12 Tips for Throwing a First Birthday Party

Last week, unbelievably, my baby turned one. We had a little party, like we did for our first daughter, and it was delightful.

I’ve been really happy with how both of the first birthday parties we’ve thrown have gone off — everyone ended the party happy and pleasant, and it wasn’t stressful for us to throw.

Here are a few of my tips for making the party fun for everyone, from the guests to the birthday child:

1. Realize they won’t have any idea what’s going on.
To them, it’s just another day. So, the most important person at the party is pretty low-stress. No one to impress!

2. Keep it simple.
I keep the decorations low-key. I love fresh flowers, some balloons, and some sweet photos of the baby throughout the first year. Easy, classic, and beautiful.

3. Aim for a combination of kid and adult food.
I made tiny cupcakes (in ketchup cups!) that were easy for kids to eat and also a big spinach and artichoke dip that the adults loved.

4. Try making a tiny cake.
I don’t like the waste of making a full-size cake for a baby (plus, it’s so overwhelmingly big for a little one!), so I make a tiny cake in a very-well greased mug. Frost and done!

5. One word: Bib!
You’ll probably have your baby dressed up in something darling for the party, so don’t forget a bib to protect them from a messy cake!

6. Don’t push it.
I’ve been to way too many parties where the baby gets completely overwhelmed by the cake and singing and burning candle and ends up in tears. Keep it somewhat quiet and give your child some space. And if they want nothing to do with the cake, don’t force it on them. It’s supposed to be fun!

7. Go with the flow.
I originally didn’t want my older daughter getting into the cake – I wanted it to be Ani’s special moment. But she loved having Ella feed her fingerfuls of frosting.

8. Hold the party right after naptime.
I like to have the party right after a nap, so the baby is as well-rested as possible (in fact, Ani didn’t wake up until 40 minutes into her party! She likes to be fashionably late, I guess).

9. Don’t invite too many people.
It’s tempting to invite all your friends, but I’ve found that a small party works best. Both times, we’ve had about 5 children present and 8-10 adults (those numbers include the four of us).

10. Do whatever party you want!
The great thing about a first birthday party is that you can do any theme or idea you want, and your birthday child won’t raise a fuss. We did a hot chocolate bar and it was really fun. Or, if you want to do an easy Disney theme, try one of these ideas!

11. Don’t worry about activities.
I like first birthday parties to be super-low key. We put out food, spread some toys for the older kids, and, besides watching the baby eat her cake, plan no activities. The adults sit around and visit and the kids play (this last party, people stayed for three hours!).

12. Enjoy the moment.
The first birthday is a huge milestone. Take a minute to look back at how far you’ve come and enjoy that little person you made!

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