First Birthday Party Ideas for Quarantine Babies

You're not invited to my party! Photo by Kylie Najjar
You're not invited to my party! Photo by Kylie Najjar

For quarantine babies, the first year of life probably looked a little different. That doesn’t mean their birthday should be any less special. It’s your baby’s first birthday and you’ve been parents for a year—that’s something to celebrate! To help you with some special first birthday ideas, we’ve rounded up a few fun ways to host a quarantine birthday party for babies, with social distancing in mind. 

Because a first birthday is also a celebration for the parents, we're going beyond just first birthday cakes and serving up treats for adults, too. Whether it’s virtual or in-person, we've got plenty of first birthday party themes and ideas to help mark this momentous occasion safely. Happy quarantine birthday, baby. 

First Birthday Party Ideas for Quarantine Babies: It all starts with the invitation

A funny invitation sets the tone for a virtual birthday celebration.

1. QuarONEtine Virtual First Birthday Party Theme 

A quarONEtine birthday party theme is a fun way to embrace the times. It spells out why no one is invited, in a silly and lighthearted way. Simply use the word quarONEtine in any decorations, invitations, or signs you have in the background behind your baby, and use a yellow and black caution tape-inspired color scheme. Ready-made signs and cake toppers make this easy to do, and a special shirt for the birthday kiddo makes for a keepsake of just how unique their first birthday was. A pre-party photo shoot, as this creative mom did, makes for a funny photo for your invitations.

First Birthday Party Ideas for Quarantine Babies: Smash cakes go virtual

Throw a smash cake viewing party for guests that can't be with you.

2. Smash Cake Zoom

The first birthday cake smash is an essential part of every 1-year-old birthday. This is also the moment your family and friends most love to share with the birthday baby. Thanks to FaceTime and Zoom, no one has to miss out on your cutie smashing that adorable cake. 

Send an invite letting everyone know how to connect to the party virtually. From there, you can start decorating your baby’s highchair and a backdrop to set the scene. Once all your guests are on, you can sing Happy Birthday— then let your baby dig in. You can even record your Zoom party, and keep a record of everyone's reaction when your baby smashes that cake!

First Birthday Party Ideas for Quarantine Babies: Send a party box to friends

Send a coordinated party box for virtual guests (especially other kids in the family) to enjoy.

3. Coordinated Party Boxes for Your Virtual Guests

If you love a good theme party, don’t let the pandemic slow you down. A coordinated party box is a great way to help your family and friends feel connected to the birthday baby. In the box, you can include party favors, sweet treats, party hats, and a picture of the birthday baby so they can celebrate alongside your family from their home. You can ship these boxes or drop them off locally, and then everyone has the same goodies during a virtual party.

4. Send Virtual Guests a Signature Cocktail Recipe 

Your baby’s first birthday is also about celebrating the fact that you as parents survived the year (especially this year!), so you should enjoy the party as well. For the adults in your life, consider making a signature cocktail recipe to sip during your virtual party. Send guests a printed recipe card with instructions for making the perfect party drink. 

If your budget allows, include all the mixers and accessories with your recipe in a drop-off party box. Include mini pop cans, soda water, tonic, tomato juice, orange or cranberry juice, with a travel-sized alcohol bottle. Make sure to also include cherries, oranges, lemons, or limes to garnish. A cute paper straw or umbrella is a fun addition. You can even include a custom koozie or label with your baby’s name.

First Birthday Party Ideas for Quarantine Babies: Play Baby Bingo

Play Baby Bingo with friends and family so they get to know your baby, even if they can't squeeze those chubby cheeks.

5. Play Baby Bingo

If you’re looking for a fun virtual birthday game, baby bingo is a crowd-pleaser. Start by inviting your family and friends to join you for a Zoom party. Let them know that you’ll be emailing or mailing them baby bingo cards before the virtual party. You can find customizable blank bingo cards online or create your own.

Next, think of trivia to ask about your baby for the game. The answers will be the squares on the bingo card. In one row, for example, you can have the baby’s birth date, height, and weight at birth. Make one square their zodiac sign and another their favorite food. Come up with some funny squares, too, that tell guests unique facts about your baby they may not know.

First Birthday Party Ideas for Quarantine Babies: Hold a photo shoot and share pictures of baby

Do a 1st birthday photo shoot and then send a slideshow to family (and be sure to show baby, too).

6. Baby’s Birthday Photo Shoot Slideshow

If you don't want to throw an in-person party but are Zoomed out after the workweek, there are other ways to celebrate your baby's first year with family. Photos are a great way to celebrate the big moments in your little one’s life. Do it big this year with a first birthday photo shoot. Find a great local photographer and choose your favorite outside location (like the zoo, the beach, or a favorite playground). Or play photographer yourself! Even if you're not a pro, no one else can make your tot smile as bright!

After the shoot, you can send a slideshow for family and friends to enjoy. As a bonus, you can have some of the best pictures printed as a keepsake for your little one.

7. Costume Parties Go Virtual (or Outdoors)

Although the birthday boy or girl may not know what a costume party is, they will love seeing their parents and family dressed up. The sillier the better when it comes to costumes for a baby. To kick things off, invite guests to your virtual or small outdoor gathering. Tell guests to dress in a specific theme or in a costume of their choice. Virtual guests can wear their costumes on screen and sing Happy Birthday to the baby. 

If you’re opting for a small outdoor gathering, encourage guests to wear costumes with a mask or face covering. A superhero or a masked ball is a fun theme. Guests will have a little more fun wearing masks when a costume party is involved. And your baby will have great photos from their first party! 

First Birthday Party Ideas for Quarantine Babies: Baby birthday parade

Honk, honk! Birthday girl comin' through, here.

8. A Baby Birthday Parade

Birthday parades aren’t only for the big kids. What baby doesn’t love cars? If weather permits, decorate your front yard and host a birthday parade for your baby. If guests want to drive by or get out and say a socially distant "hi", you can decorate your baby’s highchair to make it more festive and give them a safe place to watch. Party guests can also watch the birthday baby smash their cake from their cars or your front yard.

You can also decorate a baby Little Tikes car and let your baby take part in the parade, too. Your little one will love driving their car around the front yard and watching the parade. Deck it out with streamers, cans, a banner, and decals. Invite siblings and neighbors in their little cars as well for a sidewalk parade alongside the big car parade. 

9. Host a Birthday Bonfire with a Build-Your-Own S'more Bar

In warmer months, small backyard gatherings can often be done safely. If the weather permits, host a small outdoor gathering at home. If you’re worried an outdoor gathering will be too chilly, try hosting a backyard bonfire. You can serve casual BBQ food and spread guests around your campfire. To celebrate the baby of honor, consider ordering custom masks for party guests with your baby’s name or face on them. You can also customize mini hand sanitizer bottles for guests to take home or use in the yard. 

Since serving cake means plates, utensils, and passing food around, consider this dessert option: create a s’more bar. Put toothpicks in the marshmallows, use mini bars of chocolate, and give everyone their own sleeve of graham crackers—you've got a germ-free dessert! Of course, baby still needs a cake to smash, so keep the theme going with a s’more smash cake.

First Birthday Party Ideas for Quarantine Babies: Party time in a swing

The birthday girl and all her friends will love being outside at the park, where everyone can see how big she's gotten.

10. Party in the Park 

If you’re hoping to host a small gathering, most public parks have reopened. These are perfect options for large, free, outdoor spaces where kids will get to play while adults have plenty of room to spread out and social distance. 

To keep things simple, you can cater or serve finger food to make eating with limited seating easier. Serve cupcakes or individually wrapped cookies for guests to grab and take with them.

All photos by the author, except the main photo which is courtesy of Kylie Najjar's Instagram

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