Inside: Looking for special first birthday party ideas? Make your child’s birthday extra memorable with these creative party ideas including food, decor, and activities!
When my first baby was turning the big 1, I couldn’t wait to celebrate, searching for first birthday ideas all over. I mean everywhere I turned, I saw the cutest party ideas, from themes and decor to photos and smash cakes! I knew I wanted that first party to be extra special…because as a new mom who isn’t eager to celebrate milestones?!
Should I Celebrate a First Birthday Party?
Many moms will often wonder if a first birthday party is actually necessary or how many families actually celebrate. And the truth is, no, a baby’s first birthday party isn’t very necessary. In fact, it’s way too early for your baby to even remember this day. It is simply a party mostly done for the parents and family. It’s also a nice excuse to mingle with other moms and begin playdates.
You’ll find that some parents go all out…and throw an elaborate party with extended family and new friends. While other parents are good with a smash cake or cupcake after dinner. There’s really no “right” answer…it’s all a matter of preference and budget really. But leaning towards a more low-key, yet fun celebration is typically the way to go for young children.
Personally, I didn’t have the budget to go lavish but did splurge a little on cute party decor to make sure we could capture some special photos.
First Birthday Party Planning Tips
Before planning your baby’s first party, keep these basic party tips in mind to ensure a great day.
Timing is key
When at all possible plan around nap time — sleep (or lack of) can make a big difference in your baby’s mood. While life with a baby isn’t always predictable, try to work around your child’s schedule to prevent a fussy overtired kid.
Also, make sure you keep the party to under 2 hours – that very first party should be short and sweet to reduce tantrums. This is actually a good general rule for most kids parties under the age of 8.
Choose a simple theme
Go with a simple theme and personalize the party. Don’t complicate it. Browse Pinterest to find appropriate party themes for either boys and girls. While it may be too early for a favorite cartoon or character, think of what toys your child generally chooses, or a theme that is close to your heart. This is an easy way to personalize the day and create memories.
Include a play space
Try to have ample space or play area available. It doesn’t have to be huge but a designated play area with a mat and simple, baby-safe toys or crawling space should be available for a good time. You can also find a list of games and activities perfect for a first birthday here.
Stick to your budget
Keep in mind exactly how much money you can spend on the entire party and stick to it! Parties can get expensive quick. And budget plays a big role in how big or small you can go. Plan for food, decor and more…and if you can’t afford something, browse for affordable options or go the DIY route.
Photos can make all the difference
Whatever the party size, one thing is certain: taking photos of your child, guests and decor is the best way to record the day and have something to look back to for years to come. Just remember to get a few special pictures of just you and baby — you don’t have to look perfect, but in order to have photos of celebrating with little ones, YOU have to be in them!
How to Make a First Birthday Special
25+ Birthday Party Ideas for Babies
So what kinds of things can you include in your baby’s first birthday party to make the day extra special?
A truly unique birthday idea for a first-party is anything that stands out and helps you treasure this day for years to come, things like decor or themes that add a personal touch. Remember to incorporate the party theme into as much of the day as possible (it’s not just reserved for plates and napkins).
Below are 25+ unique first birthday party ideas to help you make the day magical:
Banners & Decor
Make baby’s big day special with a custom party hat — we ordered a soft hat that wouldn’t irritate baby’s delicate skin and customized it with birthday colors!
Create a banner with baby photos – you can choose your favorite with silly expressions, highlight those baby photos you’ve taken every month or create your own collage with this simple backdrop frame.
Incorporate framed photos of your child throughout the room.
Create a giant #1 photo canvas to showcase your guest of honor.
Create a custom gift bag or special goodie — this is typically going above and beyond, but a special touch to add when guests include many small toddlers. You can keep it simple with books going with the theme or themed-toys work nicely (just try to steer clear of tiny hazardous pieces that end up in the trash)!
Food & Cake
Add cupcake toppers that incorporate baby’s favorite things, toys, characters or even a personal photo of baby. We love these adorable animals with party hats or this photo of baby as a cupcake topper for extra cuteness.
Get creative with your food options — doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just sprinkle in a little creativity into the foods that go with the party theme. Having an under the sea party theme? Stick to clever snacks like shark watermelon or goldfish-topped cupcakes (just always make sure to cut up appropriately for small children).
First Birthday Activities
Photo booth One of the best ways to add a unique touch to any party, especially a child’s party is through a photo booth or photo cut-out. It really is all the rage these days! You can make one yourself using a sturdy board and paint or order a custom one online if you don’t have the artistic skills (or time!). We love this dinosaur cut-out a family member made years ago for our dino-theme party!
Art canvas – Another truly special way to treasure the day, is through painting a canvas. Find some washable paints and canvas to create a tape-resist work of art. You can have all party guests participate or have baby make it during a smaller family-only celebration.
Add a personal touch to thank you cards by including your child’s handprint like these adorable thank you cards.
Start a birthday tradition and create handprint art on canvas to record each birthday year.
Last but not least, easy age-appropriate activity for a first birthday is, simply playing kid-friendly music! Have a playlist ready to go or have some baby instruments set aside for little ones to create the noise. You can also go with a nursery rhyme theme and sing to the children for stimulating baby fun!
BONUS: Record all of baby’s firsts with a personalized birthday chalkboard sign showcasing all of baby’s milestones — makes an extra special keepsake to treasure for year!! Great idea for under ten bucks, you just need to print and frame. I sooo regret not getting one of these for my kids!
Find more birthday party ideas and birthday party themes below:
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.