How to Plan a First Birthday Party

How to Plan a First Birthday Party

You don’t have to look very hard to find an overwhelming number of themes when searching how to plan a first birthday party. Of course, the birthday boy or girl will be a little young to remember their lovely first birthday, but the photos you record will bring this special milestone alive to them and preserve the memory for you! Choosing colors and a theme is a personal choice. Baby is, of course, too little to have a say but moms are great at color schemes. A little attention to what the baby will wear that day will really make your pictures pop. Maybe a personalized Cygnet Living ivory wool sweater stitched with a party coordinating thread color. Perusing Pinterest is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Maybe start pinning to a private board. Start way in advance so you can keep an eye out for some of those special party supplies and time to check out local balloon artists or florists. 

First step . . . choose a date and time. Check in with family and special friends to try to accommodate as many schedules as possible. If you are going to purchase a personalized invitation, get those ordered once your date is set. Etsy is a great site for finding gifted artists and supporting small businesses. Contact any one you might want to hire like bakers and someone to do a balloon arch or garland. Sometimes popular businesses book up many weeks in advance. Handwritten addresses are so personal and preferred over the easier option of printing labels. Does a friend have mad lettering skills? If you have planned a good bit ahead of time, most friends with this gift would be happy to address your envelopes for you. Forming a guest list is something to create early on as well and will determine how much space you need and also the amount of food and numbers of favors etc. Hosting a first birthday party in your home is so welcoming. It also makes the birthday boy or girl super comfortable in their own surroundings and allows them to check out for a quick cat nap to keep their best party attitude! 

Second, think about your menu. Food can easily be the most expensive part of your first birthday party ideas list (especially if you are going to hire a caterer). Don’t be overwhelmed by making the food yourself. Choose menu items that can be made in advance and frozen to take the pressure off of “day of “ preparation. Another economical option is to enlist several friends to show up with their assigned menu item.  Keep your guests in mind as you plan your food. Will you need gluten free or vegan options? Will there be other children in attendance? Is there already a ‘favorite’ food that will be sure to please the tiny taste buds of the guest of honor? Again, Pinterest will have lots of first birthday party ideas for food! 

Thirdly, choose your theme and decorations. Contact table rental companies if you’ll be needing extra seating or doing an outside party. They will usually deliver and pick up for a reasonable fee. Table linens can sometimes be purchased for less than rental. Check websites like for a wide assortment of colors and textures. Choose centerpieces for the tables. You could use flowers or balloons or let tiers of party food work double duty as a decoration. You can go formal or casual according to your style. Remember that themed decor that is not too matchy matchy and is not all a purchased set from the party store will give your event class. For example, a woodland forest theme could include preserved moss and bubble glass jars with pinecones and acorns with a tea light. Small ceramic mushrooms can be scattered on guest tables and serving tables and purchased high quality forest animals such as Schleich will make great toys for the birthday child when all the fun is over.   

This part of party planning will keep your event running smooth. Starting at the time of your event, plan a loose schedule. Give guests time to arrive and mingle. If children will be present be sure to have some child friendly activities ready to keep them busy and make the party fun for them as well. Choose a time to serve the meal unless there will just be party snacks. What time do you want to cut the birthday cake? Will there be a smash cake? Approximate times for each part of the festivities so you can keep things moving behind the scenes. Since first birthday babies may not be experts at tearing open gifts yet, enlist the help of some younger guests to sit on the ground with the guest of honor and help them with their gifts. Ask a friend to pay attention and jot down names so you can write thank you notes later. If you’ve prepared party favors or take home gifts be sure to announce this to your guests when you thank them  for coming. This is a polite way to signal the end of the party. Your little person is probably worn out and you will be too! 

The last step is planning a first birthday party checklist.  A great organizational tip is something called a project board. A small rectangle of poster board or foam core can be divided into three columns. To Do, In Progress and Completed. Use small colorful sticky notes to list every detail necessary for completing the party prep. Be specific. When the planning commences, the first column will be crowded with all the little chores to be done to get ready but each time you get to move a sticky note, you get a shot of encouragement that things are getting done. You can also share a project board if a friend or family member is going to help with the party planning. It is really important to get every detail from making calls and reservations to the grocery list and party supplies. Maybe the last sticky note to be moved will  be long after your party is a happy memory and you have completed the last thank you note.

What to do for your baby’s first birthday reflects you and your family and can be as individual as you are! If you love your colors and theme, you're going to love your own party. You want to enjoy your get-together as much as your guests. 1st birthday party ideas are super fun. You may end up with so many ideas some will have to overflow to birthday number two . . .  You got this!