A first birthday party is a huge milestone for both parents and babies alike! To ensure it is a fun day for the birthday boy or girl, parents and guests, there are a few simple tips which can make the day run a whole lot smoother!
First of all – plan the timing around the guest of honour. Babies of this age tend to have fairly short attention spans, they require a few naps through the day and can be over stimulated easily. The last thing you want on the day is for your precious boy or girl to not be enjoying the day because they are over tired and running out of energy. There is also a good chance they will be sick of the fuss and noise after about an hour and a half maximum. Therefore, plan your party accordingly. Keep it short (an hour to an hour and a half), and plan it for a time when your child wouldn’t normally be napping. Although it may be hard, try to take into account nap times of other important guests as well.
Secondly – although it’s wonderful to have everyone in your life around to celebrate your babies first year of life, this can be a little overwhelming for some children. If you think this might be the case, either keep your guest list small, or if you definitely want a lot of people there, organise a ‘time out’ area – somewhere your baby (and any other’s that may also feel the need) can retreat to and have a little peace and quiet and a break from the constant stream of faces and well wishes. If you are set on having a large party, look at places like halls or play centres that may allow you to hire the whole space.
When it comes to the menu, keep your food simple. Most of the kids food will end up on the floor anyway, and kids of this age aren’t impressed with complicated fancy dishes. Finger foods are a great idea, rather than a sit down meal, as play and interacting can continue while having a bite to eat. Make sure you don’t include any items such as nuts, grapes or popcorn, which present a serious choking hazard to babies and young children.
A beautiful point with parties for this age group, is that they are easily amused. You don’t need to hire a DJ, clown, pony rides or any other fancy activities. For this age group simply set aside a play area, fill with age appropriate toys and balloons (babies LOVE balloons, but make sure they are foil balloons not latex to ensure they aren’t popping and scaring the babies and leaving pieces around to choke on). Put seating around the play area for parents to sit on and relax and watch their children play. Easy, stress free and enjoyable for all. If you do have older children coming who you would like to provide entertainment for, set this up at a distance away from the babies area to ensure over excited older kids aren’t running through the babies area and perhaps causing a little bit of alarm.
Next – make sure YOU enjoy the day as well. Speaking from personal experience, you don’t want to find yourself so busy on your little ones special day that you are constantly having to run around and do this and that, and can’t find any time to spend actually with your baby, playing, cuddling and reflecting on their first year of life. To this end, don’t be afraid to enlist some help. Find food and decorating ideas that can be organised ahead of time so you aren’t busy cooking and serving, and accept help from anyone willing to give you a hand on the day.
And finally, the birthday cake! No party is complete without one, and you will definitely want to see your little one enjoying their very first birthday cake! Whether you make your own, get a store bought cake, or enlist professional help, it will be sure to be enjoyed! A fantastic idea is to get a large cake for the guests, and a smaller ‘smash cake’ for the birthday boy/girl. Make sure you don’t let him/her near the candle, as he/she WILL try to grab it, but it is absolutely guaranteed enjoyment and amusement for everyone involved while watching baby dig into their own smash cake. And it makes an amazing photo opportunity!