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People often feel pressured for their children's first birthday parties, especially for the oldest child; there's a feeling that they have to create an amazing spectacle that everyone will remember for years to come. The truth is that your baby will never remember their first few birthdays, so don't blow a hole in your family finances, do something sensible and make sure you enjoy yourself as much as you hope your little one does!
For the first couple of years, you'll probably want to celebrate surrounded by your wider family rather than having lots of babies over. The first birthday of your oldest child is a memorable milestone for you more than for your baby - you have survived your first year as a mother and no doubt achieved many new experiences along the way. Invite your family around and celebrate your achievements with them. Toast yourself with a few glasses of wine, and if you are still intent on blowing a hole in the family finances, lavish yourself with Champagne!
Eventually your little one will begin interacting with other children in playgroups and at nursery and you will want them to be able to share their birthday with a few of their own friends. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, you can invite friends round for a playdate and hold a birthday tea for everyone. If you have a budget and want to make a more memorable experience then there are all sorts of things you can do:-
- Hold a party at a local soft play centre, toddlers love clambering around play structures and soft play centres accommodate even the youngest party revellers
- Invite an entertainer into your home: look in the Yellow Pages or other local directories to find entertainers suitable for toddlers - clowns, magicians, face painters or balloon modelers may offer a show for your target age group
- Go to a restaurant: probably not suitable below the age of 4 because you need the children to sit still for the meal, and you won't find restaurants with high chairs for large numbers of babies, but a meal out can be a treat for little ones; some restaurants cater really well for children, for example Pizza Hut offer 'Make your own pizza' parties and the staff at TGI Friday are trained to keep young audiences amused with balloon modeling and just being generally fun!
- Go to the park: don't feel you need to hire a venue for a large party - if you have a 'summer' baby, organise a birthday tea picnic in a nearby park; organise a few games to play and invite all the other parents to stay to join in the fun
- Take everyone to a Saturday cinema club for children - although you may not get advanced warning of what will be showing and whether it will be suitable, so this may be difficult to commit to!
- There are several chains where you can hold 'make a bear' parties - each child chooses an empty teddy-bear template which can be stuffed and accessories added
- There are also many 'paint your own pottery' studios around - for really young children just putting handprints on a saucer or mug makes for a memorable gift that they can take back to their families; the only downside is that you can't leave your party with your art, you have to pick it up a couple of days later after it has been fired
We only offer a small selection of ideas for parties for children here, you'll find plenty more things to do in your local area. Post your own ideas and suggestions here and tell everyone what you've done for your early parties...?