It’s your baby’s first birthday, and you’re not sure how to celebrate. You want to do something special for them, but without a party!
One-year-olds are great at many things, but opening presents, blowing out candles or even staying awake for an entire party aren’t their best strengths.
The good news: There are lots of fun party alternatives—with great photo ops!—to celebrate your little one’s first year of life. We’ve rounded up some ideas to help make the day fun for the baby and you.
Birthday parties are great for some kids and are not ideal for other kids and their families. Unfortunately, plenty of families will not give their kids’ birthday parties for various reasons.
No party? No problem! Here are some great ways to celebrate a baby’s first birthday without throwing a full-scale party.
It is a momentous occasion. Your little munchkin’s 1st birthday is of immense joy, and you want to share the happiness with your loved ones. So you are probably planning a perfect evening with glitters and balloons all around.
But do you want to splurge on a bash, which your little sunshine won’t even remember? It is all about having a good time with your kid and your family. Doing things that he would enjoy is of more importance.
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Reasons Not to Throw First Birthday Party
You can always throw a party later after the initial years when your kid is likely to enjoy and remember it.
Here are some reasons why you don’t necessarily have to throw a party for his 1st birthday.
A birthday celebration requires a lot of cash. However, you can permanently save the money you wish to spend for future birthdays or your kid’s future. In addition, it can give a solid foundation for their education.
Let’s face it. The party is not really for your kid. The star of the evening would not even recall it later.
You would again have to introduce all the guests later to your kid when he starts recognising people.
It happens most of the time. A party with mostly unknown faces is challenging for your kid to enjoy. It may upset his mood, and that happens often.
It is a moment when you realise how blessed you are to have the kid, and his well-being becomes of utmost importance.
Enjoy the day with your family and close ones who would share the feeling.
All the gifts and cards and notes would mean extra work for you.
Your child would not be able to read any of them, and in a few months, he will outgrow all his gifts.
You do not have to fall into the trap of social media. To upload a few snaps to get more likes is not worth it.
Why Are Birthday Parties Not Ideal for Some Kids?
There are many factors as to why birthday parties are not the right choice for some children.
And many of those kids would also be happy not to have a party either. So before discussing birthday party alternatives, let’s look into some of those reasons!
Emotional and Physical Stress
Planning for birthday parties is entirely stressful.
First, you have to gather up birthday invitations and send them out whether they are sent online or through snail mail.
Then you have to wait for the invitees to RSVP, which many of them do not.
Then you have to follow up with the invitees who haven’t responded after a specific timeframe.
There’s no guarantee that they would respond to you either way. So now you have to take your chances on how many supplies and how much food to get.
Once the party starts, you have other kids and possibly their families to stress over. That is, if this is your child’s first or second birthday.
At least with the parents being present during the birthday party, they will be taking care of their kids.
However, if your child is in kindergarten or is older and wants their friends to come without the parents being present, you have all of these other kids to face.
And what happens if one of them gets sick or gets hurt? The responsibility is on you. Is it worth the stress?
Birthday Parties Can Be Expensive and Time-Consuming
It does not matter if you plan to host a birthday party for your child at your home or an indoor kids’ entertainment centre.
Birthday parties are expensive, and the cost of supplies, food, cake, and rent if the party isn’t hosted at home adds up.
And money is not the only thing that adds up. It is time. There is so much time consuming when it comes to planning a birthday party.
Sure, you can easily host an “inexpensive” party at home consisting of cheap snacks, paper products and a movie that kids can watch.
However, even if cost isn’t the issue, go back to the point above this one. A cheap birthday party does not mean it will be less stressful and less time-consuming.
Too Many Gifts That Never Get Used
What happens when plenty of kids or adults are invited to your child’s birthday party? Naturally, they bring gifts (well, they should anyway since you were kind enough to ask them).
But what happens to all of those gifts?
Your child might only play with a few and for a short amount of time. The rest of the gifts end up collecting dust as they take up space.
Your Child That Does Not Have Any or Many Friends
Toddlers that have birthday parties will not have friends except for their classmates they know from preschool.
You will be stuck with inviting the parents of those kids that you don’t even know. That can be awkward.
Or, how about if your child does not have many or any friends at school? In that case, your child may not even want a birthday party at all.
What is the solution in this case? The best thing to do is think outside of the box and come up with birthday party alternatives.
What Are Some Fun Birthday Party Alternatives?
The great news is that you can celebrate your child’s birthday without being pressured to throw a party.
In fact, in any way you celebrate your child’s special day, it can be as memorable for your little one as any birthday party.
Even if your child is not old enough to remember their birthday celebration, you can still make memories to share with them later! Now let’s look at some birthday party alternatives for kids.
How to Celebrate Your Baby’s First Birthday Without a Party?
You can always focus on spending quality time. Here are some ideas that you can always use.
Visit Animals on Your Baby’s First Birthday
With all of the animal books your one year old has read, going to the zoo or aquarium to see the animals up close can be an exhilarating first birthday experience for the whole family!
Your little one’s eyes might light up, and you’ll have fun watching their reactions.
Make sure you visit any of the exhibits where your one-year-old gets a chance to touch the animals, like at the petting zoo. Take pictures or videos of the experience!
Even if you’ve gone with your baby before, it will still be a great idea to go again. They will likely pick up new sights and sounds this time around. In addition, you can have fun making animal noises together!
Don’t forget to bring a carrier or stroller and lots of snacks and water as it will be a full day’s event. Your one year old will likely nap at some point, and you want to take your time.
One great thing about the zoo or aquarium is that usually, one-year-olds are free!
Dive into a day of birthday fun with a trip to your local aquarium. The baby will be mesmerised by all of the watery sights and sea creatures. (And mom and dad will be fascinated watching the baby!)
Watching fish float by is fun, but we bet the dolphins, seals, sea otters, and other marine mammals will be the biggest hits of the day.
Don’t forget to visit the tide pool animals, too. Bonus: Children under two are usually free at most aquariums!
Channel your little one’s propensity for making messes into a work of art with a painting session.
Gather some basic painting supplies from your local art supply store, like a small canvas, washable paints and a smock.
Then, secure the baby in a high chair and let the fun begin. First, note the date and occasion on the back of the work of art; then find a place of honour to display the baby’s first masterpiece.
Scope out local festivals, and then head out for a day of fun. (Red Tricycle’s city guides always keep you in the know.
If your area isn’t represented here, check local websites or Facebook groups for event calendars.)
Your child will love taking in all of the sights and sounds that accompany a street festival.
Music, people watching, new foods—the event promises to be as fun for moms and dads as for babies.
Make your little one’s birthday memorable with an excursion to a local, seasonal event. Baby born during the fall?
Head to an apple orchard where you can bounce along on a hayride and sip apple cider. Then, if you have a winter baby, take a walking tour of your area’s best holiday lights.
For babies born during spring or summer, visit an outdoor concert or botanical garden to celebrate the season along with the baby’s birthday.
Scope out the local parks for baby-appropriate offerings, such as bucket swings and paved walkways for strollers.
Bonus points if the park has a water feature, such as a fountain or pond for fish, turtle or duck-watching. Pack a blanket and a picnic and enjoy a relaxing day together as a family.
Get your mommy & me crew together for a casual playdate at one of your usual haunts.
Bring a snack (cupcakes, cookies or fruit) as a nod to the birthday babe, and let the kids play while you and the other moms celebrate that you got through your first year as a mom.
Let Them Eat Cake!
Just because you aren’t planning a party doesn’t mean you should skip a cake. On the contrary, having a smash cake sesh might just be the highlight of your little one’s day and yours.
Your baby is more likely to feel at ease—and dive face-first into the goodies—without dozens of eyes and cameras peering at her. So bake up your favourite cake or pick one up at your local bakery and then dig in, baby!
Celebrate With the Close Family
That is not an unusual birthday party alternative. However, this is one that parents often forget about being a great option to celebrate their child’s birthday.
You can always get party favours such as banners, balloons, birthday cutlery, and party hats. You can get a cake and only have close family members coming by to join the fun.
That may even be more enjoyable than having a birthday party with other kids and their parents who you barely even know. Besides, your child can be excited about the idea that their favourite aunt or uncle will be coming to their intimate birthday celebration with the family.
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Finger Painting Birthday Celebration
This birthday alternative is perfect for the toddler. This is an ideal method on how to celebrate the first birthday without a party.
Grab some washable finger paints like these, lots and lots of paper, and plenty of rags and cloths.
Your toddler can have plenty of fun finger painting during their first, second, or third birthday.
And why not get some extra paints for you and your partner so you can all join in on the fun?
Who needs to worry about a birthday party when everyone is having fun making their masterpiece with finger paints!
Decorate the House
Even if you are not planning to invite your family over for a quiet celebration for your child, you can still decorate the house. And go overboard with it!
Grab some streamers as well as plenty of banners and balloons. Grab other birthday wall decorations.
There are even themed kits that make it easy to go all out. This way, your child will feel special since it is decorated just for their memorable day.
And don’t forget to take plenty of pictures of the decorated rooms. You’ll regret that otherwise after you take down those decorations. You can even decorate the outside of the house.
Go and put streamers on the porch and a birthday sign on the lawn. Make it known to the whole neighbourhood that the birthday star of that day is in that house.
A Giant Helium Age Number Balloon
You know another thing that kids are guaranteed to love? A giant helium age number balloon!
You can have your child stand next to the number balloon while holding it and taking plenty of pictures.
Don’t forget to share them on social media if you want! Then, your social media friends and family can celebrate your child’s birthday with you.
Serve Your Child a Birthday Breakfast
Why not start your birthday boy or girl’s day just ideally by surprising them with a birthday breakfast? It can be waffles, pancakes, or your child’s favourite cereal.
And to add some fun to it, why not create a ‘design your pancake or waffle’ area.
That area will consist of sprinkles, syrup, fruit, whipped cream, or chocolate chips. Serve it on some fun birthday cutlery as well.
Birthday Scavenger Hunt
Why not have your child go on a small adventure to look for their birthday present?
The idea is, to begin with, the birthday breakfast, and during that time, you give your child the first clue about where their birthday present may be.
Ask your child to solve a few riddles or answer a few questions so they can have an idea of the location of their gift.
Arrange a Special Photo Session
Everyone loves a good picture. Your baby may not like one now, but later, while browsing through the family album, he would find them engaging.
It is all about memories, and your kid would not remain a baby for long. So keeping such candid photos with you for the future is fun.
There are specialist baby photographers who know just how to make your kid comfortable. With a few lights and handy props, you can have lots of fun.
You can pose with the baby too to commemorate the occasion. Just make sure that the photographer does not use any direct flash. This is because the light could be sensitive to your baby’s eyes.
Celebrate at the Orphanage
If you wonder how to celebrate the first birthday without a party, celebrating at an orphanage would be a great idea.
A lot of children in this country are born without parents. So most of them aren’t able to enjoy the happiness of being a part of a family.
You can always share a slice or two of the cake with children who are not so privileged.
This way, your kid would be able to spend time with kids of his age and would have a wonderful time with them.
You would realise that all the energy you have spent was worth it. A friendly and cosy day spent well with loved ones is what counts the most.
And as a plus, seeing your kid enjoying the day to the fullest would be an unparalleled pleasure.
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