1st birthday party ideas

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As a first-time mom, I suppose that one of the biggest milestones during year one of your child’s life is their FIRST Birthday. That being said, as the big twelve-month mark rapidly approached, the thought of throwing our daughter a party became the bane of my existence.

Wow, I can actually hear loud gasps from people reading this and muttering, “What the F is wrong with this woman?! Who chooses to NOT throw their kid a birthday party?! What an asshole. This chick is Satan personified. She is totally failing as a parent.”

Listen, I’m with you. I probably AM failing as a parent. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons that my daughter vehemently refuses to say the word “Mama.”

But come on, she’s ONE. I think she’ll recover. And it’s not like we didn’t celebrate … we did loads of fun stuff together AS A FAMILY. We just didn’t invite anyone else.

Besides, if we’re going to throw a party, shouldn’t the real shindig be for us parents?

CONGRATULATIONS! We survived the first year without a damn clue as to what we were doing, and nobody called CPS on us! Now, who wants more tequila?

So, for anyone else out there who is currently debating this same situation, allow me to share my own reasoning for NOT throwing Baby’s 1st Birthday and make you feel a little bit better about yourself:

1. She’s NOT going to remember it. And if, down the line, she does start questioning me about her 1st birthday, I will stare into her angelic little face, smile sweetly and then tell her the biggest mother-effing lie imaginable. I shall share an elaborate tale of how every Disney princess showed up to sing “Happy Birthday” AND we bought her a pony. However, we were not allowed to keep said pony because of NYC housing regulations. And we don’t actually have any pictures with the princesses because Mommy’s camera was out of battery and then our neighbors called in a noise violation and forced them all to leave. I think she’ll buy it.

2. Birthday gifts = thank you notes = more work for Mom = not happening.

3. Pinterest and overachievers have totally ruined it for average parents like myself. Whatever happened to a Carvel ice cream cake and some balloons from Party City? I am not going to compete with someone who hand crafted personalized party hats, constructed a life-sized animatronic unicorn out of nothing but candy, and spent $500 on a cake that could be re-purposed at someone’s wedding (yet will ultimately end up in every crevice of your child’s body). My daughter needs to know NOW that her mom is the farthest thing from crafty. And also …

4. We’re broke. Sorry kid, but unless you can start changing your own diapers and taking yourself to the park while Mom and Dad are at work, your “birthday party fund” went out the window when Nanny Dearest announced she was quitting if we didn’t give her another raise.

5. Disappointment builds character.

6. No adult actually wants to spend their weekend at a 1st Birthday (or any kid’s party for that matter), UNLESS there is alcohol. The problems are that a) Our tiny apartment is not exactly fit for throwing down a rager, b) Kid-friendly venues do not respond well when you notify them that you plan on having a keg delivered at 11:45 a.m (trust me on this one), and c) Other parents will get very judgmental if you choose to have it at an actual bar.

7. Did I mention, she’s NOT going to remember it?

8. We’re lazy. There, I said it.

**On the day of her actual birthday, I learned that “mom guilt” is real and it will haunt you for eternity. So, I did what any half-ass parent in my position would do: I hung a banner, bought some balloons, baked a Funfetti cake, and then Instagrammed that shit for future evidence.

17 First Birthday Party Ideas for Moms On a Budget

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Milestone birthdays deserve an extra special celebration. When it’s time to celebrate your little one’s first year of life, unique, adorable, and beautiful decor is a must!

You can throw a memorable first birthday party without spending on expensive decor and party accessories. These simple, charming, and eye-catching items are easy and cheap to either make or purchase, so everyone — mom and dad included — can enjoy the big day stress-free.

Keep reading to find 17 first birthday party ideas that will make your little one’s big day extra special.

Find the perfect first birthday outfit for your mini me at Baby Gap! From dressed up and dapper to cute and comfortable, you can save 40% on each one and get free 2-3 day shipping! (Exp. 9/21)

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  • 1. Mini Triangle Pennant Banner

    A simple but sweet fabric banner adds a pop of color and turns any room into a party room. You can use any fabrics you like to match your décor or your child’s favorite colors. This one is cute enough to keep up even once the party is over!

    Is your little one still singing “Let It Go” from Frozen? Make their birthday extra special with our DIY Frozen Birthday ideas and free printables!


    • Fabric for the banner triangles
    • One package of extra wide double fold bias tape (I used this)
    • Sewing machine & thread to match your fabrics (especially to match your bias tape)
    • Rotary cutter, ruler, & mat (you could also use scissors, a ruler, and a fabric pencil to mark and cut the triangles but a rotary mat makes it much easier)
    • Sewing pins
    • Iron & ironing board

    Directions (see my step-by-step photo guide here)

    1. First, cut 32 triangles from your fabric for a total of 16 finished triangles. You can cut more or less depending on the desired length of your banner. This one is about 100 inches long.

    2. To cut the triangles, cut a 5-inch wide strip of fabric. Lay the fabric horizontally on your cutting mat, making sure the bottom edge lines up straight with the measuring lines on the mat. Lay the ruler so it forms the first side of the triangle, slanting from the bottom corner of the fabric strip to 2 1/2 inches in.

    3. Cut the second side of the triangle starting 1/2 inch in from the top tip and again measuring 2 1/2 inches across. This will leave you with a triangle that has a 1/2-inch flat top, a base of 5 1/2 inches, and a height of 5 inches.

    4. Once you have cut all your triangles, decide how you’d like to pair them up. Since the banner is double sided, you could match colors/patterns, or mix them up for a different look on each side. You could even use entirely different fabrics to create two banners in one.

    5. With right sides facing, sew two triangles together along the sides using a 1/4-inch seam allowance and leaving the bottom base open.

    6. Trim excess fabric off at the tip of the triangle and turn right-side out, gently pushing out the triangle tip. Iron.

    7. Continue until you’ve created all of the triangles.

    8. Insert the triangles into the fold of the bias, making sure they lie in it as deeply as possible. Leave about 3/4 inch between each triangle, pinning them in place. Using matching thread, sew along the edge of the bias opening, securing the triangles as you go. Leave about 4 inches of bias at each end for securing the banner.

    9. To hang the banner, tie the ends onto a wall fixture, or use tape or even small nails.

    10. Party time!

  • Source: 100 Layer Cake-let

    2. Ball Pit

    Every kid loves a ball pit, and instead of an expensive rental you can make your own for next to nothing with these inexpensive plastic balls and a kiddy pool.

  • Source: Target

    3. Mini Gift & Favor Bags, $5 for a set of 4

    Keep it classy by sending little ones home with these gold-spotted favor bags; they’re both elegant and adorable. Fill them with baby-friendly candy, other snacks, or little trinkets and toys.

  • Source: 100 Layer Cake-let

    4. “One” Photo Collage

    Order prints of your favorite Instagram photos and arrange them in the shape of the number one on a wall. You can build your own collage, or order a custom one from Shutterfly starting at just under $4.

  • Source: Best Friends for Frosting

    5. Chalkboard Sign

    Celebrate your one year old with a DIY chalkboard featuring all their stats and favorite things. All you need is a simple chalkboard panel and colorful chalk. (Want to learn a super simple trick for perfect chalkboard lettering? Check out this quick and easy lettering tutorial!)

  • Source: Littlebitslane on Etsy

    6. Jumbo Confetti, starting at $4.62

    What’s a party without something to toss in the air? This jumbo confetti is kid-friendly and can be made to order in custom color requests to match your party decor.

  • Source: The Chickabug Blog

    7. High Chair Ribbon Skirt

    Jazz up their birthday throne with this simple ribbon skirt, made by sewing together an assortment of different ribbons of various lengths. It can be easily adapted to the colors and theme of your party, and will ensure your little one feels like a star on their big day.

  • Source: Walmart

    8. “One” Cake Pan, $10.29

    A one-shaped cake is a fun way to celebrate this milestone. Instead of struggling to cut out the number from a sheet cake, use this handy pan for a perfectly shaped numerical dessert.

  • Source: Chic Mother and Baby

    9. Animal Party Hats

    Party hats don’t have to mean pom-poms! These adorable animal hats can be worn by all babies in attendance, and they’re easy to make with the printable template and tutorial. Plus, they’re perfect for animal-themed party or for any type of toddler fun.

  • Source: ToppedWithGlitter on Etsy

    10. One Cake Topper

    This elegant cake topper says it all. The subtle glitter adds a touch of glam to your little one’s big day.

  • Source: OandD on Etsy

    11. Invitations, starting at $16

    These fun and simple invitations work for any gender and theme. These are available in several colors, and you can cut costs by requesting a printable format and printing them out at home.

  • Source: Hint Mama

    12. Bubble Station

    What one-year-old doesn’t love bubbles? For inexpensive entertainment that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, set up a station with a variety of bubble blowing gear. You can even create your own bubble solution and make wands with pipe cleaners!

  • Source: LPpapercreations on Etsy

    13. Pinwheel Cupcake Toppers

    Combine two of their favorite things, pinwheels and cupcakes, to make party food they can play with. These can be made to order in colors of your choosing, or you can make your own using this tutorial from Alyssa & Carla.

  • Source: Walmart

    14. Rainbow Party Plates, $2 for 8

    You can’t go wrong with color at a baby’s birthday party. These bright and cheerful plates will put all attendees in the party mood, and have the option of matching napkins, paper cups, and straws.

  • Source: Anna Gonda Photography

    15. Photo Booth

    Create a photo booth area for parents to snap memorable pictures of their own little ones. A basket can easily be turned into an adorable hot air balloon.

  • Source: LovePrettyDetails on Etsy

    16. Tassel Balloon, $25

    Amid the usual bunches of balloons, add one or two that really stand out. Tassels add a charming detail to this golden number one.

  • Source: Liz on Call

    17. Paper Lantern & Fan Backdrop

    Paper lanterns and fans are inexpensive, come in a wide variety of colors, and create a stunning snack table backdrop. You can find a great selection online here and here.

  • Source: Hostess with the Mostess

    18. Mason Jar Party Favors

    Animal crackers, chocolates, and even goldfish become an extra special treat when tucked into these adorable mason jars. Use fabrics in colors or patterns that match your party theme.

    diy / 17 First Birthday Party Ideas for Moms On a Budget

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Every child’s first birthday is memorable, no matter how you spend it. Be it a big party or a small gathering, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate.

But every type of party needs some level of planning. As you figure out the details, such as how many people to invite, consider as well that this is an occasion that will be special for the adults present but not so much for the 1-year-old. So how do you make it fun for the birthday boy or girl but also for the adult guests?

I interviewed some parents to get their views. Most said their top priority was to celebrate with close friends and family. From there, however, the “to-do” list varied, from cakes and themes (or no themes), to photos and combating feelings of stress.

How about a theme?

Elaine and Tony Imbesi are the parents of twins Tino and Georgia (nicknamed Gia), as well as the owners of the Market Diner in Syracuse.

The couple spends most of their hours running the restaurant, and they get little downtime, particularly during the busy summer months. Exhausted from both sleepless nights and fast-paced days, they still pulled off a party for their twins one weekend evening in July 2015.

The theme, Elaine Imbesi says, was simple: blue and pink. She had a dozen pink balloons tied to Gia’s high chair and another dozen blue balloons for Tino’s. Each wore a birthday hat and enjoyed a “smash” cake in the appropriate color. Smash cakes, as the name implies, are created so the birthday boy or girl gets an individual cake to do with what they will.

The guests, about 20 family members and close friends, enjoyed a mix of catered pasta and salads, as well as some outdoor grilling. All took place on the back patio of the Imbesis’ home overlooking the Oneida River.

Overall, the day was a success, but Elaine now says if she had to do it over, she would have researched more local bakers. Instead, she chose one with whom she wasn’t too familiar. The consultation went well, and the smash cakes turned out as expected, but the large cake was a disappointment. Her advice? Shop around. In addition, Elaine says she regrets not having gotten professional photos taken in the days leading up to the twins’ first birthday. “That’s the one thing I wish I did,” she says.

The challenge of photos

East Syracuse residents Liz and Jared Shepard, parents of Henry, now 2, chose to hold a smaller gathering at home, with just Mom, Dad, birthday boy and grandparents in attendance. There was no particular theme and just a few special gifts.

“It was important to us that our child had a sense of us being there to celebrate him, so that meant not having lots of people and commotion,” Jared says.

Henry most enjoyed his cake, a butterfly-decorated cupcake purchased from Wegmans. He ate some of the frosting but paid more attention to the artistry. “I think it became his favorite birthday present of the day.”

Looking back, Jared wishes more photos were taken. But he concedes that being in the moment instead of messing with a cellphone or camera can be a bit of a struggle.

“Part of the challenge is that we try to take such perfect Instagram pictures,” he admits. “I wish I had more photos that were just good reminders for us, not necessarily perfect portraits.”

A meaningful celebration

Former Baldwinsville residents Cristina Jardine and husband Jesse threw a “Bertday” party for their son, Bertram. They invited friends with kids, family and close friends, totaling around 30.

“We wanted it to be a bigger party because we didn’t have a baptism for Bert and it was a good opportunity for him to meet some key people in our lives,” Cristina says.

Held at home in a casual setting, the menu consisted of pizza and carrot cake, “because carrots were Bert’s favorite food at the time.” Unfortunately, he wasn’t having it with the cake. “Someone else made a lemon cake and he preferred that,” says Cristina.

“I really liked the way we did it,” she says. “Bert was comfortable because he was familiar with the setting and knew most of the people. It felt intimate and relaxing, even though it was bigger than our usual get-togethers.”

Although Bert wasn’t interested in the presents, it was fun for the other kids to help him open them. The Jardines took the photos themselves.

“My advice would be to think about your child,” Cristina says. “I think a lot of people get so caught up in planning a big, wonderful event that they forget the kind of kid they have. If your kid is shy, there is nothing wrong with having a small party. Parties can be overwhelming so make sure you have a plan so that your kid can take a break, have some quiet time with Mom/Dad, etc.”

Savoring the occasion

Liverpool residents Kristine and Mark Davoli adopted their first child, Emilia, now 2, shortly after she was born.

“Our daughter is a miracle and watching her grow and turn 1 year old was amazing,” says Kristine. “The time flew by so quickly, but we are so proud to be her parents and we were so happy to share our beautiful girl’s birthday with our loved ones.”

The gathering of about 15 people—family members and a couple of friends—was held in their home, decorated with a “1-up” theme, which is a reference to Mario Brothers. “Mark is a gamer and our daughter loves to watch him play,” she says. “It made the decorations fun for us all.”

The couple created a slideshow of photos from Emilia’s first year of life and displayed it on TV for their family and friends to enjoy. They ordered pizza, wings and salad, with cake and cupcakes for dessert.

“Having her first cake was very special,” Kristine says. “It was so much fun to watch her dig into her cake and cover herself in whipped cream icing! She loved her party, all the colors and gifts, but I do believe her favorite part was the cake, of course,”

Kristine’s one regret? That she didn’t take some time to slow down and enjoy it more. “I was rushing around taking care of everything and snapping photos. I wish I had taken more time to sit back and soak in the joy of the occasion.”

Her advice: Have a designated photographer, whether it’s a family member, friend or professional, so you can focus on other things. “Don’t miss out on anything. Your little one will only have their first birthday once.”


My husband Tim and I celebrated our son’s first birthday two years ago. I knew I wanted to make it indelible but still keep it basic so as not to overwhelm Jonathan—or anyone else, for that matter. I ordered custom invitations (even though they were sent to only a handful of guests, close family and friends), and a smash cake and a traditional round cake with a rubber duck theme from a local baker. We lit a countdown candle given as a gift by his godmother: It is burned until you reach the number 2, then you repeat the custom each year until your child turns 21.

We ate, talked, laughed and took pictures throughout the evening to fill the memory book that I just completed this past Christmas.

Looking back, there may have been some regrets I expressed at the time, but they have since been long forgotten. At age 46, I was just super-grateful to be given the blessing of a baby boy to celebrate.

My advice? Keep it simple or do it up grand. In the end, it’s about being together and connecting in love.

Related Items:Advice, Birthdays, Early Childhood, feature, Growing Up

Unique First Birthday Party Ideas and Themes

Hitting the 1-year mark is a big deal for your baby — and you. Mark the occasion by celebrating with friends and family, including all the new mom friends and babies you’ve met during the first year of your little one’s life.

“A first birthday is a celebration for the parents,” says Richard O’Malley, a New York City-based event planner and producer. That’s because your tiny guest of honor is a bit too young to fully appreciate your party-throwing efforts. So, aim to include party details like décor and cake that are baby-friendly, but keep your grown-up guests in mind as well when you plan the celebration — along with the best way to preserve your memories for years to come.

Tips for throwing a unique (and fun) first birthday party

Keep the party brief, recommends O’Malley — two hours is plenty of time to do an activity, serve cake and open presents. “Then let people get on with their day,” he says. “Really close friends and family can linger.” And schedule the start-time wisely — a party that lands in the middle of naptime could result in tears and crankiness from your little one.

Don’t hesitate to enlist help on the day of the party, too. Take advantage of offers from in-laws and close friends, or use services like Task Rabbit and TAKL to hire help. The result of accepting or paying for another set of hands on baby’s big day: “You will actually enjoy your day and have great memories yourself,” says O’Malley.

A big reason to throw a first birthday party is for the memories. “Focus on the pretty photos early,” says O’Malley — after you’ve captured your photos, baby is free to have fun and get messy without you feeling any stress. Take pictures during the party, too. “Those will be the fun candid shots you break out to embarrass them with on first dates and they will use in their wedding montage,” O’Malley says.

When it comes to staying organized and figuring out a plan for baby’s first birthday, a theme can make a big difference. Knowing that the party is all about mermaids, trucks or whatever theme you land on and will help you make decisions about snacks, decorations, invitations and more. Here are 15 of our favorite themes for first birthday parties.

First birthday party ideas for boys

It’s worth noting that many of the boy-themed parties on this list work just as well for girls — and vice versa! Still, these ideas focus on some interests that often really resonate with little boys.

Dinosaur first birthday party

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Your baby’s too young to say much more than Mama and Baba, but pretty soon, the words triceratops and velociraptor may be tripping off his tongue. Throw your little dino a party complete with invites that say “Roar!” and a dinosaur-shaped cake. (Even simpler: Make cupcakes or a classic cake and top with paper cutouts in the shape of dinosaurs.) For the bigger kids in attendance, you can play a game of “pin the tail on the dinosaur.” Pick up plastic dinosaurs of all sizes at any toy store — you can use them as decorations during the party, and send them home with guests as a party favor.

Space first birthday party

Throw an out-of-this-world party for your 1-year-old. Use balloons or Styrofoam balls to create a DIY solar system — this can also be a memorable background for photos. Serve cookies in the shapes of stars, the sun and a crescent moon; you can also use these same cookie cutters to make sandwiches in galaxy-themed shapes. Have babies and bigger kids create their own solar systems using crayons and paper, all to the accompaniment of a space-themed playlist that adult guests will appreciate (you’ll want to include songs like Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”).

Soccer first birthday party

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Good weather? Head outdoors for a soccer-themed party. Gently roll soccer balls back and forth on the grass with baby attendees; bigger kids (and adults, too!) can play a more competitive game of footy. For food, make cookies in the shape of soccer balls and soccer jerseys (put your guests’ names on them for extra personalization). You can also go for a big cake in the shape of a soccer ball… so ideal for a cake smash!

Storybook first birthday party

Make your little one’s favorite bedtime story the center of the soirée with a classic picture book theme. Nearly any book will do, but we particularly love The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon, Caps for Sale and other classic kid books. Blow up photocopies from the pages of the book and hang them from the ceiling or tape to the wall. Use the characters or motifs from the book for the cake decorations, too. Try a Curious George cake, for instance, or cupcakes spread out to look like the Hungry Caterpillar himself. You can do a dramatic reading of the story during the party, then send home each guest with a copy of the book as a favor.

Transportation first birthday party

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For every unicorn cake, there is a truck cake!

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For the little boy who loves all things that go vroom, a transportation- or construction-themed party is the perfect fit. First, deck out the birthday boy in shirts that feature trucks or cars — as you know, finding those in a store (or your little one’s closet!) isn’t hard at all. Next, decorate his high chair with a truck-shaped banner. Cake decorations are a breeze: Just place small trucks or cars on top of the frosted cake (make sure to clean those vehicles first!). As to what to play with at the party, go with the simplest, most on-theme option and dump all the wheeled toys in a play area for every tiny guest.

First birthday party ideas for girls

Anyone can like unicorns and mermaids, so while these party ideas are perfect for pink-loving ladies, your son may get a kick out of them, too.

Magical unicorn first birthday party

Make these mythical creatures the center of your daughter’s first birthday party. Use balloons to make a rainbow backdrop — or, even easier, print out or purchase a giant unicorn illustration and place birthday messaging above it. A piñata in the shape of the horned creature provides entertainment (and sweets!) for the older kids and adults in attendance. If it’s warm out, have kids toss rings around a unicorn horn. A unicorn-topped cake is the perfect sweet treat, or try cupcakes with a horn on top. Think rainbows when it comes to food: You can serve fruit skewers with the fruit in ROYGBIV order. Put the party favors in a bag bedecked in unicorns or make each baby guest a personalized onesie with a unicorn image.

Princess first birthday party

Go ahead, pile on the ruffles and lace. Opt for a party that celebrates everything pink and frilly to celebrate your little royal. Serve tea sandwiches for grown-ups, along with beverages in teacups. Cake in the shape of a castle is one option, as are cupcakes with a crown on top or sugar cookies with the names of Disney (or real!) princesses. Use a chalk sign to create a message for your little princess (think: “You’re royalty to us!”). Bubble wands can serve as entertainment (adults can help littles blow the soapy bubbles).

Mermaid first birthday party

Let the tail lead the way when it comes to a mermaid birthday party — use it as a decorative element on the invitations, cake and party favors. A sea-themed backdrop and balloons in aquatic colors can serve as decorations, or use shells and netting to transform the room. Mermaid coloring books can entertain guests. Got warm weather? Fill a kiddie pool with water and let babies make a splash! Another idea: grab some buckets, fill them with water and let all the babies in attendance dunk toys in for a sensory delight.

Rainbow first birthday party

A rainbow party couldn’t be simpler when it comes to food and decorations — but visually, this theme makes a real impact. Use balloons, streamers or big sheets of colored paper to create a rainbow-hued backdrop (perfect for photos that’ll help you remember the occasion for years to come!). Purchase plates, utensils and cups in three or four primary colors. Opt for a cake with frosting in rainbow colors (or press on colorful M&Ms in rows on a basic vanilla- or chocolate-frosted cake). For an easy game, help babies and older guests find items in the house that are red, orange, yellow, green and so on.

“Bee-day” first birthday party

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It’s fun to Bee one! ?? Now available in my shop

A post shared by Kristin Dean (@myroyalcircus) on Jun 7, 2019 at 6:52pm PDT

Celebrate your little bumblebee by decking her out in an appropriately colored outfit and placing a black-and-yellow polka dot party hat on her head. Serve cakes, cookies or cupcakes in bee colors. Commemorate the bee-utiful guest of honor with a sign display of her favorites things from this first year of life. Use paper or fabric in either yellow or black to craft up decorations.

First birthday party ideas for boys or girls

Try these ideas with little boys or little girls — they’re also perfect if you have twins!

Donut first birthday party

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#donut #donutwall #donutparty #decor

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Here’s what’s so great about this theme — a donut is shaped like the letter “O” as in “one.” Get it? That makes invites easy. And the question of what to serve to guests is obvious, too — a big platter of donuts in all different flavors. Milk is the beverage of choice here (along with coffee or tea for the adult guests). Look for pool toys shaped like donuts to hang as decorations — or seek out plates and napkins festooned with sprinkles. You might want a sign that says something on-theme, like “Take a bite out of ONE” or “Donut grow up!” For entertainment, cut circles in the center of white paper plates and have kids color and decorate a donut of their own.

Movie or TV first birthday party

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Celebrating Stefan’s first birthday Cookie Monster style!!????

A post shared by Tiffany Turner (@notyouraveragecookie) on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:41am PDT

Pick a favorite movie or television show — like Sesame Street, Toy Story or Peppa Pig — and make it the focus of the party. Here’s one big perk of this theme: Choose a popular show or movie, and you’ll be able to easily find branded decor and tableware at a party supply store. Use figurines as cake toppers or cut out cookies in the shape of characters and places that are important in the show.

Circus first birthday party

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Circus cake! #1birthday#customcakes #sweet #circus #circuscake #babycake #partykidsdecor #anaheimpackinghouse www.sweetovenbliss.com

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Got a big group? Rent a tent to bring the circus theme to life. You can also opt for a simple décor vibe with a pennant banner, which can be used anywhere — outside your home, on your little one’s high chair, around the dessert table and so on — to conjure up that circus feeling. Use red-and-white striped bags if you’re sending guests home with party favors (or set them out with popcorn inside for a snack!). Place elephant stickers on milk glasses or paper cups to expand on the theme. You can play musical chairs with circus music, or (carefully) swing babies through hula-hoops as a game.

Monochromatic first birthday party

Simply pick a color — any color! Once you do, the decorations follow and the party feels more pulled together. Dress your little one in the party color, blow up balloons in the same color, decorate a cake with it — you get the idea! Play color-matching games as entertainment.

Rock ‘n roll first birthday party

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Musical theme for a one year old sweet girl! @auravezza @honeybeedulces @flowergardenatl @atlantastylishpoint #atlantaeventstylist #atlantaevents #atlantaeventdecorator #atlantakidspartydecorator #atlantaballoondecor #atlantakidsbirthdayparty #atlantaballoongarland #kidspartyideas #kidsparty #musicthemeparty #musicalbirthday

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At just 1 year old, your baby might not yet be a masterful musician — but she can do a great job banging on a toy drum or hitting the keys on a play piano. For the baby who loves to play and perks up to song, go with a musical-themed party. Pull out as many musical toys as possible to entertain guests (or hire a kids’ music teacher to play musical games and encourage music and movement). Decorate with balloons shaped like musical notes or spell out your 1-year-old’s name on an illustration of a musical staff or xylophone.

15 Ideas for the Best 1-Year-Old Birthday Parties

Your child’s first birthday comes with a lot of expectations. After all, the first birthday party is also the first public milestone in your child’s life, an event that’s bound to be well-documented and whose memories will be cherished in years to come, reflected upon in future birthdays or graduations and shared with future friends. As important as this milestone is, the best 1-year-old birthday party ideas are usually the simplest. Let’s face it, this event is mostly for you and the friends and family who’ve helped you survive your first year as a parent. So choose a 1st-birthday theme that sounds fun to put together, and enjoy one of the few birthdays in which little guests won’t need to be entertained, beyond maybe a safe area to crawl around. Just think… next year you’ll be shopping for a 2-year-old.

Winnie the Pooh

Pooh Bear was made for a first-birthday theme. The books themselves serve as easy, functional decor, while these precious art prints can be hung in the birthday boy or girl’s room afterward. Of course, there’s always Winnie the Pooh balloons, customized name banners, cake toppers, onesies, and even a honey pot piñata.


Bumble Bee

As scary as they can be to kids (and adults), bumblebees make the cutest first-birthday theme. Start with this “happy bee day” balloon set or this adorable burlap banner, and avoid a scary looking attempt at a bumble bee cake with these cupcake wrappers. For the extra run, provide a bee-themed photo backdrop. Black and yellow balloons and black-and-white striped or polka-dot paper goods keep things cute and festive.

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Rubber Duck

Turn a nightly chore into the most adorable first-birthday theme with these banners and balloons, and this high-chair topper. Birthday rubber ducks can serve as simple cake toppers or party favors, while bubbles provide theme-appropriate entertainment.


This simple theme lends itself to lovely decor you might have trouble parting with once the party is over. Start with this beautiful tableware set, or make table mats by painting plain white paper with watercolors. For a DIY decoration, anyone can do, place tape on a canvas in the shape of a “1” before painting it with watercolors. When you remove the tape, you’ll have a white “1” and the perfect decoration for a gift or cake table. Let little guests exercise their creative side with these paint palettes, and if you really wanna go all out, put your baby in a little beret. Striped shirt and necktie are optional.



If your baby was born in October and you’re prone to pet names, you’ll love this theme. This pumpkin-themed first birthday high-chair toppers in pink and brown will get your birthday girl or boy looking festive even if they’re just crying and throwing Cheerios around. There are plenty of options in terms of cake toppers, like this “one” or this “little pumpkin”. This banner featuring 12 numbered pumpkins is the perfect opportunity to showcase a picture of your baby at every month of his or her life. This set of premade decorations will set an elegant color scheme with relatively little effort on your part, while these photo booth props add some interactive fun.

Music Themed

A musical theme is perfect because it’s one of the few activities 1-year-olds can participate in. Pick up a baby instrument set or some maracas for some festive entertainment, and you can still play your favorite songs to appease the adult ears in the room. Bonus: They’re not old enough yet to play a drum set. Of course, there is plenty of premade decor out there to really drive the theme home, from cupcake toppers to inflatable guitars and microphones and music balloons.


Very Hungry Caterpillar

One of the difficulties of choosing a theme for the first birthday is that 1-year-olds don’t really have interests yet. But books provide the perfect theme with a dose of nostalgia. You could gift your child this Hungry Caterpillar plush toy to entertain them festively during the party or have a reading of the classic book. This lantern decoration will serve as the perfect backdrop, while these leaf-shaped serving trays will add some fun to your snack display. There’s even a pack of Very Hungry Caterpillar–themed paper plates, cups, napkins, and a banner. And don’t forget the invites!

Where the Wild Things Are

Because if there was any word to describe your child’s first year of life, it would probably be wild. Keep things easy and consider ordering from the plethora of decor available on Amazon, from a high-chair decoration, to a banner, crowns, or a cake topper. Or go DIY with a cake topper made out of a good-old-fashioned construction paper crown, and decorate with some strategically placed greens. Chocolate-covered pretzel rods look like sticks, and gold balloons and a copy of the book pull the theme together.


Brunch Themed

Like we said, your kid won’t remember the party, so you might as well do something you like. Brunch time is perfect for hosting those guests who are still on a nap schedule before they’re tired and cranky, and it requires little else than pancake mix and maybe some balloons (these flamingo balloons are super cute and semi-reasonably priced, compared to party store pricing). To add a personal touch, use this photo banner to display a photo from each month of your baby’s life. If you’re still not satisfied on the decor front, there are a plethora of high-chair decorations out there, like this pink one or this colorful version that comes with a matching birthday hat. These plastic stemless champagne flutes are perfect for offering the adults a mimosa, and this first-birthday paper goods set will minimize cleanup.

Baby Shark

Doo doo doo doo da doo doo doo. From banners to balloons, cake toppers, entire decor sets, and even kid-size masks, the internet makes it really easy to put together this theme. Now if only getting the song out of your head was that simple.


Cookie Monster

What’s a first birthday without a cartoon character and dessert consumption? Not something anyone wants to be a part of, that’s for sure. A Cookie Monster party can be as simple as some blue balloons and a generous serving of cookies and milk. Of course when you give a mouse/new parent a cookie theme, they likely be tempted by this onesie, personalized banner, high-chair banner/crown/cake topper combo, or even a cookie piñata.

Strawberry Patch

Dress your birthday girl or boy in pink or red, and serve strawberry shortcake or, even easier, chocolate-covered strawberries. For other easy ways to get the theme across, serve snacks in these pink paper berry baskets, and send guests home with these functional hair-tie favors. Thanks to the wonders of the interweb, there are even these strawberry and the first birthday–themed high-chair decorations, banner, lantern decoration thing, and cake topper available at the click of your fingers.


Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

This childhood favorite makes the sweetest gender-neutral theme. For inspiration, check out this banner and cake topper. For decor you won’t throw away as soon as the party’s over, try these star and moonlight signs that double as a soothing nightlight.

Humpty Dumpty

Start with a soft color scheme, and create a space for guests to play with toys like this Humpty Dumpty plush or listen to a reading of the book and other nursery tales. For food, try Humpty Dumpty deviled eggs or cake pops dipped in white chocolate and decorated with a friendly face.


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This fun and educational childhood favorite offers the perfect twist on the classic luau party. Decorate all of your favorite baked goods with these letter sprinkles, and display a copy of the beloved book. This inflatable palm tree alludes to the story, especially if you tack construction paper letters to it. Since the story takes place in a palm tree, finish off the theme with this tropical party pack, which includes leis and coconut cups.

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  • A baby’s 1st birthday is as much for you and your family as it is for your little one, so we’re here to help you organise a day that everyone will enjoy.

    When your baby turns one, you’ve both reached an important milestone, and we’ve got all the 1st birthday party ideas you need to give you and your baby a really special day.

    From ideas for easy food and decorations to games, party bags and costumes that little ones will love, follow our guide to first birthday parties.

    And remember, most babies won’t be able to handle the birthday extravaganza for too long, so keep the celebrations short. A couple of hours is plenty of time to celebrate and have fun without risking a baby burn-out.

    So sit back, relax and soak up our 1st birthday party ideas for a stress-free first birthday bash.

    1st birthday party ideas

    First birthday party invites
    First birthday party food
    First birthday party decorations
    First birthday party games and crafts
    First birthday party costumes
    First birthday party venues
    First birthday party bags

    1st birthday party ideas: Invites

    When you’re planning a first birthday party, your first job is the invites! Use our ideas for quick, easy and fun invites plus our hints and tips on how to decide who to invite.

    Your invites need to include your child’s name, the name of the child you’re inviting, the date, start and end time, and location of the party.

    Who to invite?
    It’s probably best to limit the number of people you invite. Your baby might get overwhelmed with the sheer number of strange faces and there’ll be even more for you to do on the big day.

    Try and keep it to close friends and family, with a few little ones to keep your baby company.

    Invite ideas

    Shop bought invites
    The most obvious idea is to buy a pack of invites from a card shop and just fill the details in.

    Personalised invites online
    Websites like Moonpig allow you to make your own invites quickly and easily – you can use pictures of your baby if you like and go for something funny, cute or quirky.

    Homemade invites
    If you’ve got lots of time and some good design skills, why not make your own?

    You could use a computer programme like Microsoft Publisher to design your invites using a template.

    Alternatively, buy some coloured card and make your cards by hand. Have a look around a craft shop for some extra decorations for your invites, such as glitter pens and stickers.

    Facebook invites
    If you’re short of time, a Facebook event is an effective way to get the details of your baby’s party to your friends.

    It’s a good idea to send a message reminding all your guests of the details a week before. Make sure you don’t forget to text any friends who don’t have Facebook or don’t check their accounts regularly.

    1st birthday party ideas: Food

    Credit: TI Media

    Have some fun with the party food at your baby’s first birthday party. Kids love fun-shaped food, so use cookie cutters on anything from sandwiches to biscuits or even pizzas.

    Some one-year-olds won’t have a full set of teeth, so softer foods like cucumber sticks, banana or other things they can chew on are ideal.

    Coloured fruit smoothies and fun jelly and ice cream combos also make great party treats.

    The cake
    An important part of the party is, of course, the cake. While your baby will probably get more on the floor than in their mouth, you will remember your baby’s first cake forever.

    If you want to make the cake yourself, a simple sponge with some party decorations will look and taste great.

    On the other hand, if you’re feeling like you want a showstopper you could have a go at making the pink ice cream cake above, it’s perfectly soft for little ones to enjoy and we promise it’s easier than you think to make.

    Not a fan of ice cream cake? Check out this roundup of the most AMAZING first birthday cakes we’ve ever seen. They won’t be easy to replicate but they’re sure to impress if you can manage one!

    1st birthday party ideas: Decorations

    Credit: Cavan Images/Getty Images

    A one-year-old won’t notice if you go to lots of effort with the decorations, so don’t spend too much time! Follow these tips for decorations:

    • Clear a space in your living room or garden for the party’s main setting.
    • Put down a selection of mats, cushions or rugs for little ones to play on.
    • Steer clear of balloons – the noise of one bursting will frighten little ones and they can be a choking hazard.
    • Cute pictures of your baby will go down well with friends and relatives.
    • Little ones will love bubbles – get a few pots and play with them together.

    1st birthday party ideas: Games and crafts

    Credit: CactuSoup/Getty Images

    Keep activities to a minimum at your baby’s first birthday party. One-year-olds are unlikely to have the attention span or skills to participate in lots of games, so don’t worry too much about organising anything, unless you have some older children coming too.

    These simple games and crafts are great for entertaining babies:

    • Little ones love unwrapping things, so a great party game is to wrap a small present up in several layers of paper and put it in a cardboard box, then give it to your tot and help them as they try and unwrap it.
    • If you’re very organised, babies will enjoy finger painting – but you’ll need lots of adults to help supervise.
    • Play dough makes a fun activity for little ones and they can squish and squash it into all different shapes. Our play dough recipes includes ideas for how to colour and scent it to make it extra special too.

    1st birthday party ideas: Costumes

    Credit: photobac/Getty Images

    A one-year-old won’t really appreciate fancy dress, but they will look cute!

    If you want to get really into a fancy dress theme, you can buy all sorts of costumes for babies – such as animals, super heroes, fairies and loads more. Try a quick Internet search for baby fancy dress.

    If you’re trying to keep costs down or just aren’t that keen on fancy dress, a few party hats will make for some nice pictures.

    1st birthday party ideas: Venues

    Credit: ljubaphoto/Getty Images

    It’s a good idea to hold your baby’s first birthday party at your house or a relative’s house, as it’ll be a familiar and comfortable setting.

    However, you might fancy something a bit different or just want to avoid the cleaning up!

    The park
    If your baby was born in warmer months, a trip to the park is a great option.

    Get some friends to all bring a different food and have a little picnic – babies can play with outdoor toys, roll around in the grass and have a go on the swings!

    Indoor soft play centre
    Any indoor soft play centre that has a baby area is a great idea for a first birthday party! Babies will be able to play on the soft shapes and in the ball pit too.

    You could enquire if the centre does special party deals which can include food and a party bag at the end too.

    1st birthday party ideas: Party bags

    Credit: Richard Sharrocks/Getty Images

    Let’s face it, one-year-olds won’t remember what was in their party bag, so there’s no need to spend a fortune on them.

    If you are going to do party bags, we’ve come up with some great ideas to fill them:

    Something cute like bibs or socks will get lots of ‘awwws’ from mums!

    Crayons or chalk will always come in handy.

    Hobbycraft is a great place to buy crafty things, but it’s also worth having a look round your nearest Poundland for bargains.

    A little book might be something that guests can keep for a while.

    They might not be ready to read them yet, but a Mr. Men or Little Miss Book is a nice collectible to have.

    Something noisy
    We all know babies love to make noise! Something like a rattle or some clackers will be popular.

    Babies love bubbles and they’re something they can enjoy playing with along with their parents.

    Don’t forget a slice of birthday cake! Even if it will be enjoyed by mum rather than baby.

    Baby’s First Birthday Party

    What do 1-year-old babies know about parties? Not much, actually. Which is why you might want to resist the urge to throw a huge birthday party bash for your baby of honor — who might end up cracking under the pressure (of too many guests, too much excitement, too much entertainment) and spending much of the celebration in tears. So think small (like your little one) when thinking about the first birthday party and follow this strategy so it’s a party to remember instead of one you’d rather forget:

    Keep the invites light. A room too crowded with even familiar faces may overwhelm your birthday baby. Unless you’re sure your little one can handle a big crowd, consider keeping it on the intimate side — maybe just a few family members and close friends. If your baby spends time with other babies, you may want to invite a few, along with their parents (you probably won’t want to be responsible for supervising any baby but your own). If not, a first birthday party probably isn’t the best time to launch your little one’s social career.

    Ditto the décor. A room decorated with all that your local party store has to offer and then some may be your dream — but maybe not your baby’s. Too many balloons, streamers, banners, masks, noisemakers and hats, like too many people, may prove too much for a 1-year-old to process. So decorate with a light hand. If balloons will round out your party picture, remember to dispose of them post-party — tiny tots can choke on the rubber scraps after balloons go pop. Or choose Mylar balloons — though remember that any string tied to a balloon can also pose a safety risk. Simple, safe favors, including brightly-colored large rubber balls, board books or bath toys, are a fun extra and can be handed to young guests just before the gifts are opened.

    More In This Series

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    Looking for more fun firsts? Visit our Milestones Center!

    Serve up safely. Many favorite party nibbles pose a choking risk, from M&Ms, Skittles and jelly beans to olives, popcorn, nuts and cocktail franks. So choose the party menu accordingly and/or place the snacks out of reach of little ones.

    Time it right. Scheduling is everything when it comes to a baby’s party. Try to orchestrate the big day’s activities so that baby is well rested, recently fed (don’t hold off on lunch, figuring he’ll eat during the party) and on a normal schedule. Don’t plan a morning party if baby usually naps in the morning, or an early afternoon party if he usually conks out over lunch. Inviting a tired baby to participate in the festivities is inviting disaster. Keep the party brief — an hour and a half to two hours at the most — so your baby won’t be a wreck when the party’s over or, worse, in the middle of it all.

    Don’t send in the clowns. Or magicians, or any other entertainment that might frighten your baby or any other young guests — 1-year-olds can be sensitive and unpredictable. What delights them one minute may terrify them the next. Also don’t try to organize the pre-toddler set into formal party games — they’re not ready for that yet. IF there are several young guests, however, put out a selection of toys for nonstructured play, with enough of the same items to avoid competition, and maybe a few age-appropriate craft activities that little ones and their parents can work on together (or just a pile of paper and washable markers or crayons).

    Have the budget to rent out a party space, like a play gym? That can be a fun option (and easier for you if it comes with staff to set up, clean up and help out with the little ones) — just make sure the facilities are 1-year-old appropriate.

    Don’t command a performance. It would be nice, of course, if baby would smile for the camera, take a few steps for the company, open each present with interest and coo appreciatively over it — but don’t count on it. He might learn to blow out the candles if you give it enough practice in the month before the party, but don’t expect complete cooperation, and don’t apply pressure. Instead, let your baby be your baby, whether that means squirming out of your arms during that party pose, refusing even to stand on his own two feet during the step-taking exhibition, or opting to play with an empty box instead of the expensive gift that came in it.

    Take the cake, and make it a smash. What first birthday party is complete without a smash cake (or cupcake) for baby to dive into head-first? Whether it features layers of frosting or something a little healthier, it makes sense to undress your baby to a diaper before serving it up. And for safety’s sake, make sure that any candles or choking-risk decorations are removed first.

    Babies & Their Smash Cake

    Record it, of course. The party will be over much too quickly, so you’ll want plenty of pictures and videos taken (preferably by someone else, so you can enjoy the event in real time). And speaking of enjoying it — make sure you do. Another perk of a smaller, more casual party? You’re less likely to stress, more likely to have fun — which, in turn, will mean more fun all around.

    Read Next:

    • Smash Cakes Your Birthday Baby Will Love
    • First Birthday Parties: A WhatToExpect.com Survey

    Why the First Birthday Party Matters

    Earlier this month, my daughter Genevieve celebrated her first birthday. We rented out the back room of the bar we frequent, invited about 25 people, and had a small but fun party. She “opened” presents and “ate” her first sugary cake wearing nothing but a diaper. Being one year old is something else.

    Now, I always felt that the first birthday party was unusually dumb. The baby has no idea why everyone is congregating for this party because of course it doesn’t: the baby has no concept of parties or birthdays, let alone time. Sure, the baby knows the people assembled, and she can discern that there is something unusual happening. But you can’t tell me a one-year-old child understands that this collection of people gathered to celebrate her.


    Well, that’s partly true. The first birthday celebration isn’t really for the baby.

    Rewind 15 hours before the big event. My wife and I put Genevieve to bed and groaned at the messy house in front of us; it had to be spotless in advance of my in-laws’ arrival that next morning. But before any scrubbing, we popped open one of the stashed bottles of beer from our collection and drank. Sure, drinking beer is standard for us, but this was a stash bottle. This was an occasion, and the occasion was that in one year, we didn’t screw it up. We made it.

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    A lot of things happened along the way. My wife and I fought a bunch. We dealt with our budget more than a million times. We had to pull out of one daycare situation and find another on the fly. We grew frustrated and antsy and needed a break. But we did it. Our baby was happy, healthy, and soaring through all of her checkpoints like we’d been playing Mario Kart for years. Some of that is luck, some of that is experience and the fact that I didn’t have a child in my 20s (no way was I ready), and some of that is just being thoughtful and measured. But anything can happen at any time to anyone, and in one year nothing major happened. In fact, it was a great year. We made it. So we poured ourselves a drink.

    The next morning, the in-laws showed and showered Genevieve with kisses and gifts. Our friends all came out and gave their own gifts, posed for pictures, and expressed excitement about Genevieve’s nutty character — her walking, her talking, her joking and grinning, all of it. But while she got all the toys and ate the cake, we got a lot of hugs, smiles, encouragement, and praise. It made us realize that the couple dozen people assembled at the party were instrumental in helping us make it through the year and keeping Genevieve happy and healthy.

    That’s what was so remarkable about this party. Traditional family members don’t live near us, so, especially in those crazy first three months, it became easy to shelter ourselves in our cocoons and grow paranoid over every crying outburst or bottle rejection. Our friends didn’t allow that to happen. They visited us and provided a break from the worries. They listened to our frustrations and, when asked, provided advice or assurance. In their own ways, they became parents, building an umbrella over our heads that kept us safe and dry when times grew uncertain. And while they lived far away, our traditional family members visited when they could, helped us through tougher times and rejoiced in our successes.


    There’s a cliche: When a couple becomes parents, they stop hanging out with their friends. But I found that some of the people closest to us grew even closer during this first year. We saw some of our friends more than ever. Friends who had babies at the same time became support group friends; we’d toss around our experiences, and while many were unique, we’d learn that none of us was doing anything alone. Friends without children actually became more involved in our lives, as if our struggles and successes were their own. It made us feel ever more loved.

    When the party ended the in-laws took Genevieve home, and our friends left, one by one. It was around this time that my wife began crying and deliriously thanking everyone. Until I met my wife I never realized how important it was to tell people you love them, but now it’s expected, and I’m glad for that reality. She reminded our friends of the crucial role they play in our lives, then as we left, we accepted a complimentary shot from the bartenders. That’s when I told the bartenders how important they were to me (and, trust me, they are).

    That’s when I realized why the first birthday party matters. It’s not about the baby, really. It’s about the two people – and the family that surrounds those people – that helped the baby grow happy and healthy.

    This article was syndicated from Medium.

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    Thomas Rhett to perform at BB&T Pavilion

    Your baby is turning 1! Congratulations! If you’re like me, you are probably approaching this milestone with elation and nostalgia.

    Seemingly overnight, our babies have transformed from teeny, tiny newborns to chatty, active little kids with their own unique personalities. What a joy the first year of a child’s life is, watching your son or daughter learn and grow, develop and advance. It is like they go from baby to toddler in the blink of an eye. While I lament the rapid passing of time, I am also so proud of my little man and feel so lucky for all the joy my family has experienced since his arrival. I wanted to go all out for Killian’s first birthday party to mark this momentous milestone.

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    His autumn birthday gave me the idea for a theme: Our Little Pumpkin is Turning One! I envisioned a casual Sunday party at our home with family, friends, football and food. An entire farm’s worth of pumpkins. My home looking like the fall cover of “Martha Stewart Living.” You know, just a small gathering that people would write songs about. All kidding aside, I wanted the day to be fun for Killian, enjoyable (and low stress) for my husband and me, amusing for the kids in attendance and pleasurable for the adults.

    Like everything I have experienced over my first year of motherhood, planning a child’s birthday party was a first for me. I had some ideas about how I wanted to celebrate my son, but I also sought advice from other parents and their children. Here are some of the strategies I employed and priorities I kept at the top of my mind to make my son’s birthday party a special day for all.


    We parents can never be too organized. I did not want to get stressed in the weeks leading up to – and most importantly, on the day of – Killian’s first birthday, so my planning for his Oct. 1 party began over the summer. From a budget to invitations, from a menu to decorations, I laid it all out in an Excel spreadsheet. I shared this with my husband to ensure the party would meet his expectations and we were on the same page. Doing this advance work made everything a lot easier for me, especially during the week of the party, when we had out-of-town guests arriving. Being prepared also helped me to delegate to our family, who arrived early to help us set up for the big day.


    There were a lot of considerations to factor into my son’s birthday party, but the biggest priority was him. I planned the day so it would work with his schedule to be the most enjoyable for him. On the morning of his birthday, we opened presents in our pajamas with Killian’s grandparents, aunts and uncle. Once he was down for his morning nap, “Team Killian” switched into prep mode. The party started at noon because Killian would be up then and ready to play. His Cookie Monster smash cake was given to him by 2 p.m. so he could still stay on his afternoon nap schedule (after an earlier-than-usual bath to get all that icing off). The photos of my happy, smiling baby don’t lie: Killian had a great time at his party!


    It is really easy to get carried away when planning a birthday party. You want the day to be perfect for your child and your guests. You want innumerable Pinterest-worthy photos for Instagram and the baby book. You want everyone to leave saying, “That was the greatest party ever!” Take a deep breath. And keep it simple. Set your priorities. Put back half the things in your Amazon cart. Do not buy everything in the seasonal décor aisle at Michael’s. Don’t plan to make eight new recipes. Keep. It. Simple. Your child will not know if the party store did not have the exact right shade of blue for his balloons. But he will be affected by your mood and disposition. Keep it simple to keep it easy on yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff; just make sure to have a good time with your child.


    A child’s birthday party needs to be centered around and especially fun for the kids in attendance. I asked for a lot of advice from my friends and their little ones to ensure our smallest guests would have a great time. The weather allowed for the children to play games, hang in the sandbox and run around in the backyard. If we needed to be inside, I had the playroom ready to go with toys, games, coloring books and movies. The kids decorated pumpkins with foam stickers (no paint or carving necessary!). We had a kid’s picnic table loaded with snacks, plus mac and cheese, chicken fingers, apple cider doughnuts and cupcakes. And candy, lots and lots of candy. The children all seemed to have a good time, and Killian absolutely loved playing with his friends and cousins.


    I think good food and alcohol for the adults is a must at a kid’s birthday party! We kept the lunch menu pretty simple and low stress, which allowed me to stay out of the kitchen. I had catered sandwich platters and homemade salads, a charcuterie and cheese platter and lots of snacks. I also put together a pretty extensive bloody mary bar, tapped a hollowed-out pumpkin to serve spiked apple cider and had plenty of beer and wine for our guests. For those who were with us for dinner, I had catered trays of meatballs and baked ziti. We had the football games on and music playing, plus lawn games like KanJam and Cornhole for the “big kids” to enjoy. If the weather did not cooperate, we would have played pool, Ping-Pong and darts inside. I wanted the party to be fun for all ages.


    If your little one is like mine, they have more toys than they know what to do with. Our family and friends have been incredibly generous, and Killian has been showered with gifts since he was still in utero. My husband and I encouraged our guests to simply bring themselves, writing on the invitation that their presence at his party was the best present for Killian. Of course, many people still brought and sent gifts, which was very kind. Some of his new favorites include cars and musical toys, a sandbox and new books. Some friends brought Champagne and beer for my husband and me; some sent flowers that helped us decorate our home for the party. My sister Colleen made an epic photo banner that showed our favorite moments and photos of Killian throughout his 12 months. Every gift was appreciated and will be cherished, played with, worn and shared for years to come.

    Celebrating your little one’s birthday is not just momentous for them but also for you and your partner and all who love your child. The day my son was born was the day that my husband and I became parents; it is the anniversary of the birth of my family. It was also the day that my parents became grandparents and the day my sisters became aunts. I wanted his first birthday to be special for all of us. Killian’s party was great because my son, husband and I had an amazing time; the children were happy and entertained; and our family and friends all seemed to enjoy themselves. That is really what it is all about: having fun, loving and laughing together.

    What are your recommendations for a child’s birthday party? What is your favorite moment from your little one’s party? Share your thoughts with me and other parents in the comments section below or Tweet me at @ThePhillyVoice and @KathleenEGagnon.

    10 Tips for a First Birthday Party You & Baby Will Love

    Congratulations, you’ve made it through the first year of parenthood. Now it’s time to chose that first birthday outfit, bake (or buy) a smash cake, and throw that first birthday bash! Make it memorable—and stress free!—by following these 10 first birthday ideas for a fun party.

    photo: Jen Moore Photography

    1. Respect the nap.
    One of the first things you learn as a parent is that happy, stress-free occasions require a well-rested baby. Birthday parties are no exception, so time the bash around your baby’s nap. While this may mean a different start time than Grandma expected, everybody (and especially baby!) will have a better time if you plan around the sleep schedule.

    2. Create a quiet area.
    Create a secondary party area in another room or outside area for guests to go if they need a break from the festivities. Set out non-electronic toys for babies who may feel overstimulated, and leave out snacks for adults who want a spot for quiet conversation.

    photo: TheVirtualDenise via

    3. Designate photographers.
    Family and friends will love to take photos of your little sweetheart’s big day, but to ensure you capture the party’s big moments and sweet snuggles with important folks, as a few attendees if they’ll be in charge of photos. That way you can focus on your child and your guests—and ensure you’ll be in some photos as well!

    4. Choose a simple theme.
    It’s easy to get carried away when planning such an important milestone, but if planning a Pinterest-worthy party stresses you out, stick to one simple theme. Lifestyle guru and mother of two Camille Styles opted for a summer-themed party for her daughter’s first birthday and used hearts and the colors pink and orange to make the party look cohesive. Need birthday party theme ideas? We’ve got you covered:
    11 First Party Themes to Celebrate the Birthday Boy
    First Birthday Party Themes That Will Wow You
    Baby’s First Party: 12 Girly Theme Ideas to Inspire You
    10 New Party Themes to Celebrate Your Baby Girl’s First Birthday

    photo: freestocks-photos via

    5. Weather permitting, opt for an outdoor venue.
    A park or a playground can be a great party spot, and all you’ll need to bring are the cake, balloons, favors, snacks and a table to put them on. The mess will be minimal, and younger guests will have lots of space to move around. Pro tip: Arrive early to stake out a spot in the shade, and tell guests what color balloons you’ll have so they know where to go. If Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, make extra room indoors by moving furniture out of the party room so little legs have a chance to move.

    6. Put older kids in charge of games.
    Delegate, delegate, delegate. Older kids, like cousins or friends’ children, usually love to be given extra responsibility at parties, and they’re really good at getting the younger ones’ attention. Put them in charge of face painting, music-making, singing songs, and more.

    photo (and adorable hat): Mosey Handmade via Etsy

    7. Take photos before guests arrive.
    For the guest of honor, this party is more about the photos than the memories. So snap some pics before baby gets sleepy or starts shrieking from all the commotion. To ensure you get an Insta-worthy photo, make or order a small cake before the big day and do a low-key photo shoot without guests around. Baby will be all smiles and no one flipping through the scrapbook will ever know that picture was taken on a different day.

    8. Personalize the party.
    Highlight a few of your baby’s favorite things over the past year (first word! favorite food! favorite stuffed animal!) and show it off for all to see on a poster you display at the party. This idea from Kara’s Party Ideas lets guests learn about your baby and is worth snapping a photo of for baby to see in a few years. Better yet, make it a yearly tradition.

    photo: timkraaijvanger via

    9. Use a cupcake for smashing.
    Smash cakes are all the rage with the 1-year-old crowd and their photo-taking families, and while we say smash away, a small cake works just as well with much less mess.

    10. Create a time capsule.
    This party activity requires only pens, paper and a box. Ask your guests to write the birthday babe a short letter to be read years from now. To ward off writer’s block, offer suggestions for what to write, such as advice (always be good to your mother!), a memory of the party or first year, or wishes for the future. Store the letters in a marked container that reads “Do not open until you turn 21” (or whatever age you like).

    photo: Chris Benson via Unsplash

    11. Make your party treats self-serve.
    Everything from drinks to dessert can be set up in advance so you can tell guests to help themselves and focus on your child and having fun. For younger guests, lay out cut-up fruit, applesauce pouches and cups of Cheerios or snack crackers.

    12. Keep it short and sweet.
    Little people get overstimulated quickly and can’t handle too much of a good thing. Limit your party to 2 hours or less so everyone can leave on a positive note.

    —Aimee Della Bitta


    Fun Alternatives to First Birthday Parties That Your Baby Will Love

    10 Art Projects to Celebrate Baby’s First Birthday

    Big Celebration, No Fuss: How to Host an Easy First Birthday Party

    First smile, first time rolling over, first tooth, first time sleeping through the night (yea!) and maybe even first steps – it’s been an unforgettable year.

    1. Prep in advance. Make a guest list, send out invites, and choose age-appropriate food and games.
    2. Make it about her. Celebrate the things your baby loves. Create a custom party theme based on her favorite book, toy, or TV show. That surely will make her smile too!
    3. Pick a time that works with the birthday boy or girl’s nap schedule. You want to make sure she’s well-rested enough to enjoy her first birthday party. Bonus points if you can rest beforehand too.
    4. Charge your phones and camera. You can also assign a photographer for the event so you can be fully present for playtime – and in the photos with your baby!
    5. Small cakes for small hands. Cupcakes are more manageable for babies. And if you have the time, you can get a big cake for the adults.
    6. Bibs for the babes! Isn’t she cute all dressed up in her birthday finest? Have her and her friends ready for the potential mess of a birthday cake!
    7. It’s ok to be a little selfish. Consider putting the food out in a self-serve spread so that you can enjoy the party and spend time with your baby. It’s your party too!
    8. Give your baby some downtime. With all the attention, the star of the day may need to retreat for a bit. If you know your baby won’t be able to rest during the party, keep it short and sweet to avoid over-stimulation and breakdowns.
    9. Be part of the fun. Get ready to play with the kids. At this age, kids don’t play with each other; they need a little help from adults. What about a group chicken dance?
    10. Last but not least, enjoy the moment! The first birthday is a huge milestone. Take a moment to celebrate how far you’ve come. Happy birthday!

    And now it’s time to celebrate! Your Noobie One box will get you started. (Don’t forget to make your own wish when you help blow out the candles.)

    Baby’s First Birthday

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