Yes, her first birthday party is undoubtedly more for you than her, but it’s something YOU will remember forever. She will see pictures and won’t remember she was there, but first birthday’s only happen ONCE, and you should definitely celebrate her and the joy she has brought to you the first year of her life.
She is my first baby and I have looked forward to planning her first birthday party for a very long time. She was our miracle baby. You can read more about that here. So needless to say, I was willing to put in the work to make her first birthday special. I shopped online at Amazon and picked up a few things from Walmart & Party City about 5 times in the same week, most of the decor I made myself.
Here are a few tips I to help you get through the first birthday party planning stress-free!
1. Go Simple & stick to budget – Decide whether you want to keep it just immediate family or invite more people, then stick to that number. It is VERY easy to get off track, start inviting everyone you know and buy buy buy. But if you make a list beforehand of how many guests and how much you want to spend, it will make things a whole lot less stressful. You will see so many cute things you will want, but keeping it simple works just as well.
Buy on a budget. We purchase almost all of our party supplies online. I like shopping Amazon because we have prime and get FREE two-day shipping but also because you can find just about ANYTHING on there. Here are the pink polka dot napkins we purchased for the party >> Polka Dot Beverage Napkins
2. Set a Theme – You can find a lot of party decor with some very popular kid themes. But when it comes to plates, napkins, cups, balloons and streamers, it is less expensive if you buy solid colors that match the theme.
We chose Minnie Mouse because she LOVES Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She has a ton of Minnie stuff so it only made sense. It was pretty easy to find the colors and to match the theme. I found pink dotted table cloths for her gift and food table, I used basic white for our guest tables and I made some black runners from fabric I got from Hobby Lobby.
If you are doing Minnie Mouse theme too you MUST check out THIS Pack of 73 Minnie Mouse Theme Cupcake Wrappers Toppers Adorable!
For the table decor, I just used glass vases wrapped in some pink ribbon and put a flower in it. I also used pictures of her with her Minnie ears on, decorated the frame with cut outs of her name, the number 1 and a Minnie head.
We also cut out number 1’s and hung them around the house, put on the tables and even a few from the trees. I also found some lanterns at Party City in black and pink and used those to hang around the food and guest tables.
For centerpieces I made some Minnie heads out of styrofoam that were spray painted black. Then I had some pink and white dotted fabric that I used to make the bows. To make them stand up, I just used a white boa and wrapped it in a circle.
The birthday girl wore a Minnie Mouse inspired pillowcase dress I ordered. Similar one HERE >> Red & White Polka Dots Minnie Mouse Cotton Pillow Case Dress It went perfectly with the theme.
And of course we couldn’t have a Minnie party without Minnie Mouse ears! After an unsuccessful search of a few places for some good looking Minnie ears, I decided to make my own. I made these with a headband, a hot glue gun, some foam and black felt. The tutorial I used to make these can be found here.
I cut out circular foam circles and put them in between some black felt that was cut a little smaller, hot glued them together, then I used the same polka dot fabric I used for the center pieces to make a bow. I decided to make 2, one for the birthday girl and one for me. It would have been nice if I had to time to make all the kids some ears but I didn’t.
3. Photography – You will want to remember every moment and capture memories, BUT you don’t want to miss actually being there. I was so enthralled with trying to capture every moment of the setup and our guests arriving that I quickly realized I wasn’t spending time with the birthday girl! I gave my camera to a friend to have her take pictures while I went to sit and enjoyed the day with my baby. Don’t spend all your time being busy entertaining guests and taking pictures. Try to relax and really enjoy the day alongside your little one.
4. Timing – I did not really consider naptime a few weeks into planning, however this hit me when I realized there were certain times when R was great with company and other times she wanted nothing to do with them. As long as she had a full belly and had just woken up from a nap, she was a very happy girl. We planned her party right after her afternoon naptime at 3PM.
5. Keep food simple– We wanted something simple and affordable and needed something already made so that we did not have to cook. We tried to think of something both kids and adults love. And we thought, what could be better than pizza!? We ordered several pizza’s for the guest with different toppings to satisfy everyone. We also had some vegetarian sandwiches for our veggie guests. We had NO leftover pizza from that day, so I would say the guests enjoyed it!
6. Goodie Bags – A few weeks before the party, I checked around at some stores for clearance items and also visited the dollar store and picked up some bags of toys, bubbles & puzzles. I was intending to give away the goody bags to guests as they left, but after the pinata was broken, the kiddos needing someplace to put all the candy! So we took out the goody bags early and the kids enjoyed their candy and toys the rest of the day.
7. Invitations – I didn’t spend a lot on invites, and if you don’t want to take the time to make your own, you can order a digital print and just print them yourself. You can buy a custom digital file from an online store such as Etsy for as little as $10 that are unique and customized for the birthday girl. Then, you can either send those out via email to your guests OR print as many as you need at any store with a photo center such as a Walmart or Walgreens.
8. Keep it short – Most 1 year olds can only take about an hour or two of activity at the most so we kept our party limited to 2 hours. We scheduled her party from 3-5PM, and for the most part everyone left right at 5.
9. The cake – Bake your cake or have a relative make the cake. You can even forgo the big cake for everyone and make a small personal size cake for birthday girl and for the bakers, you can do something unique and fun at the same time like – Ice cream cupcakes for the kids. We did a small Minnie Mouse cake for the birthday girl and for the rest of the guests and kids we did cupcakes and ice cream.
10. Entertainment – Before the birthday I was so worried that I was not going to have enough to entertain the little party guests. But the kids were entertained…just being kids.
I did get some plastic balls to throw around the yard and some bottles of bubbles but for the most part, they entertained themselves.
It was a really great day and I am so happy with how everything turned out. It took a lot of planning but it was well worth it and I welcomed it. To celebrate this day with her was truly a blessing. We have some great memories and some great pictures for her to enjoy when she is older. The other kids had a great time and I am looking forward to next year when we can plan birthday #2!
I hope the day for you and your little one is just as special. 🙂