1st Birthday Party Ideas for the Cutest Guest of Honor

Updated January 14, 2022
one year old babies at birthday party

There's some truth in "the days are long but the years are short" when you are raising a child. If you think you blinked and all of a sudden you found yourself searching for 1st birthday party ideas online, look no further. These easy yet exciting ideas will help you plan a sweet and memorable first birthday celebration for the entire family.

Plan a Cake Smash Session

one year old cake smash

A cake smash is a fun tradition to celebrate a child's first birthday. Remember to have the camera rolling because a cake smash is fun, messy and entertaining, so be sure to register your child's cute reactions when they first dig those tiny little hands into the cake. There will be lots of giggles and even a few tears. It's all part of the fun.

Make or Purchase a 1st Birthday Crown

one year old boy with birthday crown

Birthday crowns are an adorable trend, especially for first birthday celebrations. If getting crafty is not your thing, you can easily purchase a 1st birthday crown online for the big day. Decide on a 1st birthday theme and color palette before placing a custom order. From glitter paper to felt made, birthday crowns make the perfect accessory for capturing the sweetest birthday photos.

Set Up a Finger Painting Station

finger painting first birthday party

If you have friends who have small kids coming to the celebration, consider setting up a finger painting station. It's an easy and affordable way to keep little ones entertained for a few minutes. All you need is finger painting paper roll and washable paint. It's an activity that's perfect to be done right at the beginning of the party to give enough time to dry. The guests can take their kids' finger painting masterpieces home.

Plan an Interactive Story Time

story time first birthday party

Make your child's story time extra special for the family with an interactive happy birthday book that you can personalize with your child's name and age. Your little one might be too little to understand the concept at the moment, but it's a wonderful keepsake to treasure for many years to come. Reserve 10-15 minutes so everyone can gather for a memorable birthday party story time.

Make Baby Cupcakes

one year old decorated cupcake

If you think a cake smash is a little over-the-top, a cupcake smash is a great alternative. Consider sprucing your baby's cupcake with a fun topper you can either order online or diy if you are feeling extra crafty and would like to break out your cutting machine for your child's special birthday.

Create a Balloon Pit

balloon pit birthday party for one year old

It's no secret babies love playing with colorful bouncy balloons. Creating your own balloon pit for your child's first birthday will be the highlight of the party. If you don't have a padded box at home, you can purchase a kid plastic pool to fill up with balloons. An electric balloon pump would be ideal, but a balloon hand pump can work perfectly.

1st Birthday Trivia

How well do you know the baby? A 1st birthday trivia is a fun icebreaker activity to keep the party going. Have cards printed ahead of time and make sure you have pens or pencils available for all guests. The person with the most correct answers wins a fun prize.

Celebrate at the Beach

beach birthday for one year old

If your child hasn't been to the beach yet, a special birthday is a great opportunity to expose your baby to the beauty of a white sand beach. Spending the day at the beach might be a little exhausting, but a walk at the beach followed by building a castle while soaking up the sun makes it a special way to celebrate a first birthday. Be sure to pack a few essentials, such as a beach umbrella, towels, sunscreen and beach toys.

Visit an Indoor Playground

indoor ball pit playground

A kids indoor playground may sound a little overwhelming for a child who is about to turn one but with a little research, you will find a wonderful facility that offers a fun toddler area your little one will be excited to explore. From colorful ball pits to little slides, your child will love to get a little adventurous with other kids the same age.

Make Non-Toxic Playdough

one year old playing with playdough

Playing with play dough builds fine motor skills and hand/finger strength. If you have small children coming to the birthday party, consider making a non-toxic play dough that is safe if the child swallows it. Play dough time is the perfect activity for little ones. Just remember a small child still needs constant supervision when playing with play dough. For children under two years old, place play dough in clear snack size baggies for a safe tactile stimulation activity.

Build a Simple Sandbox

baby in sandbox

If you have room in your backyard or patio for a diy sandbox, consider building one in preparation for your little one's first birthday. Building a sandbox will keep the little guests entertained while parents socialize. If you consider yourself handy, the project will be a breeze, as building one is as straightforward as stacking pre-cut lumber in a square, fastening it together, and filling it with sand.

Create a Scrapbook Photo Album

scrapbook for baby's first birthday

Digital photo albums have been taking the world by storm, but there's still something special about old-fashioned scrapbook photo albums. There's nothing more meaningful than handmade keepsakes you can treasure for a lifetime. Creating a birthday scrapbook photo album to share with family and close friends during the celebration is a special way to highlight the baby's first year of life.

Visit a Petting Zoo

baby's first birthday at petting zoo

Taking your little one to a petting zoo can be a fun and interactive way to celebrate a first birthday. Be sure to find a farm that has a petting zoo that offers a combination of domesticated animals that are docile enough to touch and feed. If your child has never been exposed to a pet of any kind, this is a great opportunity to allow them to experience different animals in an exciting way.

Make Fun Family Stick Puppets

puppet party for baby's first birthday

DIY Family Stick Puppets are easy to make and are wonderful for developing your children's hand-eye coordination and communication skills. To create your own family stick puppets, draw family members on a piece of paper or use real photos for more realistic representation. Cut them out and adhere to popsicle sticks using glue or tape. No need for a scripted play, as your child is very little. Just enjoy some spontaneous creative play time with your family.

Have a Special 1st Birthday Photo Session

photo shoot party baby's first birthday

To celebrate your child turning one, consider hiring a professional photographer for a special 1st birthday photo session. Most photographers are very accommodating and can create a package to tailor to your needs by developing a concept idea for your photo session. They will go above and beyond from finding the perfect location, backgrounds/set to selecting the perfect decorations and even outfits for your little one.

Stress Less and Enjoy the Moment

When you plan a birthday party from beginning to end, it's easy to find yourself trying to juggle all the details of the celebration while still being present in the moment. Take a deep breath because not all the details can go as planned and your child's first birthday will be as special regardless if the cupcakes are neatly frosted or the catering company is running behind schedule.

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1st Birthday Party Ideas for the Cutest Guest of Honor