What seems to make a party for a baby isn't the expense you go to, but the enthusiasm you muster. Blowing horns, wearing hats, and being silly will make your child feel feted.
Your first step, after picking a date, should be choosing a theme. Like decorating a nursery, party planning is easier if you have a concept to work around. Many people pick something their child loves, like trucks or fairies or a favorite character. We also heard from moms who've based parties around a color.
"For my 1-year-old, we had a red-ball party," says Mikita Watson-Burton, of Olathe, Kansas. Everyone was asked to wear red -- which made for great photos -- and we had red bouncing balls for kids to play with. Kids of all ages loved it."
Keep your party short -- an hour or two, max, unless guests traveled far to get to you. Have snacks laid out as everyone arrives, an activity or game for the kids to do, and more food. Make a big fuss over the cake, and follow this with a final activity or game.
Note: Toddlers are too young for structured games like musical chairs; try simpler things, such as playing with bubbles, freeze dancing, a dance party, or drawing with sidewalk chalk.