Dear Party Lab,
Need help! My daughter is turning one next month and I'm really stumped on where & how to get started with all the party planning! We're planning to invite about 25 guests in total, with 12 of them under the age of three! For the theme, we'd prefer something that was more gender-neutral so want to stay away from anything frilly + pink! Any ideas?
Lisa (mom to Ariel)
Thanks for your question! For the first birthday, it’s always a special time as parents look back on the year and marvel at how how this little person has managed to captivate their lives!! It’s an awesome milestone to celebrate as there are so many fun & creative themes to consider before your child takes an active interest in “directing” their own party!! ;-)
As far as first birthday ideas go, we love the storybook theme which turns your child’s favorite books into a birthday wonderland and she sees the characters come to life! However, planning a party around the unpredictable mood and schedule of a toddler can be tricky so here are some general stress-free tips to remember:
- Watch the clock. Babies have short attention spans so keep the party to a maximum of 2 hours. They also run out of energy and interest quickly so be sure to plan the party around the nap – either pre or post – when baby isn’t tired.
- House party. For the first birthday, it’s best to hold the party at home so that your child is in a familiar environment where she feels secure. This way, if she is acting fussy, you can always retreat into the sanctuary of her room and in close proximity to her most favorite toys.
- Guest list. It may be tempting to invite a guest list as large as your wedding but this can be overwhelming for your child. So scale down the guest list to VIPs like immediate family and close friends.
- Ask for help. Consider hiring a babysitter or asking a family member to help you balance your hosting duties so that you can enjoy your baby's big day.
- Breathe & enjoy! It won't matter to your bambino whether you throw the party of the season or not. As long as she's with you and feels love all around, that's all that matters.
THE SET-UP: The great thing about this theme is that the decoration, as well as the inspiration, can come from your bookshelf! Simply display your child's favourite books as well as pull out any toys that accompany the book. A simple Google Image search will also list all the covers of your favourite books to print + produce into a banner or postcards to be framed.
THE TABLESCAPE: There are so many fun food ideas inspired by books! For the kids, keep snacks simple, like chopped fruit and graham crackers especially if they’re all toddlers. Just be sure to check with guests if there are food allergies to consider. As this will be more of a party for the parents, be sure to put out grown-up versions for adults to munch on too!
THE [HEALTHIER] OPTION: Here are some healthier food options to consider which goes to show that healthy can be fun too!!
THE DESSERT TABLE: Now on the opposite end of the spectrum!! ;-) There are so many adorable elements to consider for the dessert table, including a themed drink, which all cleverly recreate the essence of so many book classics!
THE ACTIVITIES: One common oversight I see at many children’s parties is underestimating how many activities are required to keep children occupied! If there are many babies still on all fours, create a play zone that is baby-proof and filled with age-appropriate toys for your little guests. Set chairs around the zone for parents to relax and watch.
Another activity can be to set up a reading corner where kids can stop for a little break & a good book. Ask the friend that majored in theatre to read aloud to the kids. Set up a dress up area also where kids can become their favorite characters! If the children are older, some game suggestions are “Name the Book” or "Guess Who" as well as make their own book or bookmarks.
THE CAKE: Oh the possibilities!! How does one even decide with so many beautiful options!!
THE DETAILS: Set the tone for your party with an invitation that looks just like a book or a library card. Match the invites to your party's theme colors and keep the extras as decorations. For the party favour, build everyone's library collection with books which make for great takeaways!
Once we started the research for ideas for the storybook theme, we quickly realised that there are SO many books that could have been their own standalone theme! Some of our favourites include The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, Fancy Nancy, anything Dr Seuss!!, Pinkalicious, Curious George and so many more! So maybe down the road, we'll have a chance to explore one of those themes in greater detail!
So for now, we hope that you have enough ideas to get started on your party for Ariel! All the best with the planning & do keep us posted on how it all turns out!!
Now let the party begin!!