Planning a first birthday party isn’t easy.
My youngest daughter recently turned one and it reminded me how much I adore party planning and ironing out all of the fine details. In total, I have planned four amazing birthday parties for my girls and I thought I would share my party checklist with you. If you’re chill and prefer a cake and pizza without all the frill, this post may not be for you. However, if you’re a Pinterest, go “all out” mom like myself, keep reading!
I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I am the mother of two beautiful daughters and that my baby is now one. I made the decision to go “all out” for both of their first birthdays because although throwing a party is a lot of work, the memories are worth it. I want to capture all of these beautiful moments and milestones and save them to show my kids when they are older and for them to show their own kids and so on.
My husband and I hired an event planner who came to our home and set up an awning and a backyard filled of beauty and creativity, a baker (who is also my big sister, talk about lucky!) who catered all of our desserts and the birthday cake, we ordered customized matching family outfits, and even customizable goody bags. However, there are more details to hammer out when you begin party planning.
After reading, be sure to save my Party Planning Checklist!
Location: Before you do any party planning, you need to decide on a location. Will you rent a hall? Do you prefer a park? Are you doing it in your home? Grandparents house? Decide on your location first, that way you can determine how many people you can invite and how large of a bash you can throw.
Date & Time: Majority of children birthday parties are anywhere between 1-4 hours long. However, it is up to you to decide how long you want the party to be. But, take your baby into consideration, most babies can only handle an hour or two with all of the noise and commotion, you don’t want to upset them, after all it is their day. Pick a time, place, and a limit on how long the party will last.
Theme: The theme of your party is one of the most important decisions when it comes to planning and so much fun! If I am being honest, this is probably one of the only birthday parties you will be able to plan and your child won’t pay too much mind to what you decide. Anything can be a theme now, unicorns, mermaids, fruits, ice cream, a lemonade stand. Be creative with your theme and try to think outside of the box.
Guest List: Before you begin making your invitations, sit down and create a rough draft of a guest list. Do not feel pressured to invite everyone. Write up a list of the number of adults attending and the kids that will be there. It also helps to make a note of the kids ages, especially if you’re creating and distributing goodie bags or party favors.
Invitations: Now that you have your theme set, you can create an invitation. Personally, I enjoy going on Etsy and finding a mom who can create one from scratch for me, call me picky but I am not a fan of purchasing an invitation that’s been used time and time again. Furthermore, it’s fun and challenging to create an invite from scratch using your own theme.
Menu: The food you serve at a party is usually the most expensive aspect of it all. Decide on how much food you will serve if any, some individuals like to have finger foods and light refreshments, while others prefer serving a whole meal. I recommend calling nearby restaurants or using your grocery app to determine the cost of serving food at your party. If you are serving a meal, make a note of it on your invitation.
Cake: Now that you have a budge set for your menu, consider what kind of cake you want and how many people you need to feed. Your cake will be the focal point of the party and most people like taking a piece home. Call your local bakeries and get estimates, don’t be afraid of asking for opinions on designs.
Entertainment: Will you hire a DJ? Clown? Band? Face Painter? If so, you want to book ahead, especially during the party seasons. For example, June is one of the busiest months in party world, as most people get married, graduate, have birthdays, and much more during that time. If you choose not to have entertainment, make a party playlist on Spotify or Apple Music and connect it to a portable speaker, try to be mindful of your audience when picking out your songs.
Decor: I love, love this part! But, here’s the thing, I’m not as creative as I wish I was. For my oldest daughters first birthday and my youngest, we hired an event planner who came and set up our backyard for us, as well as taking it all down afterwards. I contacted her and explained the theme I had in mind, the concept of it all and a few ideas on what I would like her to do. The great part of hiring an event planner is they take the pressure off and are able to decorate the whole event so you’re not buying decor you may not use again. It can be expensive but saves time and money in the long run. However, if you do not want to hire a planner, here’s what you need to consider when decorating:
– Food Decor: Cake toppers, cupcake toppers, cupcake liners, cake pop wrappers, stickers, gift bags, treat bags, are all adorable ways to spice up your treats and make them even more inviting.
– Cake Table: This is the focal point of your entire party, consider decorating this table the most. Invest in a beautiful cake stand, maybe a cupcake one as well. Add decor that matches your theme and surround the cake with desserts that tie it all in.
– Gift Area/Goody Bags: You can combine both of these to save space and make it easier for your guests. As they come in, they can drop off their gifts and grab a goody bag. It helps if you write names on the bags, do color coding for boy or girl, or make them all neutral. You can keep the decor in this area minimal because it will already be adorned with treat bags and many gifts.
– Decor Table/Area: This is a fun little decoration idea if you have the time and space because you can use it to really tie the theme in. If you’re doing mermaids, you can have a fish tank and a sparkly rug with a mermaid sign, maybe a picture of your child enlarged, or maybe even a photo booth. The possibilities are endless and a great way to make your child’s birthday party more Pinterest worthy — haha!
– Food Table: A great way to decorate a good table is by using matching plates, napkins, and utensils. You can also use aluminum serving trays and food tents to keep it simple but appealing. You can purchase all of these items at any local party store, food tents are all the rage now and make it easier for your guests to serve themselves.
– Guest Tables: Centerpieces are a fun and appealing way to decorate your guest tables, I love that our planner used matching tables cloths and even wrapped a tie around each of the chairs. You can do something similar and add a light sprinkle of confetti as well.
– Highchair/Chair: Lets be honest, most babies won’t be going hand-to-hand with the guests at the party, meaning they won’t like to be held by everyone. Having a spot where your baby can sit comfortably and enjoy a snack, is a great idea that you’ll be glad you did. You can decorate the highchair with a “I’m one!” Banner to jazz it up.
– Celing/Awning: Our planner used an awning which made it easy for her to hand decor from the ceiling, it adds a 3D effect and is eye catching. If you’re decorating, consider adding some decor to the ceiling whether it’s streamers, balloons, or anything else that matches your theme! For example, a fish net with plastic fishes tied to it, for a mermaid theme.
– Front Gate/Entryway: This is a cool way of letting your guests know where the party is, some consider it loud and tacky but I mean, why not go all out, right? Consider building a balloon arch or using streamers. Make sure you secure your decorations well, you don’t want the wind carrying them away.
Birthday Girl/Boy Outfit: The guest of honor deserves an equally adorable outfit! Consider getting a customized onesie or tee that matches their parties theme. Don’t forget to dress them comfortably, nothing is worse than being trapped in any itchy outfit. Tutus and headbands are adorable, or suspenders and trousers! You can have them wear outfits that match the party’s theme as well.
Goody Bags/ Party Favors: Are a must at a child party in my opinion, kids love snacks, toys, stickers, even pencils and mini notepads! It’s a way of saying thank you for coming to celebrate with me. During my daughters baby sprinkle, we gave away donuts. For my oldest daughters first birthday, we had spring inspired arty favors and gave away garden themed treats and games. Be creative!
- Pictures. Take lots and lots of pictures, if you can, ask a family member or friend to capture pictures of what’s going on while you’re interacting with your party guests. Hiring a photographer is a great idea too!
- Do not stress the baby out! I can’t stress this enough, I’ve seen so many unhappy babies at their own birthdays because mom and dad were not being considerate. Tiny humans needs mental breaks, especially in a room full of people, most of whom they barely know. Don’t force the baby to go with anyone they don’t want to, keep them close to you, if they are crying in someone’s arms pick them up and console them. No one minds if the baby takes a nap during their party.
- Keep the peace. Having many family members and friends under one roof can sometimes be stressful, especially if some people aren’t the friendliest or always makes snarky remarks. Remember who the day is about, that it’s a child’s birthday, try and keep your calm while keeping the peace.
- Don’t overspend. Do not feel pressured to create the biggest bash of the year because of what you saw someone else do. Do not go broke trying to impress people, it doesn’t help anyone and only hurts those involved. Stay within your means, you will be surprised at the beautiful parties you can create on a budget.
A Mama who loves to party!