We’re approaching Charlie’s second birthday and despite absolutely hating all cliches, it really has flown by! The days are LONG but the years really are short. We’ve decided to make a little event out of Charlie’s second birthday, because this time last year Madrid was in a mini-lockdown and we weren’t able to travel between districts. My parents came to Spain from the UK which was absolutely lovely and we went to a local restaurant for lunch which we all enjoyed. We had a little mini zoom party with Charlie’s other grandparents, but it was all quite overwhelming for him. It was also much more emotional for me than I was expecting. I was quite weepy throughout the day remembering the events of 365 days ago and telling anyone that would listen “this time a year ago I was…..”!! It made me realise that Baby’s First Birthday is mainly for the parents…and that it absolutely FINE!!
Let’s be honest, a baby doesn’t remember their first birthday, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate it. They will have the photographs when they are older and its certainly important to celebrate the fact you have kept a baby healthy and happy for 12 whole months. And lets face it, those first few months are INTENSE! So here are my very personal tips for preparing and enjoying Baby’s First Birthday:
1) Make it fun for adults
As I’ve mentioned, the birthday boy/girl won’t really understand what is going on. The people who this party is really for is you - the parents!! No shame to have this party really to celebrate you, so own that. It’s likely most of the guests (if it’s a party) will be adults too, so I think it’s a great idea to make sure it’s something your family and friends will also enjoy. Focus on adult food and drinks and the babies will have fun no matter what with the fun and festive atmosphere.
2) Keep gifts to a minimum
Let’s face it, you have already spent so much money on your little bundle. The things they need changes so rapidly in the first 12 months and you have been keeping up. Do they really need that new expensive trendy toy? On the day I can guarantee they will be more enamoured with the box than the toy itself! A good alternative to suggest to those who really do want to buy something is a favourite book, or maybe just a gift voucher/money for later in the year when something comes up when he/she is 18 months and genuinely need something new for a new milestone they are just reaching. For other ideas, I have linked some Madrid based and also general Spain based ideas at the end of this post. Please get in touch if you have anything in your country you would love to shout about.
3) Be aware of Baby’s limits/usual schedule
Although you are super excited and have a whole plan for the day, your baby doesn’t know it’s a particularly special day! They will be expecting their usual routine. If you have a whole thing planned and for example the opening present ceremony is happening during their usual nap-time, expect a meltdown! Charlie was still napping twice a day when he turned 1, so I did (our minimal!) presents opening in pyjamas so he could wind-down in time for his morning nap. We had a lunch booked for quite early for Spanish time so we could be home again in time for his afternoon rest.
4) Manage expectations re tears/upsets!
Despite trying to plan things around Charlie’s naps, he did still get overwhelmed first thing in the morning with my parents being there and multiple screens with video chats with his aunt + uncle and his other grandparents. There are not many photographs of that day where everyone is looking super happy and relaxed. And that is fine…we did get some lovely photos to document the joy of the day and that’s ideal. There will be tears on the day and it’s important to remember that this is ok.
5) Give yourself time to get party ready
I look awful in the morning photos with Charlie, I totally didn’t think about myself! I had Charlie’s outfit planned for the day, but not mine! In the end, for our lunch out I did manage to shower and get myself ready but I hadn’t planned it, and this is important! I’m going to make sure I do this next month for his 2nd (especially as yet again we have planned around nap time and are doing a brunch with friends)! So it’s all front piled into the start of the day and I want some “me time” to do my hair and make-up. Vain? Yes, but also justified!
6) Keep it simple
No explanation needed for this. If you’ve got this far, you know my stance on First Birthday Parties!
7) Do what you want
Ultimately you’re the parents and you make the best decisions for your family. Don’t do what your own parents want you to do or what your neighbours did last year or what that always perfect and polished mum you follow on Instagram did. It’s not worth the stress. You have been through enough the last 12 months, you don’t need the added pressure to make a beautiful and Instagram worthy day. You will remember the feeling of joy and celebration whatever works best for your family. If that IS a gorgeous backdrop and beautiful props for a photoshoot that is absolutely wonderful. And if you don’t have the space or camera skills, I know some wonderful family photographers here in Madrid who I will link below!
Here are some further more unconventional gift ideas and photographer recommendations:
Abi at Eco-Families has committed to planting a tree every week for her son when he turned 2. I LOVE this and will be doing the same for Charlie. Like Abi, I will be writing him a little note to go with each tree (I will personally be doing the admin for this once a month, as my brain works better this way, but as long as trees are being planted, whatever works for you!)