The first birthday is not only about your baby, since a one-year-old does not understand the concept of birthdays. This first birthday is also about you; it's a celebration of surviving your first year of parenthood. Yes, you are going to want to sing “Happy Birthday” to your baby, blow out his candle, and then feed him a slice of cake with gooey icing — if only for the photo opportunity — but you can also make this your party.
Think about what would make this celebration meaningful for you. For example, you can have a backyard barbecue for family and friends. It can be a way to reconnect with friends you haven't seen because you've been just too busy and for everyone to see your baby without any pressure on him.
Don't expect your child to open gifts in any timely manner. You may want to see what's in them, but your one-year-old may happily play with the wrapped boxes for days without losing interest — why push it?
Begin your personal celebration with the moment you went into labor. You'll probably be flashing back to that time anyway, so be conscious of it. Watch the clock, and, no matter how busy your day is, take a few moments to remember what it felt like physically and emotionally when you realized this baby was about to be born. When your child is two or three, you can involve him in this tradition by telling him his birth story on the eve of his birthday. You may find that the “when I was born” bedtime story becomes a favorite.