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20 Fun Baby's 1st Birthday Party Ideas

  • Tara Sgroi

    Your baby is 1, and it's time to party! "Our darling Gracie's first birthday was in January, and it felt like a celebration for us for making it through our first year," says Tori Horne of Tallahassee, Florida. We asked Penny Warner, child development instructor and author of more than 12 party and activity books, including Baby Birthday Parties: 20 Fun Theme Parties for Babies 1 to 3, for ideas on hosting that first milestone party. "There's a lot to juggle—the unpredictable mood and schedule of a toddler, appropriate themes and snacks, even the number of guests." Her seven stress-free tips and theme ideas will have you and your bambino tossing your party hats into the air.

    1. Watch the clock. Plan the party to last an hour to an hour-and-a-half. Babies have short attention spans and run out of energy and interest quickly. Plan the party for late morning or late afternoon—pre- or post-nap—when baby isn't tired.
    2. VIPs only. Scale back the guest list to avoid overwhelming your babe and keep costs down.
    3. Ask for help. Consider hiring a babysitter or asking a family member to help you balance your hosting duties with enjoying your baby's big day.
    4. Babies love balloons. Opt for foil, or Mylar, balloons instead of latex to avoid choking hazards for kids under 8. Find Mylar balloons and Balloon Time helium tank kits at partycity.com.
    5. Create a play place. Many of the babies in this age range are still on all fours, so baby-proof a play zone filled with age-appropriate toys for your little guests. Set chairs around the zone for parents to relax and watch.
    6. Check your treats. Ask your guests if there are food allergies to consider. Keep snacks simple, like chopped fruit and graham crackers for the kids, and more grown-up versions for the adults to munch.
    7. Don't stress. You're still a few years shy of hiring a D.J. and hosting pony rides. It won't matter to baby whether you throw the party of the season or just celebrate at home with your immediate family. As long as he's with you and feels love all around, that's all that matters.

  • Jon Whittle

    Planes, Trains and Automobiles Party
    Spark his imagination with a transportation celebration.

    Activity: Expect oohs and ahhs when you set up Cardboardesign's airplane along with finger paints and smocks for pint-size artists to decorate. The final handprint-laden masterpiece makes a great keepsake. $50 for plane; mightynest.com

  • Jon Whittle

    Birthday Party Invitations
    All aboard! Create train-ticket invitations. Add construction-paper backing for a sturdy, styled look.

  • Jon Whittle

    Birthday Decorations
    Hang paper airplanes made from colored paper and yarn from the ceiling for a modern mobile effect. Use two to three different patterns/colors of paper that match the party's theme. Have fun with color combinations, but be sure to balance them for a refined edge to your fun decorations.

  • Jon Whittle

    Party Hats
    Download these ready-to-print party hats. ($8; lovetheday.etsy.com) Top them with handmade pom poms for added flair. 

  • Jon Whittle

    Birthday Cupcakes
    Rev up appetites with these modern cupcake toppers. Check out our easy, do-it-yourself cupcake recipes for cute, tasty desserts everyone will love.

  • Jon Whittle

    Birthday Party Favors
    Planes, trains and cars—oh my! Activities at the party can double as birthday decorations with these cute colors. Cultivate your tiny guests' creative genius with oversized crayons shaped like models of transportation.

  • Jon Whittle

    Storybook Birthday Party
    As far as first birthday ideas go, we think this one will have a fairy tale ending. Turn children's books into a birthday wonderland and watch the "characters" come to life! 

  • Jon Whittle

    Magical Birthday Cupcakes
    Hire a local baker to create cupcakes decorated with your baby's favorite characters. Glitter frosting adds a magical touch. Or you can make these tasty treats at home.

  • Jon Whittle

    Activity
    Ask a dynamic friend to read aloud, or hire a storyteller from your local library. Sing-along nursery rhymes are optional.

  • Jon Whittle

    Party Hats
    These enchanted party hats with sprouting ribbon detail are great alternatives to tiaras or crowns.

  • Jon Whittle

    Favors
    Little Golden Books make great takeaways. Build everyone's book collections with a few that match the party's books. ($4 each; barnesandnoble.com)

  • Jon Whittle

    Birthday Party Invitations
    Set the tone for your party with an invitation that looks just like a book. Match the invites to your party's theme colors and you can keep the extras as decorations.

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