20 First Birthday Party Themes and Ideas to Celebrate Baby’s First Year

Sure, it looks like baby's party, but it's mostly for the parents at this point, so have fun!
Sure, it looks like baby's party, but it's mostly for the parents at this point, so have fun!
4/18/24 - By Vanessa Leigh

Looking for first birthday party themes and ideas for your baby's first birthday? We rounded up 20 of our favorites!

First birthday parties are a time to really celebrate the successes of a full year of life. Parents, you did it! Since a baby's first birthday is as much for the adults as for the baby, parents want to throw a memorable celebration that the birthday child can enjoy while marking the occasion with friends and family.

But how can you find the perfect first birthday party theme? What should you serve for a treat that will please both babies, older siblings, and adults? We've got you covered with first birthday party ideas that include themes, decorations, and sweet dessert ideas.

Find tons of other birthday bash ideas, including 100 Top Birthday Party Themes, awesome goody bag ideas, and gift guides for all ages, in our Guide to Kids' Birthday Parties and Birthday Party Ideas.


Why Throw a First Birthday Party?

Let's be honest, first birthdays are really for parents. You made it through 365 sleepless nights, thousands of diapers, and colic. The party is as much a celebration of your survival as your child's birth. Take a day off from diapers and drool! Invite your friends and family to toast your success at keeping a little human being alive for a whole year, as well as marvel at the gorgeousness that is your baby.

Creative, tasty, fun, and easy—a donut wall checks all the boxes!

Creative, tasty, fun, and easy—a donut wall checks all the boxes!

How to Best Celebrate a Baby's First Birthday

  • Get creative – Whether you make an elaborate cake or go Martha on your party favors, this is your chance to express yourself as Parent-in-Chief. Your kiddo isn't old enough to have preferences, so go for what your heart desires.
  • Be playful  – Even though the bash may be more for the adults than the babies, it's still a great opportunity to tap into your inner child. Pick a theme that is youthful and fun, and let everybody be a kid for the day. 
  • Keep it simple  – This may be the first time some of your friends are meeting the birthday babe and you want the kid to shine. Don't put pressure on your child to be the star of the show or splurge on big activities that may prove overwhelming (save the bouncy houses for bigger birthday bashes). 
  • Do it outdoors  – Parties in the park are a big money saver and lots of fun. Bring bubbles and a friend who can play an instrument, and have your own little parade. If the weather can possibly cooperate, go outside.
  • Keep it short  – 1 1/2 hours is a good length. Any longer and your small fry will get too fried.
  • Farm it out  – Not a do-it-yourself type? Check out your region's local Party Guide, which is chock-full of cool all-inclusive places to celebrate your little one's first big day.

Most Popular First Birthday Party Themes

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Who doesn't love this classic baby board book? You can DIY the caterpillar or find caterpillar decorations online. Your snack options can mimic those in the book: cupcakes, chocolate cake, and fruit plates to balance out the treats.

All kids love animals, so celebrate year one with a Wild One-themed first birthday party.

Celebrate your wild one turning a wild "one" with some adorable little wild ones!

2. Wild One (Animal or Safari-themed)

All kids love animals, so celebrate year one with a Wild One-themed first birthday party. You probably have some stuffed animals or animal puppets, and if your baby has older siblings, chances are you have more than enough! Bring out the animals, and have a blast transforming your space into the wild jungle or African safari.

3. Dinosaur Party

If your 1-year-old loves dinosaurs, then this first birthday party theme is a must. Here are some dinosaur birthday party ideas to get started. Other young guests can wear dino costumes or outfits and bring their best ferocious roar to the party.

4. Alice in One-derland

Have tea with the Mad Hatter right in your own home. Go all out with Alice-themed decorations for this tea (and cake) party.

Baby's First Birthday Fun Creative ideas: A Farm Themed Birthday

Bring your birthday babe to the farm...or the farm to your little one!

5. Farm Animals

Moo, bah, neigh! Toys and party favors take on a life of their own when your home turns into a barnyard. If you have an outdoor space, consider buying some straw and having a photo station for guests to snap a photo for fun memories. 

6. Personalized Birthday Party

Personalized parties are always a great choice for a first birthday party. The day is all about your little one, so go all out and monogram the cake, balloons, and decorations.

Classic First Birthday Party Themes

7. Winnie the Pooh

Always beloved by families are Winnie the Pooh and all of his friends. There are tons of decoration options for a Pooh-themed first birthday party. You can play some music from the television show in the background and have lots of fun choosing the cake toppers to showcase all of the characters.

8. Unicorn Party

Take the magic of a baby's first birthday party to new heights. Unicorn decorations are pretty popular these days. The colorful cake will be both beautiful and delicious. 

9. Mickey & Minnie Mouse

These Mickey and Minnie ears are a perfect accessory to celebrate a child's first birthday party with friends and family. Mickey and Minnie cupcakes are a great creative option for treats to pull the whole theme together.; they're really easy to make and decorate, too!

10. Sesame Street

If your little one didn't already dress up as Elmo or another Sesame Street character for Halloween, then now is the time to get in on the friendly monster fun. There are tons of Elmo (Cookie Monster, Big Bird, you name it!) cake ideas. You can also decorate your yard with these Sesame Street yard signs to let the neighborhood know your little monster is one.

11. Rainbow Party

Rainbows are a great first birthday party theme because they're so versatile, colorful, and beautiful. Whether you choose a Boho Rainbow color scheme or a bright primary colored one, you'll have great pictures to remember this day for years to come. Need some rainbow-themed crafts for older siblings to help decorate? We've got 'em!

More Fun First Birthday Party Themes

Show all the party attendees snaps from the whole first year of your baby's life.

Show all the party attendees snaps from the whole first year of your baby's life.

12. One Time Around the Sun

Your baby has been on Earth for their first trip around the sun! With these first birthday party decorations, you'll have a bright, sunny day to celebrate a full year of life for your little one. 

13. One Time Around the Moon (Outer Space/Astronaut-themed)

Take your party to new heights by going with an astronaut or space-themed first birthday celebration. For frozen outer space treats at this one-year-old's party, you'll want to go with Dippin' Dots ice cream. 

14. Winter One-derland

If your little one has a winter birthday (or you feel like celebrating a winter one-derland in July), let it snow inside for a winter one-derland celebration. Frosted cupcakes are a perfect way to celebrate this cool party.

15. One Singular Sensation

Broadway is calling. Pull out the top hats and sparkles for a star-studded first birthday party. Hang your own golden banner to showcase all 12 months of your baby's growth with a picture from each milestone.

16. Yes, This Is My First Rodeo

A rodeo-themed first birthday will have guests wearing cowboy and cowgirl hats and maybe even a pony to ride. Saddle up and enjoy decorating for your baby's first rodeo.

Best First Birthday Party Ideas for Twins

17. Thing One, Thing Two (Dr. Seuss Party)

Blue wigs are optional for the birthday babes. Party hats could be Cat In The Hat-themed. You can also encourage guests to gift their favorite Dr. Seuss book to build your twins' library. 

18. Double the Fun

Double Stuf Oreos, anyone? Enjoy a first birthday party with everyone seeing double. Order (or bake) an Oreo cake, but make that two cakes! Have both high chairs set up with matching double decorations for plenty of great photo ops. Double the birthdays, double the fun.

19. One and One make...Two First Birthdays!

Numbers are everywhere at this first birthday party for twins. As an idea, you can have number candles that spell out 1+1=2 or order two matching dice-shaped cakes with one dot on each side. Decorations can include giant number balloons and lots of decorations with the number one.

20. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars

You have not one, but two little twinkling stars to celebrate this year! Hang stars from the ceiling, and don't forget a shiny moon balloon. These Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star plates, napkins, and utensils match the theme perfectly.

All photos by Kelly Patino for Mommy Poppins.

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This post originally published in March 2012