6 Party Planning Tips for a Happy First Birthday Party

Amy Jeffers   |  November 13, 2018

Congrats, mama, you’ve almost made it through year one! What a huge milestone for you and your precious baby! To help you plan the party for your little one’s special event, I’ve created a list of my favorite party planning tips for a happy first birthday party. I hope you find these tips helpful, but above all, remember to do what feels fun and best for you and your family!


1. If You Can’t Decide on a Theme, Choose a Color Scheme

If you’re finding it difficult to narrow down a particular theme for your little one’s party, try going with a color scheme instead. It can be overwhelming if you’re aiming to make everything (food, decorations, etc.) fit a particular theme, or maybe you just can’t decide between a theme (unicorns or princesses!). Opting for a particular color scheme can make things easier for decorating. For my son’s first birthday, I went with a color palette of blues and greens. I simply mixed and matched my favorite color variations for all decorations (balloons, paper lanterns, table cloth, paper products, colored straws) and for the dessert table (rock candy, Hershey’s kisses). I ordered both the cupcakes and smash cake with variations of blue and green icing, and left the rest of the menu free to be whatever I wanted! Also, don’t forget– you only have so many years before your little one starts requesting the type of birthday party he or she wants!

Smash cake
Hershey Kisses

2. Highlight Baby’s First Year

Get double-duty out of some of your decorations so that they also highlight baby’s first year. A popular idea is to create a poster or chalkboard highlighting a few of baby’s favorite things/milestones. You can list baby’s height, weight, how many teeth baby has, any words baby might be saying, or favorite foods or books—there are many options! You also can’t go wrong with showing off pictures of baby’s first year. Display these in picture frames throughout the party or turn them into picture banners.

Poster for 1st birthday party

3. Schedule the Party Around Little One’s Naps

You don’t want a tired and cranky guest of honor on your hands, so make sure you schedule the party after little one’s nap time so that he or she is well rested. And, speaking of scheduling, keep the party short and sweet—around two hours—so that baby doesn’t get too overwhelmed or overstimulated.

4. Don’t Overload Yourself & Make all the Food

Even if you like to cook, do yourself a favor, and don’t make all the food! You definitely want to delegate here if you can! Depending on what food you plan on offering—and it doesn’t have to be a ton, especially if you schedule the party between meal times—you might enlist the help of a caterer, bakery, and/or friend or family member. I’m not a big cook (my husband does the majority of cooking!), but I do like to bake. For this party, however, I didn’t make a single thing, except for the punch and mixing up some chip dip. I had a grocery store cater a few main dishes, a bakery make the cupcakes and smash cake, grandparents bring a few side dishes, and my husband make his beloved sausage dip. Finally, don’t forget to include a combination of adult- and kid-friendly food.

Cupcake tower
Cupcakes for 1st birthday party

5. Don’t Feel You Need to Have Activities

If the thought of planning games and activities stresses you out, nix ‘em! This is a party to celebrate a one year old who likely won’t be able to participate in many of the activities anyway, and many people aren’t expecting elaborate party games. If you have a handful of older children attending the party, you can always put on a movie in the background, have a bubble station outside (depending on the season), or plan a game or two, but again, don’t feel like you have to!

6. If it’s in Your Budget, Hire a Photographer

Now, this is something I did not actually do, but it’s something I regret not doing. In all the birthday festivities, a few key photos I would have liked got missed (hello, family picture of the three of us!). In addition, I wish some of the photos that did get captured were of a higher quality. So, if during the party, you know you’re going to be running around trying to talk with all your guests, chasing around a one year old, and ensuring everything’s perfect for smash cake time (chances are, mama, you will be!), then don’t let perfect photo opportunities go to waste. If you have it in your budget to hire a photographer– do it! If not, see if you can get a willing friend or family member with a nice camera and a good eye to capture all those special moments.

Smash cake & balloons looking up
Kid looking at smash cake

Extra tip: Whether you hire a professional photographer or not, make a list ahead of time of all the photos you absolutely know you will want so that you can ensure they aren’t missed that day!

Hey, Mamas! Do you have any other tips to share?

Love this?
Login or sign up to save faves, submit & share products, & leave reviews.
Login Register