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  5. 1st birthday party ideas guide

1st birthday party ideas guide

A little organisation and planning can go a long way to a successful 1st birthday party celebration. It’s useful to follow our trusty birthday party ideas guide to help you when it comes to planning and celebrating your little one’s first birthday.

At this stage bub isn’t old enough to be involved in planning their party but it doesn’t mean you can’t have lots of fun with developing some birthday party ideas of your own! We’ve designed a detailed birthday party countdown outlining what you need to do every step of the way. We’ve also included a list of handy hints when it comes to hosting your bub’s first birthday.

Just remember the star of the party may well find the festivities a little overwhelming. It is important to keep their needs in mind and plan your celebrations accordingly.

1st birthday party ideas countdown


Countdown Things to do
4 weeks ahead * Decide on your guest list for the birthday. Remember to keep it reasonably small so bub doesn’t get overwhelmed on their special day.
* Decide on your theme. Check out our suggestions HERE.
* Choose a time and place that is going to be suitable for the needs of your little one and not stress you out. Having to cart lots of birthday party food and bub somewhere other than your own kitchen may not necessarily be the easiest of tasks.
* Make your invitations (see our template guide HERE) and post them. This will give your guests plenty of notice.
* Rally the troops and ask whoever will be helping you out to make sure they are free on that date.
* Buy a guest book.
1 week ahead * Buy the decorations to go with the theme you have chosen.
* Plan out the games you may intend to play.
* Buy the paper cups, plates, spoons and balloons.
* Choose a music playlist. Given bub’s age, the idea is to stick to nursery rhymes and save the latest hits for when they’ve gone to bed!
* Make a list of food you will need to buy for the party. The key idea here is to buy the things that won’t spoil the week ahead and the things you need fresh on the morning of the party.
* Once you’ve planned your menu, plan a baking schedule so that you can bake and freeze things in the lead up to the big day. Don’t leave it all to the night before or the morning of the big day itself. That’s far too stressful on such an exciting day!
* Plan the goody bags. Given bub’s young age a good idea is to make these up for older siblings or the parents.
2 days ahead * Chase up any outstanding RSVPs.
* Buy any remaining party food.
* Buy some extra rubbish bags.
* Put the party bags together and stash them away.
* Bake the birthday cake. It is a practical idea to bake it and freeze it before you ice it. Make sure the video camera and camera are all charged up and have someone on hand to use them. You want to capture all the memories of this special day!
* Avoid any trauma by having birthday candles AND something to light them with tucked away safely in a drawer. It may be only one candle, but it’s a well deserved one!
* Jot down instructions for whoever is helping you at the party. That way they can be of practical use to you if you have allocated them some specific tasks and ideas to make the day run more smoothly.
The day of the party * Make up your sandwiches and chop and store the fruit.
* A good idea to keep sandwiches fresh is to keep them covered with a tea cloth.
* Put up the party decorations
* Pop a couple of balloons out the front of the house so that guests who haven’t been to your home before can find you more easily.
* Pop away any breakables or valuables.
* Set the table.

Handy ideas

  • If you have a pet make sure he or she is absent from the festivities. While they may be bub’s best friend, other children may not be used to them and may find the idea of an animal distressing.
  • When it comes to planning the menu, less is definitely more when it comes to one year olds. Guests may bring their own prepared food for their children. Most of your catering is realistically going to be for the grown ups at the party. A simple and stylish idea to cater for them is to provide them with individual lunch containers. These can include some ribbon sandwiches, chopped fruit and cake. See our birthday party food ideas for suggestions.
  • Don’t try and host this without help! This is a great time to call in favours from godparents, uncles and aunties. The idea is that they are set to work doing things like setting up the decorations and occupying bub while you greet the guests. Another idea for making them useful is to get them to write down the names of who gave you what gift so that you can thank them later.
  • As your guests arrive get them to take a few minutes to fill in the guest book. Ask them to leave a message for your bub and share something special in it. It might be their favourite quote or some words of wisdom they have found useful over the years. You can ask guests to add to this book at each birthday party in subsequent years. It will then be a special momento for bub when they are older. It will act as a record of those who surrounded and loved them from their formative years.
  • When it comes to decorating it’s a safe idea to keep balloons and dangly things well out of bub’s reach. Make sure to dispose of balloons straight after a birthday party, they are a serious choking hazard. Try not to overwhelm the room with decorations, because it might be upsetting for bub to see their familiar environment festooned with streamers and banners.
  • If your bub’s birthday party is composed mainly of grown ups it may be an idea to ensure that if alcohol is served it is done so sensibly. Certainly make sure that it is kept well out of reach of little one’s hands. Alcohol is extremely dangerous for children and babies and can do serious liver damage. With that in mind, keep the liquids up high and away from curious hands.
  • The crowd at bub’s birthday will influence the kinds of goody bag ideas you may have. Make sure you keep the lolly count on the low side. Usually a cupcake or left over birthday cake is more than enough to send home with the parents. If you’d like to make up a little bag, you can pick up little organza bags from places light Spotlight or Red Dot. Alternatively, you can get party bags from your local supermarket or a brown paper bag and decorate it yourself. Choose your contents carefully unless you are handing it to the parent to vet before they give it to a little one! It might be a nice idea to tie the goody bags into the theme of the party you are hosting, so if it is a teddy bear’s picnic maybe get some teddy bear stickers. If it is a ladybird party, you can source some miniature ladybird chocolates as a festive touch.
  • If you have hosted a small birthday party it is a thoughtful idea to acknowledge any gifts that bub has been given. Make sure you make a list of who has given you what item and save it for when you have recovered from the festivities. This is where your “helpers” can come in very handy, by keeping track of the gifts for you. You can either write individual notes to your guests thanking them specifically for their attendance and the gift they have given. Another way round this is to pre-order a card with a photo of your bub on it that says: “Thank you for coming to my birthday party and my lovely gift.”
  • Remember even if the birthday party is a small one your bub may find it all overwhelming. It is important to keep checking in that they feel safe and secure throughout the party, it is their special day after all! This is where the help you roped in may come in very useful. Don’t be afraid to ask them to help clear up plates while you have a much needed cuddle with bub. If you can’t be with them make sure your partner, or someone they know and trust is there as a reassuring presence.