It’s important to mark an occasion, I feel. Celebrating rites of passage helps us stop to think about the passing of time, and remember how fleeting (and therefore beautiful) life is…
…it’s also the perfect excuse for a happy, colourful PARTY!
Why Is A Birthday So Important To A Mummy?
Now that I have a son, birthdays in particular have taken on a new significance for me. I went to a first birthday party the other day, with T. As the little girl sat in her high-chair next to her enormous Minnie Mouse cake and we sang ‘Happy Birthday’, I felt a surge of emotion and started to well up. Admittedly, this could have something to do with the fact that I was feeling a tad “delicate” after my first night out in a long time! But, mum night out aside, I guess that the poignancy of that moment struck me – because it is not only marked the first day of her little girl’s life, but also the day that she metamorphosed into a mother. T is not yet one, but, as his birthday approaches, I am already beginning to think back to the day he was born and everything that meant to me – how it felt to leave my old life behind and step tentatively into a new and very different role. I think that now, every one of his birthdays will always mean just as much to me as they do to him. In fact, I am pretty sure that every time anybody has a birthday, there is a woman somewhere, remembering giving birth to that person and contemplating what motherhood means to them.
Marking the Occasion
Bearing in mind everything I have just said, I am determined not to let this birthday pass un-noticed, or with only a cake and a candle. Not that there is anything wrong with a cake and a candle – these will be featuring prominently on the day!
But, like all you playful and creative readers out there, I would like to mark the occasion of my favourite boy’s first birthday with some interesting and memorable presents. I’ve been researching this for a while, and it hasn’t been easy. There are numerous websites and companies that produce “personalised products” (aka a product with your child’s name on), and some of these are beautifully made and worth looking at, if you like that sort of thing. But I wanted to do something MORE personalised than a bathrobe or egg-cup with T’s name on…if you know what I mean.
So, I’ve been chatting to creative parents, grandparents and friends, and researching on the internet, and I’ve collected my favourite Ten Unique Presents For First Birthdays. I hope you enjoy reading about them and get some use out of them.
Actually, I must add that, when I started writing, I thought this would be a list for first birthdays, but I now realise that almost all of these gift ideas would work just as well as a present for a new-born, and some as Christmas presents or for subsequent birthdays. So, if you see anything you like here, do share with any friends or family who are expecting!
The best toys for a first birthday
This is NOT a list of toys, but of unique, different ideas to commemorate a first birthday. If you are interested in finding the most suitable toys for your or a friend or family member’s one year-old, scroll to the bottom of the post and there is a link to an excellent, well-researched and clearly presented list by another mummy blogger.
Ten Unique Gifts For Baby’s First Birthday
1. A ‘My First Year’ Annotated Album
This is a lovely, creative project to have on the go. I have been planning to do this all year, so I have been collecting my favourite photos from the year, and keeping very basic notes on what T learned to do at various times. I plan to have it ordered chronologically, with a collage of photographs on one page and notes describing my memories and milestones on the opposite page.
I am going to be using an amazing free publishing tool called Blurb. If you haven’t discovered this seriously excellent site, you MUST (must, must!) have a look! I used this recently to create an album (of photographs and comments from relatives) for my Dad’s Seventieth Birthday. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s FREE and easy to use, and is brilliant if you like to be able to have control over your own design. It is simply a tool that you download to create your own professionally finished book. You do all the creating, they just produce the book, in hardback or paperback, you pay for it and they send it to you!
It looks like I may not manage T’s book in time for his birthday, so I will probably give it to him as a Christmas present instead. In any case, I need to add his birthday photos as a grand finale to the album. But if you are a little more organised than me (not hard to be!) I think it really would make a special first birthday present that the whole family will treasure forever, and your child will LOVE to look back at when they are a bit older. Would make a great Show and Tell in their first term at school.
2. A Voucher For Baby’s First Pair Of Shoes
This is an idea a mummy friend recently came up with, that I have to share. I have been picturing the day T takes his first steps for a long time now. When it happens, I want to mark the change in his life. Of course, your baby may not be walking exactly ON their first birthday, so this idea of buying a voucher is the perfect way to be prepared for when it happens! Oh I am going all gooey just thinking about that first beautiful little pair of shoes – moving swiftly on…
3. A Memorable Experience
We chose not to have a birthday party for T this year, for two reasons really. First – he is too young to remember it or enjoy it and secondly – I couldn’t face the stress! I figure I have years of birthday parties to organise, but this year I can just get away without doing one and not be labelled a neglectful mother!
Instead of a party, we chose to take him out for a Birthday Treat, with his immediate family, to an adventure playground and farm nearby.
He seemed very HAPPY. And that is all I really wanted.
I like this gift idea because it leaves room for lots of creativity. You can choose the experience to suit you, your family, your budget, your timetable, and – most importantly – your little one’s interests.
There is so much out there to choose from, but my personal favourites for one-year-old babies would be:
- a farm (our choice as T LOVES animals and tractors)
- a zoo
- a big soft-play room, or baby gym
- a session in a baby sensory room
For my local readers – I was very excited to discover a sensory room had opened near me at our local Mums and babies cafe here – what a wonderful way for a baby to spend their special day!
4. A Cool T-shirt For A Cool Baby.
Has your baby got personality?
A friend posted a picture of her baby wearing one of these recently and it caught my attention immediately. If you like to think you are a bit “edgy” and want your baby to stand out from the crowd – you’d love this gift idea. And you absolutely have to check out these baby-grows and t-shirts at Nippaz With Attitude.
A “Mama Ain’t Raisin’ No Fool” Baseball Shirt (Pure. Genius.) is on my shopping list.
5. A Basket Of Books
I stumbled on these a while back, when I was buying baby books online and I think this would make an unusual and interesting present for any baby. The website I found is called Brighter Babies Book Baskets. They stock a range of bundles and baskets which vary from around £30 to £200. This would be a lovely gift to send to a relative for their first birthday (or to a new-born), as it is easy to order, arrives next day and is beautifully presented.
The only snag is they do not have a huge range, and there is not much choice involved. BUT – if you are like me and like to do your own creating, I think you could have ALOT of fun creating your own! There are endless possibilities and you could really tailor it to the child’s personality and interests. You could add soft toys or finger puppets, and provide a variety of fiction, non-fiction and poetry to expand their lovely little minds. This is going in the memory bank for when I become a Grandma! Having said that, I will be unable to resist making one for T now too, as books are one of his favourite things in the whole world.
6. A Classic, Collectible Toy
I love the idea of buying a present that will stay with your baby throughout their childhood, that they can add to, that will possibly even get handed down to their child one day. There is something about both the permanence of it that appeals to me. It depends on the gender and personality of your child and what they are into really, but the two best long-term toys (from one year on) that I have come across are the classic and timeless Doll’s House and Train Set.
The Doll’s House Emporium is one of the oldest and most extensive collections of doll’s houses. So if this is your bag, set aside a lunch hour and have fun browsing!
My favourite train set is the classic wooden Brio set. But I found out recently that Ikea do a similar (and much more affordable) train set called Lillabo, as do Tesco. According to Mumsnet, there is a wooden Thomas The Tank Engine set you can buy too – and the brilliant thing is that these are all compatible with each other.
Another lovely long-term idea is to start a collection of China Dolls, or the gorgeous Steiff Teddy Bears for your little one. But I must admit that although the former would be a worthwhile investment, I prefer the toy idea, as this is something your baby will get years of playing pleasure out of.
7. A Fruity Sapling
I had a university friend whose parents planted an apple tree for her when she was born, and, years later, she kissed her first love under it. How LOVELY is that?? I want that for my boy. I love the symbolism of it too – as your child grows and flourishes, so the tree produces fruit and flowers. I found a great company that delivers gift-wrapped trees to you called tree2mydoor but I’m sure there are many more to be found.
You could make the gesture even more meaningful by choosing the fruit tree based on it’s symbolic qualities!
8. A Bespoke Name Creation
This is actually one of my favourites on the list. When I got married and changed my name, it hit me how important a name is. I realised that my name was not “just” a name. I had become very attached to it!
So, when it came to naming my son, I literally spent months scouring name books, consulting family trees and even checking baby name statistics charts to come up with my favourite. What a terrifying privilege it is to be able to name somebody. And how important your little one’s name will be to them!
I am so looking forward to teaching T his name, and, one day, how to write it. It will be a year or so before I can start doing this, but I would like him to get used to what his name looks like and to recognise and order the letters in his name, in a fun way.
Here are two beautifully-crafted, creative name gifts from the same company that I have found to help me do this:
These are artistic, personalised name frames. They paint all the letters in your child’s name out of animals and characters and you can choose a theme such as pirates, fairies, monsters or dragons. They are beautiful, colourful works of art. But, most importantly for me, they are educational and fun!
These are simple peg puzzles of your child’s name – each letter is one piece of the puzzle. With this toy, they can improve their hand-eye co-ordination, matching skills and dexterity, as well as learning the letters in their name!
9. A Table Set
Food took on a whole new meaning for me when I became a mother. You could argue that is really all we mummies are here for – to feed and nourish our babies. I think that if I wrote down on paper just how many hours I spent in the last year just feeding – I would be astonished. And then if I added the hours I spent worrying about what and how much I was feeding him, I would probably have covered most of the year!
I feel now that Food and Love are deeply, inextricably linked.
So, when the boy I love so much (and have fed so much!) is finally able to eat independently, I would like to make an occasion of it and celebrate a new, more grown-up way of eating. A great way to do this (I think) is to buy him a special table set. I found a great list of fun table sets, here on Made For Mums.
10. A Work Of Art
I didn’t realise that there was such a thing as a children’s artist – until I spotted a picture by one in a friend’s daughter’s bedroom – and instantly fell in love with it! I then found a print by the artist, Molly Brett, had it professionally framed, and gave it pride of place in T’s bedroom (you can see it in the photo above). It has a sort of magical quality to it, I think. T already enjoys pointing to the animals and teddy bears in the scene and it will be a great discussion starter, as he gets older. Molly Brett’s style may not appeal to you personally, but I am sure there are plenty of other more excellent children’s artists to be found, to suit every taste and sensibility. The only other children’s artist I could find easily online was Gabrielle Macdonald, whose style is completely different. If you know of any, please let me know, and I’ll add them to this list!
If you are really loaded, or just want to splash out, you could invest in an original drawing or painting. If, on the other hand, you scrape together every penny you have to feed and clothe your little lovely, then a print in a beautiful frame is just as good-looking and a more affordable option.
Well, I’ve come to the end of my list.
I really enjoyed writing this post – it’s helped me to think through what I will be getting for T. Only problem now is – I literally want it all!
Toys For Your Baby’s First Birthday
Are you also looking for some educational toys to delight and develop your one-year-old on their special day? If so, you might enjoy reading ‘25 Gift Ideas For A First Birthday Party’ – a brilliant list that I found on another mum’s blog. Great stuff.
Have you enjoyed reading this post? Which was your favourite on the list and why? Have you got your own unique baby gift ideas that you’d like to share? Comment below or on my Facebook page – I love hearing your thoughts and ideas, and I’m sure other parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties and godparents would too!