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5 Tips for Planning a 1st Birthday Party

Your little bundle of joy is turning 1! Whether the big milestone will arrive sooner or later than you thought, it's a big occasion to celebrate and we've got the 5 essential party tips to plan your baby's first birthday party.

Since the guests at this party are more likely to be sipping on apple juice rather than on a cocktail, make sure to keep your tiny tikes happy by planning some fun baby games and working around nap time.

Here are a few tips to make your baby's birthday an unforgettable event, all while keeping it baby-friendly.



1. Timing is Key: Consider Baby's Schedule

We're sure you've been planning this 1st birthday party every since the baby shower, so don't risk any cry-baby party crashers. Plan to time the event in accordance with your baby's naptime so the guest of honor is happy and alert.

A good time to start the party is about a half hour after your baby usually wakes up from a nap. This will give you time to pamper your little one and get his/her party face on before guests arrive. It's also a sure-fire way to make sure baby is quietly resting while you take care of last-minute party prep.

Start winding down the birthday activities about an hour before baby usually gets ready for more beauty rest. This way, your guests won't see the pre-nap crankiness. Chances are, a majority of your guests will still be in their diapers and will need time to get ready for their naps as well.


2. Choose Your Guest List Wisely

Okay, so you probably won't have a big bouncer in front of your home requiring a photo ID for those who enter, but spending time putting together the right guest list is important.

It's not enough to just put together a list of who to invite, either. While compiling the guest list, keep in mind how big of a party you want to have. Just like with adults, some babies are more reserved, and would rather share their toys with just a few other kiddies, and others love interacting with everyone around.

If your little one is usually clinging to dad's leg, host a small get together with only your close family and friends, as well as any other figure your baby might be comfortable around.


3. It's OK to Host at Home or Keep it Casual

A 1st birthday party can easily be done at home. This is a great option for a more low-key event or a party with fewer guests. You'll save some serious dough, and can plan whatever games you like and serve your favorite snacks. Plus, baby will appreciate the familiar setting with so many new faces around.

Alternatively, if home is out of the question, consider a place where your baby has the best time. Maybe their smile brightens up in the park, or they could spend hours in the petting zoo. This is their special day, so you want to make sure the focus is on them!


4. Pick a Theme Baby Will Like

From the invitations to the décor, choosing a theme makes party planning a lot easier. Fortunately, we have lots of great theme DIY party ideas to help inspire your 1st birthday party!



Here are some popular first birthday themes, filled with plenty of DIY ideas that even the fussiest baby can enjoy:

Rainbow Theme Party
You Are my Sunshine Theme Party
Balloon Birthday Party Ideas


5. Don't Go Crazy with Extras & Pay Attention to Menu

Since it is your baby's 1st birthday party, you may be tempted to go all out with fireworks, costumed characters, and customized pinatas. Keep in mind that the only thing your child will remember from this party is what he or she sees in the family photo albums. And more importantly, babies are far more sensitive to any drastic changes or surprises than an older child might be.

Having Uncle Lou dress up like Elmo sounds good in theory, but may give your child the scare of a lifetime.



In addition, special consideration should be given to the menu. At this stage, many parents are hesitant to give their little ones certain food products while also straying away from foods that contain popular allergens (peanuts, chocolate). Contributor Coryanne Ettiene has a  1st birthday party menu to keep all guests happy, and Contributor Paula Biggs has a few gluten-free birthday desserts that look and taste delicious for the older kids.

Find more party planning inspirations for First Birthdays

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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