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How To Plan A Perfect First Birthday Party

Updated on September 13, 2014
First Birthday Party Tips
First Birthday Party Tips | Source

Your Baby Is Turning One - It's Time To Party!

From smash cakes to invitations, there is a lot to think about when it comes to your child's first birthday party! It's a big occasion and an important milestone for your little one and you want to be sure to do everything right. These memories will be yours forever and your child will enjoy looking at pictures and hearing stories of his first birthday when he's older.

What do you need? Who do you invite? Where should you hold the party? Find all sort of tips in this lens for creating the perfect first birthday party for your new one year old!

Remember to have fun!

Your child's first birthday party will only happen once so relax and enjoy yourself! Oh... and don't forget to take lots of pictures! :)

Who Should be Invited to a First Birthday Party?
Who Should be Invited to a First Birthday Party? | Source

Create a Guest List

It's important to know how many people will be at the birthday party. Knowing this will help you decide on a location for the celebration, it will also help you know how much food, cake and party supplies you will need.

Your child's first birthday party is a very special occasion and your family and friends will likely want to help you celebrate. It can be hard to know who to invite, especially if you are short on funds. It may be hard to cut people from the list but if you must do that just try to think of the people that have supported you and your child.

Family - Your one year old's grandparents will of course want to be there but don't forget your own grandparents as well as aunts, uncles and cousins! Your Friends - Invite friends who are close to you, who supported you during your pregnancy and the first year of your child's life. Your Child's Friends - Your one year old is not going to tell you which friends he wants to invite to the party. However, you may want to invite kids from daycare or playgroups. If you're trying to cut people from your guest list this group will probably be the first to go since your child is not going to care.

Where Should I Host a Birthday Party?
Where Should I Host a Birthday Party? | Source

Find a Place to Party

Play centers, bounce houses and places like Chuck E. Cheese are popular locations for birthday parties. However, you may want to choose something more low key for a first birthday.

Here are some suggestions for good places to hold a first birthday party:

This is the simplest option in a lot of ways. If you have the room, having a party at your home can be the perfect option. If the thought of cleaning and preparing your home for a lot of people stresses you out then you might want to think of a different location.

A Local Park
If your child will be celebrating her birthday in the warmer months, a local park may be the perfect location! There will be plenty of space for the older children to play and you shouldn't have to worry about having enough room for all of your guests. But, you may want to make sure you can rent a pavilion in case of rain!

A Restaurant
Depending on the size of your guest list you may be able to reserve a party room at a local restaurant. There are many pizza places that provide a separate room for parties. The great thing about holding a party here is that the food is taken care of for you! Each guest can order food for themselves and you don't have to worry about feeding the hordes. In my experience, these rooms generally only fit around 30 people so make sure you check your guest list first!

A Hotel
Hotels generally have conference rooms available for anyone to rent out. Prices will vary and can get a bit steep depending on which hotel you choose. But, they will certainly provide a large space and you may even be able to get them to cater the event! Keep in mind, most hotels will not let you serve your own food so be sure to ask about that before you book!

Your Church
Many churches have a gathering place for their congregation that they will rent out to the public for a small fee. My daughter's first birthday party was held in the Fellowship Hall at our church. It was a great space with lots of room and we were even allowed to use the fridge and freezer to store drinks and ice cream.

Banquet Hall
A banquet hall may be a bit more costly than you were planning to pay but if your guest list is large this may be the perfect solution!

Choose a Date and Time

The day you hold your party is going to completely depend on you and your most important guests. Before you set the date you will probably want to double check with the grandparents and other people that you know you really want at the party to make sure the day works for them. This is especially important if you are inviting people from out of town.

Try to schedule the party around your child's nap time. First birthday parties can be overwhelming for the guest of honor and having a tired toddler will only make the situation worse. Every child is different so consider your child when making plans. Some one year olds are more flexible than others and you may be able to get them to nap before the party. Other kids may be very set in their ways and need a nap at the same time each day. You want your child to have fun at his party so make sure you think of his needs when planning!

Minnie Mouse First Birthday
Minnie Mouse First Birthday | Source

Choose a Theme... or Not

There are many fun theme ideas available for boys and girls on their first birthday! Whether you choose pirates or rebels, angels or princesses make sure you choose something that you enjoy!

Your one year old is just starting to show preference for different things but she is not going to get upset if you choose a polka dot party theme instead of farm animals. However, it can be fun to choose a theme based around your child's new interests! My daughter is in love with Mickey and Minnie Mouse so it was pretty easy for us to decide on the Minnie Mouse First Birthday Theme.

If you would prefer to stay away from cartoon characters at this age you can also go more generic with your baby being "the theme". There are plenty of cute party supplies that simply say "Happy 1st Birthday" without committing you to a specific animal or character.

I have chosen to feature some of my favorite themes below. If these don't suit your style check out all of the 1st Birthday Themes available at Birthday in a Box!


If you choose a theme for the birthday party you may want to choose invitations that match the theme. Other people like putting a picture of the birthday girl or boy on the invite for a personal touch.

It is usually recommended that you send out birthday invitations 2 to 3 weeks beforehand. This should give your guests plenty of time to plan for the party and schedule time off from work if need be. If you are inviting people from out of town you may want to call them 4-5 weeks before the party to give them a heads up since they will need to plan a bit more to get to the party.

First Birthday Themes For Girls

Custom invitations for below themes are available at Zap Party

Spring Flowers Invitation
Spring Flowers Invitation | Source

Flower Party

Flowers are a lovely choice for a little girl who is turning one. The above invitation is called "Spring Flowers" but I think it would be nice anytime of the year. It's the perfect combination of sugar and spice. The pink and lime colors will be easy to coordinate with other décor and the flowers should give excellent inspiration for party favors.

Hearts Party
Hearts Party | Source

Hearts First Birthday Party

Yes, I know the sample above says "third birthday" but that doesn't mean this invitation is not perfect for a 1st birthday party. In fact, most of the customers who order this invitation from me are ordering for a first birthday. Hearts are sweet just like little girls and they offer a wide variety of options for décor, colors and party favors.

First Birthday Themes For Boys

Custom invitations for below themes are available at Zap Party

Cute Cars Birthday Party
Cute Cars Birthday Party | Source

Car Birthday Party

There's no denying that toddlers - especially boy toddlers love cars! That makes cars and transportation the perfect theme for a boy's first birthday party. The invitation above features cute little cars inspired by my son's toy cars. There is also a Disney Car's First Birthday theme that you can find at Birthday in a Box. (linked below)

All Star Birthday Invitation
All Star Birthday Invitation | Source

Celebrate your little boy's first birthday with this cute Sports Birthday Boy Theme! The classic design features football, soccer ball, basketball and baseball! It's the perfect way to celebrate your little MVP's First Birthday.

Gender Neutral First Birthday Themes

Custom invitations for below themes are available at

Hungry Caterpillar First Birthday
Hungry Caterpillar First Birthday | Source

Hungry Caterpillar First Birthday

I love book related party themes! We used the Hungry Caterpillar book by Eric Carle as the theme for our son's first birthday. At the time, our son seemed to be a bottomless pit. He would eat and eat and eat and "he was still hungry!" This theme was perfect for us. I loved decorating for this party too - lots of colorful balloons, apples, and a paper caterpillar on the wall pulled everything together quite nicely.

Polka Dots Party
Polka Dots Party | Source

Polka Dots First Birthday

If you prefer to be a little lax when it comes to a theme, you can always go with stripes or polka dots in bright colors. Polka dots are a lot of fun and give you lots of options for party décor. Get paper plates, table clothes and balloons to match the polka dot colors of your choice and you're ready to go!

Did You Have Games At Your Child's First Birthday Party?

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First Birthday Party Activities

I am not a big fan of party games, especially at a one year old's birthday party. Your new toddler is likely going to be overwhelmed by all of the people and attention so I highly recommend keeping games and activities to a minimum. Some of the most relaxed (and fun) one year old parties I have been to were very laid back.

For my daughter's first birthday we started with food and mingle time. Every body helped themselves to our sandwich buffet, found a seat and had fun talking and eating. When the kids got bored they got up and chased each other around. After everyone was done eating we gathered and a circle so they could watch Allie open her presents. This is usually a fun activity for everyone. Let the older kids bring the gifts to you and baby so they can feel helpful. Following presents we gave Allie her smash cake, served everyone else cake and then the party was over. Simple but fun.

Here are some ideas for other activities that would be fun and memorable for you and your one year old:

Baby Time Capsule

Ask each quest to bring a memento, small toy (that he no longer uses) or written memory about your new one year old. Place these items plus a few birthday cards and party items inside a container. Then put the container in the back of a closet or some place that you don't access often. Give it to your child on his 21st Birthday so he can look back at how far he has come!

Signature Item

Have guests sign a guest book and include a favorite memory of baby's first year or advice for the future. It doesn't have to be a book though, it could also be a picture frame matte, a stuffed animal, a canvas... whatever you want!

Minnie Mouse First Birthday Cake
Minnie Mouse First Birthday Cake

What Kind Of Cake Do You Like To Have At Parties?

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First Birthday Cake

Let Them Eat Cake!

The first birthday cake is a tradition that many parents look forward to. It's so much fun seeing the look of amazement on your child's face as they taste sugar for the first time and laughing as they squish the cake between their fingers.

Parents usually get two cakes for their child's first birthday, a cake for the adults and a smaller cake for the birthday boy or girl. This smaller cake is generally called a smash cake for obvious reasons. Since you already have your theme or color scheme in mind I would suggest searching images online for different cakes that fit the theme.

From cup cakes to tiered cakes and everything in between, you're sure to find something that strikes your fancy!

If you have experience baking and decorating a cake you may want to create your own masterpiece for your child's first birthday. If, like me, you've never baked a cake in your life you'd probably be better off ordering a cake for the big day. Birthdays can be stressful enough without worrying about a flat or burnt cake! Plus, most bakeries will throw in the smash cake for free!

If you're concerned about too much sugar for your little one you can make her a carrot cake with low sugar cream cheese frosting or try another healthy cake recipe. Find some healthy cake recipes here!

We used cupcake's for my son's first birthday but he still got his very own smash cake!
We used cupcake's for my son's first birthday but he still got his very own smash cake! | Source


Decorate your party room for added fun!
Decorate your party room for added fun! | Source

Have fun decorating the party space for your child's first birthday with centerpieces, streamers, balloons and more! You're only limited by your imagination! If you have a specific theme in mind, use that to help you choose decorations. If you're not using a theme just try to stick to the color choices you decided on earlier. Check out the links below to browse decorations that you may want to use to make your party more festive.

Be sure to plan enough time so that you are finished decorating before your guests arrive!

Do you have any additional tips to share for someone who is planning a first birthday party? Leave them below!

Party Guestbook

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    • Sarah Switalski profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah Switalski 

      6 years ago from Iowa

      @m massie: Thank you! I have always had good experiences with them. Best of luck in your future party planning! :)

    • m massie profile image

      m massie 

      6 years ago

      thanks for the referral to! I've never seen the site before but I plan on using it now, hopefully soon ;) and i'll bookmark this lens instead of the site so i use your referral link.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These are some wonderful ideas. Fantastic lens!

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent ideas and great presentation! Blessed by the Birthdays Squid Angel!


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