First Birthday Party Ideas and Tips

Party Ideas, Tips, Advice and Activities for 1st Birthdays

First birthday parties are tricky. Since they're 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.

I've been thinking about first birthday party ideas, so I decided to ask the experts: the moms who work on Mommy Poppins. Sure enough, I got lots of great tips, advice and concepts.

First Birthdays Are Really for the Grown-ups
You made it through 365 sleepless nights, thousands of diapers and colic. The party should be a celebration of your survival as well as your child's birth. Take a day off from diapers and drool! Invite your friends and family to pitch in to give you a break while toasting your success at keeping a little human being alive for a whole year. It won't be long before that little spitball will be begging for a party at Chuck E. Cheese's.

Get Creative
When I asked all of the moms who work on Mommy Poppins what they did for their child's first birthday, almost all of the responses involved some elaborate cake. I won't hypothesize as to why...oh heck, yes I will. I'm guessing after 12 months of focusing on nothing but baby bottoms and sleep schedules, your repressed creativity is just bursting to come out. Whether you make an elaborate cake or go all Martha on your party favors, this is your chance to express yourself as Mommy in Chief. Go for it.

Here are two homemade first birthday cakes created by Mommy Poppins moms.

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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. Stephanie threw a Willy Wonka-themed party for her son's first birthday.

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 too much pressure on your child to perform, or splurge on big activities that may prove overwhelming. Shari shared a great 1-year-old party activity: a giant mirror. The littlest guests will love looking at themselves and it should can keep them occupied for, oh, minutes.

Do it Outdoors
If you read that and thought something dirty then you probably are a new parent. But seriously, if you were clever enough to aim for a warm weather baby, you hit the birthday party jackpot. Parties in the park are a big money saver and lots of fun. Amy recommends bringing bubbles and a friend who can play an instrument, and having your own little parade.

Keep it Short
You want your little one to be a star but you know the good mood's not going to last forever. Keep the party short. 1 1/2 hours is a good length. Any longer and your small fry will get too fried.

Skip the Party
Truthfully, a party isn't necessary for a first birthday. If you prefer, you can skip the whole thing and just do something special en famille, like a first trip to the zoo. Allison Hilton suggests hiring a babysitter and going out with your partner for a special dinner to celebrate making it through your first year as parents.

Farm it Out
Not a do-it-yourself type? Check out our Party Guide, which is chock-full of cool all-inclusive places to celebrate your little one's first big day. Best of all, the staff does all the work so all you need to do is show up and enjoy. Quite a change from the last 12 months!

Find tons of other birthday bash ideas in our Party Guide.

Photo by Shutterstock.

This post originally published in March 2012.

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