Your baby’s first birthday is an exciting milestone and you want to celebrate it with friends and family. There are several key decisions to make before you begin planning your little one’s first birthday bash. Start by considering your baby’s personality and reactions to new situations and big groups of people. If your baby is overstimulated easily, you may want to consider limiting the guest list to friends and family he or she regularly comes in contact with. If your little one is outgoing and not bothered by big groups then you can invite a larger number of guests. The size of the gathering is the start of the party planning. Setting the number of guests will help you move on to the party venue, food, theme, decorations, and favors.
Keep in mind that your guest of honor is not yet old enough to demand a specific party theme or venue. This is therefore your chance to plan the perfect party exactly the way you want it. For a more intimate party of just family and possibly a few family friends, you will probably host the party at your home. This can save you the cost of renting a space, but it does require set-up beforehand and clean-up afterward.
If you live in a small space there are other options for a memorable party. Depending on the time of year you may consider having the party at a park or a local swimming pool, so be sure to check with your local park or pool office to make necessary reservations.
Also, consider that your town may have a local community building available to rent at a low cost. In the same vein, most churches have fellowship halls they will allow people to reserve for parties. Some ask for a donation to the church while others charge a rental fee. You could also check with local restaurants about using their party room or several tables at their establishment. They may have party packages that will include food and perhaps the cake as well. This cuts down on your set-up and clean-up, but will of course increase the price of the party.
Once you have decided on the number of guests and booked a venue that works well for your event, it is time to choose a theme. Does your little one have a favorite stuffed animal, cartoon character, color, or book? You can plan a party around any of these ideas and work within any budget and guest list. Popular party colors for little girls include pink and gold. Princesses of any kind are always a hit as well. A generic princess party with tiaras and sashes and a “throne” for the birthday girl can be gorgeous in pictures and fun for the adults and kids.
Decorations can include inexpensive balloons and streamers to more expensive custom made birthday thrones and monogrammed sashes and tiaras. If you choose a specific princess there are always many pre-made decorations to be had that don’t require you spending hours making banners, centerpieces, and other parts of the decor. Of course there are other character themed birthday party ideas for your little girl depending on her favorite shows or stuffed animal. Some themes like a zoo or farm theme can work for boys or girls.
If your little boy’s favorite stuffed animal is an elephant then you might want to run with a zoo theme. Little boys (and girls) are often interested in their race car toys or even tractors. If they have a favorite then there are party decorations to fit a construction site or race car theme. Blues and greens are often popular colors to build a little boy’s first birthday party around.
Again, depending on your budget and venue, you can create your own unique decorations or purchase decorations from a party supply store or website. Another popular trend for first birthdays is to dress your baby according to the theme. Let your little one be a princess, a farmer, their favorite cartoon character, or put together an outfit that correlates with the party colors.
Parents, you may want to participate as well. Guests can dress up as well, or you can provide props like tiaras, hard hats, or bandanas for them at the party to help everyone get into the birthday spirit.
Since the party is for a twelve-month old, an elaborate meal may not necessarily work for the young guests and their families. You may just choose to have small snacks, cake or cupcakes, and punch or juice for the kids. For the adults you could do finger foods that can be eaten while supervising their small children. The most anticipated part of the party is usually the cake. Cakes can be simple and homemade or elaborate creations by a caterer. Parents usually want the cake to fit the theme. Your little mermaid may get an underwater themed cake complete with mermaid topper.
Your animal lover may want a cake in the shape of his favorite stuffed animal. Sheet cakes can be decorated many different ways and even cupcakes can be grouped together to form animals or other characters. Cupcakes may be easier to distribute and much easier for little ones to eat and or make a mess with. Again, keep in mind your baby’s personality when deciding how to present them with their own small cake to eat. If they are shy in front of large groups, then everyone singing to them and staring at them could set off a crying fit.
You may want to discreetly let them have their own cake or cupcake in their high chair and allow them to eat and or make a mess while you take pictures and guests continue on with the party or quietly watch. Party favors for a first birthday party should be age appropriate for the guests. One popular part of gatherings right now is a picture frame or photo booth of sorts where guests can take pictures using props. You could print those pictures out and send them home with guests as they leave. Other favors could include letting guests take home the tiaras or bandanas or other items used to dress-up for the theme.
The most important part of the first birthday party is that your little one is comfortable and has a good time. Schedule the party around their naps and with their personality in mind.