Princess Charlotte turns one in a few days.
About to take her first steps, starting to actually eat food rather than throw it. Starting to say “mamamamamamamamam” with meaning rather than just baby babble.
It’s sure to be a big day.
The usual magazines are already filled with prediction of what her party will entail.
A "Beatrix Potter theme" one predicts.
“Gender-neutral like animals or pretty gingham cotton bunting with elegant lunch settings and canapés for the adults” predicts another.
Maybe a Peter Rabbit theme with Grandma popping for cake while London landmarks like the Golden Jubilee Bridge and the Marble Arch are commemoratively lit, like big brother George’s first birthday party?
What about a Kardashinan style “Kidchella” with a Ferris wheel, jumping castle and mini performance stage?
Sounds fun? Well here is another thought…what about nothing?
No party, no fancy canapés, no waiters and layers cakes, no goodie bags or masses of décor friendly balloons.
After all it’s just a first birthday, for a child still in nappies with a memory as long as a goldfishes. What's the point?
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, with their children, Princess Charlotte and Prince George (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
When you finally make it to that milestone after what really is an amazing year of bloody hard work shouldn’t you be rewarding yourself with a rest rather than an over the top event which, lets face it, is just more hard work?
Wouldn’t the perfect first birthday gift actually just be a night in front of Netflix and a baby that sleeps through?
(Well who says the baby has to get a present?)
But we all fall for it doesn’t we, the lure of a just-perfect first birthday party for our firstborns?
Shauna and her son, Jasper and his two cakes. Image supplied.
With my now eight-year-old son we went all out like many parents I knew then did.
I, a non-baker, baked two cakes – a chocolate one for the “older kids” and a sugar -free dairy-free egg-free fun-free carrot cake for him.
(Not that he had a dairy or an egg allergy it was just to keep his delicate little constitution perfect.)
We invited each and every adult we knew and anyone with children just to make up the numbers. There were party games and a jumping castle and my 12-month-old – who couldn’t even walk, let alone jump – clung to me terrified of the constant chatter, the leering strangers and the ceiling decorated with over-filled helium balloons that every minute or so would explode one by one like gunfire.
The dog hovered under the stairs and the room full of adults got drunk enjoying the knees-up.
My son mushed a bit of the cake around with his fist and then fell asleep.
Needless to say by the time my third child hit the ripe old age of one my view on parties changed.
After coming to terms with the fact that when she is older she might tell me she was deprived I held fast and skipped the first birthday party for my daughter.
I think there was a cupcake – pre-made - they came in a packet of eight from Woolies and I am sure there was a pressie or two but apart from that - nothing.
She was one.
No invitations, no party bags, no days spent cooking two cakes. No extravagantly decorated room.
She didn’t have any “friends” apart from her two big brothers, she didn’t really eat cake, she just shoved it in her mouth and let it drool out and she was more interested in ripping the shiny wrapping paper to shards than what was inside the boxes so I didn’t really see the point.
What you soon learn as your children get older is that there are many, many, many birthdays to come and as they get older the expectation of how they want to celebrate changes.
Football parties, movie nights, bowling, a face painter and an Elsa. Lolly bags filled with jelly snakes and dinky little toys.
The parties they remember are these ones. The time you took the whole class to the local park and had a water balloon battle. The time you took three best friends out for pizza.
Prince George first photo with his now one-year-old sister. Via Kensington Palace.
Unless hard work and catering functions is your thing then I advise just skipping the first birthday party and blowing the budget on a bottle of bubbly for yourself to celebrate getting through the first part.
Your child won’t realise she was a pro deprived third child until she is older and is skimming through the albums on your Facebook page ...... and by that stage you can blame it on technology.
Oh we did celebrate in our own way darling, but I’d lost my phone that day so we don’t have many pictures. Lets go back and look at your birth pics instead..
That’ll send her on her way.