Survival Tips for a First Birthday Party

First Birthday Party Baby Eating Cupcake
Parents Magazine
It won't matter to your baby whether you throw a catered party for the neighborhood or just have the grandparents over for pizza. How much you plan is up to you – do only what feels fun and festive, and cut back if you get stressed out. Here are some tips to get you through this event, plus tips from parents who have been there and done that! 
Image courtesy of Dee Camarena, @camarenacakepops
Image courtesy of Dee Camarena, @camarenacakepops

Serve a Special Birthday Cake

Make or buy a creative cake. Your baby will love looking at the cake as much as eating it.

2xSamara.com/shutterstock.com
2xSamara.com/shutterstock.com

Keep It Short

If there will be other young kids, keep the party short – an hour or two is plenty.

Avoid Choking Hazards

If you want to decorate with balloons, opt for the silver helium-filled kind. Latex balloons are a choking hazard to kids under the age of 4.

Photograph by Carl Tremblay
Photograph by Carl Tremblay

Don't Overload Yourself

If you're serving food, do yourself a favor and don't try to make everything. For instance, bake the cake but buy deli sandwiches. Or grill burgers and have a bakery do the cake.

iStock
iStock

Take Pictures Before the Party

Take pictures of the cake and of Baby in his birthday outfit before the guests arrive.

pixelheadphoto digitalskillet/Shutterstock
pixelheadphoto digitalskillet/Shutterstock

Give Baby Downtime

Don't force Baby to be social. With all the attention, your little one may need to retreat for a bit.

Antonio Diaz/Shutterstock
Antonio Diaz/Shutterstock

Make Sure There is Plenty of Help

Consider hiring a sitter or asking a young relative to stay with the birthday baby when he needs a break.

Yana Poles/shutterstock.com
Yana Poles/shutterstock.com

Eat Cake the Night Before

Consider doing the fun part the night before. Strip Baby down to a diaper and let him experience his first piece of cake. Then, if he's too thrown off during the party to enjoy the "real" cake, you won't feel disappointed.

Stamp your baby's handprint on napkins for an extra special touch to tableware.

Parents Magazine
Parents Magazine

Real Mom Advice: Planning

“There is an overwhelming amount of content out there. The best thing that I did for the planning process was shut down my laptop, toss my phone across the room, and bust out a pen and paper.” –Lindsay Tierney; Hudson, MA

“I wish I’d done a better  job planning around my kid’s naptime. She was a bit pooped during the party, but she was fine after a quick nap.” – Demia Doggette; Orlando, FL

 “I’d have made a budget first. The food and décor costs can add up fast. It’s easy to get carried away.” – Aria Morgan; Woodstock,  GA

Heather Knowles
Heather Knowles

Real Mom Advice: Guests

“We had two parties: a dinner for close family so that they could have special time with my son, and a full party for extended family and friends another day when kids could play. I’m so glad we have memories from both days.” – Christine  Andrew; Salt  Lake City, UT

 “I would have set an end time for the party. A few guests lingered later than we anticipated, and a clear time window on the invitation would have made it less awkward to wrap things up.” – Alli Wittbold; Amherst, MA

Heather Knowles
Heather Knowles

Real Mom Advice: Cake

“My most memorable moment was the smash cake! I had so much fun searching on Pinterest for the mini-size cake I wanted.” – Emily Jackson; Salt Lake City, UT

 “I’m so happy I made a cake. It was my mom’s tradition to bake something for me each year, so I loved the idea of carrying that on with my daughter.” – Emily Schuman; Los Angeles, CA

 “I’d give my baby some cake before the big day to warm her up to the sweetness. I set up a picture-perfect scene with balloons, decorations, a tutu, and a dreamy pink cake. We put down the smash cake, and she wasn’t interested. We ended up eating it ourselves!” – Saralyn Ward; Golden, CO

Marina Raith/Getty Images
Marina Raith/Getty Images

Real Mom Advice: Entertainment

“I had plenty of easy entertainment for my baby’s friends at our backyard party. We set up picnic blankets and laid out shallow baskets filled with kitchen utensils, musical instruments, balls, and blocks. They were a huge hit with the littles!” – Alli Wittbold

 “We had a circus theme for our daughter’s first party, and my husband dressed up in costume as the ringmaster. He’s been dressing up for the girls’ birthdays ever since!” – Erin Ziering; Los Angeles, CA

Tara Donne
Tara Donne

Real Mom Advice: Decor

“The signature number 1 balloon was my best move. It’s so simple and worked great as a photo backdrop, and having a giant balloon was just fun!” – Marcy Fitzpatrick; Rincón, Puerto  Rico

 “I rounded up friends for a DIY night to help make some décor like plastic cups dipped in glitter and memory jars with photos from the first 12 months. Who doesn’t love crafting and wine?” – Erica Hartwig; Boca Raton, FL

Pressmaster/Shutterstock
Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Real Mom Advice: Making Memories

“Don’t forget to ask everyone to send you their snaps and create a shared digital album postparty.” – Marcy Fitzpatrick;  

“I was having so much fun being in the moment that I didn’t take any pictures. Luckily, my sweet friend was snapping away the entire time. Next time around, I will delegate photographer duties.” – Alli Wittbol

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