1st Birthday Party Survival Tips
Can you believe that you are already preparing to celebrate your baby’s first year of life? It seems like just yesterday your baby was swaddled in your arms, and now look at the difference! Your baby is preparing to take his first steps, saying “Mama” and “Dada”, banging pots and pans … It is truly amazing what a child learns in their first year of life.
No doubt, you would like to celebrate this amazing first year with a special birthday celebration. He or she will not have any memories of the party, so in a way, this party is just as much for you as it is for your baby! The key elements to planning your baby’s first birthday party are selecting a theme, as well as an appropriate time frame and setting, organizing activities, and creating a menu. Also, where possible, delegate most chores to family members and friends, so you remember and enjoy the party, rather than only have memories of rushing around and stressing!
Selecting a Theme
Though not neccessary, of course, having a theme makes the rest of the party planning easier, because you have a unifying idea – for instance, a Sesame Street theme takes care of how to decorate the cake, the color of the streamers and balloons (primary reds, yellows, blues), and perhaps even partywear – for instance, I bought Elmo birthday party supplies for a birthday – one package included a cake pan of Elmo’s face, cups, dishes, table cloth, balloons, streamers and candles. So all that was taken care of. Make sure to select a theme that reflects your likes as well as your baby’s. You will then enjoy planning and carrying out the celebration just as much as your baby enjoys the party.
Some other themes you may wish to consider are:
Winnie the Pooh – Every baby loves this friendly, rumbley-in-my-tumbley character! Since he’s been around for generations, all of the adults present at the party will likely enjoy their own dose of nostalgia. Plus, if you pick a friendly character that your child recognizes, it will lead to smiles all around for your baby.
Bubbles – Children love bubbles, so experiment with creating them in different shapes and sizes. If your baby has a spring or summer birthday party, you can fill a baby pool with bubble solution, and use a hula hoop to create giant sized bubbles. You can make your own homemade bubble solution by mixing one cup water, 2 tablespoons light karo syrup or glycerin, and 4 tablespoons dishwashing liquid soap. This is safe to use indoors, too.
Animals – One year olds can recognize animals, such as dogs, cats, turtles, fish, horses, and many others. Create a theme around your baby’s favorites. This can take on a “How Much is that Doggy In the Window?” theme, “Teddy Bear’s Picnic”, “Barnyard 1st birthday” or even “Noah’s Ark.”
Choosing a Setting and Time Frame
When choosing a setting for your baby’s party, the season is one of the most obvious determining factors. You may wish to have a backyard party in the spring or summer. If you do so, make sure to advise your guests so that they can bring necessities such as hats and sunglasses. You’ll also want to set out some bottles of sunblock, (within parent reach.)
If you anticipate a large number of kids in attendance, make sure to make expectations of parent attendance clear as well. Parents may expect to drop kids off and leave if you not designate that you would like chaperones present as well. If you are hosting in your own home, make sure to thoroughly kid-proof the whole house. Don’t be afraid to appoint a trusted friend to help you with any tasks you find overwhelming, such as clean up afterwards.
Try to schedule your baby’s party for a time shortly after he or she will be awakening from a nap. Then your baby is most likely to be happy and full of energy for the party. An appropriate time frame for the party would be about 2 hours. Don’t feel like you need to overdo it.
Are most of the attendees going to be your baby’s age? Then plan plenty of games that parents and babies can play together, such as crafts, bubbles, sing along songs, and simple games such as hot potato. If you will have older kids attending as well, plan separate activities for the older children. For example, if you have a rented Moon Bounce, make sure the babies and older children play in separate time frames.
Again, because one year olds will not remember the event, it is a good idea to document your party with lots of photos. Set up a designated photo spot, such as a chair with balloons tied to the back, where each child will be photographed. Try to do this as soon as each guest arrives, before children get dirty and/or tired. A copy of the photo can later be sent to each guest with a thank you note.
Creating A Menu
If you don’t want to serve a full meal, don’t feel obligated to. A mid-afternoon party lends itself well to light munchies. Chucks of fruit make great finger food for small children. Or create pretty sandwiches by cutting shapes out of bread with cookie cutters. The bread shapes can even match your theme!
If you plan to do a full meal, make sure to keep baby’s tastes in mind. Small children actually have much more sensitive taste buds than adults do. So while adults may love a barbecued chicken cookout, the children may prefer turkey dogs and applesauce.
Everyone knows that the highlight of a birthday is cake! But there’s plenty of room for creativity here, too. Cupcakes are great for kids. If you do an animal theme, perhaps try serving animal shaped sugar cookies rather than cake. You can make your own semi-homemade sugar cookie dough by buying a refrigerated tube, such as Pillsbury, and mixing in ¼ cup of flour. This makes it the right consistency for rolling and cutting.
Enjoy your child’s first birthday! It will likely be the most memorable one for you, so enjoy it.
About the Author: Chris Molnar is a father of two preschool girls. He edits a children’s website full of theme party ideas at Themeaparty.com. As a work-at-home Dad, he has to come up with some pretty creative ways to keep the kids entertained while balancing work life!