Let’s face it, planning and hosting a first birthday party for your child can be a stressful and confusing experience, even for the most seasoned of party planners.

For many parents this milestone birthday signifies an important occasion to take a step back after a year of sleepness nights and developmental milestones and celebrate your newly enlarged family.

It is of course also the time you naturally want to show off your little one to family and friends.

The reality however is slightly different. Throwing a party for a not-even-toddler who realistically will not even understand what is being celebrated, let alone remember the occasion can seem a little thankless.

Follow our tips below on everything from party venues, first birthday gifts and the perfect party menu, and you can be certain that the whole family will get the most out of the occasion.

1. Getting the timing right

Forget traditional party kick off times when planning a first birthday party. This is one occasion when the timing must revolve solely around the guest of honour. Your little one.

Plan carefully around nap times and don’t be afraid of starting early on the day of that is when your one year old if most fresh.

And best to keep it short but sweet. 1.5 to 2 hours is plenty to avoid having a tired and grumpy birthday boy or girl.

2. The perfect venue

External venues are totally unnecessary for the first birthday party. Your child will feel more comfortable in their own home surrounded by toys and familiar things.

What’s more, you can relax knowing that the party venue is baby proof and, should the worst happen and the birthday boy or girl needs a quick knap, it’s no big deal.

Having a party at home is also the perfect excuse to keep to a manageable  guest list (see below).

3. Go easy on the guestlist

Most experts would agree that a first birthday party is not the right time to introduce your little one to the wider world.

Being passed from Auntie Eileen, to your second cousin once removed Bob is bound to unsettle even the most sociable of children.

Keep the guest list small and intimate. Direct family and close friends only, plus a few familiar kids faces to share in the special moments.

4. Best First Birthday Party Themes

Your little one may be too young to tell you the theme that they want for their first birthday (that time will come soon we can reassure you!).

That’s said, a good theme is still essential – not in the least to make the party easier to plan.

Choose something broad and well known to everyone. The latest superheroes and cartoon characters will be unfamiliar to most of your guests and make any party accessories difficult and expensive to source.

For ideas on original first birthday party themes click here.

First birthday theme ideas
We found some wonderful first birthday themes from Wild One to Onewonderland. Photo credits: Anna Pawleta, Inspired by Alma (available on Etsy) and Catch my party



5. Smashing Cake Ideas

Of course the cake needs to look stunning and fit in with the theme, but it also needs to taste delicious too. Bear in mind that at a first birthday the adults are likely to outnumber the number of cake eating children. We would therefore recommend a stunning adult friendly centrepiece cake that can also double as dessert.

Make it yourself in line with your theme or consider a shop bought creation and personalise it by adding some stylish finishing touches such as fresh flowers or our beautiful silver plated candleholders.

You could also consider individual cupcakes, decorated inline with the theme. These are perfectly suited for older kids as they tend to be easier for them to eat – or even takeaway for afterwards.

Finally don’t forget the ‘Smash Cake’! The latest trend for first birthdays, we love the idea. Bake an identical smaller cake that you little one can enjoy just for themselves and really go crazy with.

As the name indicates they are likely to smash it as they eat it (even seen a one year old eat a slice of cake with a fork?!?). creating a perfect and fun photo opportunity.  Just don’t forget to plan for a change of clothes.

You can find inspiration for your smash cake here, as well as some fun photography ideas.

images of first birthday cakes
First birthday cake ideas: Smash cakes, shop bought and the naked cake. Photocredits: KD Elise Photography, Marks and Spencers and Pretty my Party

6. The best gifts

As far as we are concerned first birthday gifts fit best in to two categories: First birthday keepsakes or simple and fun.  Your child is bound to receive numerous toys as part of their celebration so why not, as the parent opt for something different?

With a milestone birthday it is always nice to give your child something treasured for many years to come and if it’s useful too that’s a double bonus.

We love limited edition story books,  personalised art works, growth charts and of course our silver plated cake candle holders that can be used for a first birthday and then added to with each passing year.

My train mad son Lolo started with the train then I designed a new carriage to add in each subsequent year.  It made planning his cake  much easier and adding a new carriage candle each year made a lovely family tradition.

As from this week our silver plated candleholders now come presented in a personalised giftbox complete with a special message of your choice. From just 14 GBP for a beautifully packaged and personalised single candleholder we have a gift for any budget.

Or, if you want to go for the simple option,  a box of colourful helium balloons wins hand down every time.

First birthday gift ideas
Beautiful gifts to last a lifetime or enjoy in the moment.

7. Fantastic food

Plan a simple menu and keep the sugar to a minimum, particularly for the children who may not be used to it.

Easy kids foods which will be suitable for the birthday girl or boy include crustless sandwiches, crackers and fresh fruit such a strawberries, blueberries, melon chunks and halved grapes.

When it come to adults food, a few nibbles plus the birthday cake should be plenty, depending of course on the time of day you host your party.

First birthday food ideas
Pinterest has some wonderful first birthday food ideas like this rainbow fruit plate and simple yet gorgeously decorated cake. Photo credits: Anabel Karmel and i-heart-baking


8. Don’t forget the photos

Don’t miss the opportunity to capture the moment!

Plan to take a few pictures before the guests arrive to show how beautiful everything looks and, unless you have a professional photographer, delegate a friend to be your ‘official photographer’.

Don’t be afraid to provide them with a simple list of the things you would like them to photograph (cake smashing, birthday candles being blow out, opening of present etc. ) That way they can be sure to capture all of the important moments of the party, leaving you to  enjoy them stress free.

9. Afterwards……

Put your feet up with a nice cup of tea and relive this important milestone through the pictures.  You deserve it!

However you plan it, I hope you enjoy the party.