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1st Birthday Party Ideas

By an Award-Winning Professional Party Planner

Get ideas for 1st Birthday Party Celebrations

About This Site

If this is the first page you've landed on, let me give you a quick introduction. I'm Matt James, a professional party planner, and the purpose of this site is to show you the most creative way you can use regular, shop-bought party supplies that can be found in most stores. Not everyone has the craft skills of Martha Stewart or the time to spend several days with a glue gun making things from scratch. It's fine to use shop-bought decorations and supplies—as long as you choose them carefully and know the best way to put them all together. So I'll share a few simple tips and trade secrets that anyone can use to add some creative touches to your party—whatever your budget.

Note: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may recieve a small commission on any sales (at no extra cost to you).

matt james

1st Birthday Party Ideas

Remember that planning a first birthday party for a baby is quite different to planning other kids birthday parties, in that a one year old isn't going to expect very much!

You're really throwing a party to give your family and friends an opportunity to get together and share such a special occasion. So you can afford to keep things a lot more simple than most kids parties.

Keep Numbers Small

I recommend keeping numbers small so you don't overwhelm your little one, perhaps just family and a few close friends. You might want to invite one or two friends from your antenatal classes who can bring their own babies but I would suggest no more than one or two other babies, otherwise it could get too hectic. Anyway, this is your baby's day to be the centre of attention!

Keep it Short

The party itself doesn't have to be very long—an hour-and-a-half is probably plenty—but remember to schedule it around nap times. The last thing you want is to get them all excited when they're tired or you'll soon end up with a cranky baby.

1st birthday girl

1st birthday boy

Party Theme

It's still a good idea to choose a theme because it will help tie everything together like invitations, decorations, and a cake, but there's no need to go over-board. Check out the list of themes below


The one thing I would recommend though is—as the guest list will be smaller—you could probably invest a little more in a nice invitation. These are the sort of things that make great keepsakes for you to show your baby in later years. You could even mount one of the invitations onto the front of a guestbook and ask all the guests to write birthday messages when they arrive. Later you could add photos from the party and keep this as a record to show you child when they've grown up.

Either way don't forget to take lots of photos or have a video camera on hand so you can share the memories with your baby a few years down the line.

1st Birthday Party Invitations

Check out my seperate page of Kids Birthday Party Invitations for tips and suggestions.

photo collage 1st birthday invitation
bunny 1st birthday invitation
alice in ONEderland 1st birthday invitation
illustrated 1st birthday invitation

1st Birthday Party Drinks

Check out my other page of Party Drink Ideas which includes simple styling & presentation tips to make your party drinks look more professional.

party drink in milk bottles
fruit name party drink stirrers
party drinks
personalized drinks straws

1st Birthday Dessert Table Ideas

I always think it’s a good idea to concentrate the majority of your party decorations around a dessert/buffet table/food station. This will create a focal point in the room. Decorations often have to compete with existing room decor so they can get a bit lost if spread too thinly. I think you’re far better off creating one really well themed feature wall—with great food presentation & styling—that everyone’s eye will be drawn to. You can then use a few general decorations around the rest of the room to tie everything together. Check out my other page of Dessert Table Ideas which has lots of different ideas for backdrops, along with tips and suggestions for how best to construct, support, display, or hang them.

1st birthday dessert table
balloon dessert buffet table backdrop
baby shower dessert table
balloon dessert  buffet table backdro

1st Birthday Party Themes

Click on any of the 1st birthday party themes below for complete party plans including ideas for invitations, food & drink, decorations, and party favors.

alice in wonderland party theme
baseball party theme
elmo party theme
hello kitty party theme
princess party theme
sesame street party theme
superheros party theme

Check out more 1st birthday party themes here, such as the ones below.

modern boy african american theme
modern girl theme
honey bee party theme
the world awaits party theme
little man party theme
Pink Mustache party theme
construction party theme
little star party theme
boy elephant party theme
ducky duck party theme
ahoy nautical party theme
Paris Ooh La La
little cowboy party theme
little cowgirl party theme
farm animals party theme
froggy frog party theme
ladybug party theme
girl puppy dog party theme
Two Peas in a Pod party theme
Cirque Soiree party theme

Check out more 1st birthday party themes here, such as the ones below.

mr one deful party theme
sweetest one of all party theme
very hungry caterpillar party theme
fun to be one party theme
wild one party theme
winter one derland party theme
personalized party theme
wild one party theme
lil pumpkin party theme
mr one derful party theme
sweetest one of all party theme
mr one derful theme
fun to be one party theme
winter one derland theme
one derful party theme

1st Birthday Party Food

Check out my Pinterest boards for birthday party food ideas and recipes, including sweet and savory ideas both hot and cold. Remember, for a 1st birthday party you'll be catering mainly to adult friends and family.

birthday party food meatballs on forks
birthday party food cheese balls
birthday party food lemon cups

Food Presentation & Styling

Ever wonder why your own party food never ends up looking anything like the inspiration you found on Pinterest? Check out my Buffet Table Ideas page for a few simple food styling and presentation tips to give party food a professional look.

party food presentation ideas
buffet table styling & presentation
dessert table food display
buffet table styling & presentation

1st Birthday Cake Toppers

These silhouette style cake toppers are a easy way to personalize a 1st birthday cake. There are lots of different styles and designs available, including ones that incorporate the birthday boy / girls's name with their favorite sports or hobbies, or you can go for a more general ONE topper. See the full range here. Alternatively, I love these large face cake toppers (below far right), that are made from a photo of the birthday boy / girl. Check out other examples here.

little man birthday cake topper
personalized photo cake topper
photo face birthday cake topper
one cake topper

Alternatively, you can easily create a beautiful photo cake, like the one below left, by using these custom edible picture icing sheets which you can then apply to any cake. Alternatively, apply them to cupcakes, cookies, or cake pops, as in the example below center. Check out the icing sheets here — just upload your photos and they'll be mailed to you.

photo birthday cake
Photo: Cake Decor
edible photo icing sheets
custom edible picture icing sheets

Cupcake Toppers

Alternatively, you can use these smaller photo face cupcake toppers. Check them out here.

baby photo cupcake toppers
1st birthday party photo cupcake toppers
baby photo cupcake toppers
little man tophat photo cupcake toppers

Custom Cookies & Cutters

What better way to add a cute personal touch to a 1st birthday party than with these custom face cookie cutters made from a photo of the birthday boy or girl! As well as baking a batch of cookies, you could also try using them on sandwiches, cheese slices, or fruits such as watermelon. Alternatively, pop them into celophane bags and give them out as party favors. Check them out here.

custom face cookie cutters
custom face cookie cutters

Alternatively, if you're not one for baking you can buy these cartoon-style cookies made from a photo of the birthday boy / girl. Check them out here.

custom cartoon face portrait cookies
custom cartoon face portrait cookies
custom cartoon face portrait cookies

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Many thanks


1st birthday party ideas collage

About Matt James

Matt James is a professional event planner and owner of event agency Left Field Productions, which has produced events for Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Spacey, Stella McCartney, David LaChapelle, John Waters, and Elvis Costello & Diana Krall. Since 2004, Left Field Productions has won 30 industry awards for excellence including Production Company of the Year. Matt is the author of the book Become an Event Planner: Secrets for Getting Hired from Employers, Recruiters, and Event Professionals.

matt james


  • 1st birthday party ideas

    by an award-winning professional party planner