like seeing how life was like when she was baby–seeing the clothes, the hair, the house, whatever. I honestly doubt she’s going to think “I’m so mad this party didn’t have a pinata or a bouncy thing!”

  • Kate June 6, 2014, 10:21 pm

    I agree with you Ruby. It is one thing to celebrate your child’s birth or your wedding, but to throw a huge, elaborate party to celebrate “surviving” the first year as parents or a couple seems ridiculous and overdramatic to me. Kind of like throwing a party because you “survived” getting your teeth pulled or your house remodeled.

    Having a baby or getting married is special, but really only to you and your loved ones. To everyone else, you are just going through life, like everyone else, and it doesn’t make you any more special. There are plenty of other people who have had babies with medical issues, that doesn’t really make it okay in my opinion to take over your child’s birthday and make it all about you.

    And I think that is really the heart of this matter. The OP essentially wants to throw herself a party in honor of . . . herself. That is something we at EHell have always says is rude and bad manners, I don’t think it changes just because her kid had medical issues. It would be an entirely different matter if her friends and family thought she and her husband deserved a special party for surviving baby’s first year.

    Which leads me to another interesting point. Apparently husband doesn’t need/want a party in honor of himself and his wife. Or he thinks they don’t deserve it for “surviving” their child’s first year.

    Also, can’t you just see this becoming a trend? Like the baby shower for EVERY baby (even the sixth) or the gender reveal party or the wedding shower for the couple who have already been married once or been living together for a decade? What a nightmare! Just like our honored Admin suggested, a party for EVERY SINGLE milestone. A shoe-tying celebration party, a first pimple party, a potty training party!

    • Anonymous June 10, 2014, 5:33 am

      One small nitpick about the wedding shower for the couple who have been married once, or the baby shower for any baby other than the first–sometimes, it’s legitimate. Sometimes, marriages end with one partner getting the lion’s share of the assets, and the other one has to start over from scratch. In that case, a second wedding shower would probably be legitimate. Sometimes, people have large gaps between having children, or the children are different genders, or born in different seasons. So, in that case, the car seat/stroller/crib/whatever purchased for Prima (let’s say she’s a girl) might no longer be suitable for Secundus (boy, for the sake of argument), because the safety standards have changed, or it’s simply too well-used to risk on another child. Also, suppose Prima had been gifted with tons of pink clothing, and suppose she’d been born in the summer, while Secundus was born in the winter. Even if the new parents were liberal, and fine with dressing their new son in pink (never mind how said son might feel in a few years about seeing pictures of himself dressed that way), they couldn’t do all hand-me-downs, because Secundus is going to need newborn-sized winter clothing–he can’t wear Prima’s (even if the parents kept it), because it’s all six-month sized, and it’d be swimming on him.

      Also, it’s all well and good to say, “If you can’t afford a wedding, or a child, then don’t have one,” but not every child is planned, and sometimes, people throw showers for their friends as a surprise, or they initiate it, and can’t be easily talked down. As for weddings, that’s sort of the same thing–the bride and groom’s friends and families get involved, and sometimes, the whole thing spins out of control. Who here has seen the episode of How I Met Your Mother, with Lily and Marshall’s wedding, where they start out wanting a small outdoor wedding with just their immediate families, and their “friend group” (Ted, Robin, Barney, and the two of them, for the uninitiated), with acoustic guitar music as the processional, but then, due to various loved ones’ needs and wishes, this gradually morphs into an indoor ceremony with hundreds of guests, and harp music? Well, real life can happen that way sometimes too, and sometimes, dealing with that means deviating from strict etiquette. Can you imagine the backlash if Mr. and Mrs. Hypothetical were to somehow divine that their friends were throwing them a surprise baby shower for Secundus, or if it wasn’t a surprise and they knew about it, and they shut it down with “Etiquette dictates that baby showers are only for the first baby?” Well, etiquette also dictates that you accept gifts graciously, and not doing so could have social repercussions. It’s one thing to say “I followed all the etiquette rules,” but honestly, etiquette isn’t like a mathematical formula that guarantees a correct answer if you follow the formula correctly–that’s why so many people struggle socially, just like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. Many episodes involve Sheldon following “social convention,” and one episode in particular revolves around him coming up with a flow chart for making friends, but even with his rigid adherence to the “rules,” he often gets it wrong–and, for the record, Sheldon’s “friendship” with Barry Kripke doesn’t last beyond that one episode. I’m not saying that this is an excuse to be boorish and rude, but sometimes, it’s okay (and necessary) to deviate from the “script,” as it were.

  • Bri June 7, 2014, 12:18 pm

    Okay, maybe I just come from a low-key family, but, there’s not really that big a difference, that I’m seeing? One has more people and beer, the other has less people and probably beer or at least coffee.

    People will come over, hang around, coo over the baby, chat amongst themselves, then watch the baby get cake, and either go home when baby gets tired or will stay to hang out after baby gets put to bed. Either way. Big parties are different in that you have more people, that’s it. If the baby can’t handle crowds, take that into consideration, but really. Every party my sister and I have ever had has fallen into that same template, with the only differences being who and how many were invited, it isn’t a sin.

  • Jenn50 June 7, 2014, 3:59 pm

    I don’t understand all this judgement around big parties being so overwhelming for babies. It really depends on the child, and the atmosphere. Some babies are already huge extroverts and thrive on activity and attention, some cry over a single stranger making eye contact, and there’s an entire spectrum in between. As long as OP is not putting undue pressure on the child or ignoring her needs and cues, there’s no problem with having a big party. As others have said, when the baby gets tired or overwhelmed, they get put to bed, or taken into a quiet place to settle. And there’s nothing wrong with having the earlier part of the event devoted to baby, and the evening about grown-ups. As long as the parents aren’t ignoring her, or putting demands on her, (pushing her to perform by opening gifts if she’s not enjoying it, etc) why not? While I think some of the previous posters have had unfair treatment and bad experiences as children, there’s an awful lot of projection going on here. Just because you didn’t have big parties, or did and didn’t enjoy them, or only had big parties that were about drunken adults and left you feeling miserable doesn’t mean that’s going to be other’s experiences. As long as the parents keep their priorities in order and make sure baby is happy and cared for, I don’t think we should judge. All three of my kids had different reactions and therefore different parties. My oldest liked to have a few friends over. My middle child liked a big, noisy, chaotic hooplah, and my youngest SEEMS to enjoy the same type of event, but as her mother, I recognize her behaviour as manic and anxious rather than truly happy, so her birthdays are celebrated with family, friends, and cake, but no music, games, decorations or gift opening. I think OP can be trusted to have her child’s best interests similarly at heart. I also think it’s pretty presumptuous to say things like “babies don’t like…” Or “small children don’t remember…” because everyone is different. I certainly do remember parts of my 3rd and 4th birthday parties, including certain activities and gifts.

    As to her husband’s objections, it doesn’t really say how much he objects. Just that he’d prefer a smaller party. Rather than assuming she’s steamrolling over his vehement concerns, it sounds more to me like a compromise, where she gets the event she wants this year, and subsequent parties will be much more HIS style. How is that so awful?

    I do agree that if you don’t want people to bring gifts, either don’t call it a birthday party, or spread the word through a few key people that since little princess is so young, and doesn’t really get it, we won’t be opening gifts at the BBQ, and there’s no need of bringing one. Word of mouth can be a great thing.

  • just4kicks June 8, 2014, 8:07 am

    A bbq is a great idea as everyone is correct, the child won’t remember it anyway. But, when grandparents etc. show up with gifts, won’t the others who didn’t bring a gift be embarrassed? Case in point, my daughter’s last day of school was Friday and she was one of only a few kids who DIDN’T bring a gift for her teacher. She was very embarrassed as was I. It honestly never crossed my mind, which is my fault.
    On that note, my daughter said the teacher received some lovely gifts, one being a bottle of perfume that cost $60.00!! I asked how she knew that, and she said the price tag was left on the bottle….tacky and rude in my opinion. And yes, rude of me to point out since I didn’t send a gift.

    • Anonymous June 10, 2014, 5:39 am

      Off-topic, but since your daughter seems to be “teacher gift” age (which seems to fade out by middle school age), I bet her teacher would appreciate, even more than expensive perfume, a hand-written note, or a picture book made by your daughter (with you helping with the writing if your daughter is very young), about her favourite things about being in that class with that particular teacher. I remember doing that for my kindergarten teacher at the end of the year (with some help/guidance from my mother, and it was a huge hit. My mom also included some gift certificates to Baskin-Robbins (and so, the last page of the book featured a drawing of my teacher getting ice cream with her family), but that’s optional.

      • just4kicks June 12, 2014, 7:14 am

        That is a lovely suggestion! I wish I had thought of it before school ended. My daughter is ten and just left fourth grade. After some thought that last day of school, I sat my daughter down and asked if she was still upset, she said yes. So she and I mentally went back to the first day of school, and she and I went through all the “little” things she had given over the year. Christmas, of course, and once in awhile, she took in an apple for the teacher, made her several of those loom bracelets that were popular this year, and once in awhile flowers from our garden. She seemed to feel better knowing that through the year, she did give her tokens of appreciation.

  • Paige June 8, 2014, 11:18 am

    I am totally on the OP’s side. Have a BBQ, enjoy being an adult, and have the kid a cake. She’s 1, she won’t know the difference. I can’t stand the idea of people throwing giant parties for kids when they will never remember it and only end up flooding the parents with toys and other unnecessary knick-knacks. You can give hubby his small party as well. Why not have both?

  • Denise June 8, 2014, 5:31 pm

    We do big birthdays in our family. It’s not uncommon to have 50+ people at a child’s birthday party. We have fun, the kids have fun (and when they are “done” they are welcome to nap). I see absolutely nothing wrong with going big or going small. It’s your child and your family. Do what works for you.

  • Daphne June 9, 2014, 6:04 pm

    I have to agree with your husband. Not to be mean but really the only people who are probably at all interested in your kids’ b-days are their grandparents. Frankly, I would be annoyed to be invited to what I thought was an adult event and it turned out to be a birthday party for an infant.
    Have the BBQ, it sounds like fun. But I wouldn’t have any mention at all about the child’s birthday.

    • Anonymous June 10, 2014, 7:50 pm

      @Daphne–The barbecue may be “for” an infant, but it’d only be “about” said infant, for the length of his or her attention span. As soon as Kiddo gets tired, and is put to bed, it’s just a normal barbecue again.

  • Enna June 13, 2014, 9:31 am

    Have something nice for close family and firends – then you can go out for a BBQ. A small birthday party for someone is still speccial.

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