First Birthday Party Survival Tips

The first birthday for your child is such a memorable milestone. Most parents simply can’t believe how quickly the first year of their child’s life flies by. It seems a necessity to mark the special occasion with a huge birthday bash. Though you certainly want to do something special, remember that your child will not remember it – so this day is more for yourself and your close family and friends. It’s best to tone it down, especially if your little one gets scared of too many people they may not remember. Everything can quickly become overwhelming, and though your child seems to have endless amounts of energy, they will likely wear down before you with too much noise, cake or kisses.

This year’s party is so much more about you as parents and those close to your child. So here are a couple of ideas to make the party planning much easier in the long run, and turn into a relaxing day you’ll remember.

The Guest List and Being the “Perfect” Host

Though you may want to celebrate your child’s first birthday with everybody close to you, it may serve you better to keep it smaller. Though this is a special milestone, there are plenty of birthdays to come where you can invite all of the families and friends you hold dear. If there are people close to you that you absolutely want to have there, then by all means invite them. Just be aware that if you invite fifty people the first year, you may feel the obligation to invite them year after year. It can quickly get out of hand, so keep it simple from the start.

You can play the perfect host, but definitely ask for help. This isn’t just to keep things manageable, but also so you can enjoy and savor your child’s first birthday experience. Take people up on their offer to help. If your parents want to come over and help you set up, don’t give into your urge to handle it all yourself – invite them over early to help with the preparations.

It doesn’t matter if you have over ten or fifty people, parties can always be a lot of work. When playing host, don’t be afraid to let guests serve themselves. When they arrive, tell them where the drinks are and then set up the food for them to serve themselves. This can allow people to feel right at home and can set the tone for a more casual affair.

Simple But Tried and True Food Ideas

Though you may be tempted to cater in the food from your favorite restaurant, resist the urge and save it for another year. Keep the food simple yet delicious at this year’s party. As it’s bound to be on a smaller scale than other parties in the future, go with a spread of appetizers such as hummus, veggies and dip, salsa, and other appropriate munchies.

If you are celebrating the first birthday in the warm summer months, you could do a barbeque. Everyone enjoys a spread with hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, corn, and all the fixings. If you want to keep things really simple, then order some pizza and salad.

If you are keeping it within the family and want to take the workload off, consider having a potluck dinner. You supply the meat and beverages, and ask your relatives to bring a dish with them. Most of the time people want to bring something and this leaves far less work for you.

Center the Party Around a Theme – Or Not

A party theme makes all other planning easier – this is because you don’t have to figure out what type of cake to get and what decorations and plates to use – a theme unifies everything. What does your birthday boy or girl likes? Does she go nuts over Elmo? Then have a birthday with Elmo! Having a favorite character they can easily identify will make them more comfortable with the sudden changes to their surroundings (ie lots of balloons, decor and people). A theme also allows you to purchase everything in one place, rather than potentially driving to two or three different stores.

However, don’t feel obligated to have a theme. The first birthday party for our daughter took place outside, and included simple white, red and pink balloons, a generic banner, stylish generic birthday invitations, and a cake of the Tasmanian Devil – only because her uncle loves that character and impersonates him whenever he visits!

As you can see, this party was more for us. Our daughter simply played with a couple balloons, stuck her fingers into the cake, and had fun with the boxes the toys came in! Dinner was hamburgers and hotdogs for about twenty close friends and family. Simple, yet fun and memorable.

About the author: Chris is a writer and editor of, a site dealing with party themes, ideas and planning. Click here to find ideas and supplies for your child’s party, whether it be for a birthday or upcoming holiday. Chris is a work-at-home dad who has survived several birthday parties and is constantly trying to entertain and keep up with his two energetic toddlers – a role he wouldn’t want to change!

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