6 reasons why planning your child's first birthday party is ridiculously stressful

Say goodbye to first birthday party planning stress with a few simple strategies for making the whole process easier and more fun.

By Jessica Padykula

6 reasons why planning your child's first birthday party is ridiculously stressful
©iStockphoto.com/ btrenkel
Planning a first birthday party is often a stressful experience, especially for new parents. Pressure to spend a fortune, invite everyone you know and pull off a memorable event can come from all sides, but the process doesn’t have to feel like a chore. For every stressor there’s a solution – we swear.

1. First-time jitters

Stress over a first birthday party often stems from never having planned a child's party before, says Lisa Kothari, owner of kids' party-planning company Peppers and Pollywogs. "This can be quite a challenge when it comes to figuring out how to approach planning and organizing the event," she says.

The fix: Relax and remember that this party is really about you and not your child – after all, a one-year-old is not old enough to really grasp much of what’s going on.

"This is a moment for you to celebrate the momentous occasion of your child turning one, something he will never remember," says Kothari. "So, bearing that in mind, have the party that is best for you." Don’t worry about getting the perfect cake or the perfect decorations – just enjoy yourself.

If you're wondering what theme and birthday cake to present to your one year old, here are 12 gorgeous first birthday cakes from Pinterest.

2. Multiple ages of children in attendance

Although your child is turning one, chances are there will be kids of various ages attending your party and it can be stressful trying to figure out how to keep them all entertained.

"This is quite common, especially at a first birthday party, so make sure to plan on older children being at your party," says Kathari. "You don't want a bunch of preschool and school-aged children at your home for several hours with nothing to do."

The fix: Avoid a riot by making sure to schedule activities for the older kids who will be attending. Pick a party theme and put together some simple games or crafts to keep everyone busy.

If you're wondering whats the best way to avoid a boring birthday bash, read up on our piece about Planning a perfect birthday party.

3. Pressure to invite too many people

Many people – especially new moms – feel as though they have to invite everyone they know to their child’s first birthday party, and "before you realize it you have 100 people coming," says Barbara Reich, author of Secrets of an Organized Mom (Atria Books, 2013). The thought of a houseful of people – including kids, babies and possibly pets – can send even the most entertaining-savvy mom into a meltdown.

The fix: Don't be influenced by family and friends. "Limit how many people are involved in making decisions over the guest list and other details," advises Reich. "This is an important moment in your child's life, so you want to be surrounded by people you know and love."

4. How will my one-year-old behave?

Your one-year-old may have reached a milestone, but he or she is still a baby who relies on naptime, feeding times and other scheduled activities, meaning he or she is not exactly the optimal party guest. Not knowing how their baby will react to the festivities can be a concern for many parents.

"It is important to keep your baby and his schedule in mind when planning the party, so that the event isn't scary or stressful for him," says Kothari.

The fix: Don't expect much from your one-year-old and be sure to plan the party around naptime so the baby you present at the party is well rested. Kothari also suggests limiting the party hours so as to not tire baby out.

"Also keep in mind how good he is with groups of people, some who he may not know," she warns. "This will help you organize a party that doesn't overwhelm you or your baby."

5. Taking on more than you can handle

When it comes to your child’s first birthday, the pressure to become Martha Stewart can lead to trying to do too much. The more you add to your plate, the more stressed out you’re going to feel.

"Parties are hard to plan as it is, but then you decide to throw in a theme or organize activities or plan entertainment and it's amazing how much more work gets added on," says Reich.

The fix: Know your limits and stick to them. "If you're not creative or don't enjoy crafts, don't make the party into a giant circus, and if you don't have enough time to do it right, don't do it at all," Reich advises.

Feeling creative for your little one's party? Here are 9 cute homemade birthday decorations you can try out.

It’s also important to remember your audience. "Your one-year-old will be thrilled with a simple cake in a box. There will be other big milestones and events, so save some of your energy," she says. You don’t need to stress about creating wow factor – keep the party simple.

6. The budget

Even a first birthday party can start to balloon where costs are concerned, especially when the invitation list starts to grow. Stress about the bottom line can set in right away and plague the entire party-planning process. "Too many people set a budget and then ignore it, causing tension and stress between partners," Reich warns.

The fix: It’s important to set the budget before party planning begins, advises Reich, and start a spreadsheet to stay on track. "Estimate what you think each component of the party will cost and stick to it. If you go under on something, that’s great, but no matter what stick to the spreadsheet," she says. The more in control of your spending you are, the less stressed you’ll feel.

Ultimately, the key to overcoming first birthday party planning stress is to relax. "This is about you more than the birthday child," says Kothari. "So make sure to have the party that feels right for you."

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This article is featured on Canadian Living Moms turns one