First birthday parties are the best. The. BEST. It’s a magic milestone for any parent and provides the perfect opportunity to put some life-long traditions in place.
I’ll put my hand up right now and say that I’m the uber-sentimentalist (“mental” being the key chunk of text in that word!). I have saved boxes and boxes of kids’ art, ticket stubs, locks of hair from my kids’ first haircuts, really impractical kindy box constructions, macaroni necklaces, teeny tiny clothes, big-ticket event outfits, candles from birthday cakes, school books, photos, photos and more photos. It’s an intense obsession and one that I can trace back to my first daughter’s first birthday.
You see, I love a family tradition and first birthdays provide loads of opportunities to start lifelong traditions. When helping mum clear out her wardrobe years back, I rescued a 1970s shirt that she was about to throw out. Something about it resonated with me – maybe the mega-70s collar, the saucy see-through fabric, the colour? When looking back on family photos right before my first daughter’s first birthday I realised why I liked that shirt so – it was the shirt mum wore on my first birthday. And that there was the lightbulb moment – I would wear the shirt as a surprise for mum at my daughter’s first birthday. I would go on to wear that short again on my second daughter’s birthday and I have now put it away in a special box for my daughters to maybe wear at their kids’ first birthday parties – if the moths and silverfish don’t have a party with it themselves first!
Ideas for family traditions
- At your child’s first birthday party, get guests to supply something for a time capsule that you can seal and then open on their 21st birthday. The daily newspaper from their first birthday is a great inclusion. Make sure you write your child a special letter and pop that in the capsule too.
- For girls, buy a piece of meaningful jewellery that has the ability to be worn by the birthday child now and into adulthood. Imagine, as a 30 or 40yo, wearing something that was given to you on your first birthday? Think necklaces, adjustable (charm) bracelets or even earrings.
- Get the birthday child to help you plant a significant tree on their special day. Then, of course, you need a photo of your child with that tree each birthday to follow.
- Make a birthday crown (or similar) and photograph them on their birthday wearing it. Then each year, take a photo featuring the same crown etc. By the time they are adults, you’ll have a great set of images to frame.
- Buy a children’s story book (Dr Seuss’s “Oh the places you’ll go” is a good one) and each year write a message to your child on a page. In the same vein, write your child a letter each year on their birthday and present the letters together, bound as a book, on their 18th or 21st birthday.
- Buy your birthday child a keepsake plate and cutlery so they can eat birthday cake from this plate for years and years to come.
- First birthdays are a great time to start a growth chart. It could be as simple as making a mark on a door/architrave/post in your home. Or if you are worried about moving one day, buy a hanging growth chart. A piece of dowel from Bunnings, painted brightly, is another inexpensive way to record growth.
- Take your child’s hand print, in paint, every birthday and watch them grow.