Birthday party number one: No jacket required

Note: This column appears in the 8/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/27 issue of the Peoria Times

Last weekend we happily hosted a first birthday party. The theme was butterflies.

Even though I had attended several first birthday parties in the past year or so, and acquired some knowledge as to their culture and thus gained some confidence, there were still many facets of first birthday party etiquette that I was unaware of.

For example, I learned that one cake is not enough cakes. I thought that one cake would be enough, but that was before I discovered that one cake is set aside for the sole purpose of allowing the birthday girl to smush her hands and face in it so that you can take funny birthday pictures. Then that cake is removed and a different cake is brought in for guests, so as to reduce the likelihood of your guests finding boogers in their cake. Luckily for us our friend Donna took care of the “real cake” personally by making a full batch of her Sassy Pops, which are literally pieces of cake on a stick in a coating of hard, delicious icing. They were the hit of the party, and because she made so many I am currently averaging four Sassy Pops per day. (Not to mention trying to finish the non-smushed section of our daughter’s booger cake. Yum.)

While I was aware that our party would be themed, I was unaware how all encompassing that theme must be. My wife, as mentioned, selected butterflies as the theme on behalf of our daughter. Because boys would be in attendance, the theme was extended to include bugs. Butterflies and bugs. Everywhere. My wife is a strong-willed, hot-tempered, Italian, independent working-woman, yet her daughter’s first birthday party managed to reveal her inner Martha Stewart. Everywhere I turned there were butterflies and bugs. The girls had butterfly wings to wear, and the boys played bug-themed games, and “A Bug’s Life” played on the TV. I was in charge of making the sandwiches, and so my wife handed me a “butterfly cutter” –- I honestly don’t know where she gets these things -- to make the sandwiches into butterflies. Have you ever attempted to turn a grilled-cheese sandwich into a butterfly? It’s not easy. Even with a butterfly cutter.

(I couldn’t help but imagine how differently the scene would have been if I were in charge of the theme. There probably would have been a poster of a butterfly hanging crooked off the wall and that’s it.)

But for me the greatest realization about first birthday parties was this: It doesn’t matter what the theme is, or how many cakes you have, as long as you keep the kids entertained. At one point I noticed the kids and several adults had drifted into our dining room, which houses my turntables. To keep things moving I made the executive decision to turn this into a mini-dance party. Now, ninety-percent of my records are inappropriate and profane hip-hop records from college, but I’ve also acquired many old records from my parents and in-laws. So…I had to settle for Phil Collins, “Susudio.”

We danced like no one was watching, except for all the videos and pictures being taken. And by “we” I mean myself and five little girls wearing butterfly wings, including our daughter.

It seems like everyone had a fun time, which is all that matters. I know I did. And if our daughter still likes him when she turns two, I will attempt to make sandwiches in the shape of Phil Collins. Wish me luck.

This would go good on a stick, so a Sassy Pop may be better...


Joe S. said…
Thanks for the insight - we've got our 'first' first birthday in a few months and have NO idea how to handle it! I mean, the kids won't know any different, so isn't it really about the parents? Which makes it weird to throw a party for ourselves. I guess we're just supposed to pick the theme ourselves? Our son loves banging things together and playing in the bath tub, and sometimes choking the cat. Sounds like 'dinosaurs' will work just fine.
mkenny59 said…
Joe, good luck! Dinosaurs would have done all those things if they had bath tubs and cats back then, according to my research. So dinosaurs it is! Do you need any pterodactyl sandwich cutters? I'm sure my wife has some, somewhere.