I did a very low-key birthday for my son's first, and I plan on repeating it for his second (with maybe a few Toy Story balloons). We had maybe 10 people over (four of them were his age), and frankly, that was almost too many, because he started getting a little weirded out by all the people. (And he's not unused to lots of people, he's just not used them all in HIS house, playing with HIS toys, and staring at HIM when presented with cake.) The theme for the party was "Mommy Made It Through the First Year and Has Retained Most of Her Sanity". I thought it was appropriate. This is my theory on first birthdays: frankly? The kid is not going to remember it, and chances are extremely good that at some point during the festivities, they're either going to have a nap or a meltdown, so it's best not to have very high expectations. I know of one mom who for her son's first birthday, hired a clown, a bouncy house, a magician, a pony, and catered in for 60 people. The cake was custom-made. Her son threw a fit ten minutes into the festivities and ended up going down for such a long nap that he missed the rest of it. Three years later, she was worried because her daughter was turning one, and she didn't want to do such a big bash but how would she explain it to her daughter ten years later? "Easy," said I. "Tell her you put the money you would have spent into her college savings fund." To your son, his birthday is just another day. You having a party is more about YOU than it is about HIM. And that's fine, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. The only thing wrong is when you forget that your son doesn't give a flying fig about the cake, the pony, the bouncy house, the caterers, or the guests. He just wants your attention and a nap, not necessarily in that order.