Setting the birthday bar

I recently heard that an acquaintance of mine, whose daughter is 7 and a half months old like Kostyn, is already planning the child’s first birthday party. And when I say “planning,” I don’t mean “talking about what flavor cake to make for the baby to dive into,” I mean perusing invitation styles, ordering favors and personalized decorations, and renting a bouncy castle.
This I find unsettling. While I admire her enthusiasm (and, let’s face it, her bank account), I cannot in good conscience spend that kind of time, energy and money on a 1-year-old’s birthday party. Parties for kids that age are basically not for the kid, they’re for the parents. The child doesn’t even really know that particular day is any different from the one before. I mean, they might get clued in to the fact that there’s something pretty important going on here, what with all the pointy hats and presents, but at 1 year old, aren’t kids still just as interested in the wrapping paper as the gift itself?
So spending $300 on a bouncy castle (total guess there on the cost, as I have not personally priced them out) seems ridiculous when chances are all the child will want to do is lick the castle floor and gnaw on the tethered ropes. And if she does happen to love the actual “bouncy” part, she’ll never in a million years remember that’s what she did on her first birthday.
Plus, when we get bouncy castles for our 1-year-olds, aren’t we setting the birthday bar a little high right out of the gate? Do we want to be renting ponies when they turn 4? A night in Cinderella’s castle at Disney World when they hit the big 1-Oh?
I say stick with tradition: Give the kid a cake and let the cameras roll. Besides, as hard as I try, I can’t think of a better first birthday present than the taste of chocolate for the first time.

(Here's me, at my own 1st birthday party. No bouncy castle, just cake, ice cream, and a gigantic spoon. Is it just me, or were birthday party hats a lot taller back then? This one looks suspiciously like a dunce cap....)

10 comments:

Kim said...

Yeah, I think that's a bit much. But the grand 1st b-day parties are pretty common up here, especially with Greek and Italian families. My Greek friend had a wedding-like Baptism party for her son. It was in a big, beautiful reception hall. There were about 150 people, and there was a clown making balloon animals for the kids. A DJ for the parents.

My Italian friend's party for her daughter's first b-day was similar, but a bit more casual. I think it's just a cultural thing.

We had Nicky's at a park with a cake and subs. And the guest list was considerably shortened for the second b-day. Why deal with all that until they have all their school friends, etc.?

Heather said...

By the look on baby Robyn's face, I think you have maintained this stance on birthday parties for 1-year-olds. You look so bored here! HA!

julia said...

i completely agree! !! !!! :)
antonio's 1st bday will be just family and by coincidence will be at the beach. i'm making his cake, and there will be a piñata (can't not have a piñata when you're married to a mexican). i think getting to spend his 1st birthday with his abuelos, tíos, tías, and 9 cousins is the best gift i can think of.

Tara said...

I agree, too!!!!!!!! :) I'm glad you decided to blog about this, as I also find it absurd.

ZFooFoo said...

Several years ago preschools and elem. schools stared instituting policies that said invitations could not be dispersed on site unless the entire class was invited. Instead of just mailing a handful of envelopes parents started inviting the whole class. In some private schools parties include the entire grade because, "My son has friends from previous years in the other classes and so we have to invite all of them as well." So no, not a pony for his fourth, but at least three to handle the load.

Robyn said...

Heather - I know, isn't it funny? You know me, always the life of the party... HA!

Carol said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment... but then you've got me thinking about Noah's first. I'm sure we'll invite our siblings and their ten kids (N's cousins) ages 4-12 for a casual backyard BBQ. A bouncy castle almost seems like a small price to pay to keep the other 10 out of the rafters for a couple of hours. Egads, I need a plan. Good thing we have FOUR months!

Carol said...

Oh, and who is that on your awesome cake?

Robyn said...

My guess is Minnie Mouse, but it looks sort of like a generic version, doesn't it?

Stacey M said...

I'm glad you found that all as ridiculous as I did. For a split second, I felt like a bad mom for not having started to plan. I'm with you, family and cake is all we need for Ri's 1st.