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The Dad’s Guide To Baby’s First Birthday

345653550_174ea0e14f_m Submitted by Danny Grubb, Seattle, WA

I know what you’re thinking: “Can’t we just give them some cake, invite a couple of friends and drink a few beers?” The answer is “NO!” Although your 1 year old’s expectations may not be very high for this day, this is your chance to practice for future birthdays (and enjoy a few beers with friends). There are many things to consider for your baby’s first birthday. Some things about this project will fall squarely on your shoulders while others will be out of your control. In order to keep things simple I’ve managed to boil things down a little.

What To Do With Those Guests?

Guests and Gifting

Lots of people will be invited. People with children, people who you haven’t seen in a while, and people who you’ve seen every day since the birth of the baby. Having a gift registry and giving door prizes is the generally accepted tradition for celebrations of this magnitude. The kids at the party will want something to play with as well.

There may be a couple of scenarios which require different rules to be followed in terms of gifts. Try these on for size, if they fit feel free to use them:

Scenario 1: Your friends and family have been notably absent since the birth of the baby, stood you up at the baby shower, but they still want to come to the birthday party. In this case you’ll want to register for presents. If they still show up at the door with not so much as an IOU, make them go to the store (yes I’m serious). No reason you can’t have a toddler shower during a first birthday party.

Scenario 2: Your friends and family took care of you during the baby shower and have been actively involved with the new addition to the family. For this scenario you may decide that they have done enough. So set a price limit for gifts and treat them to a good party. Friendship goes both ways after all.


The children at the party will want things to do. The teenagers might be fine just having someplace to poke away at their cell phones while the school age children will need more structured activities. You can find many party activity ideas here and here. You’ll have to deal with it anyway, you might as well have a say in picking the games.

Who Are The Gifts For Anyway?

Lets get something straight. These gifts are supposed to be for the parents! Some of your friends and family won’t understand that you need diapers more than you need the latest battery powered plastic contraption that makes 100 unbelievably crappy sounds to entertain your toddler and drive you up the friggin’ wall. Ask for diapers, gift certificates, or even baby sitters so you can get out of the house with your wife for a weekend.

If you’re worried that your baby won’t get anything… don’t be. People will still bring things for the little one, they can’t help themselves.

There Will Be Themes (No Matter What You Do)

Say the word “Decorating” and just watch guys scurry and hide like cockroaches on a linoleum floor. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do here. This aspect of baby parties is completely and utterly out of your control. Just help when you’re asked and don’t complain. After the party you can take your decorating frustrations out on the little cartoon characters all over your walls and furniture – relish it.

Be A Man And Suck It Up!

Some people don’t like birthday parties and others do and there is nothing wrong with that. If you don’t like it just think about the time you worked as a (insert crappy job here) when you were a teenager. Just like then you can make it through this without completely losing your mind. As your kids get older they will love their parties. They will tell their friends at daycare or school about them and list all the presents they got in amazing detail.

The first birthday is your chance to get used to the idea of throwing a party for ages which you haven’t been in a long time. Whether you understand it or not, making it a good day for your kid should be reason enough to suck up whatever prejudices you have and at least try to have a good time.

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