One and done: reflections on my kid’s 1st birthday party


The drool has been mopped up, the plastic balls have been rescued from under the couch and my heart rate has dropped back down to two figures. So now, 24 hours on from the event itself, I’m able to look back at my son’s 1st birthday party and evaluate some of the elements we got right and the things we did wrong. Want to hear them? Don’t be like that. You never know, you might learn something.

Absolutely nailed it

The location

We held the bubster’s birthday bash at my wife’s parents’ home. This was an inspired choice for a number of reasons. First, our son has spent a lot of time there, so felt comfortable with the venue. Second, it has a dishwasher he’s familiar with and, right now, showing him a dishwasher is really good way of stopping a ‘too many strangers in my face’ crying fit. Third, we didn’t have pay for the venue or clear up.

The cake

£13 for a personalised creamy beast that easily feeds 80 people?! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. God bless Costco.

The outfit

Initially, we were all over the idea of dressing him up in a pimpin’ three-piece suit. But the more we thought about it, the more we realised a) kids’ three-piece suits are incredibly expensive, b) he was only going to wear the outfit once, c) he’s not Floyd Mayweather Jr and d) the chances of him pooping all over whatever he wore were around 50/50. Thus my wife came up with a brilliant new idea. Namely: the personalised T-shirt pictured below paired with some smart trousers and funky braces. FYI: we got the T-shirt on Etsy.


The party bags

Stop the bus. You’re telling me that social convention states that you have to reward children for coming to a party that you’ve thrown and catered? Yes, that is indeed what I am telling you. Lots of parents agonise over the contents of these 1st birthday party bags for hours. And lots more get all health conscious and stuff it full of fruit (booooo-rrrrrring). We simply won over the kids with gummy sweets and the parents with a load of books.

The entertainment

Did we have a bouncy castle, a mini-horse, a children’s entertainer or a soft play world? No, we did not. But we had balls. Lots and lots of balls. These balls were chucked in two ball pits that had been purchased for hardly any cash at Argos. And these ball pits were shoved in the middle of my in-laws’ lounge. If you were being harsh, you’d say they looked a bit cheap. But cheap-looking or not, they prompted smiles, arms waves and body splashes from everyone aged six or under.

Could do better

My speech

The main issue with my speech was the fact I compared my wife to Hitler and dropped my kid in the cake. Happily, that is a joke. The real issue was I didn’t make one. Looking back, at the very least, my wife or I should have shared a couple of anecdotes from my son’s first year, heaped praise on the hosts and thanked everyone for making a big effort to get to London on a Sunday lunchtime.

The start time

We kicked things off at 12pm on a Sunday, because we worked out that was the time that suited the little one’s routine the best. What we didn’t work out, however, was that a lot of the shops we needed to visit at the last minute only opened at 11am on a Sunday. Moral of the story? If you want to avoid a stress headache and stinging chest pains, schedule your pride and joy’s 1st birthday party to begin at least three hours after the shops have opened.

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