A first birthday is an important milestone that needs celebrating. Yet it can be hard to find time to organise a first birthday party when you’re still ruled by feeding, changing and afternoon naps, and not getting enough sleep yourself! Also, this is the time that many new mums return to work and find themselves incredibly busy.
From sending out the invitations to decorating the venue with party balloons, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to throw a great first birthday party you’ll never forget, although we can’t guarantee that your 1-year old will remember everything!
First birthday party invitations
Send out invitations at least three weeks in advance to give people plenty of time to book it in their diary and get back to you.
If you have the time, patience and skill you can make your own invites and include a picture of your baby, which can be a lovely keepsake for family members and allow older siblings to get involved too. Alternatively, there are lots of delightful, ready-made first birthday party invitations to buy.
Decide on where you want the party to take place. This usually depends on how many people you’re inviting. If you’re thinking of hosting the birthday party at home however, be warned – it’s often true that the smaller the child the bigger the mess!
If your baby was born in the summer then an outdoor party could be an option if you have a garden. It might be wise to put up a gazebo to keep the little ones out of the sun or rain!
For larger parties you might consider hiring a venue. Local church or village halls and community centres often have rooms to hire at reasonable rates and have kitchens attached so you can do your own catering.
Wherever you decide to hold your party, no doubt you’ll want to create a festive atmosphere and birthday balloons are a must!
As well as adding colour to the party, they will provide entertainment for the party guests and their siblings. You can inflate your balloons with air using a balloon pump and scatter them on the floor around the room and hang them on the walls with ribbons.
Small disposable helium canisters will enable you to create your own fully floating balloon decorations. For ideas that will help you create your own impressive balloon decorations read our Must-Have Balloon Accessories post.
If you only want a few foil balloons to decorate the party table, you might want to consider ordering a 1st birthday balloon gift that’s delivered already filled with helium.
Whichever balloons you choose, it’s always a good idea to tie balloons to your gatepost or outside the venue where you’re holding the party so that guests will know exactly where to go.
Add to your balloon decorations by hanging ‘Happy 1st birthday’ banners in strategic positions – such as the entrance hallway and near the dinner table.
Keep things simple and fun for the young ones. Sandwiches, sliced bananas, raisins and cheese curls served on paper plates can be picked up and eaten by little hands. It’s also wise to have some buns and sweet treats for older siblings. You could even bake your own if you’re feeling creative – check out our recipes section for ideas.
First birthday parties are often attended by lots of adults. So you might want to think about serving drinks and more substantial party food for older guests, but this depends on the time of day and how long your guests are likely to be staying.
First birthday cake
Whether you bake your own or buy one, every first birthday party must have a cake. We all know that naked flames and babies don’t go well together, so just take care with the candle!
Keeping little ones amused – especially with all the excitement of a birthday party – can be hard work and it’s always wise to have a few party games up your sleeve.
Pass the parcel can work as long as it doesn’t go on too long and there’s a consolation prize for everyone. Also, try to factor in some quiet time, where the children sit with their parents or an older sibling and sing along to a children’s CD. Songs with actions are a great way to keep babies amused and entertained.
Party bag gift ideas
While older children enjoy discovering a range of toys and sweets in their party bags, with very young children and babies it’s better – and safer – to keep things simple.
Age appropriate board books, small rattles or bath toys are great party bag gifts. Alternatively, helium balloons can keep them amused after the party is over. Simply add a slice of cake wrapped in a napkin to the party bag and you’re set to go.
The important thing to remember when throwing a first birthday party is to have fun! It’s an important milestone and one for you to enjoy! My advice is to accept any help that’s offered and embrace any shortcuts that mean you can spend more time with your baby on this important day.
PS: Remember to take some pictures too so you have something to look back at. Our How to Take Good Photos at your Kid’s Birthday Party post will give you plenty of tips to capture this special occasion in the best possible way!
More birthday party ideas
If you’re hosting a home party for older children you might find our Stay at Home Kid’s Birthday Party Ideas post useful.