She's turning one, how do we celebrate?
July 7, 2013 8:50 PM   Subscribe

My baby girl is turning one in a couple of months and her father is adamant that he doesn't want to throw her a party. What are some other way special ways we can celebrate?

The man of the house hates parties and doesn't see the point in throwing one for a little girl who won't remember it. I have an empty page in the baby book marked 'First Birthday' and don't want to tell my daughter it stayed that way because we didn't bother to commemorate her birth.

I'm looking for something our little family of three can do that will be fun for everyone, satisfy my need to mark the event and could potentially become a tradition. Our extended family all lives overseas and interstate so we can please ourselves. So far my ideas are limited to giving her cake for the first time and getting in a photo booth for a squashed family portrait. I will also write her a long letter. She is the light of our lives and I really want to spend the day making her laugh and thanking our lucky stars. Can you help?
posted by Wantok to Human Relations (31 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Can you go somewhere interesting and fun? Maybe the zoo, or to a park where you can play, or somewhere for a picnic? Take some video, and maybe you could repeat this each year and show how your daughter grows throughout the years?
posted by xingcat at 8:53 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I think finding something special to do as a family that day sounds lovely -- a zoo, a special park, whatever works for your family. My kid at that age had a blast just going someplace where he could explore with fewer boundaries than normal -- park, arboretum, etc. Take a picnic, take lots of pictures and enjoy each others' company.
posted by linettasky at 9:02 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is she in daycare or anything like that? My boss's baby just turned 1 and she brought cupcakes to daycare.
posted by radioamy at 9:03 PM on July 7, 2013

Best answer: My partner said, "Throw her into a mud pit." I'm going to interpret that as "Do something messy and fun that she would love but you probably wouldn't want to do very often, but will yield lots of memorable and cute pictures for the baby book."

I think a trip to the park or zoo, or beach, or anything that could be a fun exploratory trip for her and something that feels special enough for you. Of course there's going to be pictures!

I really like the idea of a starting a simple family focused cake thing. I wish we had a tradition like that when I was a kid. Of course 2 is when it really sticks.
posted by kendrak at 9:05 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Read her a book.
posted by jchaw at 9:11 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Until I got "old enough" for parties, we did cake at home. For my first birthday, I basically clothed myself in the cake. That's what first birthdays are for, aren't they?

Alternately, you could do something for charity, which will make a nice tradition, especially when she gets older.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

I never cared for throwing parties. For my son's birthday, every year since he was about 4, I would take him to a local hibachi place - you know, where they cook right in front of you, and make the onion volcanoes and do all sorts of tricks with the spatula.

He turned 18 this year, and told me those were some of his favorite childhood memories.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [7 favorites]

For my daughter's first birthday, we had a brunch at our house and invited all those close friends who had supported us and been enthusiastic about the birth of our first child. It was our way of saying "thanks." And we also did a time capsule thing -- a single box where I was keeping mementos of her baby stuff and asked for anyone who wanted to contribute to please feel free. We got some very cute, funny stuff for the box.

That being said, she was totally overwhelmed by all the people in our small house and would not take one bite of her cake. So, I never did get the cake-smeared-baby pic that I wanted. Ah well. For ages 2-5, it'll all be small gatherings of family. I think 5 years old is a good age for a "real" birthday party where they might even remember it. They'll have certain friends they want to invite, etc..

So, this absolutely was a party but it was more of a gathering of friends than a birthday party. I can see your partner's reluctance since it will be "meaningless" to the child but maybe it is meaningful to you?
posted by amanda at 9:35 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pick a doorframe (or similar) and start marking her birthday height.

Buy a hand casting kit and take her handprint? When she's older, you can switch to tracing her hand on construction paper.

Visit a local zoo, botanical garden, or aquarium.

Buy a stuffed animal that's roughly her one year old size, and take a picture of them together every year.

Maybe try a baby swim session?
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:37 PM on July 7, 2013 [14 favorites]

Best answer: We made a small cake and put it in front of her and videotaped her going at it face first. (We took off everything but her diaper first!). I still love to watch that video, and she and her dad do, too.

We were going to have an official party for her with family and friends two days later, but all three of us caught a bug and we cancelled it, so the cake video is what we have. We also took her to a music event earlier in the day, and she got to strum a banjo. Just sort of a quiet day celebrating her. I hope you enjoy your day with your daughter very much, and congratulations!
posted by onlyconnect at 9:44 PM on July 7, 2013

Best answer: Plant a tree. Have her help dig. Watch it grow as she grows. It will be "her tree". Give her Carvel ice cream cake afterwards. She will have a great day digging in the dirt and eating ice cream and will always look out into the yard at her tree.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:49 PM on July 7, 2013 [23 favorites]

What aspect of parties does the man of the house "hate"? Maybe there are some aspects of parties / get-togethers that he likes and you can then create one that is OK for him (and you can also remind him that this is for his daughter, not for him).
posted by Dansaman at 10:09 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: You seem to resent the fact her father is against the party a little. Not having a big party doesn't mean the baby book stays blank for that day, and that you 'didn't bother to commemorate it,' ... it just means that you chose to commemorate it in a way that wasn't a big party.

There are plenty of ways to commemorate a first birthday, just the three of you, that will make it memorable and such, without having a big party. A small petting zoo is a great idea, followed by a picnic, or taking her to a park with one of those swings you can get in together, or taking her to the baby pool area of a local pool, or the beach.

You could even have her 'help' with making the cake, and have it filmed, while she gets her fingers dirty, playing with dough and things like that.

I kinda view first birthdays as a family thing -- a way to document this moment in time, surrounded by family and dearest friends who love you and your baby. Given your family is interstate and overseas, I suppose I don't see the point very much either of having a big first birthday party, given they won't be able to be there.

Both my nephew's first birthdays were the standard parties. We don't have much in the way of extended family, so they were FULL of acquaintances and people we barely knew, and it mostly felt more like a party for my SIL, than a get together of people who genuinely cared about her and the baby. It was mostly a bunch of strangers pretending to be into someone else's baby, who didn't particularly want to be there all that much, and who reluctantly gifted hundreds of plushies he didn't really want or need and ignored to play in a cardboard box. When I asked her why she invited all these people, she said, "it's the thing you're supposed to do."

I think this doesn't make the party memorable, if anything, it makes it even less memorable. When my nephews look back at the pictures and ask 'who's that?' my SIL will say things like, "that's the lady from daycare I met a few times."

I mean, in that way, the way you're celebrating her birthday is much more beautiful, meaningful and memorable.
posted by Dimes at 10:09 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: When Tiny Benson turned one, we had a little party, but it really felt like it was more for us and for our morale as parents than it was for her. We needed it at the time, but I totally respect if that's not what your family wants to do.

One thing my friends and family did at the party, though, was lay out a dollar bill, a shot glass, and a rosary on the high chair tray in front of Tiny (I can't remember now if this was before cake or after cake). It's an old Catholic family tradition and they told us the one that she picked now would be the career direction she followed in life - dollar bill = career of money, shot glass = career of adventure/fun, rosary = spiritual/contemplative/altruistic career. My family snapped pictures as she reached out and...

...grabbed the money! This, I hope, bodes well for my future retirement.

Maybe something like that, videoed and photo-documented, could be a memento from the occasion.

(Congrats, btw, on making it though the first year! Fun times ahead with a fully 1-year-old!)
posted by elmer benson at 10:11 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

The man of the house hates parties and doesn't see the point in throwing one for a little girl who won't remember it. I have an empty page in the baby book marked 'First Birthday' and don't want to tell my daughter it stayed that way because we didn't bother to commemorate her birth.

I'm going to a baby's first birthday in a couple of weeks for my friend's daughter. She might not remember it, but there will be picture taking and video-ing of the event. And I'm looking forward to it.

There are pictures of me as a baby having a birthday that I don't remember being at, but these pictures are important to me.
posted by discopolo at 10:13 PM on July 7, 2013

Does your husband have social anxiety or something? It's actually pretty important to have get togethers for babies just to bond with other parents and their kids. It's very beneficial for your kid and family unit not to isolate yourself or avoid celebrations just because she won't remember it.
posted by discopolo at 10:17 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

My parents had a tradition that both my brother and I had a large candle with our names on them, and they got lit during dinner on our birthdays each year. They would say a prayer for us when they lit them, but if you aren't religious that could be substituted with e.g. saying something you are grateful for about the child. Every year the candle got a little smaller, but it was kind of cool that it was the exact same candle we had had since birth, right up to our teens. And it was a nice ritual.
posted by lollusc at 11:13 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Our daughter got a real cake.

In the morning, a few neighbor kids came for an hour to eat some of the cake, and then our daughter had an exhausted hour of sleep, so: the man in the house might be on to something there, we should have skipped the "party".

In the afternoon we took a walk in a park that we hadn't explored earlier, and later the grandparents came for tea. They brought a huge Panda.

The Panda still proudly resides on a shelf in my daughter's bedroom. She's 24 now. Other than that, I'm having nice memories of that day. It's those two things that you should aim for...something lasting for her, and a good day for you guys.
posted by Namlit at 1:27 AM on July 8, 2013

Get her a cupcake at lunchtime, take pictures in a photo booth that afternoon, then get her a babysitter and go out for a date with your husband to celebrate that the two of you made it a whole year of having a kid together.
posted by jacalata at 2:54 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

The party for a 1 year old is not for the kid. It's for the parents, because you made it a year without breaking the kid or each other.

Parties start to be about the kid when the kid is like 5 or so. We had a simple get-together with pizza, cake and a few of our friends for the first year, then did cake at home for the next two, and now that our little guy is 4 we let him pick whatever he wanted for dinner (he picked pasta and broccoli), then took him out to have it at a nearby restaurant. When he is 5 we might do a bigger party and invite some of his day care friends.

First three years we took him to the zoo. His party was not on his birthday, but the zoo trip was. We took the day off work to do this. It was great to watch him toddle around the place, until he crashed in his stroller.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:16 AM on July 8, 2013

I probably wouldn't throw a big, official party for a one-year-old either, but it might be nice to invite a ew family members over for a special birthday dinner. Maybe just grandparents if they're local?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:01 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you make her a cake, and the two of you sing her the song, and you take some (hopefully smiling, frosting-smeared) pictures... that IS a birthday party! And the baby book wouldn't be empty.
posted by tomboko at 6:39 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

We didn't have a party for our 1 year old - WE HAD A PARTY FOR US SURVIVING THE FIRST YEAR. We invited friends over and enjoyed drinks in celebration. Kiddo had his obligatory smash cake with pictures and singing and then went to bed. It was the best of both worlds.
posted by Leezie at 6:42 AM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]

Your one year old will not remember the party and also will not care about it. What you organize that day will be for you and all the others who are old enough to 'understand'.

Your one year old will appreciate very much that she has happy well rested parents. So, please plan something for that day that you three enjoy doing as a family. Is it a hike or a short walk somewhere? A brunch in a restaurant you like? A visit to the zoo? Getting together with friends? A day at the beach? Will spending time with your husbands family and/or your family stress you out or will it be more fun?

Do something both you and your husband like doing together and make it a special birthday event. Get some cake or ice cream and feed it to your little girl? Or some junk food (if you both will enjoy it).

A seperate question to address is that both you and your husband want different things. This isn't the first and last time. How will both of you cope with this in the future?
posted by jazh at 6:49 AM on July 8, 2013

First birthday parties are usually for the extended family.

You invite the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins over and feed them. Sure, there may be some kids there, but it's mostly a family party.

FWIW, I turned 1 right after the Kennedy assassination. So I didn't have much of a first birthday party.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:02 AM on July 8, 2013

One family I know owns a big white armchair. Every year, on the kids' birthday, the parents take a professional portrait photo of the kid sitting in the big white armchair. Now that they have been doing this for a dozen or so years, it's pretty darned adorable to look at all the photos and see the progress.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:49 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you have other family or close friends in the area? Yes, do something with the baby, her father and yourself, but if you want to have a picnic or a casual lunch with other people, a cake and party hats--why not? I don't think one person gets to make the rules. Sure, your daughter won't remember, but you will.
You can start your own traditions as a family, but there's no law that says you have to do one thing only.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:41 AM on July 8, 2013

My daughter loves the pictures from her first birthday. So, while she may not specifically remember the day itself, she does know the photos well and what they signify. It doesn't sound like you're interested in negotiating that with your husband, but it's at least a counterpoint if you did. Children are fascinated by representations of the linear progression of their lives.

I nth picking a handful of things you'd really like to do and go with the top three, at least. Even if it's meaningless to him, it's meaningful to you, and your experience of her milestones is at least as important as his non-experience of them. While somewhat less important than her own experience, you have a right to fulfill those heartfelt desires of honouring the anniversary of meeting her, even the ones before she's able to demand a pony and her entire class in attendance.

If it were me, I'd let her do a smash cake, serve food based on her current favourites (so I could make a mushy version for her, too), do something amazingly fun that respects her current interests (we wanted to do zoo, but settled with dancing while blowing bubbles), and make absolutely certain to get at least one really good, festive photo.
posted by batmonkey at 11:49 AM on July 8, 2013

Best answer: Plant a tree. Have her help dig. Watch it grow as she grows. It will be "her tree".

And take photos of her standing next to the tree she just help plant. Then take a photo of her with her tree each year.
posted by blueberry at 7:33 PM on July 8, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you for all your answers - I'm definitely going to plant a tree (in a pot for now - we're renting) and take her photo next to it. We've been taking a photo of her in a nappy and sitting on my bed as she hits each month and I love looking at how much she's grown in them. I think we'll go to the zoo for a picnic as well.

I've also talked to my mothers group and we've decided to hold a joint first birthday/parental drinking afternoon in a private room at a local restaurant which I think will be a lot of fun for adults and babies.

As for any issues with my partner regarding this, really there isn't any. He's just an introvert who doesn't want and wouldn't enjoy a party; I'm a happy-to-compromise girlfriend who'd rather find something we'd all enjoy.
posted by Wantok at 8:50 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Put up a 1 x 2 board to mark her height. I sold my house when my son was 20, and the markings on the door frame stayed behind. Not a tragedy - the fun is in doing it and seeing the growth, but it was sad to leave it.
posted by theora55 at 9:17 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

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