Celebrating Baby’s First Birthday
When your baby turns one it’s cause for celebration! He might be too little to enjoy a big party or extravagant gifts, but marking the occasion with something special can be fun for the whole family — and something for you to tell your child about and show him photos of when he’s older.
Many first birthday parties are full of cake, balloons, and laughter as your little one gets to stuff her face with the yummiest thing she’s ever eaten — birthday cake — and inevitably smear icing everywhere. But the occasion can also be about you. After all, getting through the first year of having a newborn around is a moment worth celebrating. You did it!
How to Have A Fun Birthday For Your Baby
Keep it short. Most moms would recommend setting a firm time frame for your little one’s big day, no more than two hours, or enough time to do a fun activity or two, have the cake, and open presents. Baby’s parties don’t always need to be day-long events, and other parents at the party will be grateful.
Try not to schedule the start time of the party during a typical naptime. Nothing ruins a party like a cranky baby who is in need of a nap.
Ask for help. Enlisting family, friends, or even hiring someone to assist with decorations, food, refreshments, and general set-up will take a lot of stressors off your plate and allow you to focus more on the fun during the party.
Prioritize the photos. Whether you use your smartphone, ask a friend, or hire a photographer, make sure to capture as many of the cute and funny moments as possible. After all, photos and videos will be the only way to show your child later on that she had a great first birthday. You’ll certainly want to get pictures of all the adorably messy cake eating, but also take some “before” shots when her face is frosting-free.
Unique Party Ideas For Baby’s First Birthday
A one-year-old won’t be disappointed by something simple like a small family gathering with plenty of delicious treats, but adding some unique elements will make your celebration stand out. Most of the guests will be other children, including your baby’s older siblings, so having a couple of activities planned will make it fun for all who attend.
Most kid’s parties have a theme to tie everything together — the food, the decorations, the activities, many of which you can DIY right at home! Here are a few theme ideas for your baby’s very first birthday party.
Using classics like “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or “Winnie the Pooh,” you can set up super fun activities for your tiny party guests. For example, have the little ones fingerpaint their own colorful caterpillars, or gather them around for an enthusiastic storytime. Arrange green and red frosted cupcakes to look like the hungry caterpillar to combine food and decoration!
For a party that will have mostly little girls for guests, turn your living room into a magic kingdom with tiaras and bubble wands as party favors. You can hire a real “princess” to come to have a tea party with plenty of sweet treats decorated with the names and faces of everyone’s favorite princesses, like Belle and Ariel!
Kid’s show theme
An easy to put together option if you’re not inclined to DIY, you can find branded decorations, plates, napkins, tablecloths, and even a piñata in the party section of stores like Walmart and Target. There will be plenty of recognizable favorites like “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Paw Patrol.”
Fun for the little ones, although potentially a little annoying for the adults, a music-themed party can be a fun, loud celebration. You can order a cake shaped like a guitar or decorated like a piano. Set up a “make your own maraca” station using plastic eggs and rice. Rent a karaoke machine for both kids and adults to use. Use old vinyl records as wall decorations and dress your birthday baby up as a rock star or a pop singer for photos!
This might be geared toward a boy’s birthday party, but little girls love superheroes too! Ask your guests to bring their children dressed as their favorite superhero. You can put capes made from construction paper around the “neck” of a lollipop and pass them out as party favors. Plus you’ll be able to find plenty of superhero branded napkins and plates.
Other Special Ways to Celebrate the Occasion
Not everyone has the time, energy, or budget to plan and set-up a party — we get it! But there are plenty of other ways you can mark the occasion for your baby’s big day.
Make a Baby’s First Year scrapbook.
Using the photos you and your loved ones have inevitably captured over the last 12 months, compile your favorites into a book or slideshow as a keepsake to show your baby when he gets bigger. Write in the margins to describe all the important moments and milestones from your baby’s first year.
Create a keepsake box.
Try to hang on to a few of your favorite baby items that she used during her first year: a pacifier, a cute onesie or bib, her favorite toy, things that she will grow out of quickly that you can stash and later put into a decorated box specifically designed for baby’s first-year nostalgia.
Make a quilt.
Gather shirts, onesies, and blankets that your baby wore often before his first birthday. Assemble them, cut them into squares, and sew all the pieces together to make a baby’s first birthday quilt.
Moms Share Their Favorite First Birthday Party Ideas
“My little just turned one. We did a ‘Mr. Onederful’ theme where we asked all the guests to bring their babies in their ‘fanciest’ clothes like little dresses and bow ties. Everything was decorated like a big 1.” –Katie Smith
“I love making the birthday décor, so we go all out with colorful balloons, streamers, and a big cake. We usually keep it small, just family and a couple of friends.” –Sonya Lee
“We hired a photographer for a cake smash photo session. Turned out so cute!” –Kara Rhoades
“My little one is a July baby, so we did a big outdoor party with sprinklers, a water table, beach balls, and bubbles. Lots of colorful decorations, lots of fun!” –Cammie Nicholson
Celebrating your baby’s first year of life is an important moment worth taking the time to plan. Whether you keep it simple and small or go all out, take plenty of pictures and enjoy your little’s one big day with the people who love him most!
Check out some past cake smash sessions!
Jen Rizy is an Austin-area photographer and LOVES celebrating baby’s first birthdays! Jen can be reached at jen@hellophotographyaustin or 860-904-8423. You can view the website HERE.