Happy Birthday Baby!

First birthdays in Ethiopia are big celebrations. They are usually thrown by grandparents and everyone, I mean everyone is invited! It is a very lively and noisy place but I am yet to see a happy child on her big day.

As we were preparing for my daughter’s first birthday a few weeks ago, that was my greatest fear. As much as first birthdays are mostly celebrations for the  parents, I wanted her to enjoy her special day as well, and the simple things we did helped us achieve just that. By following the tips below, we had a good birthday party and so did she. I garnered a few pearls of wisdom from the celebration.

Keep it simple!

It truly takes a village to raise a child and making it through the first year of parenting is worth celebrating. Inviting the people who helped you through the first year is customary but don’t overdo it. We opted for a simple lunch and cake cutting with just family and close friends at home. Have a simple plan for what you want to do for the day and send invitations in time so guests can RSVP for better planning.

Respect nap time

12 months of experience has taught me that for children to be happy and play good hosts, they must have enough nap time like other normal days. Make sure that they sleep before your guests arrive or find a quiet place for naps during the party.

Avoid noise makers

My daughter warms up to strangers easily but some can get easily uncomfortable when they see strange faces. Also the whistles, firecracker candies for the cake, balloons and other colorful and noisy decorations can overwhelm your child. Avoid noise makers to make the day stress free for your child.

Keep it short  

This is for everyone’s benefit but more for the birthday girl and the invited kids.When our party started we had seven jovial kids who were excited to be there. But as we took our time with setting up the cake and other formalities around it, tears started falling down. We had to rush the cake cutting because they were frustrated. I also observed that it would have been fun to plan for some simple games for the other kids by putting an adult in charge.

Have a simple cake

I think we have agreed that the first birthday is more for the parents. So, whether you are baking or ordering, get a simple cake and save that Frozen themed 7k cake for the third birthday.

Take pictures before and during

This is a step I forgot and regret. I was busy with serving our guests and making things look perfect that I forgot to take pictures. If you have a special outfit for the birthday girl, taking some pictures before the party starts is advisable . It is also preferable to assign someone for that duty if you don’t have a professional photographer.

As you plan for the special day, remember that making memories and celebrating how far you have come is more important than anything else.

Have a wonderful first birthday.

This first appeared on The Standard on 14th May 2017

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