While everyone is wishing baby a happy first birthday, baby’s parents deserve pats on the back as well. Congrats! You survived baby’s first year! Now it’s time to celebrate with a party that’ll be as memorable, cheery and fun as possible, while keeping in mind that baby’s attention and energy are limited.
First things first: how to throw a first birthday party. The most important rule when it comes to planning baby’s first birthday is KISS: Keep It Short, Sister. Plan for about an hour and a half of alert-baby time. While you may be tempted to invite everyone and their mother’s cousin to celebrate baby’s first birthday, it’s a good idea to keep the guest list small and manageable—think grandparents, aunts and uncles and a few baby friends from your playgroups or classes.
As you’re planning, make sure you have places for moms to nurse, accessible changing tables, a safe space for crawlers to play and age-appropriate decorations that won’t get eaten by party guests—for example, choose balloons made of foil or Mylar instead of latex.
The other secret to a successful first birthday party? Picking an adorable party theme, complete with fun invitations, cakes (and smash cakes!), decorations, favors, food, activities and entertainment. Whether you’re looking for first birthday inspiration for a boy or girl, we’ve got you covered.
Read on for a roundup of creative first birthday party ideas, from fan favorites like Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse and Monsters, Inc., to motifs around music, magic and more.
Classic Winnie The Pooh First Birthday Party
If baby loves Winnie the Pooh stories—or Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore still tug at your own childhood heartstrings—a Pooh-themed party is a cute way to celebrate baby’s first 12 months. This Winnie the Pooh celebration for twins, featured on BoxwoodClippings.com, showcases plenty of floral patterns in soft colors and whites. The menu features a seasonal strawberry salad for the adult guests and gingham boxed picnic lunches with PB&Js, chips, cookies and veggies for the children. An extra-sweet touch are the cupcakes, topped with mini fondant honeybees. Driving home the theme, plush Pooh, Piglet and Tigger toys (perfect as favors!) are on display throughout the space, complete with party hats.
Mickey Mouse First Birthday Party
What’s black, white and red all over? A Mickey Mouse–themed birthday party! Photographer Paige Knudsen shared photos of a little boy’s first birthday bash that does Disney proud! From red and white polka-dot Solo cups to a “Mickey’s Clubhouse” greeting sign and Mickey-shaped paper-fan decorations, every detail is covered. Even the candy table features all Mickey-themed sweets and color-coordinated cookies. The food includes “Pluto’s Pretzels” and “Chips and Dales” along with “Minnie’s Bow Tie Pasta Salad” and goodies from Daisy and other Mickey Mouse Club friends. What’s more—all these ideas for decorations, favors and food are pretty easy to replicate.
Magical Unicorn First Birthday Theme
On the TheLoveDesignedLife blog, party stylist Paige Rangel takes her daughter’s first birthday party outside with a magical unicorn theme. We love the details of dragon masks and horn headbands with tulle veils for guests to wear, all in keeping with the party’s pastel colors. Glitter details abound, from the birthday girl’s name banner to her crown and outfit. The naked ombre cake looks delicious—plus, it’s vegan and gluten-free to meet the family’s diet restrictions. A DIY unicorn piñata adds to the festive fun, and the flower-topped teepee is perfect for when baby (and her little guests) needs a nap.
Monsters, Inc. First Birthday Party
If your little monster loves the characters from Monsters, Inc., this birthday party idea is a fun way to get creative with all kinds of one-eyed decorations, desserts, invitations and party favors. This boy’s first birthday party on ProjectNursery.com features a ton of soft, spring colors and would work well for boys or girls. We’re drooling over the one-eyed cupcakes, and the furry-looking cake just begs to be touched (maybe even smashed by baby!). The Monsters, Inc. birthday party theme is continued in the place mats, utensils and party bags. We love the “boxed lunch” idea, with sandwiches, crackers, juice boxes and applesauce, in case one of your party guests needs to leave quickly and “grab and go.”
Bunny Garden First Birthday Party
If your little one can’t get enough of bunnies, this garden party will be sure to make baby smile. Decorations for this first birthday celebration include a “1” made of flowers and “let love grow” posters with photos of baby’s first year, flanked by potted plants. Party activities like “pin the tail on the bunny,” paper bunny mask making and burlap sack races (involving bunny hopping, of course) are fun for kids and grown-ups too. This first birthday party wouldn’t be complete without the white rabbit cake, surrounded by grasslike confetti.
Music-Inspired First Birthday Party
If baby goes crazy for music and turns everything into an instrument, this Baby Jam Music First Birthday Party, featured on BirdsParty.com, will be a platinum hit. With xylophone-shaped cookies, tambourines and records as decorations and “design your own fish shaker” and “build a band” party activities, we think this party has a winning theme. Don’t forget to set up a wall of pots and kitchen utensils for baby and friends to bang on throughout the festivities. May we suggest handing out foam earplug favors for the adults at the beginning of the party?
Dinosaur-Themed First Birthday Party
Throw a Good Dinosaur–themed birthday party for your little explorer. Give party guests a dinosaur hunter hat, a canteen, binoculars, and a bag for artifacts, and send them off on a dinosaur egg hunt party game, just like this party on BirdsParty.com. Guests can nosh on sweet treats like a dinosaur cake, dino egg pops, dino cookies, dino pretzels and pterodactyl chocolate pops.
Whimsical Pastel Party
For a sweet girl’s first birthday party theme, look no further than a pastel party like this one featured on Two Bright Lights. The chalkboard-type invitation featuring baby’s photo and flower decals sets the tone, and soft pink, green, and purple decorations throughout the party maintain the pastel party theme. Pink-frosted doughnuts and cupcakes will satisfy any guest’s sweet tooth.
Car-Themed First Birthday Party
Photographer Gus Dizon planned a race car-inspired party theme for his son’s first birthday party. Every detail is car-themed, like the hubcap welcome sign on the front door with the birthday boy’s name on a license plate, the checkered flag decorations and the racetrack wall art behind the dessert table. Guests can make a pit stop for macarons labeled with gas station names, hot chocolate in “lube oil” mugs and the drink station that says “fuel up here”! Our favorite part? The “pit crew” play area for baby and pals.
Nautical-Theme First Birthday Party
This first birthday party on designer Heather’s Chickabug’s blog incorporates a classic nautical theme throughout, from boat decorations to clever and creative food options, like “marshmallow buoys,” “life preservers” made from powdered doughnuts and “catch of the day” snacks like Swedish Fish and Goldfish. Each child gets a sailor’s hat with his or her name on it, and a homemade cardboard sailboat serves as entertainment for the kids—and a great setting for photos.
Little Lumberjack-Themed Birthday Party
This woodsy-themed party on the PrettyMyParty.com blog is an adorable concept for a boy’s first birthday party. The lumberjack party features finger foods with breakfast-inspired items, like mini quiches and muffins, flapjack sugar cookies, maple-bacon-flavored cupcakes and an amazing pancake-shaped birthday cake, set on top of a round wood slab. The drink station has whiskey-shaped bottles (actually apple cider) paired with mason jars and birch bark-patterned straws. The pitch-perfect party favors are s’mores for guests to take home.
Sophie the Giraffe First Birthday Party
This outdoor first birthday party is set near designer mom Lindsey Albrecht’s home in Napa, California. In honor of the Sophie the Giraffe theme, books are given to the baby guests as favors, and signature giraffe-shaped cookies from Sweet Kiera are on display. Look for the giraffe-spotted disposable plates, cups and napkins used to serve food, and the giraffe-topped cupcakes from a local Napa bakery!
Little Blue Truck First Birthday Party
Photographer Emily Crall put together a Little Blue Truck-themed first birthday party for her son. “The most fun part of the whole planning process was sketching out the little blue truck on a huge piece of cardboard, painting it and cutting it out,” she says on her blog. The truck is the main decoration and the perfect backdrop for photos, accompanied by cow- and pig-shaped balloons. The food table includes “chicken feed” chili, “shovels and pitchforks” utensils and whoopie pie party favors (or “cow pies,” to go with the theme) with thank-you cards attached.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar First Birthday Party
This storybook-themed first birthday party takes place outside and uses lots of colorful decorations and treats for some festive fun. (Think gummy worms and bold, bright caterpillar cupcakes for kids—or go through the story’s classic menu for extra fun!) To keep the kids entertained, party guests can color in caterpillars with wooden pencils, and when celebrations come to a close, party guests can leave a thumbprint as part of a caterpillar’s body, leaving their mark on the birthday girl’s big day.