"Why I didn't give my daughter a first birthday party."

Save up the effort for when they can actually remember it.

The day was glistening. One of those Sydney spring dazzlers.

There were sparkling glasses of champagne on trays, elegant little chicken sandwiches and the thuck-thuck of stilettos tottering around asphalt.

But it was the waiters’ crisp white jackets that stuck with me. And in particular, the crusting of the Peppa Pig birthday cake upon the sleeves of nearly every single one of them as they attempted to hand out wedges of cake to the crowd of 80 or so adults and children.

I’m not sure I had ever been to a daytime event as totally overwhelming for its indulgence. Or as totally mind blowing for its noise.

This wasn’t a Melbourne Cup luncheon or a charity function.

It was a first birthday party for a neighbourhood child.

Not a celebrity kid mind you – we’ve become accustomed to hearing tales of blows outs on festival-styled occasions like North West’s Kidchella party earlier this year.

Somehow over the past five years, first birthday parties have reached the same status as the 18th, 21st, 40th and 50th birthdays.

Our kid-centric culture has seen us craving only the best, only the biggest, only the most talked about to please our little darlings.

But what a lot of us seem to be forgetting amidst the glow sticks and face paint is the fact that first birthday parties aren’t actually about the kid.

They are about the mum.

Your average one-year-old would be blown away by a chocolate crackle and some brightly coloured wrapping paper to rip to shreds.

Shauna's son on his first birthday party. Complete with two cakes.

They don’t need baby animal farms, jumping castles (junior can barely walk remember) or hot and cold hors d’oeuvres.

The thing that a lot of us forget is that your precious one-year-old isn’t actually going to remember a shred of it anyway.

There is nothing wrong with wanting our child’s birthday to be special. I am just now firmly of the belief that if you find the whole thing too hard, too expensive or too complicated then don’t do it.

Don’t feel the pressure.

I was guilty of it with my first. His first birthday party was weeks of planning. It featured matching colour coordinated helium balloons, printed invitations to family, friends and every single person I knew with a similar aged child (so he would have someone to play with, of course).

And two cakes.

Yes, two.

(Go on, you can call me a tosser. I can accept that now.)

The first was a carrot cake made from organic shredded carrots, no dairy, no gluten, no eggs, no sugar. The slightly embarrassing thing is that my son is not gluten intolerant, nor allergic to dairy, nuts or eggs.

God forbid I’d let him eat sugar.

The second cake, a vanilla butter cake made with two cups of sugar and six eggs, was for the rest of the guests – but certainly not my son.

The day went down without a hitch (except he didn’t eat a bit of the organic fun-free carrot cake) and I was asleep by 6pm from total exhaustion.

Shauna's daughter's first birthday. Happy with a cupcake.

By the time my daughter came along, her “party” was a little less... er, well, a little less everything.

She had a cupcake bought from the local Chinese bakery with bright pink icing and smarties.


Her two brothers were there, along with me and her dad.

And I think (it was three years ago - hard to remember) we might have brought along a candle.

Oh, and she ate the whole bloody thing.

It seems that for me with my kid’s birthdays I went too hard too early. I was exhausted by the time she came around. Partied out.

If parties are your thing, if the crisp white jacket and the all-night-cake-baking extravaganza is what puts a sparkle in your eye then I bow down to you.

I am not criticising - in fact I am a little jealous, actually - but if you are like me and kid’s parties just make you want to crawl back under the doona then I give you this advice: Save up the stamina for birthdays-yet-to-come.

At least they will remember those ones.

Click through our gallery below of photos from celebrity children's birthday parties.  


Did you throw your child a big first birthday party? Does this change your mind? 

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