A Minimalist First Birthday Party


As I mentioned in my last (boring) post, I’m starting to get into minimalism. My minimalism goals are, well, minimalist. They look something like this:

  • Stop buying shit.
  • Get rid of some of the shit I already have.

My motivation is threefold: (1) I’d like to break out of the spend-spend-spend consumer cycle wherein I spend too much money buying too much shit and in the end it’s pointless and doesn’t actually make me happy; (2) buying and using less shit is good for the environment; and (3) we’re poor.

I’m doing okay so far. Well, almost okay. I did buy a handbag, but it’s glorious and it’s the last handbag I’m ever going to buy if not forever at least for, like, years. Trust me, I don’t need any more handbags. They’ve always been my weakness. (Coming soon: The Last Handbag Ever post.)

Anyway, I digress. I’ve been assuming that my new-found minimalism will not go to shit when I start really planning Soren’s first birthday party. There’s no reason I can’t have a minimalist first birthday party for my kid, right?

But somehow, for some unknown reason (it’s what I do, I guess) I started looking at kid birthday party websites.

My mind is kind of blown.

Most of what I’m looking at is do-it-yourself stuff, so it shouldn’t be totally out of my reality sphere. (Although what’s up with everybody on the internet who throws a party for her kid being a “designer” all of a sudden? I can’t compete with designers.) Everything has a theme. I saw, for example, a red wagon party, complete with a red wagon full of beer bottles for the parents (sweet!), red decorations, and red velvet cupcakes. It was cute. There was a camping party, where the cupcakes were designed to look like little tiny campfires. There’s also over-the-top stuff like a fairy party complete with a bunny and, um, deer (live, actual animals).

Wait, what?

As they say on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown, come on man.

I’m not renting woodland animals for Soren’s first birthday party. I’m not festooning the house with giant poofs made of tissue paper, making him an outfit that coordinates with our theme, or having a photo booth. I’m not stenciling and customizing and stickerizing and going back in time so I can dress Soren in how-many-months-old-am-I onesies on each of his month-birthdays and taking a picture of him in the same chair and then make some sort of elaborate display of these photos so guests can oooh and aaaah and pretend they care. But now I’m worried. I don’t want to have an austere party that makes Soren feel he was unloved as a child when he looks at the pictures one day, assuming he ever looks at the pictures, which I swear I will actually take instead of just saying I will and then not getting around to it.

But how do I have a first birthday party that doesn’t offend my minimalist, hippie, environmental sensibilities or my non-existent budget but also doesn’t make me look like the kind of uptight treehugger who killed fun? Oddly enough, the internet is sorely lacking helpful information for this situation. Minimalist child birthday parties? I guess there’s not a market for that because you can’t sell people shit.

I can’t not have a party at all, because that’s lame. So how do I handle it?

I guess we’ll see. I’ll share what I do here, in case this is ever useful for anyone. Here are my thoughts so far:

  • No excess waste. This is a big one. I’d love to decorate the hell out of the house. Okay, not really, but I’d like to do something festive. However, I don’t want to use any decorations that will be thrown out after one use or can’t easily be stored in our tiny house. Lucky for us, Soren’s birthday is October 25, so we can use Halloween decorations we already have. I’m also thinking about doing something with orange Halloween lights (apparently this is a thing now), which we can use again. We also have pumpkins we’ve been growing in the yard. Organic and free (the plant was even free from a local event last spring)! Another part of no excess waste is avoiding paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. We’ll just use the dishes, flatware, and glasses we use every day. Also, and this is probably getting into killing-fun territory, but I just did the invitation online. Paper invitations seem so old fashioned and although they’re cute, it’s more waste and expense (plus I don’t want anybody to have to call us to RSVP — ugh phones).
  • I love the idea of a theme, but I’m not going crazy with it. I’m not going to whittle pumpkin-shaped doorstops out of reclaimed wood from the surrounding countryside. I’ll try to stick to a general concept, within reason. We’ll have fall-ish food and drink, including pumpkin beer and pumpkin cupcakes. We’re thinking chili because it’s easy to make, but it’s also not the most awesome thing to feed a baby unless you like slimy, orange children.
  • Oh yeah, and we’re doing everything ourselves, including making the food.
  • Any gift bags will be incredibly simple. It seems like people expect gift bags and I don’t wish to offend, but the whole thing seems kind of silly when you’re having a bunch of adults and kids who are too little to care about gift bags. I might just give people cookies. And maybe pumpkin seeds to plant. If you complain about getting cookies, you’re the one killing fun, pal.

Oof, I’m already getting overwhelmed. Wish me luck.