Robert turns one this week and everyone I know keeps asking me what we are doing to celebrate the big day. When I tell people that we aren’t having a first birthday party I am usually met with a surprising stare and the big question: Why not? This has only led me to ask myself, is it okay to not throw a first birthday party?
I’ve tossed the question around in my brain for quite a while and I’ve come to a conclusion. Of course its okay to not throw a big first birthday party. You may think I am the worst mom in the world, but I beg to differ. We will still make it special, it just won’t be some big party. I looked back through my baby book and found these pictures of my first birthday party. This is exactly what I want for Robert, a nice laid back day with family.
To be honest, I originally had grandiose Pinterest worthy first birthday plans until a personal family issue shot that to shreds. We weren’t going to be able to have a big party with all the people we wanted, so it seemed silly to make a big fuss about it. I started to sulk about it until I realized that my first birthday party was a small family affair and I’ve never thought I missed out on the first birthday party experience.
Let’s think about first birthday parties for a minute. They are mostly for the parents and that is perfectly fine. It is a great way to celebrate getting through the first year of a child’s life and to honor all the people who made it possible. But it really truly isn’t for the kid. I’d do anything to make Robert happy but I’m fairly certain that he couldn’t care less about having a first birthday party. I’m not downing first birthday parties because we aren’t having one. To all my friends who have had big a shindig for their babies, good for you- I am not saying they are a bad thing. What I am saying is that if you can’t throw a birthday party, it is alright. Don’t be so hard on yourself!
You may be wondering what we have decided to do instead. We are inviting our local family members to join us for lunch on the beach (we’ll go Dutch). We will eat good food and sing happy birthday. Tom and I had a budget of $300 for the whole event. We spent $22 dollars on gifts for Robert and we will try to spend less than $28 for lunch. The rest of the budget ($250) will go to Robert’s 529 college savings account.
It is important for us to save for Robert’s future and we try to put money into that account anytime we have an opportunity. We would love to put more into it, but we are still trying to save for our own future. Since I am in “early retirement” it is even harder for us to save. We have found that the best way for us to make contributions like this is to cut out on other expenses, such as a big first birthday party.
I like to think that when Robert has money for college, grad school, or a first house he will be thanking us for these contributions. At this age all Robert wants is our time, not our money. We are putting our money away for a time when he will actually need it.
I realize that I am fortunate enough to have a choice between saving and spending. For many people who live paycheck to paycheck there isn’t an option. I want to inspire those people who can’t afford a birthday party to realize that it is ok. Don’t give into societies pressure to throw a Pinterest worthy birthday party. I promise, your little one will be happy with a few consignment store toys, a cheapo birthday cake and a bunch of play time with you.
What are your thoughts when it comes to spending money on birthday parties? Have you ever spent money you shouldn’t have in order to make your child happy?