|Your baby has experienced so many "firsts" in the past twelve months. First coos, first smiles, first laughs, and now it's already time for their first birthday party. A first birthday is a big day for the parents and baby won't remember the experience except through the photos and videos that are taken and viewed years later when they're older.
The party doesn't have to have a theme, but choosing one, even if it is just a few fun colors, will help you plan the invitations, the cake, the tableware and other decorations.
- When choosing the date, make sure all the special people are available, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
- Weekends are usually best so working adults can attend.
- Choose your party time around baby's nap time so they will be at their best and enjoy the party.
- Send invitations out at least 2-3 weeks before the party. Allow more time if the party is around a holiday or Christmas so guests have plenty of notice to mark their calendars to attend.
- Keep the party short so baby isn't cranky or tired, 1-1/2 to 2 hours should be about all they can handle.
- Choose a location your child is comfortable with...there's no place like home.
- Invite special friends and relatives, the adults and children in your child's life.
- You are caring for your baby on that day too, so keep the number of guests manageable so you can take care of both guests and baby's needs.
- Keep the number of guests to what will comfortably fit in your home.
- If other babies are guests, make sure their parents are included to attend with their little ones.
- If other babies are attending, make sure to baby-proof the party area and have extra toys on hand to entertain.
- Mylar balloons are the safest and aren't as great a choking hazard as latex balloons.
- Banners and posters can be "temporarily" affixed to walls with toothpaste.
- Use the birthday cake and goodie bags or party favors as part of your decorations.
- Plates, napkins and other tableware can also be set out as part of the party decorations.
- Whether it is home made or from a bakery, a first birthday cake can be lots of fun for everyone.
- We suggest getting a "squash cake" which is a miniature cake just for your baby. You can then let the guest of honor stick their fingers in the icing, fling icing everywhere, put their feet in it, take a bite out it, or do what they will (they will surprise you) and you can then serve the unblemished big cake to your guests.
- As baby hasn't had much experience with real food, it is a great video moment to capture their first time with a cake.
- Entertainers can be terrifying to a one year old. A clown or huge adult in an animal suit could ruin the party.
- Live entertainment is really not necessary for a first birthday party.
- If you have other children attending, try peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, macaroni and cheese.
- Cut fruit and vegetables are a great snack for all ages.
- Cheese and crackers
- If you are having a party longer than 1-1/2 hours, you can consider serving a meal, but remember you will have a lot going on and you want to enjoy this special day more than your guests will need to be served a full meal.
- Go ahead, serve cocktails! Your baby won't remember and your guests might enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer - you don't have to have a full bar.
- Juice boxes are great for kids, less chance of spills and forgotten glasses tipped over. They can then be easily thrown away.
- Have a fat Sharpie pen to write names on cups and juice boxes.
- A special outfit doesn't have to be expensive. Just go with something cute, remember there will be tons of pictures, maybe in a favorite color
and appropriate for the season.
- It's a good idea to have a change of clothes handy. My son ended up wearing most of his cake and we stripped him down to his diaper and hosed him off in the backyard (it was about 95 degrees that day).
- Make sure you have your camera batteries charged - video and still cameras.
- Some disposable cameras sitting around are great for guests to capture the action, too. Especially your interactions with your baby.
- Extra set of clothes for the guest of honor
- Nametags if you have people from different circles that haven't met.
- Trash bags to collect wrapping paper as the gifts are opened and trash from food that will be served.
- Be flexible! Just go with the flow. Enlist the help of some of your baby's favorite people to keep baby occupied and to fill in when you're entertaining other guests or just dealing with other party details
- ENJOY! Be sure to take the time to enjoy the day - it only happens once!