My husband and I were the first of our friends to take the leap into parenthood. As more of our pals have started having kids, we’ve had a lot of conversations about stuff like registries, disciplining, routines and traditions. A question we get a lot is what to do about the first birthday. Some feel it should be an intimate family affair, while others say that this milestone should be celebrated with a giant bash.

My answer? Go big or go home.

Your child will have many birthdays over the years, but there’s only one first birthday. It’s a big deal. The one-year mark is important to commemorate, truthfully, more for the parents than for the child. This day is the anniversary of one of the most important days of your life and let’s face it: that first year is a doozy! You may have lost touch with the outside world a bit as you got a handle on diapers and sleepless nights. Take this time to focus on socialization, an important process for you and your child. Everyone will be happy to see your little one growing, and it’ll be good for him or her to see the community that may foster your family’s development for years to come.

As far as the child’s role in the event, just make sure that your baby is comfortable. Keep a relaxed schedule with plenty of time for visiting – and don’t schedule the party during nap time! It’s true that your baby won’t be able to remember their first birthday, but that’s what we have cameras for. My mom has a picture of me on my first birthday in a photo album up on the mantle. All these years later, I look at tiny little me surrounded by tiny little friends and decorations and cupcakes. It warms my heart to imagine all those people who cared about me coming together to celebrate the day I was born. I hope that my children will see their birthday pictures and feel that way someday, too.

Don’t let the idea of a big party overwhelm you. It doesn’t have to be stressful. Gather friends and family for a potluck with a simple cake and some balloons. This is your event, so do it your way and have fun!

How did you make your child’s first birthday special?

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