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Tips for Planning a First Birthday Party

A farm-themed first birthday party dessert table

A first birthday is a milestone that many parents enjoy celebrating with friends and family. This party is more for the parents than for the child. A few helpful hints will make it more likely that a first birthday party will go smoothly.

Start With a Budget

Start by setting a budget. You can’t make plans if you don’t know how much you can spend. Decide on a budget in total and for various items needed for the party. Once you’ve set your budget, stick to it. This could mean purchasing a grocery store cake or making it yourself instead of buying a fancy bakery cake. Invite fewer guests or having a simpler menu if you need to cut costs.

A Limited Guest List May Be Best

Don’t invite everyone you and your child know. This can quickly backfire and lead to a fussy, unhappy baby. This is especially true of your baby rarely does well with crowds. You don’t want all of your child’s first birthday party pictures to include a baby in tears. The more guests you invite to the party, the more planning is necessary.

Plan Food and Activities for All the Guests

This means thinking the other babies in attendance, adults, and older children. Serve kid-friendly foods and beverages. Make sure the venue is baby proofed if you aren’t having the party at home. Inform guests ahead of time if you’re serving a meal or just snacks and cake. Plan some activities for older kids. Don’t forget to prepare a party favor for any children who attend. The favor can be something small. Kids can even make a craft during the party to take home.

Time It Right

While you may want to throw an evening party, an afternoon first birthday party may work better. Schedule it after she’s had a nice nap and before bedtime. Limit the party to only two hours because babies get tired more quickly than older kids and adults. Avoid having the party within days of her getting her 12-month shots. She may experience unpleasant symptoms from the shots and be cranky. Choose a weekend instead of a weekday to make it more convenient for guests.

Choose the Right Venue

You can have a first birthday party at home, especially if the guest list is small. Rent a venue if you want to minimize cleanup. Choose a venue with a quiet room where you can take the baby if she gets fussy. She may need a break from the action.

Consider Having a Theme

Choosing a theme for your child’s first birthday party will help pull everything together. It also makes some other decisions easier. You could choose an animal theme, a theme based on a favorite book or character, or a woodland theme. Consider what your child likes and what you can easily pull off. Pinterest is full of ideas if you’re stumped.

Send Out Invitations

You can send out printed invitations or create a Facebook invite. Give guests at least a few weeks notice so they can plan to attend and get a gift. Include a note saying that people’s presence is enough of a gift if you prefer no gifts. Make sure the invitation reflects the theme of the party.

Ask for Help

Request help from friends and family members to help decorate. Ask them to clean up afterward or help keep kids safe and occupied. This will limit the stress of hosting. Ask someone to write a list of who gave what for gifts.

Cake Considerations for a First Birthday Party

Make sure you provide plenty of cake or cupcakes for the guests. Some people make a smaller cake or a cupcake for the baby to smash for a cute photo op. You can also make a small separate cake for the baby that isn’t too sweet. One option is a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting made to include only a little sugar. Be careful with a cake with a lit candle. Keep it far enough away that the baby won’t touch it. Just bring it nearer when it’s time to blow out the candle.

Take Photos Before Things Get Busy

Once you set up the party, you can pose the birthday child and take a few photos. Then you need not worry if things get crazy busy after the guests arrive. You’ll have photos even if the baby has a tantrum and has to leave his own party. Some parents strip the baby before the party. They let the child eat their first cake early in case they’re overwhelmed during the party. Consider asking a family member to take the important shots of the party in case you miss some of them.

Have Realistic Expectations

Don’t expect to accomplish too much or drive yourself crazy before the party. Also, don’t expect the party to go perfectly. Babies are unpredictable. Decide what will be most important to you and your child. Don’t worry about what other moms you know did or what you’ve seen on Pinterest. Keep the costs within your budget.