It’s like I have been waiting my whole life to throw a birthday party for my baby! Sure she’s only one and won’t remember it, but I WILL! And let’s be honest, I probably won’t have much of a say for her future birthday party’s, so this was my chance to do something that I loved!
Yes, babies first birthday party is to celebrate what an incredible blessing your child is but more importantly it's to celebrate you surviving the first year of parenthood! Woohoo! I know some people may think I’m a little crazy to go overboard on the details for a tiny kids birthday, but I don’t care! No disrespect, I just want to make sure my baby girl is celebrated!
If you’re anything like me, DIY is where it’s at. I can tend to be a little picky and a perfectionist when it comes to decor and the vision I have for something, plus I like to save money. So, if you’re interested in how to stay organized, how to save money and how to make some super cute DIY decor, check out my birthday party pointers below!
1. Start a Pinterest Board:
This is the key to getting your ideas all in one place. From the theme, food, decor, and activities, this will be a major lifesaver for you! However, let me be the first to warn you that your kids birthday party probably won’t look like the Pinterest Party’s you find and that’s okay! Please, let me repeat PLEASE don’t get caught up in the unrealistic expectations of the Pinterest world. We all know the pressure we feel from Pinterest...so simply use it for ideas! You can see mine here.
2. Choose a theme
Choose a theme you love and that represents your babies first birthday party. Our theme was “Wildflowers.” This theme is close to my heart for many reasons. Growing up hiking and camping in the mountains exposed me to the wonder of wildflowers. I love how unique and sporadic wildflowers are and that there is no rhyme or reason to where they grow. Millie is our little wildflower: beautiful, unique, sporadic and colorful.
Choose the type and time of the party. Do you want a short, simple get together with just cake and ice cream, or would you rather serve a meal? Do you want only family or friends too? My advice is to do what you can handle!
We decided to do lunch and cupcakes, with our friends and family who love Millie and have been our support in the first year…and it worked great! (We had 25 people come and had it from 11-1pm). Be sure to choose a time for the party that you know your kiddo will be well rested and ready to party, aka after morning nap or an afternoon nap.
Organization Tip: If you decide to go the meal route, make sure you have an idea for the number of people you will feed. Next, map out a menu that has easy, make-ahead food. For Millie’s birthday, I did BBQ chicken sandwiches (in the crockpot) with potato salad, corn on the cob, watermelon, and chips…easy peasy! If you map out your menu a few weeks before you will know exactly what can be made beforehand, and know what you need to whip together the day of.
3. Choose Invitations
(I made Millie’s, but there are lots of options!) You can create your own from scratch, you can use a template online or can buy premade invitations at the store. You do what makes sense for you!
Money Saving Tip: DIY- If you’re creative and have a vision for the invitations, try making your own! I used the website Canva, and had them printed at my local Office Max for only $12!
If you are partial to DIY, check out Shutterfly or Tiny Prints. These websites have templates and you can easily change the color scheme and add a pic of your little one. Plus they always have deals going on!
4. DIY Decorations
DIY Tip: Banner for Highchair- go to your local hobby lobby or Joann’s Fabric and choose ribbons and fabrics that match your theme. Cut the ribbon and fabric in varying lengths and begin tying it onto the ribbon you will wrap around the highchair. This banner turned out so darn cute and became the focal point for the party!
Money Saving tip: Bake your own cake- You can buy a smash cake pan at your local grocery store that is the perfect size for your kiddos birthday! And while you’re there, do yourself a favor and buy boxed cake mix. Your baby is going to make a mess of cake anyway, so my advice is to save the money you would spend on a professional cake and put it towards something else! (I was a bad mom and bought the funfetti cake mix, yum!)
DIY Tip: Make the cake topper- With the left-over fabric and ribbon you have from the banner make a cute cake topper as the centerpiece for the food table. I cut little bunting flags and attached cardboard letters to them, and then attached it to wooden skewer sticks.
A year of Millie - Like most first-time moms, I was diligent about taking photos of Millie every month (I am sure she will be the only child I do this for, haha) I had every month photo printed off and pinned them on a ribbon and hung it as more decor. It was special for me to share these photos with our friends and family, plus they got to see the progression of growth and personality of Millie during her first year.
Cake Smash Photos - Yes, we did professional cake smashing photos and they turned out adorable, however, you can totally do them yourself! I made sure to carry over the Wildflower theme into the photo session so I could have the photos on display at her party, yet again as a cute addition to the decor!
5. Keep food simple
Crockpot meal- I have found that for big crowds, the crockpot a life saver! It’s a no-fail, make-ahead option, plus, it’s a self-serve option for your guests which elevates the pressure of you having to serve your guests. Another easy meal that feeds a lot of people are the subs you can buy at Sam’s or the grocery store. These are cheap and easy ways feed a lot of people!
Make ahead side- to save you work the day of the party, do yourself a favor and make the sides a day ahead. Like I said above, I did potato salad, watermelon, corn on the cob and chips as the sides for the BBQ chicken. The day before Millie’s party I made the potato salad, wrapped the cobs so they were ready to be grilled and cut up the watermelon.
6. Activities During Party
DIY Tip: Time Capsule- this is a sweet interactive game that guests can participate in. The people we invited have been a huge support to us throughout our parenthood journey and have been babysitters for Millie, needless to say, they have invested a lot of time and love into Millie girl. The Time Capsule gives them a chance to answer questions about what they think she will be when she grows up, and how they know her…The answers are then placed in a time capsule for Millie to open when she is 18. If this idea doesn’t make you cry, I’m not sure what will!
Corn Hole and Tent outside for babies - For entertainment, we set up our corn hole set to keep people busy and occupied until lunch was ready. We also set up our camping awning in the backyard with a quilt and some toys for the babies.
MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Have FUN! Don’t let the planning, hosting and decorating take over the joy and purpose of the day. Something will probably go wrong, maybe your baby may choose to be a grouch that day or the cupcakes will spill everywhere or the food won’t be done in time, but it’s okay. Expect things to go wrong and you won’t be disappointed. Have fun with it!
Celebrating your baby’s first year of life is a HUGE deal and the fact that you survived is an even bigger deal! If you choose to go a little crazy like I did or not as crazy, I hope you found my tips to be helpful. Know that you are amazing for the surviving your first year as a mama and the years ahead just keep getting better and better!
Abby is a Mom and an amazing team member of Baja Baby. She lives in Colorado with her husband Alex, their beautiful daughter Amelia Grace, baby boy Amos Lee and Maple the dog. You can find Abby on Instagram by clicking here.
Baja Baby is EWG VERIFIED™. For more information, please visit the EWG site.