Planning the first birthday party

I can honestly say that I have been thinking about Cubby’s first birthday party since she was 6 months old! I love throwing and hosting parties so I was racking my brain thinking about themes, location, food, games, loot bags, etc. I thought that I was on top of it all. As you know, I had bought a WagJag voucher for the cookies with Cubby’s face on them in January (when she was 7 months old) and had planned to give them away at her birthday party. I had found my theme and decorations online in April and had them shipped to my husband’s cousin in Buffalo, New York as it was much cheaper. We had decided on the location about a month ahead of time based on the number of guests who RSVP’d. I had sent out a save the date email to everyone in April or May and got my responses back, so I estimated the number of guests based on that. It seemed pretty organized at the time. Then we had my brother in law’s huge Indian wedding, so needless to say Cubby’s birthday plans were not on my mind until after the wedding and reception were finished. I had 2 weeks post wedding to plan and finish organizing all of the details for her big day.

So, here are some factors to consider when planning your little one’s big first birthday party:

1. Number of people: Do you want to have a small party with only immediate family or close friends? Do you have a large friend circle or extended family? Are you going to invite adults and children? There are many things to consider when looking at how many people to invite. My husband and I had made our guest list, which was 95 people long. It was like a wedding reception! Luckily, with adults and children (including babies), the final number was 83 people. Keep in mind that little ones can fall sick at any time, so your number is never set in stone. On the day of Cubby’s party 3 children were sick so subsequently 6 adults could not come as well.

2. Save the date: If you are planning a large party, I think that it is a good idea to send out a “save the date” so you can have a rough estimate of the number of people. This will help you to plan the venue. I sent out an electronic save the date through email with a picture of her on it.

3. Location: Once you have an estimated number of people, you can decide on where to have the party. Keep in mind the season; if it is spring, summer or fall, you can plan an outdoor venue (keeping in mind an alternate plan if it rains!). In winter, it’s probably good to keep it indoors unless you live in a warm climate. We had thrown out ideas such as a restaurant, a banquet hall, and a condo party room; in the end, we decided on an outdoor party in my parents’ backyard.

4. Theme and decorations: Although it’s only the first birthday, it’s nice to have a theme. I did what most moms would do and I took to the internet to see what was out there. I came across an adorable Minnie Mouse 1st birthday theme for girls by Hallmark. ( I loved the colour scheme and the baby Minnie reminded me of Cubby so I decided to go with it!

5. Little one’s outfit: Every mom wants their little one to look their best at their first birthday. It is probably their biggest birthday party with the most pictures being taken. I had bought a dress for Cubby from Old Navy in April when it was on sale. It was adorable, but I had bought it a few sizes too big thinking that she would grow into it. Two weeks prior to her birthday party, I put the dress on her and it was still humungous on her. So, I went to the mall in search of something else. Luckily, Old Navy has a great return policy (90 Days) so I was able to get a full refund. While I was there, I decided to peek at the clearance racks and found an adorable floral summer dress with a matching hat. It was Cubby’s size and the best part about it was that the colours matched her decorations exactly! It was meant to be. I also found her gold gladiator sandals in her size! (I love Old Navy!). I went to pay for the whole outfit and I didn’t even realize that the clearance items were an extra 30% off, so her whole outfit came to about $22. I was really excited! As an aside note, you may want to have 2 outfits, in case one gets covered with cake or food. I decided to put Cubby in a really girly floral dress for the initial part of the party, with a cute fuchsia flower headband from Liv and Lily ( We cut the cake first as it was boiling hot and I knew Cubby would get hot and annoyed. We took lots of pictures and then I changed her into the Old Navy sundress that was much more comfortable.

6. Food: Food is a very important part of the first birthday. Depending on how many adults and children you are going to have, you need a variety of food. We opted for Indian food, but knowing very well that it may be too spicy for the little ones, we also ordered cheese pizza for them. I went easy with the appetizers, just putting out chips, candy and veggies and dip. We had many food items for the adults: tandoori chicken, rice and chicken, samosas, spicy cauliflower, chat papri and kebabs. It was a good assortment of barbecue type Indian foods. We had pop, 2 punches, juice, bottles of water and beer and wine for the adults. For dessert, we opted for Cubby’s birthday cake, a fruit salad, and cupcakes and freezies for the kids. I know that we over ordered the food as we had a huge amount of food leftover, but I think it is better to have more than less. It was also less stressful than making food for that many people by ourselves.

7. Cake: I know many moms that stress over the first birthday cake. I had thought of getting one custom made to match the Minnie Mouse theme; however, when I saw how much they costed, I opted for a generic sheet cake from Costco. I got many compliments on the cake and it only costed $19.99 and fed 40 people! On a side note, our friend’s son has a nut allergy so I searched high and low for a nut free cake and could not come up with anything. In the end, we got a nut free chocolate rice krispie square for him so he would not feel left out. Unfortunately he was sick the day of the party, so he could not attend. We missed him! I had a friend make all natural muffins for Cubby to eat if people wanted to feed her. I did not want her to eat the cake with artificial colours and all of the icing. In the end, I put some icing on her cheeks but she did not want to eat either!

8. Helpers: Depending on the size of the party, you need people to help you! I don’t know if Supermoms could do it by themselves, but for 83 people, I definitely needed some help. I enlisted the assistance of close friends and family members and had a crew of about 15 people helping me with setting up 2 tents in the backyard, decorating, setting out the food and appetizers, and of course, cleaning up. I couldn’t have done it without them! Keep in mind, you may have times for your party, but your little one may have a different idea. Try to plan the event away from your child’s nap times and feeding times. Unfortunately Cubby’s schedule has been all over the place since the wedding so she slept in the day of the party and was refusing to eat any solids. I had a friend from Woodstock sleepover so she was helping me run around the night before and do last minute errands. She also watched Cubby for me the morning of the party so I could quickly get ready. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to my parents’ house until 12 pm and the party was starting at 1 pm! I was really stressed out, but luckily my decorating crew stepped into action and saved the day! Thanks to my sister in law’s quick thinking, the tents looked amazing and it was everything that I had envisioned.

9. Loot bags: Since it’s only the first birthday, you can decide if you want to give out loot bags or not. Initially I was not going to give them out, but we had so many children and babies attending of all different ages, so I decided to do something small. I ended up going to the Dollar Store and got an age appropriate book, toy or activity and a sheet of stickers for everyone. I also gave a cookie with Cubby’s picture on it to each family (

10. Games and activities: Depending on the length of the party and the number of children, you can decide if you want to have formal games or activities. I had gone out and bought a piñata to fill with candy. By the time I bought all of the candy, it was coming to $50 so I returned it all. I thought that the money could be better used for the food or appetizers. I had decided to do 3 simple games: musical chairs, water balloon toss and dance freeze; however, we ended up having an inflatable kiddie pool, a caterpillar sprinkler with crazy arms, water balloons and water guns, so I found that there were more than enough activities to keep the little ones busy.

11. Pictures: I knew that my family and I would be too busy running around to take proper pictures so I hired a photographer. Our friends had recommended a really good one, so I called her up and she was there for about 4 hours. She is going to email me some pictures and give me a cd of all of the shots. I can’t wait to see them! I was busy running around all day and it seems like a blur. It will be nice to see all of the details and all of the kid’s faces.

I hope that this helps when planning your little ones’ first birthday. There are many things to consider. Make sure you enjoy their big day as it goes by so quickly! Also make sure to take lots of pictures so you can show your little one when they are older.

About newmom78

I am a mother to 2 beautiful girls with a degree in Occupational Therapy. This blog is about the chronicles of my daily life with my daughters as well as the laughter and frustration that goes along with trying to be "super mom" and play numerous roles; wife, mother, daughter, employee, friend, and student.
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