Ideas for a First Birthday Party

| January 10, 2013 | 45 Comments

1 year old girl blowing out a birthday candleMy own first baby was born in January, and even though he’s turning 12 this week, I can still remember his first birthday party. We invited nearly everyone we knew and ended up renting a church hall to hold everyone! When his sister turned one a couple of years later, her party wasn’t as extravagant: It was just cake and punch at our house. After all, I had a toddler to chase after, and at the time, I was also caring for my infant niece while my sister worked full-time.

Whether your baby is your first and you have a lot of time and money to spend on his birthday bash, or you are balancing the demands of several kids, work, home and maybe school, here are some fun ideas for your little one’s first birthday party:

  • Theme  While your baby might be able to recognize a favorite character, she really doesn’t care what the theme of her party is. So you get to choose your favorite theme this year! It could be a character, a color, or just a kid-friendly subject, like baseballs, balloons, kitties or choo choo trains. Buy paper plates in the appropriate design or color, choose crepe streamers in colors that match the theme, and you can call your decorating done!
  • Cake  You can make a homemade cake or order one from your grocery store or bakery. If you have a character theme, ordering a cake is easy; often, the bakery can add figurines to the cake for the full effect. You can also, of course, try your hand at decorating your own cake. Parents differ on whether they allow certain ingredients, so if you’d rather avoid sugar or artificial dyes for your fledgling toddler, then check into fruit-based sweeteners and natural dyes. Obviously you’ll need to avoid anything that your child is allergic to, like gluten, eggs or dairy products. Many pediatricians recommend holding off on introducing nuts for a couple of years, so make sure there are no nuts in your baby’s cake.
  • Safety  There are a few things that seem par for the course, as far as birthdays go, but which might pose a safety hazard. First, think twice about providing alcohol. Some families serve wine and beer at all gatherings and others abstain at children’s events. If your family partakes, keep a close eye on your baby; little ones are known for taking sips out of whatever glass is left at the edge of a table. Balloons are choking hazards; all he has to do is sink his four sharp little teeth into a balloon and he could inhale or choke on the latex pieces. And finally, after the gift-unwrapping is done, be sure that all pieces of tape and ribbon are picked up, as these also present choking hazards.

When your baby turns one, you have the chance to entertain friends and family without too much stress. You don’t really need to worry about keeping the guest of honor entertained with a clown or pony rides, and there won’t be any playground politics concerning which gift baby likes best. Keep the party short to account for naptime, and enjoy yourself!

What are some of your best first-birthday ideas?

Comments (45)

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  1. Kathy Smith says:

    Thanks for the ideas and tips for 1st birthday party. I have a grandson who will 1 this year. I can’t wait til we get to plan for it. We still have a few months to go yet.

  2. Elaine says:

    Thanks! This comes just in time for our family as she turns 1 on the 23rd!

  3. juli guthrie says:

    1st birthdays are the best! Now my boys are getting older (3, 6, and 8) and quite interested in big fancy parties.

  4. denise smith says:

    the 1rst birthdays are so great it is so special i remember both my kids 1rst birthday my kids are older 13 and 9 so enjoy them when they are small

  5. Ashima Gupta says:

    Hey, thanks a lot for sharing these ideas with us.. 🙂

  6. Alison says:

    Thanks for the ideas – we will keep ours simple – a small party at our house with a cake, few decorations and friends – i think it will be nice and not too complicated.

  7. Alison says:


  8. Huguette English says:

    I didn’t use any themes when they were 1 but later I used pirate, princess, survivor, car racing, to name a few.

  9. Rosie says:

    I think for a first birthday, esp if there aren’t too many kids in the family, you can have a big shindig like you did. I say that b/c many families only get together for weddings & funerals, nice to have something low-key. Time of year makes a big difference, if possible, a picnic would be fantastic, and ask ppl to bring a dish instead of gifts, that it is about having fun together, not presents. I give you much credit for bringing up safety, b/c it is easily not thought of enough, that you don’t want a party to turn into something sad, and extra precautions are more important than decorating.

  10. Wendy T says:

    I love the little one’s birthday parties. Such fond memories!

  11. Bashir Ahmed says:

    thanks a lot for sharing these ideas with us.

  12. pamela says:

    good ideas my grandson will be 1 soon

  13. Bridget says:

    I’ll keep in mind for the future 😉

  14. Lisa G says:

    First birthdays are great – just attended one and it was just a hit!

  15. Dorothy Boucher says:

    i think this is wonderful and i don’t always use a theme but i prefer that i do, it just makes everything so much easier.. Thanks for all the great information and great review 🙂

  16. Terri says:

    Great tips! Thanks.

  17. Nena Sinclair says:

    Great ideas! Good timing, too, my granddaughter’s 1st birthday is coming up very soon and my daughter and son-in-law are still trying to figure out what they are going to do!

  18. JJ Caraway says:

    I had a huge birthday party for my first born and tons of pictures of everythin. Then came my second child and she now asks me why so many pictures of my brother and not me mom, LOL. I have heard of many first time parents doing the same things, even my second born did and I just chuckle.

  19. Kristin says:

    Love the ideas and tips! So true that it’s like the only birthday when you get to choose everything since they have no opinion yet! 🙂

  20. Rama says:

    Great Post! This will be great for my friend who just recently had a baby boy, Thanks for the ideas

  21. Holly Trudeau says:

    We went overboard for my son’s first birthday as well, nearly 100 people, you would’ve thought it was a wedding! Going low key for the second, close family only, less stressful and hectic that way!

  22. Rich Hicks says:

    Good advice for their 1st birthday. Also make sure to have video camera if you can!

  23. DENISE SHOOK says:

    I love Birthday Parties for little ones. It is so much fun watching them have fun on their special day. You have some grea tips…thanks

  24. Ashima Gupta says:

    Wowww… Nice ideas….. Thank you 🙂

  25. maureen says:

    Great ideas, esp to really make the party our own!

  26. Bill Elliott says:

    Two of my Grandchildren are having their first birthday parties next month. Both my son and daughter are planning parties for them, one for a girl and one for a boy. I printed your post and will give it to both of them. Thanks for the info.

  27. Giveaway Gal says:

    My sons first baby is coming up! thank you for this advice.

  28. db0 says:

    Thanks for sharing!


  30. Suzanne Culp-Veldpaus says:

    My daughter turns one in two months, eek! Still have to come up with some birthday party ideas, so thank you for the post!

  31. Nicole Becker says:

    I remember my granddaughter’s 1st bday party and it was so nice!!! thanks for the tips!

  32. Stephanie from CT says:

    oH IT has been so long since I had a 1st birthday party!

  33. Chrystal D says:

    I never thought about the balloons…thanks for the post!

  34. stephanie manley says:

    Thank you for all the ideas! My wheels are turning now

  35. krysal says:


  36. keep in mind if you are doing a character theme, your baby has only seen that character at how many INCHES. To have that character visit your child’s birthday can send them into a complete frenzy. this happened to my niece when Elmo visited her party. Let’s just say the party ended much sooner then planned.

  37. Kayce says:

    WOW! Thanks so much for this awesome ideas. My daughter’s first birthday was a simple one. It doesn’t have a theme but it has a homemade cake. Now Ive got some ideas how to make a first birthday party a memorable one. Perhaps I could this ideas for my second baby soon 🙂

  38. Vanessa D. says:

    Thank you for the ideas!

  39. Renee Travis says:

    These are great ideas and you are right, they don’t need a huge party. I am going to give some of these ideas to my daughter as I have a grandson having his 1st birthday this year! Thanks 🙂

  40. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    You have a lot of great ideas. This is probably the nly birthday that yu can plan for without your little one’s “advice”…

  41. Jessica Genovese says:

    Awesome ideas!

  42. Katie Mahnken says:

    Thanks for the tips! My super-sweet sister-in-law is already planning her son’s first birthday, even though it’s still 3 months away! LOL! I’ll pass on the tips to her so she can retain her sanity 🙂

  43. Samantha Christensen says:

    What awesome ideas I really wish I had seen this when my boys were that young!

  44. Kim Hendrix says:

    Cute ideas.

  45. Karen Propes says:

    I love your ideas. My Granddaughter just celebrated her 4th Birthday and she’s growing up so fast. When my daughter turned one, I had a 3-D mold of a teddy bear. I made a big cake, but I made the teddy bear just for her. She loved it, when my Granddaughter turned one, I found they were still selling the pan and bought it and decorated for her 1st Birthday. Funny now you can buy little cakes and they call them a smash cake. I just know how much each of my girls loved it. I agree with you, get something they love for the party scheme. At one they may not remember a lot, but as they get older a picture can show them how special you made them feel on their 1st birthday. So many companies now have these party packs with all kinds of themes. Modern technology works in our favor these days. Good luck to all the 1st Birthday year Moms and all the years to follow.

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