Location: It’s often easiest to host baby’s birthday extravaganza in your own home, which you and baby are familiar with and comfortable in—and which has already been child-proofed. However, if your baby was fortunate enough to have entered the world during a season of pleasant weather, outdoor parties in your own backyard or at your local park can be a huge hit (and make post-party cleanup a breeze).
Time: Since many babies tend to be morning people, an a.m. affair often entertains the most chipper guests. Whatever time frame you set, ensure it doesn’t overlap with nap time, since tired 12-month-olds can be fussy partiers.
Guests: Family members and friends tend to make up the guest lists of many first birthday get-togethers. While you should certainly invite anyone whose presence you’d enjoy, try not to go overboard with invitations.The smaller the crowd, the less overwhelmed baby (and you!) will be.
Refreshments: With a mix of grown-ups and wee ones, creating a menu that’s pleasing to all can be a bit challenging. The easiest plan of attack is often to provide two versions of everything, from beverages and snack foods to plates and utensils. Sippy cups and Cheerios top the list of baby must-haves, whereas adults are typically OK with lidless glasses and chewing-required foods.
Decorations: Whether you go all out or keep it simple, a splash of something special will make the ambiance especially festive. Be sure to keep safety in mind, especially if you choose to decorate with balloons or confetti.
Presents: Keep gifts under wraps by displaying them out of baby’s reach. When she’s ready to tear open her goodies, remember to let her savor each one. She’ll likely want to play for a few minutes before moving on to the next surprise.
Favors: It’s nice to send tiny guests home with a little something—look for inexpensive goodies that boast some useful quality, so you’re not breaking the bank or supplying clutter.
Dos and don’ts for the big day:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A party is a lot of work, so let friends and family lend a hand.
- Do be prepared to go with the flow—babies often make their own plans, so flexibility is a must.
- Don’t expect too much from a 1-year-old. The party shouldn’t last longer than a couple hours, since baby can burn out quickly.
- Do save mementos, like an invitation and decorated napkin, for your baby’s scrapbook.
- Don’t spend the day in such a busy furor that you forget to enjoy yourself and your little one.
- Do appoint an official photographer to capture every minute of your baby’s big day.
- Don’t worry—take all the chaos in stride and focus on having fun!
- Do send out thank you notes within two weeks of the party. For an extra nice touch, include a photo from the party of the birthday baby with her guests.