Planning Baby’s First Birthday

It seems like just yesterday we were bringing our baby boy home from the hospital and now he’s almost a year old. Planning for your baby’s first birthday party can be stressful as you prepare for one of your baby’s biggest milestones. Truth is the party isn’t really about the guest of honor, rather it’s more for the adults celebrating baby’s 1 year mark.


I know first-hand how overwhelming planning the big day can be. I find it a bitter sweet time as my little man is growing up and stepping into (literally) toddlerhood. With the wide variety of cute themes to choose from, the guest list, and the cake and refreshments planning a party for a baby is quite an ordeal. Here is a guide to help make the experience less stressful for a fun and eventful party.

Create A Budget

Birthday parties can really add up quickly. Before you begin planning your baby’s big day, consider how much you have (or willing to put aside) to create a budget for the party. Here are some considerations to factor in your costs:

  • 51mDCaBj6NLFees for a venue (if using one)
  • Food
  • The cake
  • Drinks
  • Invitations
  • Goody-bags
  • Entertainment (if this applies)
  • Party supplies (decorations, cutlery, plates, glasses)

If you are planning on using a venue for your baby’s first birthday party location be sure to call around and ask about pricing ahead of time and inquire about what’s included. Many places that host children’s birthday parties include the cost of food and drinks with packages they offer. If you are going with a particular party theme you will also need to factor in costs for decorations, table-wear, stem ware, cups and plates. Babies won’t remember their first birthday and they’re usually too little to have a preference towards a certain character or entity. You can easily keep costs down to a minimum by going with solid colors.

Plan Early

The best time to start planning baby’s first birthday is about a month to 6 weeks in advance. This will give you enough time to order supplies if necessary, send invites to guests, get RSVPs and to book a place if you’re choosing to go with a venue. Planning early also allows you to decide on a budget for the party and to set a little extra cash aside for the expenses.

Personally, I don’t feel it’s worth paying extra to host a baby’s first party at a venue location because they’re still too young; however if you don’t have the space to host your own party this may be your next alternative. Here are some budget-friendly ideas for party locations:

  • At a friend’s or relative’s home
  • The park (weather permitting)
  • Community center (such as the YMCA)

The cheapest place to host a party is in your home or someone else’s, although space is a concern and may factor in how many guests you can invite. Another factor if you are hosting in your own home or someone else’s – be sure it is baby-proofed. Community parks are another really inexpensive option. Most have picnic areas set up with a table and possibly a BBQ pit. The only problem with this as any planned outdoor party is that it can be hard to plan it in advance as weather is always a factor. Some places have a community center to the public or through a church where they have rooms you can rent for a small fee or possibly free (with a donation).

Compile A Guest List

Party signsOnce you know where you will be having the party you can start compiling a list of guests you want to invite. Gather addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for those guests. Another good reason to begin planning early is to allow enough time for invitations to arrive if you are ordering them.* If you will be ordering invitations or personalize be sure to order them at least 4-6 weeks in advance.
*TipVistaprint is a great place to get invitations from. You can choose from a nice variety of themes and templates, customize them with photos, and they almost always have a special to new customers for 20 free invitations (plus the cost of shipping)

Once you have your guest list made begin sending out invitations 3 weeks out. Be sure to include a phone number for guests to RSVP so you can get a general idea of how many people to expect at the party.

Ordering and Shopping For Supplies

If you are ordering your party supplies, be sure to do so at least 2 weeks prior to the birthday party to allow enough time for them to come in. Decide on what types of foods and refreshments you want to serve. You can keep it simple with easy finger foods such as pretzels, chips and dip or provide a nice arrangement of fruits and veggies along with other appetizers. Obviously if you are planning to serve fresh foods you will want to wait to buy these a day or two prior to the event.
How much supplies you will need depends on the number of guests you are expecting to show. Most party supplies come in packs of 8 so factor how many packs you will need to buy to accommodate your guests. Same goes for the cake. If you are expecting a large crowd you will need to choose your cake accordingly such as a sheet cake or multi-layer cake. Oh and don’t forget the candles!

Another thing to factor in is other kids at the party. If you are planning to invite guests with children you’ll want to have little goodie-bags to hand out after the party. These don’t have to be complicated or expensive and many party retailers have small items available in packs or individually to give out as party favors such as bouncy balls and stickers.

Last Minute Planning Tips

party outfitIn your party planning, don’t forget to pick out an outfit for the special birthday boy/girl. For my daughter I just picked out a cute dress she already owned, but for our son we are kind of going with a little man scheme. I picked out a nice Polo shirt with shorts and made a little bow-tie to match. I really wanted to go with a fedora as well but I knew it would just be a waste of money because he immediately takes off anything I place on his head before I can even snap a picture!

Some other things you’ll want to be sure to have prepared before the big day:

  • Working camera/video recorder that is fully charged (and/or extra batteries that are charged)
  • A gift for your baby
  • Serving utensils for the cake and other foods
  • Confirm with venue/catering on the date

As you can see there is a lot that goes into planning baby’s first birthday party. There are so many ideas and options available to ensure your party is a success. With some early planning and easy-to-use tools and resources, party planning can be a piece of cake. If you have a little one that celebrated their big day already, how did you celebrate?

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