Planning Baby's First Birthday Party

Michele Meleen
First birthday with cake

Planning baby's first birthday party gives you a chance to celebrate this milestone with friends and family. Think of your baby's personality, favorites, and all the people who have made his or her first year of life amazing as you brainstorm ideas for baby's first birthday party.

1. Choose a Cute First Birthday Theme

Having a theme for the party helps you focus your ideas to keep the party simple and fun for your one-year-old. First birthday themes can be as simple as the number one or incorporate something your child currently loves. Since your baby is moving into the toddler phase, you can also get inspired by toddler birthday party themes such as characters like Minnie Mouse or other popular kids' interests like a construction theme. Choose one specific theme then plan all aspects of the party around it.

Portrait of mother and daughter with cake

2. Pick a Fun First Birthday Party Venue

If you have room indoors or outdoors, you can host your child's first birthday party at home. This makes the event feel more intimate and family-oriented. Other venues that are fun for one-year-olds include a toddler indoor gym, a petting zoo birthday party, or a public park with a toddler playground. Baby birthday party experts suggest you keep baby in mind when planning all aspects of the party, especially the venue. Look for somewhere you can host a 1-2 hour party during the time of day when your child is typically happiest.

Celebrating first birthday at the beach

3. Create Adorable First Birthday Party Invitations

First birthday party invitations can be fun to represent this exciting transition in development or sentimental to mark the milestone. Printable first birthday party invitations with a cute age-appropriate theme like vehicles or animals are great for handing out, mailing, and even emailing to guests. If you're creating your own invitation, include fun wording suggestions for kids' birthday party invitations that reflect your theme and your child's age. You might want to keep an invitation as a keepsake so think about including a baby birthday quote or a first birthday poem to make it more special.

Happy Birthday card

4. Select a Cute First Birthday Cake

Your baby's first birthday cake serves as a decoration, then an adorable photo op as baby digs in, and finally as a dessert for all the guests. Keep all these factors in mind as you choose a first birthday cake design. You can make your own first birthday cake in a simple shape like the number one or add printable cupcake toppers in a fun animal design to homemade mini cupcakes which are the perfect size for little hands. Another fun type of baby birthday cake is made just for your child to destroy. First birthday smash cakes are separate from the dessert party guests will eat and provide that iconic photo op of your child covered in cake and frosting.

Cake with candle number 1 on top

5. Plan a Crowd-Pleasing Menu for Toddlers and Adults

Menu planning for a first birthday party should be simple and cater to both kids and adults. Menu suggestions for toddlers include items that are easy to snack on, so consider an appetizer buffet. Find recipes for finger foods babies will love that adults also enjoy such as sweet potato fries or mini muffins. Cut foods into toddler-sized bites on one side of the buffet table and offer full-sized versions on the other side for adults. Don't forget to include drinks like juice and water.

Food Buffet for a Birthday Party

6. Gather Cool First Birthday Party Decorations

Decorations help make the party look festive, but they can also be dangerous for little kids who like to pull on things or put things in their mouths. Look for first birthday party decorations you can hang out of reach and that don't include small bits such as sequins. You can make simple fabric pennant banners to match the theme or purchase plastic versions to hang up high. Since kids this age are easily startled by loud noises, you may also want to look for alternatives to helium balloons such as tissue paper flowers and paper lanterns that won't pop or harm baby if she accidentally gets a hold of one.

First Birthday scene for a child turning one

7. Plan Fun Activities for the Birthday Party

First birthday parties aren't very long and mostly include eating, some cake smushing, and gift opening if you can get the birthday child to cooperate. A simple activity to add is a character appearance for a kid's birthday party. You can hire a professional to come dressed as your child's favorite princess and read a story or have a family member dress up as a popular character at the party for a few minutes. Kids this age won't really play a lot of organized toddler birthday party games, but if you set up one or two like a bean bag toss it will give them something to play with if they get bored.

Baby girl celebrating first birthday with parents and clown

8. Choose the Perfect First Birthday Present

One-year-olds will probably enjoy opening the gifts more than the actual presents. Toddler birthday gift ideas include pre-made or homemade baby gift baskets that feature several small presents and educational baby toys that will promote your child's growth throughout the year. Guests will probably ask you what they should get for a gift, so be ready with a list of items you know your baby will enjoy when he's not so preoccupied by the party. Add a printable first birthday card in the sports, princess, or jungle animal theme to make the gift complete.

Toddler girl opening birthday present

9. Take Lots of First Birthday Party Pictures

If you know you'll be busy with the party guests and activities, consider hiring a photographer for the party or asking guests to take candid shots and send them to you throughout the event. Choose a cute birthday outfit for a toddler boy or girl that is as comfortable as it is adorable to ensure your child keeps it on for the whole party. Cute first birthday photo ideas for the party include making a backdrop or stocking a DIY photo booth with first birthday props such as party hats with the number one on them where guests can snap picks with the guest of honor.

Cute baby boy first birthday party decorated with garland and balloons

Celebrate Baby's First Year in Style

First birthday party ideas and plans don't have to be elaborate or unique. This common milestone should be all about your toddler from the time and location to the activities and gifts. Celebrate what's great about being one with close friends and family and create a new memory for your family.

Planning Baby's First Birthday Party