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Tips for a better Birthday Party
by Rebecca Garland

Your little one is turning one, and it’s time for the big first birthday party. Unless you’ve had other children, this is unfamiliar ground fraught with decision, turmoil and some tears. The guest list takes on as much importance as your wedding guest list, and the themes can be overwhelming – Pooh Bear or Baby Einstein? However, when it’s all said and done, the first birthday party is more about a family celebration than stressful planning. Make the day as memorable as possible without driving yourself into a tailspin to get there.

K.I.S.S.
Yes, you should kiss the birthday child as many times you’d like, but really this K.I.S.S. is something far, well, simpler. K.I.S.S stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” A first birthday is a huge milestone, but not one that needs to be celebrated with a huge amount of fanfare and accompanying guest list. Your baby certainly won’t care if you have five guests or five hundred.

Keep your party intimate and simple.

Guests should be the people who care the most about your child and ones that are hopefully familiar to him. Overwhelming the guest of honor on his big day is poorly done. Besides, a large celebration means you’ll be too busy seeing to the needs of your guests to enjoy watching your son take it all in.

Serve Cake Last
When you go to serve cake, the highlight of the party, always save it for the end of the celebration. The reason is quite simple if you think about it. Cake, especially icing, is unbelievably messy and once it’s in your baby’s hair and on his clothing, you’ll have to rinse him off from head to toe before proceeding with the party.

This means you’ll get great pictures of him squishing cake in his ears, but every other picture from the party will have a baby in a diaper rather than his adorable birthday outfit. Even if you redress him, you might be taking pictures of icing-gelled hair. Cute, but probably not the style you’re going for.

Get Help with Presents
Opening presents at a baby’s party is fun, but most one-year-olds are unenthusiastic about the whole thing – until they see the new toys. Guests want to see the child enjoy their gift, but they don’t want to wait for ten minutes while Junior toys with the ribbon as you coax him to open the package himself.

So, the fastest, yet most charming, way to get the gifts open to where your baby and other guests can admire them is to elicit help from older children at the party. Every child loves to open presents, so let Big Sister take a turn with baby’s cousins opening the packages and showing off what’s inside. Open one at time so your baby can focus on the contents, and appreciate them properly in front of the giver, but get through the pile quickly before your little one loses interest.

K.I.S.S. Again
This time, you should Keep it Short, Stupid. As your child grows, you’ll notice that preschool birthday parties are almost always less than two hours. A one-year-old can enjoy a party for considerably less time than that, even. A good idea, since you only have a small crowd anyway, would be to have the birthday potion of the party first, and then serve your guests some dinner or allow time for visiting and snacks after the festivities are over instead of before you begin. This way you’re not facing melt-down in the middle of the party, but after the fact if your little one starts to get worn out.

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