Planning Baby’s First Birthday Party…Or a Wedding?


I still can’t believe I am typing these words…my baby is about to turn ONE! Sometimes I catch myself, realizing that subconsciously there is a part of me that never thought we would make it here. In my new job as mom, my sweet little girl has made me work for it. There were days and nights that seemed endless–some days felt like we would never make it to the next one. We didn’t have any serious health concerns or problems, but to a new mom, everything feels serious and never-ending.

So for that reason, we are THRILLED to celebrate this little life we have been given the privilege to shepherd, and rejoice that life (hers and ours) is easier today than it was six months ago!

But with one month until her birthday, I find myself in a Pinterest-induced anxiety, feeling like I should have started planning her party months ago. I think baby’s first birthday provides the perfect opportunity for this. She isn’t old enough to assert her own opinions into the party, so I get free reign to plan…and compare. It reminds me of wedding planning days, a time in life that if I am honest, I didn’t always handle well. Many of my friends were getting married around me (though thankfully Pinterest did not exist then), so each wedding we attended was a chance to take notes, and figure out how mine could be bigger, prettier, yummier, fancier…on and on the adjectives and vanity go.

first birthday cakeEarlier this year my husband shared an article with me about the lavish first birthday parties in South Korea, and I think it displays what I struggle with internally. South Korea has historically had high infant mortality rates, significantly attributable to starvation. Though this threat is no longer what it was, today fewer people are getting married and more women are focusing on the pursuit of their careers instead of motherhood, thus making children out to be “precious commodities” as the article states. Where first birthday parties used to be huge affairs to celebrate the incredible milestone of literally surviving a year, today South Korean birthdays have become an opportunity for the affluent to show their wealth to the community. What was such a beautiful picture has been marred by vain conceit.

So I’ve decided to make a list to myself, my own “party planning checklist” to keep my focus:

1. Check your motives. What are you hoping to accomplish with the event you are planning? Is your focus to give your little one an enjoyable and fun time? Are you focused on entertaining in such a way your friends feel encouraged and uplifted by their time in your home? Or are you simply hoping they will think you’re hostessing/cooking/baking/decorating/party planning/baby dressing skills are the best ever? Check your motives.

2. Relax. No one likes an uptight hostess, too busy keeping food displays and decor picture perfect. Furthermore, you will feel like a whirlwind of a party happened all around you, with only the negative aspects of the event sticking in your mind.

3. Consider your child’s temperament. I love gathering all my friends together. Guest list a mile long? I love it. But my daughter is a sensitive soul and certainly in a separation anxiety season of life. Will SHE enjoy the party if there are 50 people in our house, or would SHE have a better and less overwhelming time with a smaller group of close friends and family?

4. Celebrate! I recently finished reading Bread & Wine (which I HIGHLY recommend if you have not read it), and from it I was encouraged that my desire to gather with loved ones and celebrate is GOOD! What joy this little person has brought to our family! She is my first – because of her I am mama. I want her to know she is loved and cherished and supported by a close-knit community of people who love her and love her parents. She is loved and is worth being celebrated and adored.

And remember – this isn’t your wedding.

What party-planning tips do you have to share? Did you do a large party for your little’s first birthday or keep it small?


  1. We have always kept it small and family only for our little one’s 1st birthday. There are still plenty of kid cousins to make it fun and less overwhelming for the birthday boy/girl. We also do birthday breakfast – doesn’t take up everyone’s day, it is when our little ones were always freshest and happiest and our families have always enjoyed it. HIGHLY recommend this. We do a big stack of confetti pancakes for their first smash cake πŸ™‚

  2. OH! It makes my heart so very happy to read #4 (and the mention of Bread and Wine). I’m a HUGE advocate of celebrating all things – big and small. Love this post Carly!

  3. Perfect timing for this post! I’m am in the midst of planning my littles first birthday as well, and as a new Mom I have been a been wandering where to start. Slowly but surely a little celebration is coming together and I think all parties will be pleased.


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