1st Birthday Party Essentials

Between the two of us, we have had 3 first birthday parties! It is already such an emotional time, with your little one hitting such a milestone, but throw party planning on top and it is pretty overwhelming. So we wanted to help! Jamie is the Queen of First Birthday Parties, so she has compiled a list of her First Birthday Party Essentials to help with your planning. We have also thrown in some money saving ideas throughout the essentials and then a list of  stress relievers at the end to help! Good luck with your planning! 

Before you get started, you need to decide on your theme! While we can’t help you decide the theme that fits your little the best, all the essentials that follow are the same! **We have even listed the essentials below in the order we think you should purchase or order them, as some items take a bit longer to prepare/ship!**

List of Essentials: 

  1. Birthday Invitations
  2. Birthday outfit
  3. Year in Review Sign 
  4. High Chair Decor
  5. Personalized Decor
  6. Smash cake
  7. Basic Necessities 
  8. Additional Food

Of course there can be no party without guests, so first and foremost (after deciding your theme of course) order birthday invitations! I am a sucker for a birthday invite that contains a picture of the birthday girl/boy, but there are some pretty adorable prints out there! Need the money saver option?? Use evites! Websites like evite.com have some super cute digital invitations that you can email out which saves you money on invitations (and stamps!) as well as your time!

What’s a birthday party without a birthday outfit! For those of you looking for the perfect birthday outfit I suggest Etsy, as they have so MANY personalized options, and one for practically every theme. Although, as mentioned I would purchase this item in advance, as personalization can take some time, which brings us to the next item on the list; “Year in Review” sign. 

Now I’m sure you’re wondering, what is a “Year in Review” sign? These are actually one of my favorite keep-sakes from birthdays. It’s a sign that quite literally reviews your babies 1st year by listing out a variety of different things about them. I have seen it done in many different ways, but the basic ones include height, weight, number of teeth, favorite toys, favorite foods, things they can do (i.e crawl or walk) and of course any words they can say! Money Saver Option?? Many places like Etsy allow you to buy the digital print for only a few dollars and then print on your own! Looking for even cheaper? Make your own! If you’re crafty, grab a poster board and some cute markers and go to town! 

Now that those personalized items are done, on to the next essential- high chair decorations! Now I am sure you’re wondering……Why is high chair decor it’s own essential? WELL let me tell you, its because there are so MANY options when it comes to decorating your high chair! I have gone just balloon option, with balloons that match the theme (money saver option!) in addition to the huge number 1 balloon, which was cute, and made for good pictures! However, at Brentley’s party we added tissue tassel garland to the front of her high chair and let me tell you, it brought the pictures to the next level. Like smash cake photo shoot level, so needless to say I will now STRONGLY recommend this item to everyone throwing a 1st birthday!

What does personalized decor entail, you ask? Well, I am that mom that takes monthly pictures (yes, I still do this yearly with my almost 5 year old. No she doesn’t hold a sign anymore) But what better way to show off your little’s changes than displaying those monthly photos?! Again there are a lot of cute displays you can buy, but attached the picture to twine or pretty string with cute paper clips or clothes-pins, and stringing that on a mantel can be just as cute, while also being wallet friendly 🙂  Another idea for personalized decor is to purchase a wooden version of the first letter in their name and a sharpie and ask guests to sign it with their birthday wishes. I spray painted a plan wooden letter from Hobby Lobby pink and bought gold sharpies for guests to use. It turned out great and was super cheap as well. 

Personally, I feel the most important item is the smash cake, because what’s more fun than watching your little’s personality shine through in how they react to cake! Which for those of you who did not know, Publix offers a free smash cake (money saver!) with the purchase of a 1st birthday cake. No matter where you are purchasing your smash cake, I would recommend ordering at least 2 weeks in advance. Only takes one phone call and always feels good to cross something off the list. 

With all the bigger items off the list, it’s time to purchase the basic necessities. This includes paper plates (big and small), plastic cups and silverware, and of course tablecloths. I usually grab these items a few days before the party, as you can find them pretty much anywhere in a variety of colors. I have found it’s always easiest to go with plain table cloths and plates (money saver), but if you want to get ones that match your theme I would suggest ordering those earlier with the personalized decor. 

Last but not least, is additional food and drink for your guests! I always plan my parties around 2 pm as this gives your guests time to eat lunch and leaves you responsible for snack foods only. I would STRONGLY recommend the same timing or close to it, if possible. The party planning process gets more stressful when meals are required. I generally order a fruit tray, veggie tray, and a meat and cheese tray and adjust the size depending on the number of people I invited. I would recommend at least 3 different types of snack foods. So if you aren’t into fruit, veggie or meat trays, substitute with chips and salsa or goldfish and grapes, just as long as you provide something kid friendly to snack on. For drinks, I provide waters, caprisuns, and sodas. These can be picked up the day of if necessary! 

We hope this list of essentials makes your party planning a less stressful experience, but if not maybe the tips below will! 

Ways to decrease stress: 

  • Make/purchase everything possible ahead of time. You can make or get tons of stuff the day before or even earlier and refrigerate or freeze! 
  • Make the party midmorning or afternoon. As mentioned above, this way you can do light snacks, instead of a full meal!
  • Don’t hesitate to accept help! If someone offers to do/bring something, accept! 
  • Decorate what you can the night before – because lets be honest, on party day you have get yourself and little one(s) ready, deal with nap time and entertain any out of town guests who came early. So the less to do the better!

Don’t forget to let us know how your birthday parties go! And we would love to see some photos so tag our instagram so we can see your beautiful babies and party decor 🙂

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