Congratulations! You and your kiddo have made it through the first year (and hopefully, relatively unscathed). When it comes to celebrating the milestones in your little one’s life, the first birthday is pretty high on the list. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

Here are our top tips for planning the best first birthday party ever.

  1. Step away from Pinterest: All you need are your loved ones and a cake (and even the cake is optional). Honestly. If themed parties are your jam, have at it, but if bunting and photo booths and custom signage make you cringe, just don’t do it.
  2. Keep it short: Chances are, there will be at least a few other small kids in attendance. Even though you may luck out with good moods all around, don’t push your luck. Keep the party to no longer than two hours in length.
  3. For a party with plenty of child attendees, have a few extra hands on deck: Make arrangements with friends, family members or a couple of trusted teens in the neighbourhood to help keep tiny guests entertained.
  4. Don’t over-plan the party with games and activities: Allow guests time to arrive and enjoy each other’s company. If your attendees don’t know each other, they’ll need a few minutes to introduce themselves. And let’s be real, babies are wild cards: By the time you wrangle them to eat snacks or a meal, open presents and have cake, there won’t be a lot of extra time to fill anyway.
  5. Do have an activity station for older kids: Colouring books, washable finger paints (don’t forget the painting smocks!), bubbles and easy-to-use toys are all great items to have on hand.
  6. Have two snack tables – one filled with healthy treats for little ones (think cheese cubes, crackers, fruits and veggies) and have a second table for adults. Grown-up goodies are always appreciated by parents (they might be sick of eating raisins, Cheerios and Goldfish). Be sure to ask those attending about any allergies so you can be prepared with specific snacks on party day.
  7. Two words: Cake. Smash: Yes, it is messy, but every kid deserves to go a little crazy on their big oh-one. (Obviously do this with a separate mini cake, not the one you plan on serving to guests!)
  8. Hire a pro: You’ll be too busy to snap photos all day, so hire a professional photographer to get some great candids and family pictures. If it’s not in the budget, designate a friend or family member to be the unofficial paparazzi. That way you’ll be sure to have snaps of this memorable milestone.
  9. Relax: Yes, easier said than done. But really–relax. Be present and try not to stress. (They only turn one once!)

Originally published in the Spring 2019 issue. Photo by iStockphoto.