As I'm sure many parents do, Mike and I struggled with how to celebrate Jenna's first birthday. As someone who hates my own birthday, I obviously wanted to make it special without going to crazy (and believe me, in NY it's very easy to go crazy over a first birthday). So after much hemming and hawing and phone calls and internet searches, we realized that the best place for Jenna to celebrate her birthday would be in her own home around people that she loved. We had been to too many restaurant parties, where it seems more for the adults than the baby and watched as the kid was crying from the combination of over-tiredness, no nap and over stimulation before the cake was even served.
Since we didn't go with the restaurant-thing, we were able to spend some extra money on some frivilous items...personalized M and Ms with her picture on them, personalized Hershey bar candy wrappers, and personalized maracas for the kids. We got great food, appetizers, cake, and cookies from our local Stop and Shop. With some cute birthday banners and plates, the place looked like it was ready for a party.
The Saturday of her birthday we had our family (about 20 people) come over for the afternoon (ensuring that Jenna would get her morning nap and ideally a late afternoon nap after everyone left) for lunch and cake. And honestly, it was so special. Jenna was surrounded by the people who are most important in her life and I can say that she loved every minute. She walked around (or rather followed her big cousin) and went from arm to arm. Mike and I barely saw her and we definitely didn't hear her, except when she was giggling.
After everyone went home and we got to talking about the day and we agreed that it was the best way to celebrate our daughter's first birthday...surrounded by our family. And most importantly, I think we made the decision that as much as we wanted to celebrate - this party was a party fit for a one year old where she could have a good time too!