I know the first birthday is something special for a child, but is not something that a kid will remember, so it's more of a party of the adults in his/her life to celebrate that they made it through the first year. Several of my friends have not had babies yet, or might not be planning to.

Should I restrict the guest list to other parents of babies/toddlers because it might be boring or not-fun for those who aren't immersed in our world of diapers and sippy cups? Or should I open it up and let people choose for themselves if they want to come? I'm not talking a ton of people, maybe inviting couples 6 with kids, 3 without...

2nd part of the question, is it snooty to say in the e-vite "no gifts please, but you can make a donation to UNICEF in her name by clicking here"?

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    This is a well-phrased question, but I'd suggest breaking the question about gifts/donations into a new, separate Question so it gets the attention it deserves. Welcome to the site :)
    – Acire
    Feb 9, 2015 at 15:24
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    I think the UNICEF idea is a very good one. Essentially saying, we've got enough stuff, give to someone truly in need. Feb 9, 2015 at 19:22

5 Answers 5


As you note, first birthday is basically a party for you, not for her, except that she's the reason for the party. I would say that means invite whomever you want.

However, you probably should tend towards inviting people who have shown an interest in your daughter. Friends who have not shown an interest in her - at least, acknowledging her when they come over and play a bit - probably won't want to come to a child's birthday party, even when it's more of an adult thing, unless you make it entirely an adult party and don't invite her. Undoubtedly there are exceptions to this, but keep that in mind. I wouldn't say it has anything to do with whether they have kids - rather, whether they're interested in yours. Otherwise, have a party that's not kid-related.

As far as gifts, it's technically not polite to mention gifts on the invitation (as that presumes people will bring one). However, if you're worried about people bringing gifts, you can ameliorate that by changing the language some.

Come to a barbecue where we celebrate surviving our first year as parents.

That makes it less a birthday party and more just a get-together, so people won't feel as obligated to bring gifts.

You can of course also mention gifts if you want - while it's not technically polite, it's certainly not a major faux pas, and if you're worried about presents clogging up the works, mention away. I would change the language slightly, and not mention the alternative:

No gifts are required; your presence is all we need.

Then, if someone asks that they'd like to give something anyway, you can mention Unicef directly to them.

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    We request your presence, not your presents. :-)
    – SharpC
    Feb 11, 2015 at 9:49

I don't have kids, and don't ever plan to. Depending on the activity, I might shudder as I RSVP "no". I would, however, be thrilled to be invited. It's tough for those of us who don't wish to have babies to stay connected to our friends who took the other path.

If you'd like us to come... I'd recommend the party with both bar and playground mentioned in MiniMum's Answer. Personally, I don't mind kids being present, I just don't want to interact with them. But I would LOVE the chance to interact with my friends who I maybe haven't seen as much this past year.

If you can, make it clear in the invite whether the activities are likely to be all-ages or kid focused, so that childless friends can decide. Invite them, though. They probably miss you.

  • This is a very useful answer to have from the potential guest's perspective. Thanks for contributing :)
    – Acire
    Feb 13, 2015 at 15:05

We've always opened ours up. We've found that those who are invited to special occasions like that, whether they have kids or want to have kids or not are more interested and more proactively involved in the child's life as they grow up.

We think it's important that our kids have adults that can speak into their lives since there's probably going to be a day when they think they know better than their parents.


We recently arranged our son's first birthday party and we decided we wanted to invite friends with and without children. Because of this we chose a style of party that would suit everyone we wanted to invite. As well as other babies, we invited friends with older children and friends without children.

We chose a venue with a bar and plenty of space for the children to play. We hired some soft play equipment which was a big hit with all of the children even up to 9 years old. The children, except the smallest ones, entertained themselves mostly and the adults could enjoy some food and drinks. It all worked out very well.

Of course you don't have to do the same as us but I think the best way to approach it is to see what you want to do and who with, then base your party around that. Try to have something for the different types of guest. There won't be many birthdays where you get to choose completely what to do rather than your child. We saw the first birthday party as a way to celebrate our child with our friends as much as for him to celebrate his birthday. We are not religious so had nothing like a Christening so this is the first good chance we really had to celebrate.

We also went to a friend's child's first birthday where there were only people with children around 1 and that was fun too. I think it's OK to do either way.

As for the present, we were invited to a party where a donation to charity was requested instead of presents and we weren't offended, we thought it was nice. For our party we made a little joke - the invitation was from our son and he said that his nasty parents have said he has too many toys already so please don't bring a present. Amazingly no-one gave him a toy. Quite a few people gave us something instead like champagne or vouchers. I think people would be happy to donate to a charity as an alternative.


My earliest memory is from my 1-year-old birthday party, reinforced by photos. Don't underestimate!

1-year-olds are not usually developmentally very ready to play with each other—if you invite other 1-year-olds they will need constant supervision, because there is almost no difference between playing and fighting at that age. But they enjoy parties, special food and novelty. They also enjoy attention from older kids and grownups.

Just have fun!

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