Happy Birthday: Simple Yet Powerful Ideas

There is only one first birthday. Just one…

Birthday Cake

My daughter Elle recently turned one. I still don’t quite understand where the time went. In the blink of an eye, 365 days passed and my sleepy, tiny newborn became an almost walking, almost talking, baby girl.

I wanted Elle’s first birthday party to be as special as our perfect little girl. (I really hated hearing “she won’t remember anyway.” Um, excuse me. Irrelevant.) We had the most beautiful party at Grandma and Pops’ house. Most importantly, we got to celebrate with family and friends. And a few simple ideas packed a powerful punch to help make the day even more special.

Birthday BookWe asked our guests to write short birthday messages to Elle in Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday book. For birthdays to come, my husband and I can read her the book and also the well wishes from those who love her. Eventually, she’ll be able to read them herself! It’s a priceless keepsake she can treasure forever. (Tip: make sure to provide an archival marker for guests to write with so that their messages last a lifetime! And get two because one will undoubtedly vanish.)

What’s amazing is how much our children grow and develop in 12 months. We wanted to show our family and friends this incredible progression that we were blessed enough to see firsthand. We chose four of our favorite pictures of Elle from her first year and had them blown up to large, 11 x 16, black and white prints. We picked photos taken at one day, three months, six months, and 11 1/2 months. We used clothes pins to hang the photos across a rope out on the deck. We loved showing everyone how the birthday girl changed and grew from a one day old to one year.

Birthday High ChairBows!!! Need I say more. Regular old gift bows go a long way! Further than you may think. You can stick them anywhere, not just on top of boxes. Stick them on walls! Stick them on tables! Stick them anywhere you please! My mother decorated Elle’s high chair beautifully with colorful bows and streamers. It was fit for a princess. When it comes to bows, just think outside the box!

The birthday girl or boy’s “Favorite Things” are way more awesome than Oprah’s! It’s a fun party theme or simple idea to add to the big day. You can use scrapbooking paper and embellishments to create signs highlighting your child’s favorite things. My daughter loves blueberries, so we planned to serve bowls of blueberries with small place-card like signs indicating “Elle’s Favorite Fruit”. Your party guests will love to be in on the little guest of honor’s faves.

Ice cream stations are a hit. Keep it simple with vanilla or go nuts with Superman! Try toppings as basic as sprinkles or as elaborate as mango fruit. This may also be a good way to incorporate “favorite things.”

Admittedly, like many mothers, I didn’t get to all of my grand ideas and plans for the party. I did my best and whatever I didn’t do, I just told myself … she won’t remember anyway!

Kristin W. is a new mom. Her daughter Elle is one year old. Kristin and her husband Gregory feel blessed on a daily basis and are certain the first year of parenthood has been the best time of their lives. Becoming a mother is a dream come true. Kristin loves sharing mom stories with other mothers and exchanging valuable tips on how to (fill in the blank!). Kristin is a working mom. She’s a news anchor and reporter at a local TV station. Kristin has a degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.