First Birthday Party Ideas
Got a big birthday coming up? We’ve got some ideas for planning your child’s first birthday.
At a glance
You may want to factor in nap times before you put the time on the invitations
Healthy finger foods will please guests big and small
Make sure someone is on photo and video duty. Ask a close friend or relative to capture your toddler trying to blow out the candles and opening gifts.
Childproofing is a good idea – even if your child isn’t walking, their friends might be
Well that flew by - a whole year with your tiny human. Time to celebrate. Since they won’t remember their first birthday, it’s probably more a party for you to celebrate baby’s amazing progress in their first year of life. But it does make a great photo op and it’s a good excuse for all your friends and family to get together. Oh, and cake - it’s a wonderful excuse for cake.
Also, if you haven’t already received yours, now is a great time to claim your SMA® Baby Club Welcome Pack. It’s full of great information and fun cues to help you record and make the most of those first 1000 days.
To help inspire you we’ve got some fun first birthday party ideas and things to bear in mind when planning their birthday bash.
Location, location, location
This depends on the size of your guest list or it could just be down to personal preference. Most people either do something small at home or else they book somewhere bigger if they’re expecting lots of guests. The benefits of staying at home are that it’s manageable and cost-effective. Also, your baby can nap in familiar surroundings. But if the first birthday is a big deal in your family then a local hall or leisure centre might be better. As a bonus your furniture will be saved from any party food mishaps.
The contents of your music playlist will depend on how many other young ones are invited. If there are quite a few babies and very young kids then nursery rhymes could be fun for them. But if it’s mostly your adult friends and a toddler or two, the little guys probably won’t object to whatever gets you moving – even if it’s cheesy ‘80s pop.
If you’re having a bigger shindig and have the budget (or a talented friend) some people consider getting entertainers - like an acoustic guitar player singing songs. Music is always a safe bet as very young children won’t care for magic or Punch and Judy yet.
Balloons are a hit with both big and small people and your toddler will likely be mesmerised by them.
It’s a cliché, but for good reason – babies usually prefer the box or the wrapping paper so don’t expect them to be gracious when it comes to opening gifts in front of guests.
Party time. Excellent!
It’s lovely if the guest of honour is awake when people arrive, perhaps time the kick-off for when the birthday baby is likely to have risen from their morning or afternoon nap. If other very young guests are attending having a quiet zone set aside for naps is a great idea.
The guest list
Your toddler probably hasn’t got loads of friends yet, but you may want to invite your closest friends and family. A small group is bound to be less overwhelming for a young one. After all they can’t read the invitations so they might not even know the party is happening – and not everyone reacts well to surprises. If you do have a group of friends with children the same age you may want to invite them too. Or else you could do a small gathering another day to celebrate with all the birthday girls and boys.
What’s on the menu?
Whether you’re preparing meals for toddlers or grown-ups you can’t go wrong with finger food like canapés, sandwiches, fruit, carrot sticks, hummus, potato wedges and yoghurt dip and some toddler snacks. It’s a good idea to have plenty of healthy snacks to start good eating habits early. Simple foods work well if there are any fussy eaters at the party. If there are older kids a few treats like ice cream or sweets are fine - as long as their parents don’t mind.
What about cake?
There are loads of fun options for themed or personalised cakes or cupcakes from bakeries, or else just grab a simple cake from down the shops. If you have the time and the inclination you could go for a homemade effort. Cake recipes tend to involve lots of sugar and other ingredients that you may not want to give your little one. If you’d prefer a low or zero-sugar cake, you can find lots of recipes online. Although baby probably won’t notice if (just for this year) they don’t get a slice… ssshh!
Once the cake is ready and the moment comes, grab the camera and snap quickly, not all babies like the spotlight or groups of people bursting into song. If they make it through the song some tots don’t yet have the skills or the puff to blow out their own candles, older children usual enjoy helping and you can add a little gust too.
Your toddler may not be quite toddling yet, but if other little children are present some extra childproofing is worth doing. With so many busy little hands to keep an eye on you might want to use some more plug socket protectors in the main rooms where the children will be. Any sharp or breakable objects should be put up high or locked away. It’s a good time to put up the stair gates for the more mobile ones, if you haven’t already. Finally, because some toddlers are good climbers make sure any balcony doors are locked.
Your toddler isn’t expecting a gift, but if you like the tradition it might be worth wrapping something that you already wanted to give them, like a new baby toothbrush, fluffy bath towel, their very own backpack, a swimsuit, or, depending on the season, a coat or something else they’ll be needing soon - rather than buying something grand.
Your friends may ask what your little one needs, in which case books, educational toys, or clothes in the next size up are always useful.
Capturing the day
Make sure someone is on photo and video duty. If you’ve got your hands full carrying a clingy one year old while playing host then ask a close relative to try and capture your toddler blowing out the candles and opening gifts. Smartphone cameras are good enough these days or else instant photo cameras make good keepsakes. If you’ve got some time make your own baby-friendly photo booth - here’s how to make a cute photo frame for everyone to pose inside.
Finally just remember it’s their party and they’ll cry if they want to.