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Not just a cake-all-over-his-face photo op

Jack's first birthday is Saturday. And do you know what that means? The first birthday party. Gah. Kill me now.

For someone who loves throwing parties, this lack of excitement is new territory for me. Usually I've got my calendar out weeks in advance, plotting when to buy the food, make the favors, put up the decorations and bake the treats. I always end up inviting a ton of people and spend the days leading up to the party oscillating between aaauuuuggghhhh what if nobody comes?! and auuuuuuggghhhh what if we don't have enough room?! I make my husband absolutely insane with my Deranged Clean Freak persona (which only makes her entrance right before a party, unfortunately) and my insistence that the entire living room needs rearranging. But then the guests begin arriving and I start filling wine glasses and oh, I love having parties at my house.

But a first birthday party? With family? And friends? And old people? And young people? And people who barely qualify as people, seeing as how they aren't even walking yet? I've never thrown that kind of party. How will I keep these people entertained? What if there are so many people in our house the ankle biters are in danger of getting stepped on? Why are the grandmothers way more invested in this party than I am? I mean, the only reason I've decided what kind of food we're having is because my mom is desperate to know which Costco shelves she should clean out.

But I still have three days to morph into my familiar Crazy Party Planning self. When the baby wakes up from his nap we're off to the local party store, one of my favorite haunts, to peruse an aisle I've never bothered to inspect: the Children's Birthday Party Supplies aisle. I will purchase some paper plates and possibly some hats, preferably unadorned with the latest licensed cartoon character. I will comb the store for perfect one-year-old-friendly party favors. I will ask about ordering some helium balloons because have you given a one-year-old a helium-filled balloon? INSTANT PARTY.

And you know, there's nothing like a party supply store to get you in the party planning spirit. When we get home I'll probably stand in the middle of our living room and decide how best to move the furniture (I'll leave the actual moving part to my husband, of course.) I'll dig out my punch bowl and haul out the vacuum. The hamsters that run the party planning part of my brain will finally get cracking and then, watch out husband of mine!

What I am already in the spirit about (not that I will admit this in public, or in front of my mother, who has bought an "autograph bear" to record first birthday wishes for all of time immemorial, IS SOMEONE SORT OF EXCITED?) is the cake. At first I was all, "Cupcakes! Cupcakes are easy! Cupcakes are one-year-old sized!" But then I started thinking about the cakes my mother made for us when I was growing up. These were not ordinary cakes, people. These were Feats of Engineering. Animal cakes, doll cakes, Strawberry Shortcake's face. One cake I remember particularly well was in the shape of a rocking horse, with white frosting and Life Saver spots and red licorice reins. It was beautiful and awe inspiring and I AM TOTALLY GOING TO ONE UP HER.

I've decided on a Giraffe Cake. I spent hours last night looking up pictures of giraffe cakes online (because I am not the only crazy first birthday party planner) and found a few cakes I think I could imitate fairly well. I might have to do a practice run this afternoon and experiment to find the perfect shade of yellow frosting, but it! will! happen! If you are coming to the party, I can tell you one thing: the entertainment may be dull, BUT THE CAKE WILL BE AWESOME. 

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