5 Obvious First Birthday Party Ideas to Start Planning

June 07, 2022 6 min read

Hold onto your party hat, because we're about to get all those ideas for a first birthday party out of your noggin and into reality.

A baby’s first birthday is a special milestone event for both parents and the baby alike. The day marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life together, as you transition from having a baby, to being toddler parents.

Trust me, this is one special occasion that you’ll surely want to remember. Planning this milestone event may seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated extravaganza. 

That’s why you should plan ahead for an unforgettable celebration. Because epic parties don’t just fall together, they take careful planning, and that’s where the ideas and inspiration below come in.

So if you’re ready to simplify your planning process and organize all of your ideas for a first birthday party, get your kazoo ready because you’re in the right spot!

5 Ideas for a First Birthday Party You Should Plan

Like any proper invitation, birthdays need a who, where, when, and what. Grab your note pad because we’re about to fill in those blanks, one baby step at a time. Follow along with our free download:


1. Who to Invite to a First Birthday Party

While you might have a big blowout bash in mind, it’s important to keep the guest of honor in mind. If your little one has a strong sense of stranger danger, or startles easily, a small gathering with your closest loved ones might be best. But if your soon-to-be one year old is already the life of the party, the more the merrier!

Ideas for a first birthday party


The key is to start with your MVP’s, your must-haves. Without these people in attendance, your party just wouldn’t be the same. This might include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or close friends.

Then expand your guest list from there based on what your budget will allow, and what your sanity can stand. These could be your child’s playmates, your co-workers with kids, more friends, or your neighbors.

2. Where to Host a First Birthday Party

Ideas for a first birthday party

Now that you have your guest list nailed down, you should have a rough idea of how many people will be attending (or at least a range). This magic number will help you determine where you can realistically host your first birthday party.

The first option to consider is your home. It’ll be super convenient for naps and will keep your cost to a minimum. You know where everything is, and will be prepared to handle anything that comes your way. You’re in your zone.

However, be ready to field a million questions (where are the bandaids, the forks, more toilet paper, etc.), and to face clean-up after the party.


Things to consider: 

  • Parking based on the number of guests you expect
  • Having a helper to answer questions, attend to other guests, and to be your gopher
  • If you’re willing to let guests linger, or if you have a firm end time

Another option is a play space that you could rent. You get to show up, and leave when the party’s over. Not that you’re going to trash the place, but you’re less responsible for clean-up or for any messes that are made; letting you focus on what’s more important.

You might pay per person, or for up to a certain number of people. Most venues have birthday party packages, or varying levels of fun from $ to $$$.

Things to consider:

  • Some venues let you bring cake and food, others require you to use their services or to skip it
  • When you’re limited on time, it’s helpful to set expectations with your guests by sharing the  order of events - cake, presents, play, or play, cake, presents, or some other variation

The third option is a public or free space depending on the time of year, and what’s in your community. This could be a park, a playground, the beach, or a pool. Your guests will enjoy the fresh air, a little more elbow room, and older kids can run wild too. 

Public spaces are a nice middle-ground for the budget, falling between your home and a rented space. Guests can linger, even if you need to call it a day, and the mess is shared.

Things to consider:

  • Space is often first-come-first-serve
  • Your event will be open to the public, meaning other people may be walking through or playing in the same area

Regardless of which option feels right for your first birthday party, don’t forget to plan for the needs of your guests. Diaper blowouts, nursing moms, and emergency outfit changes are all things you should have space to accommodate.

3. When to Have a First Birthday Party

Ideas for a first birthday party

If your baby’s birthday falls during the week, try to choose a weekend nearby; either before or after the big day.

Because you’re the party planner, ultimately the time slot you choose is up to you. But you’ll want a happy baby, who is ready for the excitement and celebration of the day. If your baby is in their best mood right after naptime, that might be your best window.

When it comes to an end time, keep in mind that babies have an attention span the length of a popsicle. Meltdowns can happen in an instant. A two-hour window is usually enough time to mingle, eat snacks and cake, open presents, and play.

Remember. It’s better to dance on the table for a short while, than to be falling off of it. The same goes for your baby. It’s better to have the party short and sweet, than to overextend your baby’s tolerance and risk a ginormous meltdown.

4. Choose a Theme for a First Birthday Party

Ideas for a first birthday party

The easiest way to prepare for a first birthday party is to choose a theme. It becomes your guide for so many little decisions, and takes away some of the stress that planning can bring.

When you think about what goes into a birthday party, like decorations, invitations, thank you notes, food, cake, plates, napkins, your brain might be swimming! But if you have a theme in mind, suddenly you could make those decisions without batting an eye.

Blush, blue, gold, gray, unicorns, pirates, zoo animals, books, sports, there are so many creative, beautiful, and unique options out there. Just look for one that fits your baby’s interests and personality.

5. What to Eat at a First Birthday Party

Ideas for a first birthday party

If you picked a theme, you can turn even the simplest snack into something that fits the overall look and feel. Label a bowl of pretzel sticks as dinosaur bones or fairy wands, and wa-la!

If staying healthy, is on your mind, consider single-serve options. Individually wrapped sandwiches, bags of crackers or chips, boxes of raisins, or water bottles will give your guests that sense of safety when it comes to what they’re eating.

If you’re serving both kids and adults, and you can swing a help-yourself kind of scenario, buffets are crowd pleasers. Mini waffles with different toppings, a taco bar, salad bar, or build your own sub bar. Keep in mind though that you’ll have little humans with very few teeth, so make sure there are baby options too.

Lastly, the sweet tooth cannot be ignored. If you’re planning for your baby to blow out a birthday candle, you could make it a special cupcake. Or you could make or buy a second cake for your guests. Some babies can get a little slobbery when attempting to blow out that flame, and not all guests will be on board with eating the aftermath.

Bonus Party Planning Tips

Ask for help. And ask for more help.

You’ll have your favorite people there, who are present to love on your baby and you. They’re there to support you both and to celebrate together.

Assigning tasks in advance can be such a stress reliever when the party comes. For example, you could have a beverage monitor who makes sure the fridge, coolers, or the tables stay stocked. You could have a cake helper, who’s ready with matches, plates, a knife, forks, and able to help pass it out. You could ask someone to just take photos. 

Finally, have fun.

You might think that’s a no-brainer, but it needs to be spelled out clearly. The first birthday party only comes once, and it will truly pass in the blink of an eye. Take time to watch your baby’s reaction to the candle, the cake, and to wrapping paper. Take time to just be.

I hope you’ve got some ideas for a first birthday party that you’ll remember for years to come. Don’t forget to grab our free party planning guide to give yourself an extra head start on those tiny details.

And if you need to plan for some mental preparation before the party, you can find self-care ideas here.

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