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Checklist: Throw a Stress-Free First Birthday Party

___ 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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