Why We’re Throwing A Nontraditional First Birthday for Coco

Jenna Kutcher 

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December 3, 2019


It’s COCO’S FIRST BIRTHDAY month! Can you tell I’m kind of excited? Like this is better than a Friends reunion, meeting Joanna Gaines, and 2 months in Hawaii… combined. Looking back on this last year is wild, to think that she’s grown from a tiny little thing into a silly, sweet, full-of-personality little girl. My. heart. can’t. take. it.

As bittersweet as it is to wave goodbye to her first year, there’s a part of me that’s so very eager to keep watching her grow and seeing who she develops into as a human. And while we’re on the subject of her growing up, I want to talk about her first birthday party. Because I’m that parent now.

No, but in all seriousness, I want to talk about why we’re not going the, we’ll say, “traditional” first birthday party route. Let’s be honest, first birthday parties are essentially for cute cake photos and a way to celebrate parents that kept a baby alive and survived the sleepless nights. It’s not really for the kid. (I mean, they won’t even remember it!)

No shade to the mamas who pull off the themed parties and have every detail beautifully executed and professionally documented. But that’s just not my personal style. That isn’t to say we won’t throw a shindig down the line featuring all the Baby Shark or Moana merch and decor that we can handle, or whatever is popular in the future. For this year, though, it just didn’t seem necessary, and here are the 4 primary reasons why.

01. We couldn’t come up with a single thing Conley needs.

To tell you the truth, we didn’t actually start out thinking we’d forego a regular first birthday party. We began thinking about Conley’s birthday and suddenly felt this pressure to make a detailed wishlist. Our loved ones were asking what they could get for her and what we needed, and we struggled to answer because we couldn’t come up with a single thing she truly has to have.

We’re pretty minimal when it comes to kiddo stuff, for starters. We use a sustainable rental option for her clothes (think Rent The Runway for organic baby clothing), we have a Montessori toy subscription service and we are fortunate to be gifted incredible things from companies. For anything else, we’re able to buy what we need or want.

I know this is definitely a privilege of our success, and not everyone is in the same boat. That’s why I’m just sharing what works for us, because we do have the capability to provide for her needs, and I’m super grateful for that. I’d so much rather our family and friends use their money on the things they love or causes they support, instead. Which brings me to my next point…

02. It’s so close to the holidays, and a perfect time to give back.

Conley’s birthday is right around the corner from the holidays, so we wanted to flip the script of a traditional birthday and partner with a local women’s shelter to help women and children in need around the holidays. The shelter we’ve chosen has made an Amazon wishlist of needs and wants, and we’re asking guests to either donate or send an Amazon order on Conley’s behalf. 

This time of year can be especially difficult for families in need who want to provide gifts to their children or buy personal and home essentials. Plus, we know Coco will be loved on plenty over Christmas. You know, “Santa” will make his second annual appearance in our household, so I have a feeling giving back to the community in lieu of gifts will land her on the nice list, AND hopefully be a kickoff to a wonderful tradition.

(Want to get in on the giving for Coco’s birthday? Head here to check out the Safe Haven’s wishlist and more about why we’re partnering with them.)

03. We hope to raise a compassionate kiddo.

Really and truly, this is the heart of why we don’t want to do the whole gift thing this year — and I hope we can instill it in her to have a giving heart each year and inspire others to think about those in need this time of year. Our goal is to raise a kind kid. We want to steward by example that giving back is a major part of living a well-rounded, content, and compassionate life and it starts with us first.

How cool is that for her to look back when she’s five, 10, 15, and older and see that she’s been contributing to her community since her very first birthday? As a side note — we also recognize she won’t remember this birthday. So, you know, we’ll hope to get the ball rolling, and hope she’ll want to continue the tradition for years to come. But let’s be real, we can only do so much!

04. And, finally: We hate bright, primary-colored, plastic toys.

Wait, you think I’m kidding? I mean, you know how obsessed I am with beautiful aesthetics, right?! My home is all natural woods, whites, creams, and soft grays. Bright red, yellow, and blue blinking lights and obnoxious noises don’t exactly align with my home decor goals, you know? I’m half joking but also happy that big boxes won’t be showing up at our home for her party leaving us wondering where it’s going to go or fit in our home. Silly, but honest. Here’s hoping Coco just gets her mama’s same design eye and doesn’t hold this over our heads in years to come.

Okay, so tell me: Am I alone in my nontraditional first birthday route? I am so entirely in awe that we’re here celebrating the sweetest first year of Conley Kate, but to be honest, I’ve hesitated about sharing her first birthday plans. I know this isn’t the norm. But don’t worry, we’re not totally crazy and getting rid of cake!

And, if anyone gets inspired to do something similar and contribute to a need in their community, then it’s so worth it to me. That’s always worth it.

You can give back on behalf of Coco, too!

Click here to see how your donation to Safe Haven can make a difference.

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  1. Kelsey says:

    I love this idea so much! I’ve watched my nieces and nephews get way more toys than they can possibly play with for years now and long ago promised myself that we would do birthdays differently for our kiddos. My original plan was to have family contribute to a college fund (especially when they’re young and don’t know better!), but the giving back idea so soooo good too.

  2. Caitlyn says:

    I love this so much! Just donated. Also, I am SO with you on the bright colorful toys. We constantly ask our families to give books (which we donate to the library once we’ve grown out of them) but the occasional brightly colored toy gets in there without fail! I try to shove them off in the corner as much as possible but I can still see it peeking out and it drives me nuts!! 🙂


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A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

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