Tips For a 1st Birthday Party

So your little boy or girl is turning one year old! I know it’s hard to believe (wasn’t she a newborn baby just moments ago?), but little ones do get big. And that means you’ll want to celebrate this milestone in a way you can always look back on.

Guests You’ll Want to Invite

Invite grandparents or close caretakers. Even if it’s a “friends party,” your one-year-old won’t understand the distinction and will want Grandma and Pop-Pop at his first birthday party.

Friends of yours, family members your child is close to and his or her babysitter are also good choices.

If your child attends a daycare, a mommy-and-me class or if the two of you are in a play group, send party invitations to a few friends, but keep this list on the small side. Two or three preschool age guests are plenty.

Choose a Theme

Select a birthday theme for your one-year-old’s first big party. A theme pulls everything together and gives you a jumping-off point for choosing party invitations, party favors, decorations, games, food and the cake or cupcakes.

Popular themes for preschoolers include Elmo, Sesame Street/Muppet Babies, Winnie the Pooh, Disney, Animals (circus, farm, wild animals, ocean animals, etc.), or your child’s favorite TV/movie character.

Serve “Easy” Foods

There’s nothing quite so adorable as that picture of your child with cake all over her face. Aside from this traditionally messy party food, choose snacks that are easy for young children to handle and do not present a choking hazard.

You may also want to ask parents of younger guests whether there are any food allergies you will want to be aware of so that you can avoid that food.

Keep sugar low, if possible. Preschoolers usually love fruit, so make colorful selections and cut fruit pieces into interesting and fun shapes. Jell-O is another good choice. For the cake, consider cupcakes. They’re fun and they keep servings manageable. Avoid popcorn, whole grapes, and small, hard candies.

For adults, serve sandwiches, pasta salads or whatever your family favorites may be. Or have the party be a pot-luck and ask guests to each bring a specialty.

Be Flexible About Activities

This age group is notorious for being confused on taking turns and for, well, not exactly being stellar losers…so keep games simple and easy for young guests to do.

A water table for water play is an excellent choice. So are games that involve throwing cloth or Nerf balls, and musical games where guests must sing along or supply a missing word.

Send Thank-You Notes

A follow-up thank-you note for attending the party will be appreciated by guests of all ages. Be sure to let attendees know how much it has meant to you that they were part of this very special day.