A guide to kids birthdays, the first five years

Birthdays can be a wild and pressure-filled mine field for moms. In the world of Pinterest, overdone thematic décor and overpowering social pressures to feel like you’re “giving the best,” here are my thoughts on the birthday party scene.

Birthday parties, the first five years

The Birth Day

The actual day the baby is born is Mom’s Day, with a little partner love thrown in.

Assuming no medical emergencies have arisen during birth, this is a perfect time to relax, enjoy your new family, and turn off your phone.

Other than a quick family email, social status and necessary text, feel free to shut out the world. If you care to, a little toast to your new status as “parent” is not out of line.

1st Birthday

This one’s all about the parents surviving the 1st year. Your kid has ZERO clue, no expectations and doesn’t know whatever the latest mass market trend is. Relish that.

Celebrate yourself! Invite your friends, get some adult beverages, raise a glass. Kids should be welcome, but your kid won’t know or care much, so don’t worry about making it themed or anything more than you can handle.

A small smash cake (cupcakes are perfect) for baby’s photo op is all you really need.

Gifts? Mom and Dad would probably love a massage and a night out. hint hint.

2nd Birthday

By now, baby is a toddler and much more aware of the world. They may not understand what the birthday party is all about, but they are much more involved.

However, they are still young enough that you can make this more about the adults and themeless.

One of the more inspired 2-year-old birthday parties we attended was at a local brewery taproom. All ages welcome, the parents brought some balloons and games for all ages to enjoy and ordered in pizza and falafel from a local establishment, while adults could order anything they wished from the bar.

With plenty of space to spread out, there were more than 50 friends attending this super low-key, low-cost afternoon and it required minimal planning, management, or cleanup on the part of the parents.

3rd Birthday

By now, your child probably has some preschool or playtime friends and a little bit of a social network that extends beyond the parents circle. A small birthday party with 3 or 4 friends is appropriate to plan.

Remember that the parents will be there too, so offer kid friendly snacks like veggies, goldfish, cheese sticks and juice, as well as adult appropriate snack and beverages.

Keep it small. A party at home or in a small local playroom, church or similar space offers plenty of opportunity for kids to have fun and parents to relax.

If your kid’s birthday falls during winter months, you may want to consider a local field house or other space that lets the guest run and run and run. The other parents will love you for your thoughtfulness and sing your praises as the little tykes zonk out at bedtime.

4th birthday

Ignore it. It’s your last chance for a quiet year until the teenage years begin.

5th Birthday

By now, your little buddy probably has an entire closet full of themed costumes and toys. It’s time for the Star Wars/ Princess/ Robot/ Tank Dress event.

Rent a room, hire the balloon princess, get the band, blow it out as little or as much as you want. But remember, at the end of the day, the kids won’t remember if you gave them good cookies or great swag bags.

They will talk about the random puppy that crashed through the picnic, knocked over little susie, licked up Jackie’s face and ate up all the hot dogs.

Take a deep breath and accept your fate. No matter what you do for the rest of your life, a puppy will always trump your efforts.

Happy birthday, mom and dad. Love ya – mean it!!

birthdays planning guide

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Showing 6 comments
  • Reply

    Great guide and you are so right about the 1st birthday being about parents’ victory over the first year :D!

  • Kate
    Reply

    I love year 4! Ignore it. Hilarious. Birthdays are totally a mine field for moms. Luckily I hardly ever go on Pinterest, let along attempt to make something actually Pinterest worthy. Why do we put so much wild pressure on ourselves? I love having birthday parties at our house, with the same number of children invited as is our child’s age. So this year it will be 8 kids and 6 kids coming over to the house for a little lunch, cake, and pass the parcel. Keep it simple.

  • Hanka
    Reply

    Haha, year 4 made my day! 😀
    I´ve recently written a blog post on how to throw a birthday party in Switzerland, maybe you´d like to check it ;)http://www.adinajustina.com/domains/adinajustina.com/en/2017/02/kids-birthday-party-guide20/

  • Tamara Gerber
    Reply

    Oh my goodness, looks like I have been doing this birthday thing all wrong 😉

    I consider birthday parties an excuse to go all the way, putting my creative ideas out there! Disney Cars, World trip, LEGO, Minecraft – there are only so many years to do it!

  • Claire
    Reply

    Ha ha ha – definitely. Although I think we’re running a year behind, thank goodness. And probably only applicable for your first child. My 2yo is wise to it already and demands candles everytime there is cake now 😉

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