First Birthday Party planning checklist

By Rebecca Lien, La Boum Events

• While the focus of the birthday will be on your toddler, the party is not really for the baby because they will have no memory of the event. First birthdays are the one and only birthday party that is more about the adults who are building memories.

• We recommend organizing the party around naptime. Parties can be overwhelming at any age, so having a small celebration following a nap can assure a rested toddler smiling for the much needed baby book photos.

• Keep it short. Little kids get overwhelmed and tire easily. Pay your favorite babysitter or nanny to be on hand. A familiar face can be a huge comfort and keep baby from being overwhelmed by all of the other guests.

• As with any party, set a realistic budget. It’s easy to get excited about fun ideas you saw on Pinterest, but if you aren’t careful a budget can be blown quickly. Think about each specific item to purchase and be realistic about the cost. Pick one or two items that are your favorite to focus your spending. For any party it is important to ask yourself, which items will make the biggest impact?

• Where will you have this event? For most people, having a party outside the home is easier and less stressful because you don’t have to include cleaning the house. Just focus on the fun part – enjoying the event. Many restaurants have a party room, there are also kid’s gyms or playgroup areas.

• If the majority of guests are adults, don’t be afraid to have a theme that adults can relate to. How about looking to vintage toys from your own childhood? Or consider choosing a theme from a storybook you enjoy reading to your child. Most children’s stories offer fun characters and bright colors. Find creative ways to incorporate these colors and images into your food and decorations.

• Double-check the childproofing if you are inviting other small children. Because babies are exceptionally curious, you need to be prepared to have numerous hands grabbing and tugging at your home or venue and decorations.

• We all want the picture of the baby reaching a tiny fistful into the cake and smearing it around their face. However, while this makes for a cute picture, no one wants to eat after your baby. Consider giving your baby a small mini cake just for them. Don’t forget that yellow cake and white frosting is easier to get out of their clothes later!

• Want balloons? Mylar balloons filled with helium are the better choice. They won’t deflate as easily as the blow up latex ones, which are also a choking hazard.

• Choosing foods that can please both children and adults can be a bit of a challenge. Finger foods are still a great choice. Fresh fruit and veggies look striking spilling out of a colorful ice cream cone. You can get fancier with feta cheese and olives in individual containers or do a sandwich wrap with a custom paper band with the family monogram. These are inexpensive and can have a wonderfully upscale look.

• Plan an activity that honors a person or group that your child loves. If you toddler’s favorite toy is a fire truck, invite party guests to make a plate of cookies and together deliver them to a local fire department. If your child adores story time at the public library, have guests create cards to say “thank you” to staff. This is a wonderful way to creatively give back to the community and make a joyous and memorable occasion.

• Keep a small notebook to record all of the gifts that your child receives. Make sure you send a thank you card to each gift giver and include a photograph of the guest with your child. Keep an extra set of photographs with the birthday cards and tuck them away together as a keepsake.

• It is unlikely your child needs any more toys or clothes or stuff to clutter the playroom. Consider asking guests to forgo the traditional presents and instead bring a memorable item to put in a time capsule to keep for when your child turns 18. Items could include letters of well wishes for their adult life, favorite music from the past year, important newspaper articles from the year they were born, or current candies, a t-shirt from a popular restaurant, or even a band poster. Get as creative as you can, keeping in mind the size of the capsule and how long you will be willing to store the capsule before it is given in the future.

• Begin a tradition that you and your child can enjoy on their birthday for every year to come. Many families have a special hat or crown that is reserved for the special birthday boy or girl. In our family, we had a special wake up song for our special day, along with chocolate chip pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse.

• Make sure to have a photo taken with you and your child together. Have your child stand back to back with you to track their growth through the years.