Raising Girls

7 Steps to Create the Perfect 1st Birthday

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I’m getting ready to plan my third 1st birthday party for my youngest daughter. Two have gone before her and as a former event planner (in my former single life in Miami), I tend to go a little crazy with it and tend to be a bit of a perfectionist (I know, there’s no such thing as perfection but tell that to my inner planner.).

I write this post as much as a reminder for myself as to share with you the steps to take to create as perfect of a birthday party as possible.

Step #1 Pick A Theme

Whether it’s a character theme, color theme or some other theme, picking a theme for the birthday party makes it easy peasy to plan E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. It’s sort of like homing in on a niche if you’re opening a business or writing a blog.

When you have a theme, it really narrows down the options for all of the party items you need and want for the party. For example, if you’re having a pink and gold theme, you automatically know that you need pink and gold decorations.

If you’re having an outdoor picnic/BBQ theme then picking foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and watermelon is easy.

The theme for my oldest daughter’s 1st birthday was a ladybug theme.

For my second daughter, it was a pink poodle theme.

I’m still working on the third daughter’s theme but I better work quick because her 1st birthday is two months away:)

This might lead you to the question, “How do I choose a theme?” I admit I spent hundreds of hours in Pinterest-land coming up with ideas for themes and then for the ways to pull the theme off.

In the end, though, the themes came to me rather simply. My oldest daughter is Kate but we called her Katie Bug the Ladybug when she was little — hence, the ladybug theme. We also call her (still) Kate the Great so we easily could have pulled off a superhero theme, too.

I sang a song to my second daughter, Audrey Grace has a pretty face, to the tune of the Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace (changing the words to fit a baby and a blue-eyed girl instead of a brown-eyed girl) so it was natural to have a 1950’s sock hop pink poodle theme.

I can’t say I am having the same luck with my third. I do sing Emmy Anne to the tune of 2 Live Crew’s Get it Girl. Probably, not appropriate for a party theme, though 🙂

Leah, over at Home Growen published a series on planning a Winter Onederland Party. You can check out the series for ideas, free printables, and more. 

Step #2 Pick a Date

This may sound so like duh to you. Of course you have to pick a date for the party but it can be a tiny bit more complex than you think. You have to consider holidays and long weekends or dates that might be out of the question for your invited guests.

If you’re planning to have the party at a place or venue, you have to pick a date that the location is available. Even if you’re having it at home, you have to pick a date when you can have your home guest-worthy.

For all of these reasons and more, pick a couple of dates. If your first choice is booked at the venue you want, go to your back-up date.

Step #3 Pick a Place

You really have to have a theme and a date in place in order to move on to all of the other steps of planning a 1st birthday party. The next big decision is to nail down the location. If you’re hosting the party at home, then it’s not a problem to quickly move on to the next steps.

If you’re booking a venue, then you have to locate the one you want that can hold the number of guests you’re expecting and that is available for your party date. Usually, the venue also needs to fit into your budget.

Step #4 Order + Send Invitations

For the 1st birthday, I still send pretty/fun/festive hard-copy invitations. (Subsequent birthdays get Punch Bowl or evite invitations.) I chose shops on Etsy that provided custom invitations (and party supplies like decorations) that fit my theme.

Step #5 Plan the Menu

I always try to coordinate the food and snack items with the theme. So for the ladybug theme, I served red and black snacks and candies. We also served hot dogs and hamburgers, which did not necessarily fall into that category.

Same was true for the pink poodle party theme. We served hot dogs on an old-time hot dog roaster (50s-style), popcorn, along with pink and white candies and sweets.

Step #6 Decide on Decor

So far, we have had 1st birthday parties at our home. For my oldest daughter, we rented some tables and chairs and black and red table covers. I bought a banner, hanging decorations, and wall decor from Etsy. I bought ladybug paper plates and cups, along with red and black utensils from an online party store that had a ladybug pattern I liked better than the local party store.

My sister-in-law is such a good sport so if I forward her the files, she prints the decorations and cuts them, assembles them — the whole shebang! Some Etsy sellers offer downloads so you can do this yourself or they will ship you the finished products.

Audrey, of course, had pink poodle decor, favors, etc. As you can see in the picture, we also did chalkboard signs. We also opted for favors so this is something to consider when you’re ordering/buying the supplies you need and want.

Step #7 Order a Cake (Don’t Forget the Smash Cake)

For the 1st birthday, we always go big or go home when it comes to the cake. Kate and Audrey both had a two-tier cake. Both also had a smash cake that was all their own.

Go forth and party 🙂 I’ll keep you posted on the baby’s 1st birthday party, which theme I end up choosing, and how it all turns out. She turned 10 months yesterday and I think she’s super excited that there is cake in her near future!

XOXO, Kristie
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