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Seeking Gala Event Planner

Last week’s poll results are in and for the first time, it was unanimous!

The question was about Baby’s first birthday party. Do you go all out, with the elaborate party, piles of gifts, and Baby’s “friends” all around her to denote this landmark occasion? Do you have a party that’s more geared towards you and your friends, since it’s more for you anyway? Or do you do pretty much nothing, since she’ll never remember and you’ll save the bucks?

Every single person who voted chose the middle road, throwing a party more for themselves than the little one. And I have to tell you, I’m in the same camp.

Brian and I are just starting to make plans for baby girl’s big day; it’s coming up in just over a month and I’m still in shock over the fact that we’re about to hit a point where we can say, “This time last year you were here!” Mommy’s going to go through a grieving period, but that’s a blog for another day.

The latest edition of Time Out New York/Kids was all about birthday parties for kids and in New York City, the sky’s really the limit. For a hefty fee you can have the “Hairspray” party for your special kid, replete with cast members from the Broadway show teaching you the finale, tickets to the show for several friends, a beehive hairdo makeover, backstage tour, and more. The price is so steep that TONYKids blushed to put it in the magazine, which is really saying something.

Now I realize that’s for older kids, but I’ve seen excess for babes of all ages in this city. A friend of mine had her daughter in a posh private school here in the city for safety reasons, but she told me she knew it was time for her to remove her 5-year-old to a public school when the kindergartener sobbed because she couldn’t have her birthday party at the Plaza. Hotel.

And with infants it seems the fact that the child doesn’t understand any of what’s going on doesn’t deter the parents at all. We had neighbors throw a birthday party for their one-year-old a few years ago that kept the whole block awake for many hours. They hired a DJ who mixed kids’ music for hours, hosted a kiddie karaoke, and belted out “Happy Birthday” on request. For a one-year-old! When I think about what that money could have done in a college fund I get very frustrated.

Not to mention I would’ve gotten a lot more sleep that day.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a Scrooge that says the day should pass unnoticed. But I’m pretty sure it’s a bigger deal to me and Brian than it is to Maddie; we’ll be the ones sharing “Remember when . . .” stories about the big day one year ago while Maddie stares blankly. And while birthdays are meant to be a day when you shower your child with attention and make them feel special, by definition then every day is Maddie’s birthday. She couldn’t have more attention on a daily basis if she was the star of the Truman Show.

And as for gifts, yes, we’re making a gift list. I’m not going to pretend it comes from Maddie (“Maddie was just saying the other day how she’d love the new Leapfrog Activity Table!”) but it is useful. I’ve started looking around at toys for the next developmental “level”, doing my research and checking with my focus groups. We will need new toys in a month or two as she outgrows what she uses now, and I don’t want a wad of cash flying out as we scramble to find something to entertain the pumpkin, so I plan ahead.

And believe me, I’m already looking forward to her 5th, 6th, 7th birthdays: chances to indulge in pure fantasies of dressing up like princesses, having slumber parties or mini soccer camps or whatever she’s into for that year. I’ll willingly bake three kinds of cake if that’s what she wants, and stay up all night stuffing a piñata for her friends. But not yet.

I don’t know what we’ll be doing for her big day. It’ll probably involve cake (for everyone except Maddie – sorry, kiddo!) and hanging out with friends and their kids. I’m pretty sure it will involve copious weeping on my part and numerous “Sunrise, Sunset” moments for both of us. It’ll be a day of huge celebration, marking the time that our lives changed forever, and for the better. Simply the fact that it’s the day she “officially” began to exist makes it celebration worthy, if nothing else, and I’ll be rejoicing joyfully all day (except for the weeping, of course!). Madeleine will revel in the attention and extra kisses; she’ll dance her way through the day dressed in an adorable outfit; and she’ll collapse, exhausted, at the end of the day without knowing what an emotional rollercoaster it’s been for her parents.

But one thing I know for sure – there will be nary a Broadway show or karaoke DJ in sight.


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