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1st Birthday Party Ideas

6 First Birthday Traditions

one year baby birthday party

You may be thinking, “Isn’t starting a tradition during the first year a bit early?” On the contrary, your baby may not remember being a part of these traditions, but the photographic evidence is something you will ooh and ahh over for decades to come. I mean, let’s face it – nothing is more adorable than a baby’s first time doing just about anything, and what better occasion to start new traditions than their first birthday? Unfortunately, with all of the charm and attention being poured into decorations, food, party favors and phone calls, we often forget to relax and enjoy a few firsts with our little ones.  Here are a few traditions new and old to help you make this day special for years to come.


Smash Cake

Ah, the smashing of the cake… a time honored tradition. The only time you don’t care how much sugar they’re about to inhale. When it’s not only laughable, but cute to clean cake out of your baby’s ears and nose for an entire week. When just throwing that outfit away (because honestly that’s not coming out) is heavily considered. It’s a glorious time for both yourself and your baby, and the perfect opportunity to make some memories by joining in and getting some cake smashed in your face too. Don’t forget to make the “smash cake” a separate cake from the one you serve! As a bonus tradition, find a Cake Decorator you love and use that same person every year.


Sharing Stories

The first year of your child’s life has undoubtedly been filled with very sweet (and most likely very gross) stories. One tradition you may consider starting would be to share a few of your favorite stories from the past year. In the beginning, this may just mean you reminiscing with fellow parents, swapping stories over mocktails at the snack table, but as your little lad or lady gets older you can share these stories with their friends (but maybe avoid the teenage years, yikes!).


Birthday Outfit

Although it may seem like Pinterest is the generator of this tradition, we assure you it’s not. Parents dressing their little ones in the same (or similar) outfits every year for a single photograph has been going on longer than we may realize. Sure, we take photos of our kids nearly every day with our phones and personal cameras, but having an annual photo of your child wearing the same cute bow tie ensemble or pretty cotton dress is something special. It’s something they can look forward to each year (until their teen years when they don’t like mom, dad, birthdays, traditions, or in some cases, showers) and you can look forward to seeing how much they’ve grown and developed their personality. This may be the time to have a Photographer take over; they have a knack for capturing those adorable toothy smiles.


Party Videos

Birthday party videos are a relatively new spin on the classic, dad-holding-a-video-camera, hour-long VHS tapes (that mostly show Uncle Ron sleeping in the La-Z-Boy while little kids randomly poke him). Now you have the option of hiring a Videographer to capture the entire party for you, and edit it into a perfect little video of your baby’s first birthday. Do this every year and collect these special videos to later share with friends and family who couldn’t attend your party (or save them for embarrassing blackmail later). This may also help you narrow down which little one cleverly nabbed two extra cupcakes and shared them with the dog.


Book Signing

There has been another birthday trend going around that has caught our attention. Parents choose a very special book, perhaps Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, and each year have partygoers and/or parents write a note inside. After years of collecting the sweet memories, give the book to your child on their 18th birthday. If your special book has a Costumed Character in the story, you may want to have them stop by for a little visit.


Memory Boxes

A memory box is a great way to collect the most sentimental pieces from your child’s birthdays and safely store them until you’re ready to share the memories. You could collect photos, cards, their first outfit , their special book and anything that brings back memories.


Remember, the most beautiful moments in your child’s life are the ones they spend with friends and family, and the experiences you share together. So take the time to relive old traditions or create new ones, they make for the best memories.

Baby’s Turning One!

baby having her first birthday,  blurred background

Let’s just start by admitting something that we all know is true- first birthday parties are for mommy and daddy and their guests. But, just because your baby won’t remember the party doesn’t mean you can’t make it special! After all, this is a big day for you, too, and you will always have the photos to show them later!


Carefully Create the Guest List

While some babies are extremely social, it isn’t at all uncommon for one year olds to be scared or uncomfortable in large groups of strangers. Keep this in mind when you’re creating your guest list and try to invite people who your child is familiar and comfortable with, and keep the crowd relatively small. You don’t want to spend the entire party trying to calm a crying baby!



Decorating for a first birthday is easy. By now, your child may exhibit some preference for certain colors over others- you can see this in which toys and objects they’re drawn to the most. If they seem to have picked a favorite color, you’re already one step ahead of the game! Either way, choose a color/pattern theme that you believe your child will like. If your child likes Winnie the Pooh or Minnie Mouse or any of the other various popular children’s cartoons, it is easy to find decorations featuring these characters, such as plates, party hats, gift bags, and party favors. Remember that infants are drawn to movement, so decorations that have some flow to them- like streamers, curled ribbons, spirals, and balloons- will be visually appealing.


Entertain the Kids

Again, it’s important not to overwhelm your baby and while some acts may be too much for your child, it is always nice to have some kind of entertainment available for the party guests. You know your child better than anyone and you can be the judge of what they’ll be comfortable with and enjoy the most. If a lot of children will be present, consider a Costumed Character, Magician, or Clown to interact with the kids and keep them entertained. Other great options for children’s entertainment include Face Painters, Balloon Twisters, and Children’s Music Acts.


Food and Drinks

Two words: finger foods. Aside from being great party snacks with very little cleanup, they’re kid friendly- and what’s more important than that at a first birthday party? Some easy, kid-friendly bites include cubes of cheese, crackers, fresh cut fruit, mini-sandwiches (pb&j, grilled cheese), and ice cream.

For bigger meals, choose foods that are crowd-pleasing and easy for baby to eat. A few foods to consider are macaroni and cheese, apple sauce, pasta salad, or casserole

Let’s not forget about the birthday cake! It’s a great idea to get two cakes for a first birthday- one for you and your guests and a small “smash cake” for the birthday baby! Get your cameras ready, this is the cutest/messiest part!

Be sure to have plenty of juice, fruit punch, and milk available for the little guests!


Helpful Hints

Make sure that the baby gets plenty of rest before the party so they don’t snooze through the entire thing!

With that said, very young children will be worn out by a long party- so, keep it on the short side. Between one and two hours is a good rule of thumb.

Be cautious of dangers to the children. Babies have a tendency to test just about anything using their mouths, so be sure to avoid potential choking hazards when picking out party favors and decorations.


You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Being a parent to a one-year-old takes a lot of time and focus. If you need help with anything- from the decorations to the photos, don’t be afraid to bring in help. A Photographer or Videographer can capture all of the precious moments (and get you in the frame, too). Caterers or Cake Decorators can whip up the perfect tasty treats for your guests’ enjoyment. If you’re looking for a lot of help, leave the stress to a professional Event Planner. All of these entertainers and services are more than happy to make your child’s first birthday unforgettable (well, for you).

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It seems just like yesterday when your almost one-year-old was just a lil' bun in the oven, doesn't it? Now they're learnin' how to talk, how to walk, and how to be the cutest little thing in the world. Now it's time to invite your friends, family, and other little ones to celebrate your son or daughter's big first birthday! Here's some tips on how to make it special.
The first of many birthdays to come!

This is the first birthday party your child will experience...and if it's your first child, it's also the first young child's birthday party you've ever planned. Lucky for you, it can be a pretty simple one to plan. At this age, your child does not yet really understand the concept of a birthday party so you will not have to worry about meeting their demands or disappointing them by not meeting their expectations. But due to the age, you do have the challenge of keeping your little one and the other young guests thoroughly entertained. There are several things to think about when planning a child's milestone first birthday party and GigSalad is here to help you every step of the way.

What kind of party would be perfect for your little one?

Before planning the details of what will actually take place at your child's first birthday, you need to figure out the basics. Who is invited? If your child attends a daycare, you should invite the other children from the class. You should invite your family members and friends especially those with children that they can bring along. If your child is shy, you might want to avoid bringing in too many people that they are not familiar with. You do not want them spending the day being scared and uncomfortable. Next you should decide on a decorating theme. What cartoons or toys is your child into? All major cartoon characters are now plastered all over tableware, balloons and party favors. You can also go with a more generic theme such as animals or sports. Or perhaps a princess party, pirate party, or super hero party.

Once you decide on a theme, it should be easy to come across the appropriate party decor and most kids party decorations are also pretty inexpensive. The last two pieces are when and where! You know better than anyone that one year old babies get cranky when sleepy, so do not plan the party around regular nap times. And you will want to keep the party fairly short so that they don't lose interest and get restless. As for the location, the most popular choice is usually your own home. Of course, the number of people invited will factor into your decision. If the party is taking place on a warm, sunny day you might want to have the party in your backyard. Or go to a local park. There may also be a local venue or play place you could hold the party if you do not wish to have it in your home. Once you've put all the basic information together you will want to get the invitations out.

Entertainment is very important at a party packed with young kids!

There aren't a lot of things that your child can do at this age, so if you are planning a party for family only, you may not need to bring in entertainment. However if your party is going to be packed with other children, especially older children, then you will definitely want to consider how you'll keep them entertained and busy at the party. There are several options you can choose when coming up with the activities and entertainment for your child's first birthday. You may choose to plan games or activities and then conduct them on your own, or you can hire a professional to come in and entertain the children. Hiring an entertainer to perform for the children or mingle in the crowd can be affordable; it's not (always) as expensive as you might think. For example, consider hiring a clown or a magician to entertain the crowd. If the theme you've chosen includes a popular cartoon character or super hero, it would be a great idea to have that costumed character make an appearance at the party! Or perhaps bring in some face painters or balloon artists to interact with the children. Balloon twisters make for great entertainment for your child's birthday party because they also provide balloon animals as keepsakes for the guests!

Wouldn't be a birthday party without sweets!

The only thing kids might like more than games and toys is sweets! So having a nice cake is very important. You can bake a cake yourself or have a cake designed at a bakery that matches your party theme perfectly. Of course, cake does not make for a very well balanced meal, so you will probably want to provide real food as well. If your party is on the larger side, you can hire a caterer or handle the food on your own. Even if your party time lands between meals, it is a good idea to provide snacks and refreshments. If you do plan to have the party around a meal time, plan for it to be a sit down meal. Your one year old might not eat a lot of table food at this point, so you will probably have to sit down and help them eat. You know the drill.

Plus, if your party guests will be comprised of young children, they do not really understand the idea of a buffet and the party could get pretty chaotic if you give children full access to all the food and let them run around with their own plates. Have a time for everyone to sit down and eat before allowing presents to be opened or entertainment to begin. If your party is outdoors, a fun idea would be to set up blankets and sit down for a picnic! Choose simple foods like cut up hot dogs (remove the skin) or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (assuming there are no allergy issues among guests), or pizza. Remember, this is a birthday party for a one year old. You may also opt to not have your party during 'mealtime' hours, and simply serve snacks, juiceboxes and cake.

As a parent, another thing you'll definitely not want to forget is pictures! This is your child's very first birthday, so you'll want to experience all the little moments with your baby and not worry about capturing them through a lens. So you may want to consider hiring a photographer to handle the pictures for you. Having lots of pictures is very important! This is not an age that children will remember, so it will be really fun for them to look back at the pictures of this party when they are older!

These are just a few of MANY wonderful first birthday party ideas! Every child is unique, so make sure that the party you are planning is special to your little one. If you are too busy or feel that all this might be too much to take on, you can always hire a party planner to do it for you. However, with the right resources, you CAN do it yourself and have fun doing it. GigSalad is here to help you every step of the way as your one stop shop for all your first birthday party planning needs.