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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.

IMG_0314enhYou 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.
Belinda Glindemann

Belinda Glindemann  

Belinda knew she was destined for a career in communications and publishing from the age of 11 when her Year 6 teacher introduced her to poster projects and glitter pens. She completed her journalism cadetship in the Whitsundays and went on to hold various newspaper and magazine editor roles across Brisbane in a media career spanning more than a decade. When Belinda's not writing for haven, she runs her own PR agency, kid-wrangles two young daughters and drinks way too much sweet tea.