Checklist: Throw a Stress-Free First Birthday Party

It's easy to get carried away by the grand occasion of your child's first birthday, but don't forget to focus on your baby and her needs, too. Try this to help her enjoy the big day.

___ Keep it short--about two hours. Little kids can't keep it together for more than that.

___ Don't make yourself nuts baking, decorating and hand-making everything. It's a big event for you, but it's not like your child is going to have a clue what's happening. So do the one or two things you enjoy and are good at, and farm out the rest.

___ Pay your nanny or favorite babysitter to be on hand--her familiar face may help comfort your baby if she's overwhelmed by all the family and friends.

___ Don't bother with elaborate games or activities. These are 1-year-olds we're talking about. Approach it like a big play date instead.

___ Ask a friend to take photos or video the event so you can be in the pictures, too.

___ Set up two snack tables--one with kid-friendly foods, like Goldfish crackers, and another that's higher up and out of reach with nibbles for the adults. Remember that some of the food you like can be a choking hazard for babies (carrots, popcorn, nuts, etc).

___ Want balloons? Pick up helium-filled Mylar ones, rather than blowing up latex ones yourself. They won't deflate as easily and are less likely to end up in little mouths.

___ Keep goodie bags simple. All you need are a few fun-sized snack bags (something semi-healthy, not candy, which parents might not like) and a couple of trinkets, like a rubber ducky and a beach ball or a small pack of crayons and a coloring book.

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