This past weekend we had Olivers first birthday party. I don’t mean he turned one. I mean it was the first time he’s had an actual birthday party. He really turned 3 on the 3rd, his golden birthday. So I wanted to make this year special for him. We had never done a real party for him before, but this year he has friends to invite over and was just way into the idea of his own birthday. Also it was on a Saturday with awesome weather so it just seemed perfect for a party anyways.
The reasons we hadn’t done a party for Oliver before are pretty simple. For his first birthday, I didn’t see a point. Obviously I acknowledge his birthday every year but I didn’t see a point to a full blown party for a one year old. I know some people go all out for the first birthday which is totally cool, but I didn’t want to go through all of it for him to not really know what was happening. So we just had a small little party with our parents at home. Then his second birthday hit right as covid-19 shut everything down. That might sound like a bad thing, but actually we got to go on a camping trip without massive crowds of people. It was really pretty nice. It was such a weird time that doing a party didn’t really seem like an option anyways, so getting out camping was just as good, or better, than what we may have done.
This year was different. Oliver understands how old he is now, so that changing was something to be excited about. What’s better about being 3 than being 2? I have no idea but he was pretty pumped about it. Also, he actually has friends and could tell me who he wanted to come to his party. To be fair, all of his friends have been cultivated by us, but still he has friends to invite. Then, like I said, it was his golden birthday. I didn’t want to just let that pass without some sort of celebration, it only happens once in your life. So we planned a party. Me, 36 weeks pregnant, inviting a variety of small children over to entertain for a few hours. That’s not crazy right? Right.
Here’s where I’m going to give you unsolicited advice about toddler birthdays. Don’t go too overboard. There are about ten thousand party ideas for toddlers online. Feel free to go through them, then choose two at most. The activity for Olivers party was pretty easy to choose. His birthday fell the day before Easter, so I just bought a ton of eggs and we dyed eggs for his party. It was also a beautiful day out, so we had yard games out to play with and I had some individual bubbles to play with.
3 year olds’ attention spans only go so long, so I had very little expectations of them all sitting down together and dying eggs. Surprisingly they were pretty into it. I had hard boiled 5 dozen eggs and thought I may end up dying some. But they were all done by the kids. We had 4 kids under 5 and 3 older kids at the party and they all did some eggs and seemed to have a great time with it. Then after they lost interest, or the eggs were gone, they naturally moved on to playing with the yard games we had out or bubbles. I went very unstructured with the party and that I think is the best thing for this age. Also we got to send everyone home with eggs for Easter the next day as our party favor, win win.
Mauricio made carne asada for lunch, which was a big hit with the adults in attendance, don’t forget about the adults that come to kids parties. Then once we got that cleaned up we moved inside for some cake and ice cream. For the first time ever, I hired someone to make a cake. I’m not intimidated by baking, but I am intimidated by decorating. My decorating skills are subpar at best, and like I said I wanted this to be a special day for Oliver. So I splurged on a golden cake for him. He loved it! His favorite part of birthdays is the singing and cake part and having it all focused on him was like a dream come true!
After cake and ice cream we just spent time relaxing with friends until they slowly filtered out. Another party thing that I didn’t really do was the part where everyone sits down and watches the birthday kid open presents. It always felt a little awkward to me. So instead Oliver opened his presents from us in the morning before guests came over. Then as guests came and gave him a present he opened it right then. That way they got to see him open his gift but we were also able to just move along with the other things at the party. To me, it was a perfect party. Very relaxed, some activities and very little structure. Oliver had a blast with his friends and really enjoyed his special day.
And now for some emotional venting about having a three year old. Oliver changed so many things about my life, in a good way. Three years ago I knew nothing about the world of marble races on Youtube or Monster Jam. Three years ago I had no idea what baby led weaning meant or how to teach someone to eat. Three years ago I had never changed a diaper. Three years ago I had way less patience. Three years ago I was pretty uncomfortable around children, especially babies. Three years ago I had no idea what it was like to give full blown unconditional love. The past three years I have learned and grown so much with Oliver and I am so grateful I have him.