Last Friday was my daughter’s first birthday. It signalled the close of an incredible chapter: 365 of the most wonderful and overwhelming days of my life - I couldn’t think of a better reason to celebrate! Which is why I was amazed by how many parents tried to put me off throwing her a party.
‘She won’t remember it, it’s a waste of money, why bother?’ I heard over and over - pah! We don’t do things by halves in our family. Imogen was dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween, a bunny for Easter and wore a Santa suit at Christmas, when she got involved in everything from decorating the tree to stirring the pudding. We were having a first birthday party!
And yes it was a lot of effort, though not as much as it could have been. We did what any self-respecting working parents would do; we threw money at the situation and begged family members to help out. We had the amazing Northern Vintage Tea Company sort the food - mouth-watering quiches, wraps, cakes and pies served on vintage china plates - roped my sister in to make the cake and even got a lovely local seamstress to make her a one-of-a-kind dress.
There were presents - most of which Adam and I opened - and cards - most of which she tried to eat. And food. In the last few days, Imogen has sampled every kind of frosting, buttercream and chocolate imaginable. She is still coming down from the sugar high and I’ll probably never get her to eat vegetables again without the promise of a cupcake afterwards.
As for decorations, I could have easily printed out all 2,000 photos of her that I have on my iPhone camera roll, but instead I had the neat idea of creating a photo wall of all her ‘firsts’ - first bath, first walk, first yoghurt - and that took pride of place in the sea of pink that had become our dining room.
In the end, the whole day was really lovely. My main focus was making sure the birthday girl was napped and fed, so that she was in just the right frame of mind to greet her guests. And we kept the party short – two hours is plenty for any one-year-old. We didn’t organise any activities; luckily the weather was beautiful so we simply threw open the french doors, plonked drinks in ice buckets and filled the lawn with toys for the kids. It was perfect.
When we sang Happy Birthday to our little girl for the first ever time, surrounded by all the people we love and who have loved and supported us this last 365 days, I was so pleased that we ignored all the naysayers and decided to celebrate in a big way. Maybe Imogen won’t remember it, but we will, and the wonderful photographs taken that day will last a lifetime. It was the perfect way to cap off a tremendous year.
* Nik Brear, working mum and potential Bridezilla