How to Plan a First Birthday Party and Celebrate in Style

When a baby reaches their first birthday it really is a chance to celebrate! What a year to look back on – from a tiny swaddled newborn to a mobile, lively little person. Planning a first birthday party is the perfect chance to celebrate this really big milestone, in style!

Not only is a first birthday party a chance to celebrating this sweet little person, it is also a great opportunity to thank the community that has supported the child and their parents in their first year of life. And for the parents it’s a chance to celebrate reaching the end of what is often a stretching first year!

This month a special girl in our family turned one. My baby niece, the fifth baby in our immediate family.

To celebrate we decided to gather some special brands together to help share our best ideas for celebrating a first birthday….

We hope these tips will be both insightful and inspiring for those of you planning a first birthday or for those who are celebrating it with others!

 

Top Tip: Make this celebration as stress free as possible.

 

No matter if you prefer a small family get together or go full out with hiring a venue and caterer, the first birthday milestone is one that deserves getting a little bit of thought, planning and celebrating!

Make sure you keep it within your capabilities or enlist help where needed so that you can really absorb this special time with your baby!

Timing

You want friend and family to attend this celebration so make sure you check dates with key family members before sending out an invitation.

Select a date that suits you and gives you enough time to prepare!

Mid-week celebrations an often feel rushed and many guest may not be available to attend, consider celebrating on the closest week end

Make sure you select a party time that starts after nap time- there is nothing worse than a grumpy baby!

For this celebration the time should hinge around what suits baby best and not what times suits your guests!

Weather – keep a close eye on the weather forecast and plan accordingly

Season – Choose your venue accordingly!

Length: Babies get tired and over stimulated pretty quickly. Limit the length of the celebration to under two hours.

Guest List

First birthdays usually have a number of important guests. Write a list to make sure you don’t miss out anyone!

Bear in mind the amount of adults and children and try to keep it to a reasonable amount for your space as babies can get overwhelmed by busy crowds!

Possible guests:

  • Grandparents
  • God-parents
  • Aunties and uncles
  • Ante-natal class group
  • Baby group friends
  • Family friends
  • Siblings

Venue

This is a personal choice but we have most often opted for our homes and have thrown what we would term a ‘backyard garden party’. Having it at home allows access to their room (clothes, nappy table) for those unforeseeable accidents. It will also give your child a sense of familiarity which can help them enjoy the day without feeling unsettled.

If you would prefer an independent venue then make sure you look at a few options.

A few considerations to take into account when choosing a venue for a first birthday party celebration:

  • Choose somewhere which gives you indoor and outdoor options in case of bad weather
  • Ensure enough space for the amount of people on your guest list
  • Be aware of too much noise as this can be disturbing to young babies
  • Make sure there are baby changing facilities available
  • Select a safe place for babies to crawl and has a suitable playing surface.

Theme

We have always found it best to pick a theme for each party we have thrown. It helps bring the party together.

Choose your theme and then pick out your cake, party decorations and plan your invitation around it!

Party Theme Ideas

  • A favourite animal like a duck or bear
  • A favourite toy
  • A special book
  • Nature scenes like a jungle or beach
  • A colour theme like gold and pink
  • The same theme as their baby nursery
  • Symbols such as stars, hearts or flowers

Baby’s outfit

On any special occasion it is always fun to plan a special outfit. This often just gives the day a really special feel!

Tips for choosing an outfit for baby

  • Select something that is comfortable and that a baby will not feel restricted in.
  • Cotton material
  • No uncomfortable or scratchy labels
  • An outfit that will be forgiving if food is spilt down the front! A white dress is probably not the best choice!
  • Select something that is a little different to their usual daily clothes. Either pick out a different style or colour to make your little one look ultra-special!
  • Take the season into account. Babies need to be comfortable in the outfit and not too warm or cold. Adding a layer underneath can often help a baby stay warm without covering up their special dress or shirt!

We chose this really special dress and leggings combination from Dandylion Kids. We love the fresh design and feel. Dandylion Kids clothes are all handmade and not mass produced which gives them that extra special homely feel!

Dandylion Kids Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their webpage.

Tips for choosing shoes for baby

Select a new pair of shoes for the special day!

Your one year old will most likely have a number of pairs of baby shoes. Make sure the pair you pick out for the day is both comfortable and neat – nothing worse than a lovely outfit with shoes that are scuffed and old!

Many one year olds are very hard on their shoes as they are learning to become mobile so we suggest a new pair for this occasion.

Choose shoes that have a special feel to them. Perhaps the shoes has a gold embellishment or even just an updated design.

We chose a pair of stylish leather baby doll shoes from Bibi Baby Shoes and these were the perfect addition to the outfit!

We love them as they are soft soled, they are made of leather so have a comfortable feel and will last! We also love the special silver flower embellishment and the cuteness factor they added to the outfit!

Bibi’s Baby Shoes Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Tips for choosing accessories for baby

This is a day for baby accessories!

Many babies are still in the teething stage and so a stylish bib to catch the drool can be both a useful and smart addition to their day.

Girls also look very sweet with a headband and this certainly can make an outfit feel even more special. Don’t you love this matching headband and bib set from Mookie? We love the soft cotton material and the simple yet stylish floral print. Mookie creates the most stylish baby goodies for little ones head over to their page to have a peak!

Mookie Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their webpage.

Top Tip: Make sure you put some thought into the outfits of the other significant family members too to ensure that colours are not clashing and garish as these photos will have a long life!

Party Food

First Birthday Party Food ideas

  • Iced biscuits that match the theme
  • Fruit platters
  • Veggie platters
  • Mini sandwiches
  • Cocktail sized finger snacks
  • Baby friendly snacks such as finger biscuits and rice cakes

We decided on using bamboo fiber bowls and plates for our snacks and these were the perfect size for serving kid friendly snacks. They added a special colourful touch to our celebration with their fun ballerina and forest rabbit designs. These sets can also be a lovely gift for a one year old as they come with a bowl, plate, cup and knife and spoon set. They can in an array of fun designs perfect for boys and girls! The best part about these sets is that they are primarily made of bamboo, are biodegradable and BPA free! We love earth-friendly gifts!

First For Kids Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their website.

Top Tip: Make sure you plan for the rights amount of food for the amount of guests. An independent caterer is also a great idea as they can advise you on the right amount of food and also give you suggestions on what snack will suit your event.

The Cake

This is really one of the central pieces to plan for at your celebration. Instead of feeling the pressure to bake it yourself (especially if you are not a gifted home baker) maybe consider planning it yourself and then ordering it through a trusted bakery instead!

We chose to order a vanilla tower cake with special chocolate sprinkles for this birthday from Molly and Mason based at Constantia Village, Cape Town. They are the perfect spot to order a birthday cake as they specialize in both cakes and other bakes. They stock a wide variety of really beautiful treats. We enjoyed some unicorn marshmallow pops and shaped iced biscuits in pastel shades which both linked perfectly to our theme.

Things to consider when planning a birthday cake

  • Theme
  • Type of sponge
  • Size
  • Layers and shape
  • Colours
  • Type of icing and filling
  • Toppers- these days you can use a wide variety from lazer cut letters to fondant figurines and more!
  • Candle/s

Molly and Mason Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their webpage

Decorations

Adding a few themed decorations can turn an average afternoon tea to a special celebration!

There are many easily available items such as bunting, themed-paper serviettes and fun plates which can all add that little bit of special to the table.

A felt letter board is a really lovely addition to any party and this lovely felt letter board from That Stationery Slut provided us with the perfect milestone board for our celebration! Letter boards are really versatile and can be used as a decoration item at the celebration and also on a birthday photo shoot!

That Stationery Slut Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their website. Use the code becomingyou15 on their page to receive a 15% discount exclusive to Becoming You readers.

Gifts

Whether the birthday child is your own or not gifts for a one year old can be a challenging decision. We have put together a list below of some of our top present ideas for one year old’s.

Present Ideas for a One Year Old Baby

Creative and interactive gifts

We chose this special house shaped chalkboard from the online store Ma-Petite which can bring endless fun to the child over the course for the next year and beyond is a really clever choice. This gift is both educational and fun as the baby will learn to grasp chalk and make stokes learning about cause and effect in the process. Ma-petite offers a lovely range of premium children’s room décor items so go and take a look!

Ma-Petite Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their website.

 

Fun play spaces

Babies are small and providing them with fun little play areas around the house is an excellent way to encourage them to engage with the world around them. We love this cotton tee pee by My Tiny Tee Pee. It will provide many hours of play both indoors and outdoors. Tee Pees are such great items as a child will continue to enjoy it for a long time! Their imagination will develop and this cozy play nook for a baby will transform into a perfect place for a princess tea party or a hide-away for a camping trip! The options for this one are endless. They also specialize in creating unique tee pees which we think is so fabulous!

My Tiny Tee Pee Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their website.

 

Play mats

For bigger babies play mats are also a really lovely way to create special places for them to enjoy. From enjoying their bottle to reading through their books play mats are the perfect spot for them to feel safe, secure and comfortable while they enjoy their daily routines.

Sensory toys

Proving a baby with many, varied sensory experiences is vital for their growth and so we love the ideas of sensory stimulating toys such as this set of mom and baby whales. The plush velveteen material is a rich sensory experience for babies to enjoy as they run their little hands over the whales during playtime.

Chanteez Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Story Books

We are avid readers in our family and therefore books are always a good gift choice. Starting to build up a little library of story books for a baby is a gift that will really give them long lasting enjoyment. For a one year old board books are our preference! Pan Mc Milan publishes some of the sweetest books for little ones from material snuggle books to lively board books!

Pan Macmillan Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their website.

 

An heirloom soft toy

Over the years as we have celebrated the kids in our family turn one we have often marked these with gifts that have either sentimental or heirloom value. Handmade soft toys are really a lovely choice as a first birthday gift. Babies at this stage often begin to copy their caregivers by hugging and rocking their special soft friends. We love the idea of giving a really special soft toy to a one year old, one that will be treasured in the years to come. Charlie Loves Studio creates the most divine artisan characters for boys and girls.

Charlie Loves Studio Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their webpage.

 

Bath time fun

Most babies love their bath time so why not make it even more special by gifting them with some lovely organic bubble bath and bath wash from Pure Beginnings. These products are made with 98% organic ingredients. Making daily routines a time of fun and enjoyment and connection can really help you maximize the time you spend together.

Pure Beginnings Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their webpage.

 

Photography

One of the best decisions for any occasion is to have a professional photographer.

For a first birthday this is REALLY a good decision.

The pictures marking this special occasion will be treasured for many years to come and to have beautiful pictures of the party can be delightful!

No matter if you choose to have a more intimate family photoshoot ahead of the day or choose to have a photographer at your celebrations these pictures will certainly be treasured in years to come!

Aren’t these images from Zellaroo Photography so stunning!

Zellaroo Photography Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Planning for a baby’s first birthday can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming and we hope we have helped make your planning just a little bit easier so that you can enjoy the experience of making this special event a memorable occasion.

 

WIN a First Birthday Party Hamper from Becoming you

We have an amazing competition for you to enter. The hamper includes vouchers from each of the lovely brands listed below!

To enter, show each brand some love by following them on Instagram via the links below and then complete the form with your details along with the name of the girl we celebrated (for a hint see the pics above!)

@becomingyou

@thiscreatedday

@mytinyteepee

@charlielovesstudio

@panmacmillansakids

@mookie_babygoodies

@ma.petite.sa

@bibisbabyshoes

@chanteez01

@dandylionkids

@purebeginnings

@thatstationeryslut

@firstforkidssa

 

Once you’ve followed all the Instagram pages listed above fill out your details here…

 

 

Images: Zellaroo Photography Facebook and Instagram.

Shoot concept, styling, book images and article: Emma Reid of This Created Day.

Emma Reid
Emma Reid

Emma is a mom of three (8, 4 and 2 months). She is an educationalist and holds a Bachelor Degree in English, Media & Writing and Film. She is also a qualified Primary School Teacher. She has a keen interest in curriculum and content development especially for child related fields. Currently she spends her days as lead creative and Cape Town City Director for Adventure Clubs. In this role she plans and creates unique experiences for families with young children. With many years of teaching children, and advising parents, she is passionate about childhood development and education - of kids and parents. Her hobbies include photography, reading, travel and spending time in the outdoors with her family and relaxing either in or near the surf!

11 Comments
  1. I would LOVE to win this – I would really appreciate some guidance on planning her Birthday- my LG is turning 1 on the 16th of November and I would love to throw her a spectacular Birthday Party !

    PS : Hannah is a beautiful little girl ! And thank you so much for sharing all the brands and places with us.

  2. This is such a good blog post, thank you sooo much!!!
    Was iN a flatspin this morning about our first birthday coming up, but you just helped me soooo much!!!!!

  3. My baby girl CARLI is turning 1 on 16 August, and would love to win this prize to make her day extra special, because we live far away from her grandparents and then she will also meet her god-mother for the first time
    Hannah is beautiful and so happy lovable little girl – congratulations to the parents and all the love ones

  4. I would live to win! My babygirl, Emma, turns 1 on the 17th of August! Already busy plannig her party, its so exciting! Xx

  5. Excited and anxious all at once planning my little one’s first birthday on 8 September. Thank you for the tips.

  6. Would love to win this for my son I have a 10 year old and my latest addition will be turning 1 on 30 September and I forgot all about giving parties lol his a true blessing and miracle child had lots of ups and downs in my pregnancy but through Gods grace his healthy little man would love to have something great for him thank you for this great competition

  7. Stunning article Emma, and what a beautiful party you created!
    We will be celebrating Lucy’s 1st birthday in September, and what a treat it would be to win some of these stunning products!!! Proudly South African all the way!

  8. Great tips! Thank you for sharing. I find it especially helpful in identifying a suitable seti g for toddlers to play around and knowing ehat to dress them up in. Perfect! Hopefully, next year this time I will be celebrating my little one’s first birthday as I am due to give birth anytime this month 🙂

    Xx
    Sarah

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