To all of you who are shocked by the headline, let me explain a few things.
First, the bar was more of an Irish-style pub, serving food and broadcasting lots of games - in other words, no creepy, all-day bar-dwellers hanging around.
Second, the bar had an outdoor space, which we had all to ourselves, so we didn’t have to risk getting dirty looks from bar patrons or one of the more precocious toddlers toppling over a stranger’s beer.
Keep in mind that a 1-year-old birthday boy or girl is completely oblivious to the idea of a birthday party (with the exception of the all too common over-stimulation meltdown). It was for these reasons that my husband and I decided to have a party geared as much toward us and fellow parents as toward our daughter.
It had been one hell of a year - exciting, scary, frustrating, but ultimately wonderful - and we wanted to toast it with our friends.
It’s not like we forgot about our little birthday girl, after all. We hired her favorite music class teacher to serenade her and about half a dozen friends, got her a special birthday cake decorated with her favorite things in the world - balloons - and she certainly amassed quite a few presents.
My husband even made little pretend fake-IDs for each of the kids (each was a replica of a Harvard College ID, obviously).
But that said, we also got to enjoy our day with a Champagne toast with friends, a couple of plates of nachos and some beers.
We didn't just feel like parents, but like “normal” people again. Anyone with young children knows that going out with friends is a luxury, so the opportunity to spend an afternoon in a bar -- even with toddler in tow -- was something our friends embraced.
We recognize the fact that as our daughter gets older, she won’t be down with having an adult-centric party in a bar (Chuck E. Cheese anyone?), but we’re still hoping to make it work next year (by then, she’ll be almost-as-oblivous to her birthday, we think).
And with half a dozen two-year-olds joining us, we think those beers will go down pretty good.
Tips to Host a 1st birthday party in a bar/pub:
1. Look for a bar with outdoor space (weather permitting), or a back room. While parents of toddlers will love the opportunity to be out at a bar with their kid, childless bar patrons may not be quite as enthused.
2. Bring food for baby. If you’ve ever ordered anything for a toddler off of a children’s menu, you know that it usually translates into a whole lot of wasted food and a baby who never ate her supper. Rather than relying on pub grub, ask the owner/manager if it’s okay for you to bring small snacks for toddlers and be sure to mention that you’ll be ordering some plates for adults.
3. Keep an open tab. Open tabs feel festive, and since your guests are parents armed with the responsibility of watching kids, it’s unlikely they’ll drink too much or run up a high tab.
4. Ask about getting the space for free. The bar we used let us use the space for free in exchange for ordering drinks and food. The fact that the party took place in the slow time between brunch and dinner service made it seem all the more attractive to the owner.
5. Consider hiring a musical entertainer. We got a young musician to perform for less than the going rate. Remember that the attention span of a one-year-old is short, so 50 minutes of entertainment is more than enough.
6. Bring toys. Bars and pubs aren’t playspaces, so be sure to bring some books and toys to keep toddlers busy while parents mingle.