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How to Throw a Laid-back First Birthday Party
Baby & Toddler tot toddler

How to Throw a Laid-back First Birthday Party

Our son just turned one and we wanted to mark the occasion with a small party, but as soon as we sat down to make a list of family and friends, things started to spin out of control. Should we hire a photographer? Should we rent out a space? After a bit of discussion, we decided to keep things simple, giving us a chance to actually talk with our friends and allowing the babies lots of time to crawl around and bat at each other. Here are a handful of ways we pulled off a mellow first birthday party with minimal stress and a doable budget.

3 min read


1. Ditch the Theme

In this Pinterest-era of perfectly styled parties and elaborate dessert tables, it’s easy to feel inadequate about your simple birthday plans. When we sat down to talk about a theme or what we wanted to have at the party, we asked ourselves what would our son really love? The answer came down to two things: bubbles and balloons. Throw in some bagels for the adults and we knew we were onto something.


2. Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too

Remember that babies won’t eat much cake – and some parents don’t want their babies to eat any cake. So this time around, think about a cake you are excited to eat. If you’re a baker, make it happen(Opens in a new window). If not, I’m a big fan of not adding any extra stress to your plate: there’s no shame in ordering a dessert or picking one up at the grocery store. We made sure to have our son’s bib(Opens in a new window) at the ready for the inevitable mess and if you end up having the party offsite, ask in advance if they have a highchair or booster seat(Opens in a new window)—if for some reason they don’t, bring along one from home.



3. Keep the Decorations Simple

Decorations are another area that can get a little out of control, and I tried to be really mindful of the fact that our little guy is just one so, really, this was more for us than for him. Growing up, my mom always had a “Happy Birthday” sign for us as well as birthday hats, so we did that. I picked up some helium balloons and cute, inexpensive paper decorations at the party store. The house felt festive without being cluttered, and the simple decorations looked great in photos.


4. Short and Sweet

This one’s big. Babies are all on different nap schedules and, I’ll just speak for my own: they generally can’t last more than three hours without maxing out. So keeping the party short and sweet–two to three hours max—is key. It’s always best to leave on a high note, rather than a quick corralling of crying babies and a race to the car.



5. Set Up a Kiddo Area

Depending on how many guests you’re expecting, it’s great to move aside some of the furniture to the periphery of the room so the kiddos can have free reign of the room: they’ll love it and you’ll likely be far less stressed about possible spills or bumped heads. To make sure we were prepared for anything, I kept paper towels and a little broom(Opens in a new window) close by for spills and quick clean ups.


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