The First Birthday Party for a Second Child: How to Not Go Insane

Arden's birthday from the Champagne Supernova

Arden’s First Birthday Party

Let me be up front and say I’m not Martha Stewart. I don’t cook. I don’t clean. I don’t make cutesy crafts. I don’t plan parties. I don’t enjoy planning parties. If it were up to me I would put popular kids entertainment near me call them up and that would be it. Don’t get me wrong… I love attending parties and admire anyone who loves managing big events, it’s the planning and effort that make me crazy. Even if I didn’t have a full time job or kids, I wouldn’t like putting these things together.

I’m not criticizing anyone who chooses to throw massive birthday parties for their toddlers, I’m just saying that I won’t do it again until my children are old enough to remember and appreciate it. That’s all. When they’re teenagers, they can have whatever they want – a DJ, a huge neon sign from Neon Mama, heck they can even have the house to themselves as long as I don’t have to organise it!

Case in point: my own wedding. I don’t like the stress associated with planning an event and feeling responsible for things running smoothly or guests having fun. So when I got married almost 6 years ago with all the proverbial bells and whistles, I spent the majority of the morning of my wedding day crying in the bathroom from anxiety. We should have just eloped.

I get it. My husband, Jason, told me so.

When Arden turned one a couple years ago, we threw her a Pinterest-worthy soiree that was the toddler equivalent of a Quincinera. It had a circus theme and we rented carnival games from an events company. We spent ages searching online for bouncy castle hires perth and hired the biggest one we could find. We got fancy online invitations from Paperless Post, tables and chairs from an outside vendor, and had matching invitations, cupcake toppers, napkins, and food labels to boot. It was over-the-top, expensive, unnecessary, and to be honest, the party was more about entertaining our family, friends, and friends’ children than it was about celebrating Arden. She was too young to enjoy any of the games and the bouncy castle, and obviously had no interest in the rest of it. Let’s be real: a one year old is clueless about their surroundings and has no memory about what happened yesterday, let alone at their own birthday party when they are only one.

Yes, people, these are CIRCUS GAMES. At a first birthday party. Doh!

The Pinterest-inspired snack table. Read: I am an idiot.

The area where Arden had her first morsel of cake. Where frosting ended up on the wall.

A Snapfish photo album and some Facebook shots are the only way she’ll ever know the party truly happened. And the three dozen leftover lollipops that are sitting in my storage closet (if my dog or husband don’t get to them).

For her first birthday party, Arden would have been just as content if we ordered bar-be-que, a gallon of chocolate ice cream, and called it a day.

I certainly would have had more fun.

What the Facebook world didn’t get to see was how the day ended up:

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

Lesson learned.

Enter the second child: Elle. She turned one this past weekend and, instead of throwing a party, we opted for a three-day weekend at the beach with our families. The invitations were sent via text message. The decorative napkins and plates were from the local grocery store. The birthday hat was a hand-me-down from her sister.

It was a blast.

Jason, Elle, my Mother in Law, and Me celebrating the beginning of a great year.

That’s not to say Elle won’t get any sort of party – we are still planning on a very small group of family and friends round and, after the success of the bouncy castle from Arden’s party, we have found a reliable water slide hire company in Perth. But this is more for everyone else in the family to enjoy, so we can get together as a group and celebrate whilst still keeping things low key.

Being a second-time parent has made me wiser than I was the first time around. With my first child, if a person would have told me to hold off on a huge party for my one-year-old, I would have been annoyed at their unsolicited advice, have mentally slapped them, and would have thrown the party anyway. Now, I am that person.

I ran into a mother of one of Arden’s classmates in the school parking lot yesterday. You missed the best birthday party on Saturday, Jen. It was at a park and the mom ordered pizza and a bounce house. It was the perfect party for a three-year-old and everyone had so much fun. I give a big, fat, “Cheers” to that mama.

In the end, what the birthday person remembers (if they are old enough to remember) is whether they had a good time and if they were surrounded by people they love. And if a mom wants to throw in a life-size piรฑata at the party, power to her. It just ain’t gonna be me.


Note, while my family and I were at the beach celebrating Elle, one of my girlfriends, Julie Borm of the Everyday Happiness blog, was busy throwing a birthday party for her one-year old that would put ole’ Martha to shame. Read about her hilarious experience (and confession) here.


    24 Comments on The First Birthday Party for a Second Child: How to Not Go Insane

    1. Jenny @ Unremarkable Files
      July 19, 2015 at 1:31 pm (7 years ago)

      Sometimes you get bitten by the Pinterest bug and look back and think, “who WAS that crazy lady? Surely it wasn’t me!”

      Glad your daughter enjoyed her 1st birthday.

      • jenniferdaku
        July 19, 2015 at 9:22 pm (7 years ago)

        I use repellent for the Pinterest bug. It helps me avoid spending hours on the internet pinning crafty ideas that I’ll never execute. Hey, at least I’m honest with myself. Thanks for stopping by, Jenny!

    2. April
      July 17, 2015 at 5:07 pm (7 years ago)

      Hahah-so true. Parties have gotten out of hand and it’s easy to fall victim to!

      • jenniferdaku
        July 19, 2015 at 9:38 pm (7 years ago)

        Indeed! It’s almost like a failure to NOT have an over-the-top birthday party!

    3. Elizabeth
      June 18, 2015 at 10:36 pm (7 years ago)

      What a fun celebration! So glad you joined us for “Tuesday Talk”~


    4. Kristi
      June 8, 2015 at 11:16 pm (7 years ago)

      Love this! It’s so true! We threw my first a huge party with lots of friends (our friends since he was too young to really have friends). We have 5 now. Not sure when we’ll get to a party for our littlest. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks so much for sharing this at #homemattersparty

    5. Janice Wald
      June 8, 2015 at 1:37 am (7 years ago)

      Hi, Good post. You are right. The baby wouldn’t care.
      Thank you for coming to last Monday’s Inspire Me Monday Linky Party. I’m Janice, one of your hostesses.

    6. Julie
      June 1, 2015 at 2:09 pm (7 years ago)

      The best thing about a toddlers birthday is that you can float the date to whenever is convenient to celebrate – they don’t know what day it is!
      Once they get to school I think you kind of need to put a bit of effort into the party – they seem to like that, then they get to teenagers and just want for you to pay for them to go to the cinema and for pizza with their mates. It really does get a lot easier!

    7. Janice Wald
      June 1, 2015 at 1:48 am (7 years ago)

      Hi Jennifer,
      It’s Janice from Reflections. I’m one of your hostesses for the Inspire Me Monday linky party. Welcome. I liked your post.

    8. Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai
      May 23, 2015 at 1:40 am (7 years ago)

      A party is nice, but you are right…keep the child’s age in mind. Don’t go broke creating memories that will never be remembered, Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty – we’re looking forward to what you have to share next week. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Life With Lorelai

    9. Danielle
      May 21, 2015 at 7:33 am (7 years ago)

      It is so true that some parties are over the top. I love planning parties, so sometimes I do go a bit overboard, but I try to keep it reigned in (although looking at all the cookies I have left to decorate for our Memorial Day BBQ says different ;)).
      It’s great that you were able to have such a fun time with for your second child’s birthday. You have to do what works for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    10. Aspen Jay
      May 19, 2015 at 4:09 pm (7 years ago)

      LOVE this Jennifer! It’s so funny how we get wiser with our second. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wanted to plan an elaborate birthday party for my 3 year old. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday he simply replied “a donut cake.” That made me think and realize that at this age he could really care less about all the decorations all he really wanted was a special cake. Less stress for me and he still talks about his donut cake. (o:

    11. Sara Glomski
      May 15, 2015 at 9:34 pm (7 years ago)

      Oh my gosh the circus games! That is so funny. I tend to go over the top on my kids’ parties. I can’t help it but it does get out of hand and stressful sometimes. The beach weekend sounds so nice and relaxing!

    12. ErinAnnis
      May 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm (7 years ago)

      I am in total agreement, but will admit that I am the mom who still hasn’t learned her lesson!!! I am going to try and tone it down a few notches this year. When will I learn that if I don’t spend the money on a big party I can probably treat myself to a new outfit and some shoes? Love this article!!

      • jenniferdaku
        May 15, 2015 at 8:06 pm (7 years ago)

        After Patrons Party 2011, you could probably plan a kids’ birthday party with your eyes closed. I say, if it ain’t broke (and you enjoy it) then don’t fix it. And throwing a party is perfect reason to purchase new clothes and shoes. Cheers!

    13. Emily W
      May 13, 2015 at 8:34 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you for making me feel it’s ok if B doesn’t have a 3rd birthday party (3 days before her brother/sister arrives)! I have to confess: Arden sealed the deal for me for not having a 1st birthday party for B. Your traumatic experience is appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • jenniferdaku
        May 13, 2015 at 8:37 pm (7 years ago)

        Em- thanks for the feedback. However, food-wise for parties, you are good. Just sic Jervis on it. It’s like a treat for him.

    14. Aja
      May 13, 2015 at 8:11 am (7 years ago)

      I love to plan parties (event planning outside concentration here!), and my boys’ early birthday parties were HUGE events. In my experience, once the kids are old enough to have a say they want pizza, a water slide and 5 friends. When my boys each turned 4 they chose to take one friend to a Disney park. It was the cheapest birthday celebration to date because we and the friends all had previously purchased passes. Maybe it’s a boy thing, but our last bday parties have been pizza and mini golf and sub sandwiches and a water slide, respectively. Definitely low stress! Now I just throw parties for my girlfriends when I get the party planning itch!

      • jenniferdaku
        May 13, 2015 at 8:30 pm (7 years ago)

        Oh Aja, I wish you lived in Tampa! I’d hire you to plan my parties in a heartbeat!

    15. Michelle
      May 13, 2015 at 6:52 am (7 years ago)

      Jennifer, I totally agree with the one year old party. I told my daughter when her time came to plan my grandson/granddaughter’s first year party – keep it simple, keep it to immediate family only. No child wants a stressed out party planning mommy! Hats off to you. Although you did rock it on the first party. I stay off Pinterest at all costs for this very reason – some of us (myself included) are not the Martha Stewart kind! AND, I’m ok with that.

      • jenniferdaku
        May 13, 2015 at 8:31 pm (7 years ago)

        Amen, Michelle! I love over-the-top parties. I just don’t want to be the one to have to do them.