Planning a First Birthday celebration

The chances are that a one year old is likely to remember little of his or her first birthday, but that’s no reason not to have a party. If you haven’t organised a naming ceremony yet, then you could choose to combine it with a first birthday.

First birthdays can vary in significance for different people. In many cultures around the world it comes with its own set of ceremonies. For instance, Chinese babies play chua chou (‘grabbing game’) on their first birthday. Objects like books, jewellery and cutlery are put out. What they grab indicates their destiny — so a pen grabber might become a writer.


Careful birthday party planning means everyone will have a great time. Here are a few pointers to help you on the way…


While the date of the party is pretty much fixed to the birth date, there is room for leeway either side of the date — especially if you want to have the party on a weekend. It’s best to keep it as close as possible to the actual birth date so that everyone knows what they’re celebrating!


Deciding what kind of birthday party you want will help to establish just how many people you want to invite. Do you envisage a few close friends enjoying a small get together or are you looking to put on a much bigger affair, which includes all your friends and family?


It’s best to pick a time of the day when the baby is likely to be well-rested and cheerful. Late morning or early afternoons are generally a good idea.  Try to keep the entire event fairly short as a longer event is likely to be exhausting for both the baby and mum.


Just about anything goes, from a straightforward house party to a catered affair. If you want to have the party at home, consider whether you want it indoors or outdoors.  A garden party can be lovely in the summer and you could arrange outdoor activities for all the babies and children. It’s also worth thinking about setting up a marquee, which would enable you to have the party at home, without your house taking the strain.  Alternatively, many restaurants have function rooms that can be fairly inexpensive to hire.


Aim to send out invites a month or two before, to ensure that the people you want to be there are free. Do ask them to RSVP with numbers and ages of guests attending as you will need to plan snacks and activities. In case you don’t get a reply you could give them a call to find out if they can make it.


Unless you’re planning a lunch or dinner party, go for simple finger foods and a cake. They are flexible and easy to prepare and, if you’re doing the catering yourself, once it’s set up, you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the party. If many children are going to be present as guests, you could have foods in fun shapes.

Deciding on a theme

If your baby has a favourite storybook character or cuddly toy, you could base your theme around it. Otherwise loads of balloons and ribbons in a particular colour theme works well.


Ideal music would be your baby’s favourite nursery rhymes or soothing classical music. Your choice may depend on the number of children you have as guests.

Making bookings

Of course, you can’t send out invites until the venue is booked, so aim to book somewhere two to three months before the party. This may sound overly cautious, but it allows enough time to ensure that you get what you want and leaves time for you to re-book anything that may fall through.

Checking dates with key people

Important guests like grandparents and godparents will need to be informed and confirmed as early as possible so that they can keep the date free.

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