Publication date February 20, 2024

Planning Baby’s First Birthday Party: A Step-by-Step Guide for New Parents

first birthday party activities

Remember the mountains of baby clothes overflowing from your drawers just a year ago? Now, your little one is already toddling around, ready to celebrate their first birthday! 

While it’s undeniably a momentous occasion, for new parents, it can also feel daunting. But fear not, as this step-by-step guide will hold your hand through every detail, from choosing a venue to creating unforgettable activities. 

By following this roadmap, you'll not only plan a celebration your baby will adore, but you'll also enjoy the process and cherish the memories forever. 

How to Plan Baby’s First Birthday Party?

It can be overwhelming to throw your baby’s first birthday party, after all, you made it through a full year of caring for another human being, and that absolutely calls for a celebration!

But, before you go out and search for a grand venue, think what does a 1-year-old kid even know about parties? Not much, right? This is why you might want to resist the urge to throw a huge birthday party bash. Your baby’s special day might end up cracking under pressure due to too many guests, too much excitement, too much entertainment, and spending much of the celebration crying. 

Sometimes the sweetest celebrations are the smaller and more intimate ones. So as you brainstorm first birthday party ideas, consider the following tips for hosting a party that you remember instead of one you’d rather forget: 

Where to Host Baby’s 1st birthday party

If you want to save some cash and have a big enough home, throwing the party at your house would be a good option. If you host the event at your home that means your guests can hang out longer, the baby has a comfortable and familiar place and you’ll have access to everything you need in your house. 

first birthday party

But, in case hosting at home doesn’t work for you, booking a restaurant or a children’s play space is also a great option. Although it can be costly, the big pros are that you won’t get stuck with too much preparation or cleanup and you will not have to worry about entertaining guests. 

Depending on your preference, you might also consider throwing your baby’s first birthday party at your favorite park. You can simply set up food and decorations at a picnic table, plus the kids can play in the nearby playground.

No matter where you choose to host your baby’s first birthday party, make sure there’s space for your little one and their friends to safely crawl around and play. 

What theme to choose for the First Birthday Party

After you’ve decided where to host, to make your baby’s bash extra special and help guide your party prep, consider a first birthday party theme. Whether you land on a certain color or animal character, you can design everything from your invitation card to your birthday cake and decorations around the theme. 

Just make sure that all the decorations are age-appropriate for curious little ones. And the good news is that there are endless great first-birthday party themes to choose from. Here are some ideas that might help you decide: 

1. Wild one first birthday party

Wild one first birthday party

When it comes to one-year-old birthday party themes, you can’t go wrong with a “wild one” birthday theme, which takes inspiration from the jungle. 

2. Berry's first birthday party

Berry's first birthday party

A cute first birthday theme for boys and girls, especially for the early summer months, is a “berry first birthday” party. You can choose this theme for your little princess’s first birthday if strawberries are her favorite food. 

3. Dinosaur first birthday party

Dinosaur first birthday party

If your little one loves all things dinosaurs, throwing a dinosaur-themed birthday party might be just the thing to make them smile. 

4. Unicorn first birthday party

Unicorn first birthday party

You can also host your daughter’s first birthday party outside with a magical unicorn theme.

5. Music-theme first birthday party

Music-theme first birthday party

If your 1-year-old baby goes crazy for music and turns everything into an instrument, a party like this Music First Birthday Party will be a platinum hit.

6. Have a Storybook Party

Have a Storybook Party

Does your little one love a great storybook? Then try hoisting a storybook theme party. Gather your birthday boy/girl and their guests and read a fun story out loud. Follow it up with story themes snacks and fun activities based on your chosen book. 

Who to Invite to a First Birthday Party

Who you should invite ultimately depends on your preferences, as well as your budget, the more people you invite, the more food, beverages, and of course space you’ll need. Begin with your must-invite lits, (family members or your closest friends)  the people you wouldn’t celebrate without, and if you can add to your headcount, keep going. 

If it’s going to be a small party then your list might include grandparents, aunts and uncles, and a few baby friends from your daycare or playgroups. If you want to host a huge bash, invite extended family, friends, coworkers who have kids, and so on. 

What to Give as First Birthday Party Favors

At the end of the birthday party, it’s customary to send kids home with favors, but they don’t have to be as fancy as you might think. You can definitely get as creative as you want, offer a photo frame with a picture snapped and printed at the party, or a fancy swag bag. 

But it might be better plus easier to send kids home with a single toy, like a little harmonica or bath toy. It will not just be easier on your wallet, but it will also create less clutter for your guests. 

Experts recommend investing in a single toy that ranges from $10 to $15 instead of a gift bag that gets lost. You can also have a baker do detailed custom cookies, wrap them in clear wrap, and then tie them with a colored bow to match the birthday theme, sure be a fun treat for kids later!

Food for the First Birthday Party

When it comes to planning the menu for a baby’s first birthday party, take into consideration whether the party is going to be mostly adults or if there will be kids of all ages coming too. 

For kids, you’ll want to have age-appropriate solids and finger foods such as individual serving cups of steamed veggies, soft fruit, dry cereal, smoothies, and yogurt. And undoubtedly, they have the baby’s favorite food on hand. For preschoolers and older children, snacks that are healthy and can be eaten on the go are good choices. 

food for first birthday party

It can include things like mini grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken fingers or single-serve boxes of raisins. For adults, you can go with sandwiches, meat and cheese platters, and veggies with dip. Or, when want to keep it simple, order a box of pizza from your favorite pizzeria.

And if you’re concerned about germs, consider having individually wrapped food for both kids and adults, like themed puree pouches, snack packs, or lunch boxes. For parties with mostly adults, serve food they can easily grab with tongs or a serving utensil. 

You may also consider having personalized water bottles for each guest—it will limit the amount of sharing and serve as a great party favor. But, remember to note on the invitation whether you’ll be serving a full meal or just snacks and cake, and confirm that snacks will be available for the youngest party guests. Also, don’t forget to double-check if anyone has eating restrictions or food allergies when planning the menu. 

First Birthday Party Activities 

Although your one-year-old baby and other little ones at the party likely won’t be playing Twister just yet, there are some fun activities you can plan to keep them entertained at their first birthday party. You can hire character performers who can lead the tots through age-appropriate activities, like singing, dancing, and storytelling. 

In case the baby’s birthday party will host kids of different ages, you’ll want to have toys and activities to suit them all, for example for older kiddos, think: of a bounce house, an arts and crafts corner, board games, or face painting.

Aside from planning some fun activities, it’s also important to prepare a private quiet space in case a baby or one of their friends gets fussy and needs a breather. Keep this space distanced from the main party and fill it with soft, cozy furnishings, such as an activity mat or a plush rug. Adding some toys and other sensory items in this place might also help little ones relax and emotionally regulate. 

1st Birthday Party Checklist

1st birthday party checklist

The Bottom Line 

When planning a baby's first birthday party, keep in mind that no matter how well you plan, unexpected things are going to happen on the day of the party. Kids are kids and they cry frequently and make messes, and that’s totally normal. Just breathe and try to enjoy this special moment with your 1-year-old baby as much as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. What is the best time to celebrate your first birthday?

The best time to celebrate your baby’s first birthday depends on various factors unique to your family and situation. But in general, earlier in the day is considered as a better time for most kids.  Plan for a brunch party or afternoon shindig instead of something in the evening, and also make sure the party is only an hour or two long. 

Q. How important is a baby's first birthday?

The baby’s first birthday is a huge milestone that is worth celebrating. It is often a time for parents to reflect on their own growth as parents. It's not only a celebration of the child's arrival but also a celebration of the journey the parents and family have taken to get to this point.

Q. What food is good for first birthday party?

While what food is good for first birthday party depends on who you are inviting, birthday theme, and your preferences, here are some ideas to get your brainstorming started: 

  • Cheese and crackers, oatmeal with fruit and nuts, coffee and fruit for a breakfast party
  • Pizza, sandwiches, salads, and fruit for a lunch party
  • Pasta with tomato sauce, Chilli, soup, bread and cheese for a dinner party 

Q. Do I need to throw 1st birthday party?

While your baby’s first birthday is certainly something to celebrate, whether you want to throw a party or buy them a special present is totally up to you, you don’t need to feel pressured into going over the top. Your baby won't appreciate such extravagance!

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