Saturday, March 1, 2014

How To Plan The 1st Birthday Party

 I don’t brag that often (although my husband might disagree) but I really know how to throw a shindig. When I was in college I was repeatedly asked to throw parties and given a budget to do it with and our wedding is now the stuff of legends.  Today I want to share a few tips for throwing that all-important first b-day party (and show you some pictures from our first birthday). A baby’s first birthday is as much for the parents as it is for junior. It is an accomplishment and a milestone, as your little bun (or peanut or whatever you called your baby bump) is, maybe literally, taking his first steps towards toddlerhood.  It is definitely a cause for celebration but shouldn’t be a reason for stress. Here is my method for party planning. 

Pick a theme

  • It sounds cliché right? But it really does make everything easier. It doesn’t have to specific it can even just be a color. The important thing is to have something that you can tie everything together with and draw inspiration from. For our son we chose bugs because his main nick-name is bug.
  • Gather ideas for food, decorations, and games. I like to use Pinterest or just think about past parties I’ve hosted/attended. You can tweak many games and food to fit your theme.
  • Once you have your ideas, decide which ones are most important and which ones you could give up if you don’t have time. I always have way more ideas than I do, that way if something doesn’t work out or I cant find the items to put it together, I’m not scrambling for new ideas.
  • You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of decorations. I am a big fan of decorating with food and party favors. I also like using flowers as decoration because I can enjoy them even after the party is over.

Nets with magnyfying glasses doubled as decoration and then party favors


  • For a first birthday I would plan on a maximum three hour window.  Any longer and meltdowns will surely ensue. We had out of town guests at our party that stayed later so I let our son take a power nap half way through while I did crafts with the other kids.
  • When picking the time think about if it will fall during a normal mealtime. Generally people will eat before they come, but if your having a 12-3 party chips and cupcakes aren’t going to cut it.  You don’t have to serve a full meal but put something substantial out.
  • Give a thirty-minute initial window for mingling and late guests to arrive. Play music in the background, it stops any awkward silence and can even be a talking point.
  • It’s nice to have a game or craft to do because it gets people to talk and entertains the kids. Generally 1-2 activities is plenty.
  • Everyone wants to see the baby smash the cake and open presents so be conscious of time and try to get “the formalities” done before people need to start leaving.

Things started off innocently
He quickly realized we were going to let him make a mess

Know your guests

  • The ages and relationships of your guests will affect the flow of the party so plan food and activities accordingly. 
  • For are party it was mostly adults and kids ranging from 1-11. I had crafts and games for the older kids, toys for the small ones, and plenty of beer for the 21+ crowd.
  • Be a good host and try to move around and talk to everyone. If it's a small crowd then gather chairs into one main area in a semicircle and if it is a larger crowd then scatter some snack foods in a few areas so everyone isn't crowding the food table. 
  • I think it is also important to cater to food allergies and dietary restrictions. I am not saying bend over backward but taking time to think about people makes them feel special. Our party included wheat, milk, soy, egg, and walnut allergy; with some “no greens because I’m taking blood thinners” thrown in. The entire menu wasn’t for everyone but there was something good for everyone (and all the kids could eat the cake!)

So those are my tips. Just remember planning ahead will give you the freedom to enjoy you and your babies special day!

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