This is a topic that I struggled with quite a bit when I was planning my son’s first birthday. Basically there are two sides to the debate when it comes to the guest list for a first birthday party. On one hand, the party is a celebration for the parents as well as the baby’s birthday, so of course the parents want to invite all of their friends. Chances are most of their friends also have small children, so they usually come along for the fun as well. A first birthday party has a lot of potential for a large number of guests. Some people think this is wonderful and relish in the opportunity to invite all of their friends and family over for a huge bash. On the other hand, there are those that believe that too many people can stress a baby out. They choose to invite the immediate family over for the party and opt out of the crowded affair in favor of a more intimate setting.
When I was planning my son’s birthday, I really wanted a big party, but the words of many echoed in my mind as I pondered the guest list, “one-year-old’s can become overstimulated and then you won’t enjoy the party because they’ll be crying a lot. They won’t have the attention span to open everyone’s gift and that will disappoint the guests.” I didn’t want to make my son cry, and I certainly didn’t want to let people down. On the other hand, I could just imagine my friends’ disappointment when they learned they were not invited to the party.
I ended up going with the longer guest list and I am glad I did. I definitely recognize that some babies out there will not be able to handle a big party. (Though I wonder sometimes if it’s the mom who can’t handle the big party… but even if that is the reason, that’s okay.) I also recognize that a bigger party costs more because of the food. In our case, my son loved being the center of attention, did not have any problems opening all of his gifts, and the cost of food wasn’t too bad because I bought pork at a steep discount and made pulled pork sandwiches for everyone. The best part was that so many people were able to celebrate with us. I joked that is was really a celebration of us making it through the first year!
When it comes to the size of the guest list, you should go with your gut. If you are excited about inviting a big group, then do it. Don’t worry about what everyone else says. Likewise, if the thought of a big party makes you wince and you dread the tantrums you are certain will follow, then keep the party small. There are no rules and you are the queen of the guest list. Remember you are the one who will be doing most of the work, so plan accordingly!