African-American woman holding their child and celebrating baby’s first birthday

The Ultimate Baby's First Birthday Party Guide (Ideas & Tips)

A baby’s first year is full of exciting moments. What better way to commemorate how far you and your little one have come in the first year than by throwing a birthday party? Celebrating life’s milestones—both small and large—is one way to bring your loved ones together and make memories.


Planning a baby's birthday party doesn’t need to be stressful. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you turn your first birthday party ideas into reality, so you can celebrate your child’s first trip around the sun in style.

  • Step 1: Choose a Baby’s Birthday Party Theme
  • Step 2: Determine the Time & Location
  • Step 3: Create a Guest List & Send Invitations
  • Step 4: Plan the Menu
  • Step 5: Schedule Activities & Entertainment
  • Step 6: Prepare Party Favors
  • Step 7: Document the Moment
  • Tips for a Successful First Birthday
  • Make the Most Out of Your Baby’s First Birthday

Step 1: Choose a Baby’s Birthday Party Theme  

Choosing a theme for your baby’s birthday party will help make all your other decisions even easier. 

Birthday party theme inspiration can come from anywhere. As you consider different possibilities for themes, first set your budget. Some baby birthday parties are extravagant, while others are more simple. Set your budget at the beginning to ensure your ideas align with your expectations.

Now that you have a defined budget, start brainstorming ideas. Party themes come in all shapes and sizes and can be as simple as choosing a color or color scheme. Think about your baby’s toys or draw inspiration from their favorite TV or movie characters. 

Here are some classic themes to consider: 

  • Outer space
  • Jungle safari
  • Rainbow
  • Princess
  • Sports
  • Superhero
  • Ocean

Remember that babies won’t recall the details of their first birthday party, so don’t overdo it when planning your theme. The most important thing is to create a memorable experience for family and friends and take pictures your child will cherish when they're older.

Step 2: Determine the Time & Location

Once you have a theme, it’s time to pick when and where you'll host your baby’s birthday party. 

The location might depend on the theme you’ve selected. For example, if your theme is under the sea, you might consider hosting the party at the beach. Whether you celebrate at the beach, the park, your backyard, or inside your home, make sure the location is comfortable and kid-friendly.The guest of honor is still a baby, so ensure your location is suitable and accommodating for them and other young guests. 

Similarly, it’s important to plan the time around the needs of your baby and other guests. It’s likely that your guests also have babies or toddlers, meaning you should plan your party around nap time or make accommodations for naps at the party itself.

Step 3: Create a Guest List & Send Invitations

Now you should have everything you need to prepare and send out invitations. 

Determine if you want to have an intimate gathering or a large bash when creating the guest list. Your budget and location will dictate how long your guest list will be. Most parents invite close family members and friends, followed by fellow parents from playgroups, coworkers, neighbors, and beyond.

Your invitations should include all relevant details, such as time, location, and theme. Today, it’s easier than ever to send out invites. You can mail printed invitations or opt for digital e-invites to make it easier. Regardless, invite your guests early so they can plan ahead and clear their schedules to celebrate with you. 

Dessert table for a unicorn-themed party for a babys first birthday

Step 4: Plan the Menu  

One of the most important parts of every party is the menu. 

From appetizers and dessert platters to drinks and more, the menu you choose will make the party shine. Offer options for kids and grown-ups to ensure everyone has something to eat and drink. Cookies for kids and adults are a popular, mess-free option. When planning, consider potential allergies and dietary restrictions. 

No good party is complete without a cake. The possibilities are endless—a classic cake, cupcakes, pie, even a personalized cookie cake

Many parents incorporate the smash cake trend for their baby's first birthday. This is when you prepare a small cake for your baby and let them eat away. It’s a great photo opportunity that creates lasting memories. If you go this route, you’ll need a separate cake for guests.  

Step 5: Schedule Activities & Entertainment

Next, plan activities and entertainment for your guests. Keep in mind your guest list when deciding what activities to plan. 

Your one-year-old is too young for most activities. However, a good option is to set up an area for babies to play with plushies, blocks, rattles, and more. This will keep young ones occupied while the adults can supervise and chat. 

If you have older kids coming to the party, set up a coloring or crafts table to entertain them. You can also host a dance-off and get all the babies and parents dancing together. 

Step 6: Prepare Party Favors

While it's not required, you can prepare a few party favors to thank your guests for attending the event. 

Keepsakes from the birthday party don’t need to be expensive or big. Instead, focus on small treats or sentimental mementos. Custom cookie gifts are a unique and tasty party favor. This is a cute, thoughtful, and delicious way to show your gratitude. Make sure you have a party favor for all your guests by buying in bulk

Step 7: Document the Moment

Now that your first birthday ideas have come to life, make sure to capture the memories. Take pictures and videos of memorable moments, such as your baby smashing the cake or playing with a new toy. 

One tip is to take several photos before your guests arrive. This way, you can capture all the details and focus on hosting once the party starts. You can also hire a photographer to help you take pictures during the event or ask friends and family to snap a few photos. 

Tips for a Successful First Birthday

Birthday parties for one-year-olds are fun and great for celebrating your baby. Here are a few tips for throwing a successful birthday party:

  • Start planning the party a few months before the big day
  • Create a budget and stick to it
  • Ask for help from family and friends to make the planning and prep easier
  • Have a designated rest area for kids to nap or for moms to change their babies
  • Be flexible and stay present

Make the Most Out of Your Baby’s First Birthday 

As you explore first birthday ideas, remember to have fun and enjoy the process. Your baby’s birthday party should be pleasant and memorable. Take time to enjoy the moment and be with your little one. After all, your baby only turns one once, so make the most of it! 

From the theme to the guest list and menu, so much goes into planning a fantastic one-year-old birthday party. Make planning even easier by choosing familiar favorites to fill out your menu. From chocolate chip to cinnamon sugar, Mrs. Fields® cookies can add an extra sweet touch to your baby’s special day. Elevate your party with a personalized cookie cake or birthday cookie gifts that will leave your guests raving for weeks. 

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