By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein
Entry #2 – 1st Birthday Parties
My son, Jake, shared his first birthday party with his first cousin, Jordan, who is 3 days older. Our entire family was there and we were almost finished opening up all the presents when my brother and sister-in-law presented their son with a toddler-sized baby grand piano. I immediately ran into the other room and started bawling hysterically because I had forgotten to get my son a gift. In all the planning of this family Birthday brunch, as well as a playdate party with his friends two days earlier (more on that later), I totally forgot this one minor detail. It didn’t matter that my 1-year-old son had no clue that a present from his mommy and daddy was missing. I was the worst mother ever!
In retrospect, celebrating my first-born’s first birthday made me extremely emotional and the gift incident was just a trigger. Watching my pride and joy reach this milestone was a very big deal and while deep down I knew that Jake wouldn’t really appreciate all the details, I still felt compelled to make this day special and the celebration memorable. The word “planning” doesn’t exactly do justice to the amount of time, effort, stress and energy I put into making Jake’s Birthday weekend perfect.
First Birthday parties run the gamut from elaborate catered affairs costing well over a thousand dollars that include lavish entertainment and activities for the kids to an intimate at-home affair with mommy and daddy singing happy birthday to a child with cupcake smeared all over his face. And both of these options are totally acceptable. I went with something in the middle.
For Jake, I sent out handmade invitations to a Friday afternoon costume party playdate to be held in our Upper East Side apartment. It was an open house so guests were able to come and go over a 3-hour window to coincide with naps, meals, bedtimes, etc. I put out a bunch of toys, crudités, chips, homemade cupcakes and Happy Baby Organic Puffs and took lots of pictures of the children in their adorable costumes. The kids had fun parallel playing with the toys while the parents had fun relaxing and chatting with each other. I sent the moms home with candy apples and the kids home with a “my first Halloween” matted picture frame (the print of each child in costume was sent in the mail along with the thank you note). I figured most 1-year olds wouldn’t truly appreciate a toy favor for more than an hour (although musical instruments and beach toys for summer birthdays definitely go over well with this age group).
Favors by http://www.favor-itfavors.com/caption
Jake had his first cupcake that night after everyone went home, we got the requisite cupcake eating pictures and looked forward to the family party for Jake and his cousin Jordan to be held that Sunday. For that celebration, we used the private dining room of a suburban restaurant; we had balloons and framed pictures of the birthday boys on each table and a sheet cake with the boys’ picture on it. We went back to my brother’s house for playtime, cake and presents (cue mom’s meltdown). Both parties were, in my opinion, huge successes!
For my daughter’s birthday, I did something similar but with some inevitable 2nd-child twists. I planned a breakfast party playdate from 10-12:30 (open house style once again) for Molly’s friends, all of whom happen to be younger siblings of Jake’s friends (who would be in camp during the party). It was literally the first playdate that was planned exclusively for her. Although I love making handmade invitations, to make life easier on myself, I sent an email to the guests with a poem explaining all the details, complete with the line “with no older siblings around to steal all the toys, it’s time for our little ones to make all the noise”.
Muffin platter from Fresh Direct
I ordered some breakfast platters from the very reliable http://www.FreshDirect.com to be delivered that morning, filled in the menu with some yogurt and granola as well as a homemade French toast soufflé and even displayed breakfast baby food jars and “Molly-Pops” on a fabulous http://www.thecupcaketower.com (the tower circles flip over to go from cupcake tower to lollipop tower). And while I’m sure their older siblings got more use out of it initially, I sent each of Molly’s friends home with an adorably personalized and professionally wrapped sip-a-bowl party favor from http://www.favor-itfavors.com. Each bowl even came with a mini-box of cereal – rounding out the breakfast-party theme.
That Sunday, we had Molly’s long awaited baby naming and celebrated her first Birthday with our family and closest friends at our new home in the burbs (Invitations by the slightly addicting http://www.paperlesspost.com). I guess it was inevitable that I’d cry at some point that weekend, and my waterworks display occurred during the baby naming ceremony while I was explaining the significance of Molly’s name. I was fully aware of the fact that I, once again, did not buy Molly a tangible 1st Birthday present. But this time, I was totally okay with that. As was the case for Jake, celebrating this momentous occasion with her family and friends was gift enough for Molly – though that first-ever piece of cake certainly didn’t hurt.