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I know it's hard to believe how babies grow so fast. It just feels like yesterday when you first held him in your hands; when he first gripped your finger in his tiny fist; when he first opened his eyes and smiled at you like he knew you already and tears started rolling down your cheeks. Motherhood is like living a different life altogether. The small joys that you share with your baby is unlike anything in this world, and the time just seems to fly. Watching them tumble every time they try to stand up on their feet, soothing them when they begin to teeth, encouraging them to speak, watching them scribble on the wall ... getting through the first year of your baby's life is a huge achievement in itself. You have successfully made it through a year of diaper changing and sleep deprivation and are probably looking for the best ways to celebrate it.


Birthday Cake


Planning for a 1st Birthday Party

When you sit down to plan your baby's first birthday party, there's just so much to do. The venue, the budget, guest list, invitations, food, cake, etc., are all to be kept in mind. I know it can be really tedious to do it all alone. So, let's go ahead and plan the most wonderful memories for your toddler together, shall we?

Budget

The kind of party you throw will entirely depend on how much you wish to spend. You can either choose to plan a small gathering with only your near and dear ones or splurge on a big birthday bash. No matter what you choose, your baby is not going to remember anything; the only thing he requires is beautiful memories to cherish lifelong. You have to keep in mind that food already drives up the cost of your party, followed by decorations, cake, favors, etc. I am sure you want to host the best possible party for your little one, but, don't feel pressured to spend more than you can afford. You can still host a wonderful party if you are low on budget. If money is tight, hosting the party at home, mailing the invitations, keeping the guest list to a minimum and making the decorations on your own are a few ways to keep your party low-cost, yet fun-filled.
Whom to Invite

Deciding whom to invite to such an important event can be a little tricky. You don't want to upset someone for not having invited them, neither do you want to gather a very large crowd. And you surely want to invite all the people even remotely close to your baby. But you should keep in mind that a large number of people might frighten your baby. And once he starts crying, so will the other babies in your party, resulting in chaos. So, if you ask me, I would always suggest inviting only the family members and close friends. Plus, if you invite manageable number of people, you will be able to cater to the need of your baby as well as your guests.

If handling a large crowd is not much of an issue, you can invite all your family members, friends and even colleagues. You can also invite the children in your locality, but keep in mind that they will be accompanied by their parents and siblings, further elongating the guest list. You can also take the help of a party planner. That way, you won't have to worry about handling the crowd or making the arrangements and will have enough time to spend with your baby on his special day.
Invitations

Once you have decided whom to invite, you'll need to think about the invitations. I am sure your family and friends would be delighted to receive a photo invitation for your child's first birthday. You can use bright colors for the invitation cards. You can go in for blue if you have a boy and pink and white would be great options for a baby girl. The designs will also vary for both. For a girl, you can have cupcakes, candies, teddy bears and dolls on your invitation card. For a boy, you could choose something like baby animals, trains or sailboats as invitation designs. Your invitation card can also include a first birthday poem or saying. Apart from these, your invitation should include the following:
  • Your baby's name
  • Yours and your spouse's name
  • Date, time and venue of the party
  • RSVP
You can also use your creativity to make handmade invites. You can decorate them with beautiful ribbons or colorful stickers. Mailing the invites is a good option if you are short on either time or money.
Time

Your baby must still be taking his morning and afternoon naps. So, it is best to schedule the party around his nap time. The baby can get really fussy if he has not slept well and the party can turn into a mess. Having an afternoon tea party after the baby's nap can be a good idea. It not only gives you enough time to make the arrangements, but also to do the cleaning afterward. If you are planning the party sometime in the evening, you should probably wrap it up before the baby's bedtime. If you have invited other babies, you should consider checking their nap times, too. Also, at this age, your baby cannot handle attention for too long, especially from strangers. You may want to keep it short, not exceeding more than two hours.
Place

Choosing a venue is the most important detail that you'll have to decide on. Home is usually the best place to host your baby's first birthday party. It is one place where he'll feel most comfortable and secure. You can choose the biggest room in your house so that there is ample space for the kids to play. Your lawn is another good option to host the party. However, if you feel your place is too small to accommodate the number of people you have invited, you have several other options to choose from. You can consider hosting the party in a local community center, a church social hall or even at your parents' place. You can also consider throwing the party in a restaurant which caters to children's parties. However, you will have to book any one of them way in advance to get the date of your choice. Banquet halls and recreation centers are another good option for such an event. You can also choose fun places like a park or a zoo, too.
Themes

You have a plethora of options when it comes to choosing a theme for your little one's first birthday. You can choose the theme according to your child's interests - like a particular cartoon character or animal. A pooh theme, a barbie theme, a tinker bell theme or a rainbow theme are all good options for a baby girl, whereas, for a boy, you can choose from mickey mouse, airplane, cowboy, baby animals and rubber duck themes. A polka dot theme is another good option that you can choose. The decorations, food, cake and other things may be decided depending on the theme.
Decorations

Next come the decorations, which will mainly depend upon the theme that you choose. The party hall should definitely have a banner hung in the center with your baby's name on it. Other ideas for decoration include colorful ribbons, posters, streamers and fringes. And can any party be complete without balloons, especially the ones for children? No! Kids absolutely love balloons. You can choose balloons which either go with your theme or put up colorful balloons all over the place. Going in for balloons with polka dots is another fantastic idea. You can also decorate the place with pinwheels and later on, send them with the kids as favors. They are easily available at any party or play store. Tissue decorations can lighten up the place like never before. These may include tissue fans, tissue balls or intertwined tissue rings. You can also choose to decorate the place with crepe paper flowers.
Food

Finger foods are the best when it comes to babies and children. These may include french fries, pretzels, pigs in blankets, cheese cubes, cut veggies or potato and pear wedges. Garlic bread, mini-pizzas and cheese cubes are also some good options. While choosing the menu, you should keep in mind that even though a few babies might be able to eat by now, some of them would still be toothless. So, consider food items which will cater to the need of both the groups. The little ones will probably eat too little, so instead of the quantity, it is the variety in color and texture of the food that you should focus more on. Beverages may include milk and fruit juices for the kids and sodas, cocktails, tea or coffee for the adults. Serving food items like nuts, raisins and marshmallows should be strictly avoided to prevent any kind of choking hazard.
Cake

Homemade or not, the cake will be the center of attention at your party. It can also be chosen according to the theme of your party. I, personally feel that every baby should get his own smash cake on their first birthday; a cake on which they can feast, jump or roll over. Trust me, these will be some of your best clicks ever. You can make the cake yourself but you won't get the same variety that the bakeries will have to offer. And with a toddler around who craves your attention all the time, you would definitely not be able to spend so many hours in the kitchen. Coming to the flavor, chocolate is everyone's favorite. But if you want to go for something different, vanilla and banana cakes with berry fillings are a good option too. You can also serve a variety of cupcakes. You can decorate them with cute cupcake toppers and liners. Whatever design or flavor you choose, just make sure there's plenty for everyone.
Games and Activities

The games and activities will depend upon the age-group of children that you are inviting to the party. The toddlers can enjoy activities like hand printing, building blocks, wagon rides or floating in a duck pond filled with toys. Playing funny songs and nursery rhymes is also a very good idea. You can even consider putting up a pinata full of goodies. Make sure you choose a safe play area for the little ones. Young children can enjoy games like musical chairs, crafts as well as drawing. The older kids are likely to enjoy playing an outdoor game which can be set up in your lawn. Treasure hunt is also a good idea for them. You can engage the adults in activities like card games and bowling. Entertaining them with homemade videos of your baby is another lovely idea.
Favors

Your adult guests will surely be delighted to receive favors. It should be a fun gift. Gable or cupcake boxes, treat bags, candy jars, bathtub toys and candles are all great ideas for favors.

What to Keep in Mind
  • Make sure you keep diapers handy.
  • Child-proofing the place is a must to avoid any accidents, but, be prepared to handle any.
  • You should make it a point to keep all kinds of breakables out of the children's reach.
  • The most important thing would be to look out for any kind of hazardous objects such as forks or knives and small objects that could be swallowed.
  • Keeping a large space available along with a variety of toys for the children to play would be a very good idea, so as to avoid any kinds of fights.
Make sure you take plenty of photos and videos. If you are too busy, you can ask someone else to do it for you. When your baby gets older, the little one will hardly remember what happened on this day, but will surely be happy to see all the love and happiness that he received. Wishing you a wonderful and fun-filled time!