Birthday parties

Planning baby’s first birthday party: 7 tips to prevent complete disaster

Congratulations! Your baby is one—and you’ve all survived the first year of parenthood. It’s time to celebrate.

Planning baby’s first birthday party: 7 tips to prevent complete disaster

Photo @ashmarmac via Instagram

Don’t stress over planning a Pinterest-perfect, elaborate first birthday party. Since your little tyke isn’t old enough to demand a princess theme or Paw Patrol bash, you get to choose how to mark the occasion. (This won’t be the case in a few years, so take advantage while you still can.) Follow these tips for making sure the day doesn’t end in tears.

1. Limit the guest list

Although a huge party sounds great in theory, you may want to keep it small and simple for a first birthday party. Consider a family-only party, especially if you have a small space or a sensitive baby who doesn’t do well in big, noisy social settings. If you decided you want to invite your entire mom’s group (and all their babies), this will take some planning. (And vigilant baby-proofing.)

2. Plan around your baby’s naptime

This may sound kind of obvious, but the most convenient times for adults to socialize are not always the best times for babies. If you’re inviting guests with infants or toddlers, it’s impossible to plan around everyone’s differing nap schedules. But generally, earlier in the day is better for most kids. Consider a brunch party or afternoon shindig instead of something in the evening, and make sure the party is only an hour or two long. You don't want to run into the witching hours, and so much sensory stimulation and social time means the birthday girl or boy will get tired out pretty quickly.

3. Don’t pick the weekend right after their 12-month shots

Some babies can be extra cranky, under the weather or out of sorts for a few days after their well-baby appointment and one-year inoculations. Wait a week, or throw your first birthday party before the doctor's visit, to make sure the guest of honour is at their best.

4. Don’t overload yourself

Similarly, if you’re returning to work around the same time, and your one-year-old is experiencing big changes to their daily routine (a new caregiver or different nap times, for example), you might want to give yourself a few weeks to settle in before plunging into party-planning mode. It can be an emotional transition for everyone.

5. Accommodate all ages

If you’re inviting lots of little ones, set out some baby-approved favourites like individually wrapped Mum-Mum cracker packets or a basket of fruit-and-veggie squeeze pouches (they’re easy to clean up and toddlers go crazy over them). Consider setting up more than one makeshift diaper-change station in your house, too. If you haven’t needed to fully baby-proof yet, at least put up safety gates at the top and bottom of the staircase. (Some of your guests may be obsessed with climbing up and down the stairs.)

6. Take pictures ahead of time

After everything is set up and the decorations are out—but before the chaos begins—take a keepsake photo with the birthday kid. Once guests arrive, you’ll be busy hosting, and your baby may be overwhelmed by all the activity and commotion.

7. Set realistic expectations

On social media, you’ve probably seen plenty of beautiful tablescapes and homemade cakes that look like they took days to bake. You’ve seen your mom friends upload adorable photos of their one-year-olds doing cake-smash photoshoots. But don’t obsess or overspend—it’s not a contest. You probably won’t cherish the handmade pennant or bunting you slaved over late at night, and no one will really care if your cupcakes are store-bought or not. But you will want to remember the look on your baby’s face as she "opened” her first present. Your only goals for the first birthday party that truly matter are to have fun with your family and friends, and to pat yourself on the back for raising an increasingly cute small human.

easy first birthday party ideas –

Fruit party

Does your tot have a favourite food? Why not theme his party around that? We used pineapples here, but watermelon, doughnuts or other foods could take on a fun theme. Easy-peasy. Get the instructions here

pineapple party with pineapple-shaped party hats and treatsPhoto: Tony Lanz

Winter wonderland party

Paper snowflakes (including easy how-to instructions!), coffee filters and cotton balls all come together to create an easy DIY fete. Find more photos and full instructions here.

baby in a highchair eating a whole cake with winter-themed party decor in the backgroundPhoto: Tony Lanz


Book party

Who doesn’t love storytime? The theme of this party is books and you can make it as simple or elaborate as you like. Read a few stories to wee guests and hold a book swap instead of hanging out a loot bag. Get more inspiration here.

table with book-shaped sandwiches, a book swap box and literature quotes

Balloon bash

Keep things bright and colourful with a balloon party. Source balloon-patterned plates and napkins and fill your party space with several bunches of helium-filled balloons. (Babies especially love shiny mylar ones.) Many cake shops will have teeny balloon cake toppers, too. Distribute a balloon to each kid as take-home loot. Get more balloon ideas here.

mom, dad and baby outside with balloons and bubblesPhoto: iStockphoto

Sprinkle with fun

Here is our easiest theme—sprinkles! A boxed white cake gets a quick and cute makeover thanks to a number one-shaped cookie cutter. Make a big cake for everyone and a little one for your babe to Hulk-smash. Cut large circles out of coloured cardstock and affix them to the walls for giant polka-dot sprinkles. Voilà! Get the recipe at Kristine’s Kitchen

vanilla cakes with number one outline and sprinklesPhoto: Kristine's Kitchen via Pinterest


All-star party

Let your little one shine on her special day with a simple twinkle-themed party. The super-easy, star-shaped sandwiches? Genius. (Just use a cookie cutter.) The party in the photo is lovely, but you can create an equally pretty fête with minimal effort—procure some star-shaped garland, add a bit of glitter and you’re done.  Get more ideas from Popsugar

Planning baby’s first birthday party: 7 tips to prevent complete disasterPhoto: Popsugar via Pinterest

Mad for Muppets

A Sesame Street party will be a big hit with your pint-sized partiers. How awesome is this Cookie Monster popcorn? Snoop around on the internet for Elmo fruit tray ideas. It’s so simple, you got this! Get the instructions at

bowl of blue popcorn that looks like cookie monsterPhoto: via Pinterest

Bubble trouble

If your child squeals at the sight of suds and a bubble wand, then this party is for you. Choose round snacks (bubble-shaped!) and set up a fun activity station complete with bubble wrap for popping and stomping. Send wee guests home with their very own bottle of bubbles. Get more ideas at Catch My Party

table of round foods and bowls of bubble gumPhoto: Catch My Party


Into the woods

Celebrate your little critter’s first year with a woodsy affair. We love the idea of repurposing animal stuffies as decor. Get everyone into the lumberjack theme by asking attendees to wear their best plaid flannel to the party. Tip: Little Debbie Swiss Rolls are the perfect forest-inspired treat, no baking required! Get more ideas at 

hedgehogs made from donut holes and sprinklesPhoto:

This article was originally published on Apr 01, 2022

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