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DIY First Birthday Party

Updated on October 13, 2014

Give Your Little One's First Birthday the Personal Touch

By the time your little one's first birthday is coming along you've probably got your crafting mojo back which means you can save money, waste and give your baby's birthday a personal look.

Your baby's first birthday doesn't have to be an extravagant event - in fact after such an exhausting first year try to keep it as simple as possible for the sake of your sanity.


Home made Invitation Card
Home made Invitation Card | Source

Make Your Own Invitations

Invitations can be simple - just a few lines of information printed out from your computer or e-vites.

As a first birthday party is special I wanted to make something special - with an extra invite that we could keep in my little one's birthday book.

I made my invitations out of cereal box cardboard backed with pages from baby catalogs and just wrote the important information on the plain white side.

Opposite: The back of one of my invitations. I used the sewing machine to stitch the page into page partly because I'm known for sewing but mostly because we didn't have any glue in the house!

A cute idea would be to personalize a similar style of invitation with pictures of your little one instead of catalog pages.

Make Memories...

Your Birthday Book: A Keepsake Journal
Your Birthday Book: A Keepsake Journal

How many of your childhood birthdays do you actually remember?

Well now you can record every birthday your child has (from 1-18) in this gorgeous book so that they'll know how special and loved they are.

Your Birthday Book even includes pockets for keepsakes.


First Birthday Gifts

Birthday Letter
Birthday Letter | Source

First Birthday Cards

I make the majority of the cards I give out but for my little one's birthday I decided to write him a letter instead of a card. I thought it would be an awesome idea to write down all the things we'd done and seen that day.

A birthday letter would be a great tradition to keep each year and much more memorable and meaningful than a bought card which usually get thrown away.

The image opposite shows the (blurred for privacy) front and back of the letter I wrote my little one. The paper was folded like a card and the front and back were covered in baby catalog paper. I took a photo from the day and placed that on the front and then inside I wrote the letter.

First Birthday Toys

By your child's first birthday you should have a good idea of the kinds of toys they like, the colors they love and the things that excite them - this gives you a good base for coming up with ideas of what toys to make them.

My little one had a huge heap of toys already and I had no idea what to get him myself - it seemed a little bonkers to add more plastic to the heap. I knew he was going to get a lot more toys from his relatives too - in fact hearing what they were going to get him made it even more difficult for me to decide what he might want.

I bought one kids' DVD and decided I was going to make a few other things.

Numbers Book
Numbers Book | Source

Homemade Books

You can make books out of anything for your small child but the best materials to use are ones that can survive rough play.

Fabric books are perfect for small children.

I made a simple Numbers book using applique. I mostly hand stitched my book so you don't even need to own a sewing machine.

Find out more about my book in the lens below.

Stuffed Alphabet
Stuffed Alphabet | Source

Stuffed Alphabet

This one came out looking a little too "homemade" but I was in a rush. I've seen some gorgeous stuffed alphabets that you can make with a bit more time and patience and some classier fabrics. Try this plush alphabet tutorial as a starting point.

To be honest, my little one didn't play with these for a long time after his first birthday as he was still into the chewing plastic phase but I wanted to make something that would be useful in the future.

If you don't have the time for a whole alphabet you could just make a stuffed version of your child's name.

Knitted Stuffed Toy
Knitted Stuffed Toy | Source

Stuffed Toys

If you're going to make your little one some stuffed toys then please give yourself plenty of time to design, gather materials and create them. Otherwise you might end up with the knitted travesty I created (see opposite)!

I wanted to make my little one a yellow lion toy but my first few attempts went a bit wrong. I think I should have found a pattern to work from rather than make up something on the fly as I simply didn't have enough time.

This strange creature was based on a square teddy bear pattern I found but I didn't have great materials (the cheapest of acrylic yarns) and I didn't have the right stuff to finish it off - I would have loved to have had proper toy eyes.

This poor square bear is also a bit oddly shaped with his recycled stuffing - part scraps of wadding, part odd bits of material and part barley grains (sealed in a sewn material package so that there's no risk of choking.

So if you're going to make your little one a toy:

Choose a great pattern with easy to follow instructions or something you've already tried before.

Get the right materials.

First Birthday Cake

Sugar Free Cakes

Birthday Cake
Birthday Cake | Source

Sugar Free?

Originally I wanted to make a sugar-free birthday cake but in the end we went with a chocolate cake - I was OK with this as long as my baby didn't have too much of it!

Late at night the day before the party I panicked that there wouldn't be enough cake for everyone so I made a second! There was enough of the first cake for everyone so we ended up with a lot of food left over!

I've collected links to the sugar-free cake recipes, I found, below.

Candle Holders
Candle Holders | Source

Cake Decorations

From my rather blurry photo above you can see that I kept the cake fairly plain - just decorating it with chocolate buttons - but I was also given some really sweet silver-plated candle holders by one of my baby's great aunts (see opposite).

I love the idea of these durable, reusable candle holders that could become a family heirloom and be used year after year.

First Birthday Decorations

A Few Ideas for Décor

This is an area where your crafting skills can really shine.

You can go with simple or some sort of elaborate theme. I didn't really have a theme in mind but mostly stuck to red, white and blue.

One of the tables I was using for drinks and glasses had a really damaged surface. I didn't have a tablecloth for it so I simple taped pages from a baby catalog to the top - it was simple to do and throw out, didn't cost me anything, didn't matter if it got damaged and also reused something.

Birthday Bunting
Birthday Bunting | Source


Here in the UK we'd just had the Jubilee celebration and my little one loved the bunting that was hanging up everywhere.

I made a simple line of bunting by simply stitching triangles of fabric onto a length of string.

I simply cut a cardboard template for the triangle - any size will do, choose what works for you best - and used this to cut out triangles from 4 different fabrics which seemed to go together.

I backed my fabric triangles with some plain white fabric and stitched them together - I thought this would add weight and also help the fabric not to fray too badly over the years.

I then lined the string along the back top edge of my fabric triangles and used a zigzag stitch to attach them.


Birthday Bunting
Birthday Bunting | Source


Hedgehog by Donna
Hedgehog by Donna | Source

What I Did...

At this point I'd pretty much given up on the healthy and sugar-free idea.

We decided to make several pizzas as the main part of the party food.

I also made butterfly cakes from a simple recipe by Nigella - although there are free versions on the Internet.

My sister-in-law made an awesome hedgehog from sticking cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks into a tin foil-covered potato.

I made trifle and jelly and ice cream.

We also had a few nibbles like cocktail sausages, scotch eggs, sausage rolls and party rings.

Not the most healthy of meals but alright once in a while. We had way more than we needed and I forgot about the jelly and ice cream.


Guests | Source

Who and How Many...

How many people are you going to invite and how big is your house?

Our home is fairly small and we managed to cram in around 20 people. I was a little worried about how my little one would cope with all those people and I was prepared for a meltdown but he was absolutely fine despite not being used to big crowds.

Make sure you have enough seating for everyone and enough plates and glasses. I hate disposable stuff so we used all our everyday glasses, mugs, plates and bowls. We borrowed extra fold-up chairs.

My advice would be to have some quiet music playing in the background - we didn't and our party was pretty awkward and quiet at first.

First Birthday Activities

What to Do...

Something I would think about if I planned a first birthday party again is to think of some activities especially as things can be a little awkward at first if no one knows each other.

Think of simple things that your 1 year old can join in. Children of that age are also going to be at different stages of development so bear that in mind.

Check out the ideas in the links below.

© 2012 Rachel Field

Share Your Thoughts - Reader Feedback.

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    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Full of lovely ideas.


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