There’s no need to feel guilty if you decide to forgo the pomp and dismiss the circumstance. Chances are, your birthday boy or girl will be none the wiser. In fact, the more exciting and lavish your party is, the better the chances are that the little partygoer won’t enjoy it much at all.

My youngest just turned one yesterday. Maybe if he was my first, we would have thrown an all-out bash to never be forgotten. Since I have become a little more relaxed in my parenting, however, I realized that the small party was the best way to celebrate the life of my little guy.

Location isn’t everything. Meeting up with a few close friends and family is a cozy way to share the occasion, and don’t feel like you have to rent a social hall and mail out formal invitations. A simple phone call to loved ones can let them know the place and time without fuss, and will be as appreciated as fancy invites.

Food is often the center of family gatherings and celebrations. We love food, and I would never dream of leaving it out of our plans. You will want to consider just how much food you will need for a small gathering. It is perfectly acceptable to ask close family to help out with a side dish or dessert. If you don’t happen to be handy with cake-making, you could even ask your talented sister to bake a homemade creation as a present to your son or daughter. They may be excited to be able to help make the holiday special!

You will also want to consider what foods will be appropriate for young children. You may be dying to try out that new lobster bisque recipe, but will the honored guest even be able to eat it? Remember that food allergies are a big concern at this age, and by developing the menu around food that your child can enjoy, you are ensuring that he or she can participate to the fullest. Limiting sugar may also be a priority for you, and it is one that can be addressed with tact. A single mini-cupcake without frosting is all that most youngsters need, and if far less mess than letting your prince or princess stick their face in the triple-decker chocolate cake. (If you like letting kids get messy for photo ops, don’t let me stop you. Just be sure that they don’t consume so much that they get a tummy ache!)

Photo opportunities will be plentiful at the event. Try to get the best ones done early, so that clothes are still clean and smiles are abundant. An early lighting of the candles can make for a sweet moment ready to be captured on film, even if you aren’t ready to dig into dessert just yet.

Fun and games can be exciting to plan, but simple conversation and light activities might be the best way to pass the time. Getting a chance to sit on Grandma’s lap or read a book with Grandpa is a moment to be treasured forever. You little guy won’t even miss that ball pit at the local amusement center.

Before the party comes to a close, you may find that the honored guest is beginning to tucker out. Don’t feel like you need to apologize if you want to lay Junior down for a nap. While this is an exciting once-in-a-lifetime event, you aren’t doing anyone any favors by wearing your child out unnecessarily. Tired kids are unhappy kids, and this is one day where you will want your child to be happy!

Take a breath and embrace the moment that your child's first birthday brings. Don't take anything for granted. After all, next year's party might not be so simple!