Party Planning

Do you remember your first birthday?

I’m pretty sure I know the answer because I don’t remember mine!

But I love looking back at the photos my folks took of what looked like a fun family occasion. It’s a celebration of your little ones first year and the change it’s brought to you all. It’s a chance for family and friends to get together and celebrate that amazing change together.

And it’s an opportunity to create memories for your little one to look back on in years to come.

My mum made the most amazing pram-shaped cake for my 1st birthday, and I know this because I’ve seen many photos of it.

And 1st birthdays are the one opportunity you get to create what you’d like for your little one.

Because by the time they get to their next birthday they’ll have a much clearer idea of what they like and then shortly after that, want they want!

And they’ll be letting you know that for sure!

So take this opportunity to create something you like. And something that’ll look great in photos for them to look back on.

Here are my top tips for 1st birthday celebrations.

Keep things simple

Because little ones have lots of birthdays and they’ll soon be lots of things they want! Build up to that. You’ll also learn lots of tips for birthday parties to come. Especially if you keep following me!

Create a focal point, like a beautiful-looking party table. It’s both practical and will make a great backdrop for photos.

There will likely be a mix of adults and, if your family is anything like mine, a mix of children of all ages too. The adults will be fine if there is food and drink. But you’ll need to think more carefully about how to keep the children entertained.

At my wedding, we had children ranging from 2-13. It was a small family gathering with the reception at our house. We were lucky with the weather so, we set up an area at the bottom of the garden with a gazebo, bean bags, and toys for the kids. They absolutely loved it! Having an area of their own was a big hit, and all ages played together fantastically. You could create the same thing inside by giving them their own room to hang out in. You could also arrange a few traditional party games for everyone to play. It’ll be good practice for years to come, and who doesn’t love musical statues!

Keep the official party to no longer than a few hours and work around your little ones nap and feeding schedule, which may mean the morning is best. Family members can obviously hang around for the rest of the day but any invited guests will get to see your little one at their very best.

Choose a theme

For 1st birthdays, this is more difficult than it sounds because your little one can’t tell you what they want. So it’s time for you to have some fun! And this will likely be your one chance so, grab it with both hands. You can either go down the “1st birthday” design route or something like a woodland or jungle or Disney theme or just a beautiful colour scheme. Or a mix of all of them! Using disposable tableware, including a plastic tablecloth in your theme design, provides a great focal point for everyone. And is really practical too, especially when there are babies around. It also makes clearing up a whole lot easier.

I advise decorating a second table with a tablecloth and a little sign indicating it’s the present table.

Don’t forget about balloons and banners. A bespoke cake topper, age candles, and a gorgeous cake are other absolute essentials.

Party hats, an age rosette, and high chair decorations are all nice touches you can also add if budget allows.


Nominate someone to take photos of special moments like singing happy birthday or opening presents together, and make sure you’re in some of those photos with your little one. Because you’ll be super busy at the party it’s a good idea to draw up a photo list and ask the same person to take photos of things you’d ideally like them to capture. Like family members chatting, the party table, and the presents.

I’m an Aunty, and this job normally falls to me so, find an Aunty and ask her to get snapping. When you look back on the photos with your child in years to come, you’ll be glad you made that list!

DIY cake smash

Now this one is best for a different day to your party if you’re having one, or maybe for later in the day when it’s just you and your close family.

I was trying to explain the cake smash idea to my husband the other day. I think he quite likes the idea of it for his next birthday! And in case you don’t know what a cake smash is, like my husband until I explained it to him, it’s where you give a cake to your 1-year-old and allow them to destroy it with their hands while you take photos!

And it’s easy to create yourself at home.

You’ll need a backdrop, a cake, some decoration, something to protect the floor and a camera.

A backdrop sounds really fancy doesn’t it? But it can literally be anything. From a sheet in a colour of your choosing hung from a wall or hung over the end of a table. To a sparkly door curtain decoration placed up against a wall.

It’s best to do your cake smash somewhere with floors you can easily clean, and I’d also put something down that will protect the floor, and that’s also comfy for your little one to sit on. A disposable tablecloth matching your colour scheme works well.

I’m going off-topic slightly here but this reminds me of when my Mum put polythene down on the carpets in our house for one of my birthday parties so the carpet didn’t get dirty. And we weren’t even having a cake smash!

In terms of decoration, you can add balloons and banners or keep it really simple. Your little one and that cake are the main attraction after all.

When taking photos try to create a story. Start with your little one sitting with the cake, then let them dig their hands in and keep snapping. It’s also customary to capture the clean up so if you have a mini bath tub pop that in front of your backdrop and keep snapping while your little one gets clean.

Oh, and some people get a special outfit for the occasion but, others just let their little ones sit in their nappy. It’s much easier to clean up that way!

So, however you decide to celebrate, remember to keep your photos somewhere safe so your little one can look back on them when they’re all grown up!

For more top party tips, sign up for my free kids party planning guide – just click here.
And to discuss ideas, and tableware, and decorations for your little one’s 1st birthday just drop me a line, I’d love to help out!

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