I remember both of my children’s first birthdays like they were yesterday! I also remember the pressure that I felt to commemorate their first year; the pressure to have a big party for our friends and family to celebrate the fact that we (the parents) and our children survived the first year and that everyone was alive and healthy!
We held our daughter’s first birthday party at a restaurant with mostly adults and only a few children; it was a very “adult party.” At that time, we didn’t know any other way….until we had our son.
For our son, we went to a kid’s gym to have the party. By this point, we were “seasoned” parents and didn’t want a bunch of kids running around our house.
Both of our parties were enjoyable for us, and if I remember correctly, our babies too. But then again, that could be completely my memory….
So, what did I learn from throwing these two completely different birthday parties and what do the experts say about throwing the first birthday? I learned very quickly (and sadly) that neither of my kids remember their first birthday, but they love to look at the pictures and ask questions. For that reason, they feel celebrated and special.
I also learned that the parties we had for our children at age 1 were more about us (the parents) than our children. I don’t mean to come across as callous, but at age one our babies are not into parties; they would prefer to play at home, eat, sleep and be with their family. For my son's party, he didn’t have any interest in the other kids (our daughters and friends kiddos); he only wanted to climb around on the equipment.
Parties tend to be too much stimulation for one-year-old babies. We as parents place high expectations on them to behave perfectly, act as great hosts and, well…not cry. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the reality for one-year-olds.
So what are you to do when you want to celebrate your one-year-old's birthday? GO FOR IT! There is no reason not to, but there are a few things to keep in mind…
1. Respect Your Child’s Nap Time. A cranky baby is a party pooper! Keep in mind your children’s nap times when planning your baby’s first birthday party. Try scheduling your guests arrival time shortly after he/she is expected to awaken.
2. Lower Your Expectations. Understand your baby is not perfect…no baby is. You’ve got to throw expectations out the window for this one. Allow for your baby to have the space and quiet time they need!
3. Ask for Help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; it allows you to feel free to care for your baby, as well as be present for your guests. That help can come from your partner, parents or in-laws, other relatives or a babysitter.
4. Keep It Simple. Your baby’s first party doesn’t need to be a themed party filled with extravagant decorations. Keep your stress low by simplifying the decorations. You will have many birthdays to create themed parties for your children. As they get older, they will appreciate your efforts more too!
5. Create a Memory Poster. Your baby has really grown and matured over their first year of life. They are also developing quite the personality at this point. Your guests will love to see all your baby’s milestones, likes, and dislikes. You can create a 12 panel banner with pictures of you baby from each month, or you can purchase a Chalk Board Poster from Etsy here. URL: https://www.etsy.com/market/chalkboard_poster that highlights some of your baby’s best aspects.
6. Keep the Food Simple. If you know there will be a bunch of other small children at your baby’s first birthday, offer food they will love. Remember, you are serving small children, not food critics. Your toddling guests will love to munch on goldfish, applesauce pouches, yogurt tubes, pieces of fruit, crackers, cheese cubes and chicken nuggets. For drinks, offer juice boxes and water.
Your adult guests love to munch too. Offer them simple snack food that will allow them to munch on-the-go, freeing them to be present for their little ones. Jessie’s Party stop came up with a few ideas:
Mini sandwiches, Vegetable platter, Chips and dip...Food Network has 50 different tea sandwiches to inspire you, here.
7. Select a Great Cake. The cake is the grand finale and centerpiece at all birthday parties, especially on your baby’s first birthday. If you are a DIY baker, you can make your own. If not, Jessie’s Party Stop has a list of South Jersey’s local bakers that are excited to make you perfect for your baby’s first birthday. Check them out here.
8. Keep the Guest List Short and Sweet. The more guests that come, the more overwhelmed your baby (and you) may be. Remember, you are celebrating your baby’s 1st year, and your baby may have a hard time being the center of attention in a large crowd.
9. Plan Ahead. We all want those precious moments captured on film. Baby in their beautiful new outfit, baby’s first bite of cake, grandparents, and parents holding the baby, baby “blowing out” the candles, baby playing with the new toys, etc. My advice, which is shared by many experts, is to take those perfect shots the day before the party. Have a small smash cake just for your child, dress your baby up in their birthday best and give your baby their gifts to play with. The reason behind this advice, on the day of you baby’s first birthday party, they may be too tired or cranky from all the stimulation and distraction to give you those perfect pictures.
10. Location, Location, Location. If your party is going to include other young children and you don't want kids running around your home, find a party venue. Venues are great because they are facilities that can cater to a range of ages including your birthday baby. Some of the BEST places to hold a baby’s first birthday are kid’s gyms, dance schools, music schools and indoor playgrounds designed for babies as well as toddlers. Other places that are perfect for your party are parks and playgrounds.
I hope that helps you out as you plan your baby’s first birthday party! Jessie’s Party Stop has put together a Pinterest board filled with ideas for themes, picture poses, cakes and more to help inspire you as you plan our baby’s first birthday party! Check it out here
My name is Jessica Mungekar; Founder and CEO of Jessie's Party Stop. Jessie's party Stop was created with parents like you in mind- party planning moms, dads and families who just want a great party for their kids! We are South Jersey's Guide to Kids Parties and our number one goal is to make your party planning experience fun and easy! Our party blog offers ideas on themed and holiday parties, etiquette and other great hosting ideas and tips. We love offering parents in South New Jersey a place where they can plan their child’s party from start to finish, giving them as many answers as possible to their questions so they don't have to hunt all over the internet to figure out their child's party!
So, what do I do besides running Jessie’s Party Stop?
I am a mom of 2 beautiful young children and wife of an amazing husband who is my rock! I enjoy cycling for charity, and tending our garden. I hold a Bachelors in Fine Arts from the Pacific NW Collage of Art in Portland OR and am a Licensed Social Worker, with a Masters Degree from Temple University.
To find out more about where the idea for Jessie's Party Stop came from check out my About Me page on jessiespartystop.com.