Blowing out candleThere are many important milestones in your baby’s first year, but the first anniversary of their birth is the milestone that gets a party! If you want to throw a party, you probably want the party to be special, fun, and yet age appropriate. If you need some ideas for celebrating your baby’s first year, you’ve come to the right place! The key to a one-year-old birthday party is KISS – Keep It Simple, Sweetie! Let’s face it, they aren’t even going to remember this day and you don’t want to overwhelm them! I’ve come across several great ideas for a special, simple, and sweet first birthday party. Hopefully you can find some inspiration!

Who to Invite

Many people choose to have first birthday parties be family-only events. Since we don’t have any family living nearby, we invited a few friends. (We lucked out as my husband’s family came down for their annual visit on the day of G’s party, so they got to be here for it!)

If your child has a little friend, invite him or her! To keep it from being too overwhelming, a good rule is that the number of kids at the party should be the same as the child’s age. At our son’s party, we did have one other little one there and it was perfect.

If your child has many little friends from playgroups, another idea is to have the party be a little playdate!


Have the party at your house if it works for the number of guests you have attending. Since we just had a few guests attending, and his birthday was in March, we held our son’s party inside our house.

If the weather is nice, you can even have a picnic or barbecue in the back yard or even at a park. If the party is at a park, that would also help entertain any older kids that might be attending.

You can also rent a room at a local children’s play center or recreation center. If you have a lot of guests attending, this might be a good option. The children’s play center would have toys to use and you would have to provide food and beverages. Some places even have party options available. If you rent a simple room at a recreation center, you can bring a bunch of toys for the kids to play with. These options are great because you don’t have to clean your house before or after and they may accommodate more people.

Time of Day

At one year old, most little ones are still taking two naps a day so it’s best to plan the party around their nap schedules (that is, if you want a higher chance of a happy birthday boy/girl!). If you plan to serve a meal, having a party from 11am-1pm might be a good idea. And if you aren’t serving a meal, a party after lunch would work well. Our son’s party was from 1:30-3:00pm. I thought two hours might be pushing it for him, so I chose to have the party be just 1.5 hours in length. It worked out really well!


Since our party was after lunch, we provided a few snacks. I made a spinach artichoke dip, had a fruit salad, and a few other snacks, as well as lemonade and water. I also has some snacks for the little ones, namely Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies! Of course there was cake, too! I purchased a carrot cake from Whole Foods for the adults to eat. I made G a carrot cake using a vegan recipe (which I modified to use eggs) that had no sugar in it, just applesauce. He loved it!

If you are serving a meal, you can cater in to keep things simple on your end. A barbecue or picnic is another idea. And I have been to a birthday party where pizza was ordered for everyone.

If you are having a theme party, your food can revolve around your theme.

Activities For Kids

For the little kids at the party, just having some play time with their toys is fun. Our son enjoyed playing with his little friend that came over, as well as the other adults there. Playing with bubbles is also fun for the one-year-old crowd. Or how about some music? I don’t think anything is cuter than some little ones dancing to some music! Be sure to have your video camera ready!

If there are older kids you need to entertain as well, here are a few ideas:

  • If the weather is nice, have some water games outside. Maybe a Slip ‘N Slide or even the classic game of a water balloon toss. That one is even fun for adults!
  • Pinatas are always a hit!
  • For indoor activities, some coloring books or other similar activities might work well. And if you have a separate room, you can always play a movie if appropriate.
  • Classic birthday party games like pin the tail on the donkey might be fun!

Activities for Adults

At our son’s birthday party, we had a game for the adults to play. I gathered 12 pictures of our son (one for each month), put them in frames, and placed them throughout the living room and kitchen. I labeled them with numbers 1-12 (obviously not corresponding to the correct month) and gave everyone a pen and piece of paper. The goal was to guess which photo was which month of his life. Everyone seemed to like that game! I provided a prize for the winner ($5 Starbucks gift card). (I actually purchased two in the event of a tie, but ended up giving the cards to the top two winners.)

The other activity we had at his party was a showing of his one year slide show we made. It was only six minutes long and was a montage of various pictures throughout his first year set to music.

The following picture shows the table where I had his cake and some framed pictures and flowers for decoration. The two pictures on the outside are used in the photo game (they have a small white piece of paper on them with a number).


The next photo shows another area with a few more photos in the photo game, as well as my son checking everything out!


Another idea I came across was to fill a jar with the birthday boy’s/girl’s favorite snack (like Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies or something similar) and have everyone guess how many are in the jar.


If you are having a theme party, your decorations can revolve around that. I chose to keep decorations very simple. I used the colors from his invitation (below) as a guide and purchased a few balloons in those colors as well as a tablecloth to match. The cake was decorated (simply) with those colors as well. I purchased some calla lily flowers for the table and I think they were beautiful! The framed pictures from the adult game were also decorations themselves!


There are many paper options for birthday invitation, but an easy (and cheap) way to send initiation is electronically, either by using an electronic invitation service like, by a simple email with the party information, or by creating a photo invite and emailing that.

Loving photos as much as I do, I chose to create my own photo invite and have them printed and mailed. I used a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements 6) to create this 5×7 invitation (personal information blurred):

Birthday Invite

I searched the internet high and low to find wording for the invite. To save you time from searching yourself, here are my favorites:


He’s cute and sweet and so much fun…
Our little boy is turning one!


{Name} is turning one!
Join us for lots of fun!


Come too my party, celebrate a bit
See my first cake, I’ll be wearing it!


It’s as simple as A-B-C
A birthday’s more fun
if you share it with me!


This year has been so much FUN!
We can’t believe {Name} is turning ONE!


Come join the fun!
{Name} is turning one!


Come and celebrate some birthday fun
for a sweet little boy who is turning one!


One little candle placed on the cake.
One first birthday wish to make!
{Name} turns ONE!


I hope your little one’s first birthday is a special day for everyone! And I hope it’s not too much stress for you to plan. Remember, a first birthday is really for you and your family and friends. The simplest thing you can do is TAKE PICTURES!!!

Wendy – Parenting Tips 365

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