Your baby is now officially a toddler—which means you’ve survived your first year of parenthood!
Congrats! It’s a significant milestone, so celebrate the moment in style.
After months of sleep deprivation, countless diaper changes, and about a million smiles and giggles, it’s finally time to plan your baby’s first birthday party.
No, your child won’t remember the big day, but you will. And the photos with the baby in a “1st Birthday” hat will be priceless down the road.
Of course, these bashes are as much a party for the parents as they are for the child. It’s been a year of wonder, growth, and change—for everyone—so celebrate.
Did you know that there are over 31 million seconds in one year? Of course, if you’re a parent, you may argue that this number should be much smaller.
Although children seem to grow up too fast, each year gives you plenty of attractive opportunities to watch them grow, learn, and love.
Even though you could’ve sworn they were born just yesterday, planning a birthday party is a great way to celebrate this important milestone in their life.
When to host a party to serve your guests, here’s how to plan a ‘fabulous first birthday party.
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When to Throw Your Baby’s First Birthday Party?
You want your friends and family to be able to attend the party, so if the baby’s first birthday falls on a weekday, the weekend before or after is a good bet.
Plan the party after naptime, so your little one is well-rested and less likely to be fussy.
Limit the bash to a few hours rather than an all-day affair since parties can be overwhelming for small children, especially if there are many guests.
Tips for Planning an Unforgettable First Birthday Party
Create a Small Guest List
When it comes to birthday parties, most kids would be thrilled to have a giant guest list.
However, since babies aren’t as aware of what’s going on, all of that commotion has the potential to startle them.
To keep your baby happy, it’s best to make their first birthday party an intimate gathering.
If you’re worried about leaving people out, you can always kindly explain the situation.
There will be plenty more fun birthday parties in the future when your child can enjoy more significant events.
Plan Around Your Baby’s Schedule
Although babies don’t have to wake up early and go to a job, they maintain their unique schedules.
If you know your baby gets fussy in the afternoon because they’re tired, be sure to plan the party in the morning when they’re feeling their best.
Some babies have more complex schedules than others.
If your baby happens to be nocturnal, all you can do is set the time of the party and try to make sure your baby has a nap before the festivities begin.
Since babies can sleep as much as 18 hours a day, plan on having a party that lasts no longer than 2 hours.
This may not seem like a long time, but you’ll be able to serve cake, take some photos, and enjoy chatting with other adults for a while.
Once you have the guest list and party details solidified, it’s time to make invitations.
When designing first birthday invitations, it’s great to include a photo of your child since they are the event’s start.
Don’t forget to include all of the essential details on the invitations, so there’s no confusion.
If you set a start and an end time, you won’t have to worry about guests overstaying their welcome while you’re trying to soothe your fussy baby after a busy party.
Keep the Party Environment Baby-Friendly
When people have children, it’s common to babyproof the house to protect them from sharp corners and objects that shouldn’t be put in their mouths.
If your house is already babyproofed, then you won’t have too much extra work to do.
If you plan on moving your party outdoors or to a new location, a quick solution could be to bring a playpen wherever you go.
This is especially helpful if you know there will be other small children around.
No matter where you go, an excellent way to test your environment is to get on your hands and knees to see anything that could harm a child.
Another detail that’s important to note is that you should opt for plastic or paper cups and tableware.
Since glasses and plates can easily get knocked or pushed off tables, it’s best to avoid anything heavy and breakable.
Always make sure at least one person keeps an eye on the young guests to avoid any choking hazards.
You could spend hours trying to babyproof the entire party space, but kids can always find unique ways to get into trouble. All you can do is try your best to prevent any accidents.
Choose a Birthday Party Theme
Choosing a party theme can make planning much easier and more fun since you have a clear vision. There are plenty of first birthday party themes you can choose from.
The theme you pick can have a significant influence on the mood of your party. For example, a cartoon birthday is whimsical, whereas a party that focuses on your child’s future will be more emotional.
One example of an adorable theme is a Sesame Street party. The highlight of the event would be dressing your baby up as the Cookie Monster and letting them dig into a cake decorated like a giant cookie.
Who says costumes are reserved only for the birthday boy or girl? While dressing up shouldn’t be mandatory, asking your guests to wear something that matches the party theme can lead to some beautiful photo opportunities.
Shop for Fun, Bright Decorations
Babies are mystified by colourful, shiny, and moving objects.
If you want to surprise your baby with a magical wonderland designed just for them, be sure to add lots of exciting decorations to your party environment.
Balloons, streamers, and stuffed animals are just a few examples of birthday party decorations your baby will love.
Since you know their tastes best, you can surround them with objects that are fun and comforting.
Remember that you’ll be taking tons of pictures to remember this day, so you’ll want every shot to look vibrant.
Prepare Kid and Adult Snacks
Although first birthday parties only last a couple of hours, your guests will appreciate having some snacks to munch on before the cake is served.
If any of your friends are bringing along their kids, you’ll want to offer kid-friendly snacks that they can enjoy as well.
If you want to keep things simple, there’s nothing wrong with buying snacks at the store and setting them out on a table in a few bowls.
Some good kid snacks could include Teddy Grahams, Cheez-Its, plain potato chips, and fruit (be sure to cut any fruit into bite-sized pieces to avoid choking).
Store-bought adult snacks could include a more exciting flavour of potato chips like barbecue or jalapeño, tortilla chips with salsa and hummus, fruit salad, and any delicious party platters from the deli or frozen foods section.
If you don’t mind doing a little extra assembly work, these easy party snacks are sure to wow any kids. The treats are so adorable that the adults will love eating them, too!
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Consider Having Two Birthday Cakes
If you haven’t heard of a smash cake yet, it’s a special cake designed for first birthday parties.
Parents serve this small cake to their babies and let them dig in with their hands. It’s messy, hilarious, and incredibly adorable.
This is perhaps the biggest highlight of any baby’s first birthday.
You’ll want to take plenty of photos and videos of this moment, so it’s nice to have a cake that looks beautiful.
You could decorate the cake, so it matches your party theme, or you could keep it classic by serving a simple but elegant cake.
If you’re up for the challenge, hundreds of smash cake ideas will look great in your photos.
Feel free to also reach out to local bakeries and see if they can create a custom smash cake for your baby.
Your baby shouldn’t be the only one who gets to have fun, though!
Having a separate, more giant cake to serve guests after will ensure everyone has a good time. Since this cake won’t be in photos, you can keep the decorations simple.
Although smash cakes are considered small by our standards, you still shouldn’t let your baby eat too much of it.
After you’re done taking photos, and they’ve enjoyed a few handfuls, take the cake back into the kitchen and wrap it up.
As long as your family doesn’t mind smashed cake, you can eat the rest of it later.
Get Help Documenting the Event
Since this event should be a small gathering focused on your baby, you shouldn’t feel the need to hire a professional photographer.
However, if you want a professional photoshoot of your baby digging into a smash cake, you could arrange this on a particular date.
Before the party starts, make sure your phone is fully charged so you can take the best photos and videos throughout the entire event.
Get a good mix of adults having fun together, kids playing, and guests interacting with your baby. But, of course, you’ll want to remember every sweet moment.
Be sure to encourage your guests to take lots of photos, too.
If any of your friends have a professional camera, you could ask them to bring it along so you can have some higher-quality images.
After the event is over, you can make a group chat or a collaborative album where guests can share the photos they snapped and see what you took as well.
Hire a Babysitter If Lots of Children Will Attend
While a babysitter isn’t a necessity, it can make the party a lot more relaxing.
If any of your guests have a responsible teenager in the family, you could consider asking them to come along.
Not only will they be able to enjoy the festivities, but they can also earn some extra money by keeping a close eye on all of the kids.
You could also consider asking your loved ones if they know any excellent sitters who wouldn’t mind supervising your party.
This will allow your adult guests to unwind and socialise with others instead of hovering over their child the entire time.
Choose a Theme for Your First Birthday Party
You don’t have to follow a theme, but sometimes picking one makes it easier to focus on the colours, decorations and other party details. Consider these ideas:
Old Macdonald Had a Farm.
Set up hay bales as seating, dress your child in overalls, serve a farm-themed cake, give party favours in metal buckets (to resemble milking pails) and play Duck Duck Goose with the older kids.
Delight your baby and all of your guests with the big, bold colours and entertaining ideas for this circus-themed party.
Over the Rainbow.
Young children are drawn to colours, so celebrate them all with a rainbow-themed party. Set out red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple party supplies and decorations.
Make a cake with a different layer for each colour and send everyone home with a CD mix of children’s music, starting with your favourite rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Choose a theme that ties to the time of year, such as a Snowflake Party for winter babies, Sprinkles and Sunshine for a spring baby, Flower Power for a summer baby and Fall for an autumn baby.
Hang handmade paper snowflakes for the winter party and serve snowman mashed potatoes and snowman treats.
Suspend decorative umbrellas from your ceiling at the spring party and cover cupcakes with blue sprinkles to mimic rain.
For the summer party, give Hawaiian leis as favours and set out a flower-shaped birthday cake. Serve owl cupcakes and foods made from pumpkin at the fall party.
Cupcakes and Cocktails.
Yes, authentic cocktails. The baby will never know!
Throw the party in the evening, serve swanky hors d’oeuvres and offer grownups a cocktail that matches the party’s colour scheme. The kids get mocktails.
Set up a cupcake-shaped piñata (compare prices) or make a pin-the-candle-on-the-cupcake game. Serve cupcakes that are more classy than cutesy.
Almost any kid-friendly theme will work for a baby’s first birthday. Consider how you could adapt these birthday themes for younger guests.
Invitations and Gifts
Send out invitations at least three weeks before the party.
The wording could read “one is fun” or “one baby, one little cake, one whole year to celebrate.”
Some parents might feel as though friends and family have given them many presents over the prior year, primarily if baby showers were held or gifts were given after the child’s birth.
If you want guests to know you don’t expect any more presents, you could write something on the invitations to indicate that, such as “your presence is enough of a gift.”
The invitations also could be a place where you set a theme for the gifts.
For instance, you could say that you’re working on building your child’s library, and you’re hoping guests can give a used book that their children no longer read as the present.
When it comes time to open presents, you will probably be quite busy helping your child.
Ask someone to write down the gifts and who gave them so you can write personal thank you cards after the party is over.
Games and Activities
Entertain the birthday girl and all of her guests with a variety of first birthday games that friends of all ages can play,
Some parents can’t wait to see the look of delight when their child takes their first bite of birthday cake–their first taste of sugar!–at their first birthday party.
Others worry what too much sugar will do to a tiny tummy that was only introduced to carrots and peas a few months before.
If you’re in the latter camp, consider serving carrot cake made with less sugar than usual and topped with a low-sugar cream cheese frosting. Or choose from other healthy cake recipes.
Another fun tradition is to watch a child blow out her first birthday candle. Be careful, though.
One-year-olds tend to flail their arms about, especially when they’re excited, for instance, when a room full of people is singing at them.
Keep the candle far enough away during the Happy Birthday song that they can’t reach it, then pull it in close when it’s time to blow.
Bonus: Be Present and Enjoy
It’s normal to feel all kinds of emotions while you plan your baby’s first birthday party.
No matter what goes through your head, remember to focus on the positives.
Your baby has been alive for one whole year, and this is just the start of their lifelong adventure.
While it’s easy to worry about being a good host, your priority for this event should be your baby.
Don’t sweat the little things that may not go as you planned.
All of your guests know that your baby is the star, so they’ll do everything they can to ensure their first birthday party is a success.
If you’re feeling a little sad about the idea of your baby growing up, think about all of the great birthday parties you’ll get to plan for them in the future.
If you want some inspiration, be sure to check out these birthday party themes for girls and these birthday party themes for boys.
Relax and enjoy the party. You’ve worked hard this year and deserve to have fun, too.
How Many People to Invite to Baby’s First Birthday Party?
If it’s going to be intimate, the party might include grandparents, aunts and uncles and a few baby friends from your daycare or playgroups.
If you want to go all out and have a huge bash, invite extended family, friends, coworkers who have kids and so on.
The size of your party ultimately depends on your preferences, as well as your budget—obviously, the more people you have, the more food, beverages and space you’re going to need.
Begin with your must-invite list: the people you wouldn’t celebrate without. If you can add to your headcount, keep going.
Where to Have Baby’s First Birthday Party?
If you have a big enough home and want to save some cash, throwing the party at your house could be a good option.
Hosting the event at home means guests can hang out longer, and the baby has a place to nap if they get tired. Plus, the baby might be more comfortable in familiar surroundings.
Booking a restaurant or a children’s play space is another excellent option.
It can be costly, but the significant advantage is that you won’t get stuck with cleanup. There’s also no prep to deal with, and you won’t have to entertain guests as much.
If the weather is good, why not head to your favourite park?
You can set up food and decorations at a picnic table (some parks have barbecue grills).
Plus, there’s already a play structure to occupy the kids—make sure that you have enough adults to keep an eye on them.
Check with the local parks department to see if you need a permit or make a reservation for space.
Wherever you decide to host a baby’s first birthday party, make sure there’s space for your little one and their friends to crawl around and play safely and for you and your mom guests to nurse and change diapers.
It’s also wise to prepare a private, quiet space if a baby or one of their friends gets fussy and needs a breather.
What to Give as First Birthday Party Favours?
It’s customary to send kids home with favours. You can give away fancy swag bags or keep it simple with little harmonicas or a bath toy.
Or consider a favour that the whole family can take home, like a photo frame complete with a picture snapped and printed at the party.
Want to set up your photo booth? Try these easy DIY ideas. Then, when it’s time to hand out the favours, give the goodies to parents first, just in case they want to remove a few items or candies.
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