How To Throw A Great 1st Birthday For Your Baby (And Yourself!)

9:00 am
03/21/17

Photo Via James Kicinski-McCoy/Bleubird

If you’re anything like us, you love a good party. And what better excuse to throw one than to celebrate the huge milestone that both you and your little one just accomplished: surviving the first year! The first birthday party is—let’s be real—more of an excuse for you and your partner to crawl out of that cave you’ve been living in and officially socialize with some friends again. And, if those friends just so happen to have kids themselves, they can bring ‘em along! To help you get inspired to throw a low-key and budget-friendly first birthday bash, we’ve pulled together some tried-and-true tips below.

The Guest List: Do you invite only friends with kids? Just family? Everyone?! Honestly, it’s up to you and your entertaining style, but we think the first birthday party is a great opportunity to invite a mix of family, close friends (those with and without kids), and any new parent friends you’ve made over the past year at playgroups or parks. Think of it as a chance to catch up with everyone at once and thank those who have given both you and your baby unconditional love and support over the past year. (Note: If your family members are asking what to buy your little one, we’ve got a handy gift guide here.)

The Venue: Obviously, the season your little one was born will often dictate whether you consider an indoor or outdoor party venue, but, regardless, there are tons of creative options to suit your style. If you’re planning to keep it small and intimate and you have the space, opting for a party at your home can be super cozy and familiar for everyone. However, if there are going to be a handful of one-year-olds who are just learning to walk and (let’s be honest) you still haven’t gotten around to fully baby-proofing—or cleaning—your place, you might want to scout an outdoor location at the closest park or playground. A basket of toys and a few blankets scattered around a lawn is really the perfect one-year-old birthday setting (weather permitting). Many urban parks also have indoor spaces or clubhouses that are affordable to rent out. Meanwhile, local play spaces and kids’ gyms are solid—if not slightly more pricey—options. More and more breweries are also catering to young parents by offering kid-friendly areas so you can let the little ones socialize while you do the same.

Timing: Most one-year-olds are still on a two-nap-a-day schedule, so we recommend starting your party shortly after they typically wake up from their first nap of the day and are rested and ready to go for the next few hours. This often falls between a window of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for most babies. If you’re not in the mood to provide lunch, or feed your kid on the go, we suggest hosting a later afternoon gathering after their second nap. If you opt for the latter, it could even coincide with happy hour at that aforementioned brewery.

Food: Keep it classic and feed a crowd by ordering a few pizzas (this is also a great option if you have gluten-free or vegetarian friends), pick up a couple of party-sized subs at your local deli, do bagels and lox with all the fixins, or splurge and get a taco cart. Supplement the options above with a few pre-made salad kits, arrange some snacks and cheeses from Trader Joe’s or Costco, and you’ve got an ideal party spread. Don’t forget the kids, though! Many one-year-olds are now starting to get more comfortable with solids, so make sure you have some easy finger foods on hand for them, too, such as animal crackers, fruit, juice boxes, and a few convenient squeeze pouches on standby.

Activities: In case you didn’t get the memo, one-year-olds love balls. And we mean love. Give them the thrill of their lives (so far) with their very own ball pit! All you need is a portable kiddie pool (a blow-up pool or even a fun inflatable animal will do!) filled with a bunch of colorful plastic balls, and we guarantee the kids will be entertained and contained in one place for at least 30 minutes. For the artistically gifted among us, a fun make-ahead activity is to create a simple cardboard cutout for the kids to poke their faces through for a cute photo op to commemorate the day. Just paint or draw their favorite storybook character or animal on the outside and then snap some polaroid pictures of all the kids’ faces for a unique keepsake. Another touching idea is to ask your guests to write a letter to the birthday boy or girl that’s intended for them to wait to open until their 18th birthday. Just provide stationary, envelopes, and pens, and then let your nearest and dearest share their well wishes, which will surely warm your child’s heart years down the road. And, of course, the main event at a first birthday party is watching your little sugar baby take their very own first taste of cake! Be sure to have your camera on hand. And, just remember, no matter what you do or how you do it, it will surely be a day to savor and enjoy. You both deserve it!

For more first birthday inspo, check out this low-key family-only affair, as well as this artistic backyard bash—ball pit, included!.

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Jess

Love these ideas! Where are the cake toppers from?

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