Unique Ideas for a Special First Birthday Party

June 07, 2022 5 min read

Have you ever felt like an absolute VIP? I hope your answer is yes, and that you’re looking for ideas for a first birthday party that will make your little one feel the exact same way.

The first year of life brings such joy, excitement, and change. Your baby has grown from a tiny little bundle into a fully functioning member of society. They can walk or wobble, talk, eat solid food, play games, and even sleep through the night (fingers crossed).

And if you’re anything like me, you might be thinking about a big birthday bash, or a family get-together.

Celebrating your baby’s first birthday is important because everyone deserves that special feeling. You know, the one you get when you realize that something was planned specifically with you in mind? 

But before you start planning the celebration, you’ll want to think about ideas for a first birthday party that you can really knock out of the park. Beyond balloons, cutesy decorations, and cake,we’ve got just what it takes to make your baby feel special on their big day.

Ideas for a Special First Birthday Party

Display Photographs for a First Birthday Party

Assuming you swap the fake family out with your own, we all know hanging or propping up pictures of our favorite people adds a personal touch to a space. They make home feel like, well, home. Or an event venue feel less like a rented space, and more like one made just for your birthday party.

But before we get into HOW you might want to incorporate photos into your birthday party, let’s talk about WHY they add a special touch to the big event.

Fact. There are emotional benefits of displaying photos of your kids.

Seeing pictures of themselves gives your baby a sense of belonging, like they’re in the right place. With people who love and care for them. In the long run, it boosts their self-esteem.

Photographs are also known to squash loneliness. Although they may not recognize themselves at first, when babies see pictures of their face with those of their family members, it builds a sense of trust. It reminds them that they’re not alone, and they start to feel a deeper bond with their family.

Lastly, photos can be mood boosters. Looking at moments and memories of the past can send positive vibes to your heart; which can even change your current mood. Parties can be stressful at times. Imagine stopping for just a few minutes to look at photos of your babe as a newborn. Makes me smile just thinking about it.

Now that you’re on-board with showcasing some of your favorite photos, here’s how to make it special:

  • Milestone Photo Display Sign:These are signs that allow you, and guests, to travel back through time at marked increments. You’ll be reminded of how teeny your baby was at one month, which month they they started sitting, and how much bigger they are today on their first birthday. You’ll have 12 months of baby, showing the progression of growth and development through the first year. 
  • Slide Show:For the digitally inclined, there’s nothing easier than plopping photos into a presentation and creating a home-video of sorts. You can include still shots, and even some videos that you’ve taken to make it an entertaining, and special part of the party. There’s nothing quite like hearing your baby’s laughter echo through a room.
  • Photo Wall: For my last-minute planners, this one’s for you, but you’ll have to bring your crafty skills. This one is simply lots of printed pictures. You can just tape them up, or if you’re feeling super fancy, you can run something like a clothesline and hang them with clips. Make a few rows, and wa-la! You’ve got a photo wall showing off your best creation. Your one year old.

Time capsule idea for first birthday

Create a Time Capsule for the First Birthday

Did you ceremoniously (or maybe unceremoniously) bury a time capsule with your graduating high school class? The front yard of our school must be a graveyard of those things by now.

But alas, the idea of a time capsule is to collect items that show what life was like in a certain year.

Personally, I love little boxes that look like fake books. From the outside, they look like ordinary books (you can even date the ‘spine’), but they hold all your secrets within. Plus, they still look beautiful on a bookshelf. Just keep size in mind when choosing your container.


Some ideas for what to include to commemorate your baby’s year: their birth announcement, photos, newspaper clippings, the pacifier when they finally give it up, their favorite rattle, ticket stubs, or their artwork. Make sure the date is inside or outside before you stash it away.


Ideas for first birthday traditions

Start a Birthday Tradition

You might know by now that we’re all about the memories here.

To this very day, I can perfectly picture the plate my mom only pulled out for birthdays. With our favorite meal dished out on top, the colorful stripes and swirls poked through underneath. Yes, it was just a plate. But boy did it have a way of making me feel incredibly special.

That’s what traditions are made to do.

Here are a few ideas for traditions you can start to celebrate a birthday:

1. Write a Letter: From you to your baby. It can be handwritten or typed, heartfelt or humorous, just make sure it’s in your voice. Write about what you’ve accomplished, where you went together, the people who are important. Include thoughts or factoids about your baby, like their favorite food, the things they hate, and what makes them belly laugh.

When you do this year after year, in a decade of so you’ll have a collection of beautiful memories. Not to mention the fun you’ll have someday at graduation or their wedding, when you can recount their disdain for things like pants. Not speaking from experience here. ;)

2. Plant Something: This one is from my grandpa. At milestone occasions,he’d always plant a tree. You should see the gloriousness of the cherry tree, planted for my parents’ wedding. 

It doesn’t have to be massive though, depending on how much space you have. Well cared for houseplants can live for decades! The beauty of this is in seeing something grow alongside your little one. It starts to serve as a marker that you measure time against.


3. First Experience: As parents, it’s so important that we share activities and experiences with our babies. More so than toys they’ll outgrow, these are the moments and days that will live on in their memories. Sure. Maybe not for your one year old, but the tradition starts somewhere. 

So for each birthday, come up with a new experience you can do together. The first trip to the zoo, first time trying cake, first time on a bike ride, first time flying a kite, first time eating sushi. The options here are truly limitless.

4. Repeatable Experiences:This one goes back to my birthday plate, but it’s the idea of doing the same thing, year after year, that builds anticipation for the big day. It could be as simple as streamers hanging from their bedroom door, filling their room with balloons, baking their cake together, going to their favorite restaurant. It’s something that they know is coming, that the day wouldn’t be complete without.

We want every single one of our babies to feel like the world revolves around them at their first birthday party. And when all is said and done, we want to make sure they continue to feel special on their birthdays in the future.  After all, they’re one of your VIPs!

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