A Low-Key First Birthday Party Is My Kind Of Party

385841_4606748287256_2031671377_nRecently I sat down to make a list of things I needed for my daughter’s upcoming first birthday party. After I had several things written down, I hoped onto Pinterest to get a little extra boost of inspiration. As I perused through the first birthday pins, I looked down at my list in a bit of a panic. It seemed I had forgotten just about everything I needed for an unforgettable first birthday party.

Here are just a few things I found online that weren’t on my original list: Paper invitations (I wanted to send a Facebook invite), decorations for the high chair, party favors, an inflatable pool full of small plastic balls for the babies to roll around in (yes, people do that), and a list of my baby’s milestones professionally written out on a chalkboard sign.

I immediately threw my list away and decided to take a break from the party planning for a few days. I needed some time to think about what really mattered to me as I prepared for a very special day in not only my daughter’s life, but in my life too. After all, I had survived the first year of parenting, and you better believe I’d be celebrating the accomplishment!

I talked with friends and family trying to find a little validation for wanting to keep things low-key, yet memorable and fun. I explained that I had nothing against parents who have elaborate bashes. If it’s truly fun for them to have cup-cake toppers and coordinated outfits, then absolutely, go for it — do what makes you happy! But for me, I knew I’d be doing those things out of guilt and fear of being judged by others, and that just feels like a foolish way to live.

The advice I received from friends and family was a mixed bag. My favorite piece of commentary I received from team, Go Big, Or Go Home was, “She only turns one once!” Really, hmmm? Well she only turns two once, and three once, and four once — so what I’m hearing you say is that I should elaborately celebrate every birthday? If so, I’m really going to fail at this parenting thing.

On team, Simpler Is Better, I heard a lot of, “She won’t remember anything anyway.” They’re right. She won’t remember if she has a beautifully decorated fondant smash cake or a cupcake from the nearest grocery store, or if she opens three presents instead of twenty.

What will have a lasting impact on her is the love she feels as we celebrate her irreplacable presence in our lives. The kind of love that can only be felt in the warmth of family gathered together in her honor. Or on the smiling faces of all her favorite people singing happy birthday to her. Or in the way her cousins topple over her as her little fingers tear apart the wrapping paper. These are the things that matter to my baby.

Now, as I go back to re-write my list of things to buy for the party, I feel much better about where I stand. What matters most is that my daughter feels loved, not whether or not I feel guilty about how great of a party I throw.

I love you Pinterest, but I got this one.