Urgh what a mare!
Most parents have been there no doubt.
First baby and for some inane reason we feel we absolutely must have a party. It doesn’t matter that your kid won’t remember and that they will likely scream the whole time at the sheer overload of it all. Or that they will spend half the time on your boob and the other half asleep, or that half the guests don’t even have kids and don’t know what to do with themselves.
You have a baby and you’ve kept them alive one whole bloody year and you absolutely must throw a 1st birthday party.
I have been to many next level extravagant 1st birthday parties; bouncy castles, full party entertainment and gastro spreads. With my first born’s first birthday I had three fucking parties. THREE!
One was the ‘baby party’ where I invited all the NCT mums and the very few friends I know with kids so my son could celebrate with his ‘baby mates’.
I say ‘Celebrate’, in reality I’m not sure any of the babies even recognised each other despite spending once a week with each other for a year.
Mostly because those weekly NCT mum meets consisted of wandering through parks with the babies in their own prams or in carriers. Or sat in some gastro pub hanging off our boobs feeding whilst we ate posh lunch and took up half the pub to the annoyance of anyone else there.
Babies at one years old literally stare at each other and then turn away, never to make eye contact again. The only interaction being your child snatching the toy out of the other baby’s hand or whacking it in the head and then turning away nonplussed while the other baby cries their eyes out.
Babies don’t play together; they basically play next to each other completely ignoring the other’s presence.
The second party was for our mates. It was basically a “look we have a kid and you guys don’t but we want to show you how fab it is to have a kid. Please have a kid too so we arent alone”.
This party must have been very very strange indeed to my friends. I had never thrown a party before where alcohol wasn’t the most important guest.
What nonsense was this party with no booze where we all ate jelly and ice cream?
I made rainbow jellies. I made like 10 of them and then couldn’t fit them in the fridge. What an absolute faff!
I cannot explain the rationale here. I don’t even think it was rational. It was damn right weird but back then I thought it was totally normal and nobody was rude enough to tell me the truth.
Some of my mates were very baffled. They came with crates of beer and then felt like dirty alchies in the corner whilst we supped on tea.
And that first year we made the collosal mistake of not setting an end time. There is nothing worse than a wailing over tired baby where there is a small group of guests that never want to leave!
We then also had a party with our family (well technically 2 parties, one for each side of the family, oh my goodness we actually had FOUR fucking parties FFS).
But what is it about the 1st birthday that makes us go mumzilla? I don’t think any of us really want to stress ourselves out and spend a fortune but maybe we feel we have to? To show the world we have it together and are acing parenthood?
Anyway, after that 1st birthday debacle I learnt my lesson and kept it simple for a few years. A small gathering of family at the weekend and some kind of trip with just us on the actual day. No mega party prep, no having to tidy up after a stampede of guests.
At age 4 we had a mini party. Four close mates and cousins, parents who get along for a low key affair in the house. Strict 2 hour time slot. Simple food. Paper plates. Easy peasy.
But then came starting school and the real absolute possibility of having to have actual organised affairs with invitations and random kids.
There are very few positive outcomes of a deadly global pandemic but with regards to parties it saved me from the horror. Those summer babies had outdoor picnics with friends but the only saving factor of a birthday a week before Christmas is that nobody wants to come because everyone is busy. What a total result!
But then the pandemic was the new normal and restrictions eased and kids were actually starting to have parties again. Real bloody parties.
And Ravey had a taster for what kind of thing can be on offer and dammit he WANTED IT!
Because of all the lockdown birthdays with no friends or family everyone was making up for it with parties. Classy big time parties.
The year before I threw loads of cushions on the floor and pretended it was ‘the floor is lava’. I don’t think that will cut it any more.Actual real life picture of last years lame attempt at the floor is Lava!
So here I am with 4 weeks to go to the 6th birthday, Debating whether to bite the bullet and do an actual thing or be a meanie and not bother.
It’s tricky because how do you decide who comes when you don’t know any of the parents? Surely it involves actual communication with parents?! With real humans you don’t know! Eeek!
And what do we all do whilst the kids hang? Oh no, a group of parents who don’t know each other, all thrust together with me having to facilitate. No deal.
Then there is the food, and actually giving them something to do, and things are damn expensive.
One thing is for sure, it WILL NOT be in my house. I have learnt this lesson. I will not be making the food or copious amounts of jelly. I will not spend approximately 100 years making sandwiches and then spend the entire time begging everyone to eat, essentially stalking the guests trying to peddle cocktail sausages and cupcakes. And it will be something contained, preferably with limited talking required and a clear start and end time. Maybe even with alcohol involved.
Hats off to all those amazing parents who do host their own parties and do all the catering. Even more so the ones who bake their own cake. I did it twice and personally for me, I just want somebody else to do all the hard work for me, and most importantly, I don’t want to tidy up.
All photos other than one stated are taken from Pixabay free use images