The key to having a successful first birthday party for your child is to keep it simple and remain flexible. Hiccups in your child’s party are likely to happen, and keeping it cool even when your itinerary for fun is interrupted is important in helping the party’s atmosphere remain light. Over-scheduling the party and yourself in the days leading up to the birthday can make it stressful. When you are relaxed, you can enjoy the party and your baby's big day.
Keep it Brief
Keep your baby’s first birthday party short. One hour should be enough time for the guests to smear cake on themselves and have a good time. "Parents" magazine suggests keeping the whole party to less than two hours. Consider your child’s nap schedule as you plan. Many young toddlers still take morning and afternoon naps, so schedule the party for late morning or afternoon.
Have a free-play area set up for the toddlers when they arrive. This will give parents a chance to arrange their belongings, use the restroom and have a chance to get settled. Allow parents up to about 20 minutes past the party start time to arrive. Have a place parents can put coats and bags that is easy to identify as they walk in.
Keep It Simple
Trying to round up several 1-year-olds to do an activity can be a challenge that you don’t need to put yourself through. Approximately 20 minutes after the party starts, call everyone’s attention to a very simple activity that parents and kids can do together that lasts approximately 20 minutes. Blow bubbles or dance to nursery rhymes with colorful scarves. The idea is not to have any complex games or crafts, as the children at the party will be too young to enjoy them.
Cut the Cake
Set the food out for parents and kids to enjoy while they are doing the activity or getting settled. Cut the food into bite-sized pieces, and avoid foods that 1-year-olds shouldn’t have, such as nuts or honey. Offer foods babies with no or few teeth can safely manage, such as cheese cubes or crackers. After the activity, cut the cake, cookies or cupcakes and sing “Happy Birthday.” This should take approximately 20 minutes, too. When this is over, you can allow your guests to leave with their age-appropriate gift, such as a chewable board book, or you might open gifts. If you decide to open presents while people are at the party, the process should take 10 to 20 minutes.