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Baby’s First Birthday: How To Plan The Best Party Ever!


Congrats mama, you’ve made it! While it seems like just yesterday you welcomed a new life into the world, suddenly, it’s your baby’s first birthday. You want to celebrate with your friends and family, but you only get one shot, so you’re feeling the pressure.

Relax, I’ve got you covered. With these first birthday ideas and tips, you will plan a memorable and enjoyable first birthday party for your favorite one year-old.

Let The Birthday Planning Begin

Around three months out from the big day, I started to really plan for Owen’s party. I’m not just talking scrolling pinterest either. Invitiations, decorations, food and let’s not forget the more important part – the THEME. Want to know how I planned the best birthday for my one year-old and the guests? Let’s dive in.


First step: Make a list. Who are you planning to invite? Just family? Neighbors? Baby friends from daycare? Coming up with a theme and invitations will be easier once you have a crowd-size estimate.

Decide whether online invitations or paper ones are more feasible for you. While online invitations make keeping track of RSVPs a snap, paper invitations have undeniable charm. Plus, they give you a tangible memento to share with your child as they get older.

As you can see, I opted for paper invitations. I made these myself since I only had to make about 25 of them. As a graphic designer, making these were so fun for me! The yellow mystery block was a pocket that held the actual invitation.

baby Birthday Party Themes

Choosing a birthday party theme that that fits your family’s personality and tastes is so important. Think outside of the typical restrictions, and be creative! Does your baby love music? Is your baby a fan of the water/pool/beach? Use their interests as a jumping off point.

Some birthday party themes I thought of while planning:

  • O-fish-ally One – A Fishing Theme
  • One-derland – Peter Pan Theme
  • Baby’s First Rodeo – Rodeo/Country Theme
  • Baby’s First Down – Football Theme
  • Donut Grow Up – Donut Theme
  • Hole In One – Golf Theme
  • UNO – Fiesta/Mexican Theme

Obviously, since having a son, most of my themes were geared more towards a boy. Also by now you know that the theme I ended up selecting was the 1UP Mario theme since Owen was leveling up for the first time!

First birthday party decorations don’t need to be exhausting, either. Add a few light touches, such as scattered photos of the guest of honor along with some balloons and decorative food displays — it’ll be plenty. I also added in some DIY themed decor (because let’s face it, I’m extra), which are pictured below.

  • Piranha Plants – Made from plumbing pipe, styrofoam balls, and dowel rods.
  • Yellow Mystery Blocks – Made from cardboard boxes, yellow wrapping paper, and cardstock.
  • Brick Blocks – Made from cardboard boxes and black electrical tape.
  • Photobooth Backdrop – Made from 4’x8′ insulation board, balloons, gold plates, and cardstock.

Birthday Cake Ideas

Perhaps the most quintessential element of a first birthday party is the baby cake smash. While many parents look forward to this as a perfect photo opportunity during the first birthday party, they may find themselves disappointed if their child has other ideas.


For me, I more so wanted a picture of Owen in front of the photobooth backdrop. So to be sure the pictures were great and I wouldn’t keep guests waiting, instead I took photos before the party started. You can also consider scheduling a first birthday photo shoot where you can take the time to let your baby explore and smash a cake in their own time. During the first birthday party, have a cupcake ready for your baby to try or smash, but don’t feel the pressure of a perfect photo op.

Don’t forget your guests

This day is obviously all about the baby, but don’t forget about accommodating to your guests! Owen’s party started at 1pm and ended around 3pm, when he went down for his second nap. The majority of the guests were family and friends since O doesn’t quite have friends yet. So I served themed finger foods ranging from candy, to fruit, to more savory items, and of course, booze.

Mario themed finger foods I served at the party:

  • Piranha Plants – Made from grapes and strawberries
  • Mystery Blocks – Cubed cheese
  • Yoshi Eggs – Jelly beans
  • Fireball – Made from cream cheese, veggies, and crackers
  • Banana Peels – Bananas
  • Yoshi Tongues – Twizzlers
  • Princess Peach Rings – Peach O’s
  • Mario Mushrooms – Cupcakes

Documenting The Day

The saying goes, “they grow up too fast” and it’s true. It seems like yesterday I was pregnant writing a letter to my son. The year has flown by! So since this is the only first birthday your baby will have, and you’ll want to capture every moment. But don’t miss experiencing the joy of the day because you’re stuck behind your camera. Ask a trusted friend or family member who has photography skills to document the day for you. If the budget allows, consider hiring a professional photographer to take pictures at the party. I had my mom take photos so that I could be in the pictures as well.

First birthdays are wonderful milestones. Your baby is walking or getting close to being mobile, and you as parents have lived to tell the tales of sleepless nights and first teeth. Enjoy your day, because it is one worth celebrating!

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