the tired mama’s guide: 10 steps to plan a first birthday


March 14, 2018


Kati Douglas


Between the gram, blogs, and Pinterest it feels as if every single Mama is incredibly great at throwing parties and nailing the littlest details. I wish I could do it. I know my strengths and  what I can do is obsess about these details until I’m too tired to care anymore.  Since tired is a constant thing I’ve made a step by step guide for those of you who need some guidance on nailing your kids’ birthday even when you’re a walking zombie. 


Step 1: Choose a Theme

Have you ever browsed Pinterest for birthday party ideas with the high hopes of throwing the  best party ever?  Yeah, me too.  Here’s how it usually goes down:

Pinterest secret board created? check. 

Browse “first birthday gender neutral theme” for 1 hour? check. 

Fall asleep slowly, drop phone on my head and jar myself back awake? check.

Continue browsing “colorful baby boy birthday decorations” for 17 minutes until I fall back asleep? check. 

Step 2: Tell Your Spouse (if applicable)

My need to plan early is a very learned response. You see I have this person I like to refer to as my “life partner”. He’s amazing, except sometimes he wants to make decisions about things (puts a real stick in my wheel on the regular, actually) and he’s a known procrastinator. I tell him things far in advance so that when he asks me questions about the party 2 hours before it starts, I get to say “I told you this 3 months ago”. It’s really the only upper hand I’ve got on him.  

 This photo is the best representation I've got of our relationship. Thanks, Aikane!

This photo is the best representation I’ve got of our relationship. Thanks, Aikane!


Step 3: Choose an Invite

You might think that ordering a cute invite and mailing it is easy. It’s not. It’s expensive. It involves gathering addresses and I have to go buy stamps which is my least favorite activity. Instead of that daunting task I just used my lunchtime to browse every online invitation site possible. It took 2 days to find this one on minted, another day to create a mock up, and then I had to email it to myself 3x and mull it over for a week.  I might or might not have anxiety. Who knows?

Step 4: Decorations

3 words: TARGET. DOLLAR. SECTION. I guess I got lucky because I walked into Target one day and the heavens opened and said, “Kati, take all the 3 dollar rainbow decorations you can fit in your cart”. Halfway through the trip my Mom finally talked me down with her probing questions, “are you sure you need 6 tassel banners?”, “I’m not sure all of these multicolored felt balls will even fit in your home”, “don’t you think other people want to have decorations too?”  Fine, Mom. Fine. 


Step 5: Take a Mental Health Day

The day before the party I took the day off to to recreate the activities I did the day before Max was born- except the OBGYN. No need to get my membranes swiped for nostalgia’s sake. One massage, pedicure, and lunchtime later I went home and cleaned. Thank goodness I didn’t go into labor again.

Step 6: Go To the Dollar Store at 8:30 pm

I suggest you skip this step. As it turns out, the Dollar Store doesn’t sell regular balloons and they won’t even blow up the balloons they sell. You also might run into someone who is so high they cackle/giggle when the cashier mentions latex balloons and won’t stop talking to you about the whisk he’s buying for a photoshoot. I didn’t stick around to ask questions. 

Step 7: Make the cake

In my previous  life I was the brown Martha Stewart and I try to live up to that glory at every chance I get. I grabbed this vanilla cake recipe from Pinterest and  man do those Australian Mamas always come through with the great recipes! I made an American Buttercream frosting but not before completely layering my kitchen with powdered sugar 15 minutes before the party started (see below picture…sigh).I only cursed under my breath at this point. I made Max’s smash cake this banana bread with coconut cream frosting which he barely touched but I suggest it because it was delicious when I dug into it the next morning. 

Step 8: Have Friends Who Check Up On You

My friends know how much of a mess I am and at least 3 of them called me the day of to see what I needed and talk me down from my ledge. Every year I forget something and every party I can count on them to pick up my missing pieces. It’s even better when they come in and start running the party. Remember Aikane from my Mama Date at the Color Factory? She came in, bossed folks around, took my camera from me, and made sure the candles on the cake were lit.

Step 9: Drink All the Margaritas. Because, Stress.

The day of a party I’m not my best me. I’ll own it. I’m everywhere and trying to do all of the things while yelling at decorations that won’t stick to the wall and making sure people don’t make a mess.  Thankfully everyone knows this and will just stay away from me not making eye contact. I always underestimate how long it takes to hang decorations, shove random things in closets, and make sure that my hair is done. 

Alcohol at kids’ birthday parties are a must. Sure, people appreciated my Maxwell Margaritas with sparkling limeade but they were really for me. Throwing a party is really freaking stressful. 

Step 10: Recover Until Next Year

Eat that left over cake, take a nap, and plan to plan earlier next year. I now have 11.75 months to do it all over again. 




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *