I remember each of my son’s first birthdays so clearly. That first year of a baby’s life is such a whirlwind of growing and learning and, at least in my case, not sleeping ;) Before you know it that tiny little bundle is grinning, motoring around and making messes and ready to turn one! While we kept our boy’s first birthday celebrations small, I always loved making sure we had a party (even if it was just with family) to mark this special milestone. One of my favorite memories was taking our youngest to the toy store on his birthday to pick out a birthday present. He bee-lined for a bin of rainbow, neon bouncy balls and had eyes for nothing else. For about a week after that, we were playing A LOT of catch and pass and bounce the ball with our little man. Oh how they grow up! But if you have a little one who is getting ready to turn one and want to make some wonderful memories of you own, I’ve got your back with an easy step by step guide to making your baby’s first birthday a sweet success!
1. Party or No?
Believe it of not, you don’t have to have a big party to make this milestone memorable! Your baby mostly wants time with his or her favorite people, which are probably you, Dad, siblings and maybe grandma and grandpa (if they are over making strange!) Simply doing something together that your baby particularly loves, like a trip to the zoo or playing at the lake is a great way or spending time together to celebrate. For our second son’s birthday we spent the weekend in the mountains throwing rocks in the lake and eating the cake he had picked out at the bakery. He couldn’t have been happier!
2. Pick a Theme:
If you do decide to go the party route (which we love too!) it makes the planning so much easier if you have a theme. A quick search on Pinterest will give you a lifetime’s worth of ideas. I have curated a board with all kinds of fun ideas just for baby’s first birthday for you to check out and get the creative juices flowing. Don’t forget to take into account that little emerging personality and tailor the party to your child’s interests. One of our boys loved dogs and animals. Even though he couldn’t speak he would get so excited whenever he saw a dog (or any animal, really!) so a puppy party was a natural choice and so fun for him!
3. Work with the Schedule:
In your party scheduling, make sure to pick a time when baby is at his or her best. Definitely avoid naptimes and keep the party short. Too much of a good thing for a little one year old often ends in tears and a grumpy birthday girl/boy. Not the memories you are planning on making! If baby is at her best first thing in the morning, have a breakfast brunch or if he is ready to rock and roll after his afternoon nap, host an afternoon party in the park!
4. Who’s this party for anyway?
Does your baby shine in a crowd or take awhile to warm up to new faces? At this age it is fairly common for little ones to be shy of strangers, so if your little one is timid around unfamiliar faces (hopefully grandma doesn’t fall into that category!) tailor your guest list to people your baby knows and trusts to guarantee smiles all around.
5. Hold the presents!
If your house is anything like mine, there are toys aplenty, books galore and everyone has more clothes than they can wear. I am forever grateful for the abundance we enjoy and feel it’s never too early to start teaching your kids to put less value on material things. If I could have one parenting do over (well actually, I’d love a few ;) I would have started no gift birthday parties from the beginning. Waaaay easier to make it the thing you have always done then try to convince your 6 year old that we really don’t need more presents! Make the party more about being together with loved ones to celebrate the person your child is becoming and in 10 years when you don’t need to clear out the overabundance of toys you will be so glad you did!
6. Take them Photos:
This may seem obvious, but make sure you take more photos then you think you need. Even go so far as to write out a list of photos you’d like taken before the party even begins and assign someone (hubby, a friend) who will be at the party to take photos for you so you can focus on enjoying the day. You don’t get a do over on these pictures and they will be precious for years to come! Also, don't let those precious photos collect dust on your hard drive, record and share them with some of my sweet photo lays that you can get for free HERE.
7. Who is Coming?
Whatever crowd large or small you have coming for the party, make sure you consider who is going to be there and how you can make the party fun for them. (hostessing 101 my friends!) Are there going to be families with babies or small children? Have a little play area within view for the babies and plan a simple craft or activity for the kids. Mostly adults? Have plenty of seating for people to visit and maybe plan a simple game or group activity to bring everyone together.
8. Sending Invitations:
However you decide to invite everyone to your party, make sure you give plenty of lead time so people can come and make your party special. This will vary a lot with the crowd you are inviting, but 2 weeks to 10 days before the party is a good rule of thumb. If there is someone you really want to be there, invite them even earlier. Don’t forget to include all the details your guests will need: Date, time, location or address, RSVP and party details like whether you are serving a meal, or guests should bring something (eg swimsuits for a pool party). If you are stumped for invitations, I’ve got a nice little selection in my shop! ;)
However you decide to celebrate, I hope you get to really enjoy celebrating this milestone with your little one! Also, don’t forget to record and share all those sweet photos you’ll be taking of the best birthday party ever. Put the perfect finishing touch on those adorable birthday photos with my free library of photo overlays and record those sweet moments. Sign up here for instant access and an easy how to tutorial!