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Skip the Lavish First-Birthday Parties!

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz:They say the first birthday is not about the baby turning a year old, but about the parents surviving the first year. Perhaps that's why people are going overboard with first-birthday parties, spending thousands of dollars on a day their baby will never remember.

baby with birthday cake
I have to say, I was taken aback when I received a "save the date" card for a first birthday in January. The proud parents had already secured the venue and the band, and they wanted to make sure no one else took their weekend. For comparison purposes, my first birthday consisted of going to an ice-cream parlor with my family. The only reason I know that is because I asked my mom. She could just as easily have told me it was a big blowout, and I never would have known the difference (except for the missing pictures).

My daughter turns one on December 16th, and mommies from my mommy group have already been asking about her party. How should I know? It's only August! However, it appears that is has already become a competition about who will have the bigger and better bash.

Clearly, it's more of a competition for the parents than for the kids. "I've been thinking about my son's first birthday since he was born," one mom told me. "I wanted a big party; I knew I wanted to have the biggest and best show. I knew all of the moms were going to want to outdo one another, so I wanted mine to be the best. And I was willing to pay whatever it cost -- we budgeted $5,000."

So do you try to compete with a mom who wants to throw the biggest bash of all? No. The party should be about the baby, and what would make the baby happy -- and it should be budgeted according to what you can easily afford. Perhaps that mom's $5,000 should have been put into her son's college account, not spent on pony rides. Remember: Babies have no idea about the money you spend. Save it for a time when your child will appreciate it!

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77 comments so far | Post a comment now
Mrs. Collins August 27, 2010, 5:06 AM

Yes, that is the silliest thing I have ever heard. For my son’s 1st bday last year, we ordered a bunch of balloons, balls, and had some slides and toy car rides and he had a backyard party. We only spent about $100. My daughter will be 1 on Halloween, and she will be having a party at home as well, our budget will probably be a little more with Halloween candy and all, but still no more than $150!

Robin August 27, 2010, 5:41 AM

I got lectured for not having “real” first birthday parties. The only things we did special were presents and a homemade (well… from the box) cake. I didn’t buy them “smash” cakes from the store with enough sugar to put an elephant into diabetic shock; I must be a horrible parent (or so my MIL would believe, but that woman give babies soda, so I find myself unconcerned). Immediate family only. My son didn’t get a party with friends until he turned 5.

XXXX August 28, 2010, 8:57 AM

That’s why America’s in debt. Spending money on stupid (and unnecessary) stuff like this.

Alyssa August 28, 2010, 9:36 AM

I just threw my sons second birthday party and spent about 800. We rented a space, had about 50 people there and about 20 kids under 6. We did a dinosaur theme b/c hes obsessed with them and we had a guy bring in live reptiles that the kids could play with. It was awesome but everyone I know thinks Im crazy for having such an expensive party. Ive done big parties forever. Even for my baby showers. i think we spent about 5000 on my first baby shower ( with my daughter) and 4500 for my second ( with my son.) its worth it, its fun and even if the kids dont remember you can always show them the pictures!

HeeHee August 30, 2010, 3:51 PM

Save your money and use it for your kid’s college instead.

Nicole September 2, 2010, 7:18 PM

Spending $5,000 dollars on a first birthday party is ridiculous. Don’t people realize where that money could go besides a birthday party that nobody will remember? …Ugh. Makes me want to vomit, thinking about those that can’t afford diapers for their kids because they’ve lost their jobs due to the ecomomy but there are people who are spending that kind of money on a 1st birthday party.

Brandi September 6, 2010, 9:12 PM

I think making memories are more important than saving every penny you can. If a big birthday party is important to you then throw one within your means. My rule of thumb is that I won’t spend more than I will on a big shopping trip to a Warehouse store (about $300). If I want to rationalize my spending, I just look at all the stuff she got & I know I saved some money. Especially since my family asks what the kids need/want & try to do both, so they usually get a small toy & clothes or shoes. :)

Mandi October 16, 2010, 12:57 PM

I personally have a hard time dropping a ton of money on a day that my daughter won’t remember. For her 1st birthday last year, I think I spent close to $200. I had saved up for a few months so it didn’t come out all at once. After the party was done, I realized I should have just done something small with my family instead of a BBQ. This year, I was going to do something small, but decided to save up again & do another small party. This time a pizza party. I think that parties can be fun regardless if the kid remembers them or not. It’s a celebration. It’s not something I would spend thousands of dollars on. But then again, I’m not in competition with anyone.

Elizabeth October 21, 2010, 11:24 PM

I just spent $600 on my daughters 1st birthday. WAY TOO MUCH. Granted, we had 60 guests. We both have huge families and I didn’t think it was proper to invite one Aunt and not another. $200 on decorations including plates and such, $350 on food and drinks and $50 on favors for the kiddos attending. Next year we will have a SMALL party, maybe just the grandparents!

Dale - 1st Birthday Party Entertainer October 25, 2010, 7:43 PM

That is a lot of money to spend on a party. Our wedding did not cost that much..:)

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