Throwing a first birthday bash is a big deal for your baby and for your family and friends. Celebrating your child's first year of life comes with easier planning if you choose a theme for the party. Discover some popular one-year-old party themes and ideas for carrying the theme out.
Owl or Monkey Themes
- Monkeys - For a monkey-themed party, you can even use a monkey sock puppet. Print the party details on a piece of card stock and slide the card into the mouth of the monkey. Mail the sock puppets in a padded envelope or small box. You can also hand deliver the local invitations.
Use an owl or monkey shaped cookie cutter to create cookies and finger sandwiches that are shaped like monkeys and owls. Work with a local bakery to have cake pops made in the shapes of owls or monkeys and use colors that coordinate with the party colors.
- Monkeys - Gather the children around on a carpet or in the center of the party room. Sing "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." You can also read them a Curious George book.
- Owls - For an owl theme, you can read Wow! Said the Owl or The Littlest Owl. You can also recite the nursery rhyme The Wise Old Owl or sing the counting song Ten Little Owls.
Use decorations that fit with the rest of your themed tableware to keep things simple and make less work for yourself.
Buy white, round paper lanterns and turn them into owls.
- Cut out two round circles out of white construction paper for the whites of the owls' eyes.
- Cut two smaller round circle out of black construction paper for the pupils of the owls' eyes.
- Cut two wings out of brown construction paper or a color that coordinates with your party.
- Glue the eyes on to the face or front of the lantern
- Glue one wing onto each side of the lantern.
- Hang the lanterns from the ceiling of the party room or from tree branches for an outside party.
Find stuffed monkeys that are part of your child's stuffed animal collection, at second-hand stores, or borrow them from friends. You can also buy some at toy stores. Hang the stuffed monkeys from trees, the ceiling, and furniture in your home.
- Print owl or monkey t-shirts that are in the sizes of the children attending the party. You can print them with your child's name and that it's their first birthday. Roll the t-shirts up and tie with raffia.
- Wrap owl or monkey-shaped cookies in cellophane. Tie off with a pre-printed ribbon or raffia. Display in baskets for guests to take on their way out the door.
- Give out CDs with the songs you sang at the party or hand out copies of the books you read.
Ice Cream Party
Center everything around the cold, sweet treat.
Print the party details on a pastel/ice cream colored card stock. Attach a packet of sprinkles or a small wooden ice cream spoon to the invitation and mail in a small box.
Cut an ice cream cone with a scoop or two of ice cream on top. Print the party details and glue it to the front of the cone. Use a verse, such as, "I scream! You scream! We all scream for ice cream! Come join us for Aidan's 1st Birthday Party and get the scoop."
Set up an ice cream sundae bar with all the fixinings. Include different types of ice cream with scoops and toppings, such as strawberries, bananas, mini chocolate chips, chocolate, and caramel syrup. Provide plastic ice cream boats or sundae dishes.
Cut sandwiches with an ice cream cone cutter. Serve veggies and dip and graham crackers in ice cream boats or sundae dishes.
Hire an ice cream truck to arrive at the party, playing its song at a set time. Have the parents and kids run out to the truck to enjoy their favorite ice cream treat. Play music in the background that sounds like that of an ice cream truck.
- Hang colorful banners to represent the different flavors of ice cream. You can make your own pendant banners using colored construction paper and fishing wire. Cut paper into a triangle, fold over, and glue to the fishing wire.
- Create your own functional ice cream truck. Set a cooler inside of a wagon. Fill the cooler with ice cream on a stick. Blow a variety of balloon colors, pastels mostly, to represent the different ice cream flavors and cover the outside of the cooler using tape.
- Create bunches with the balloons that you can use as table centerpieces and place out of reach of children. Use ice cream scoopers as weights for the balloon bouquets.
Give out personalized ice cream scoopers that have your child's name and the date of the party attached with a ribbon. Parents and kids can use them at home later to enjoy their sweet, cold treat.
Package up an ice cream bar in a box to go favor. Put an ice cream cone, mini chocolate chips, and sprinkles in individual cellphone packets. Add a small jar of chocolate or caramel sauce, an ice cream dish, and a spoon. Send the boxed goodies home with each guest so they can create their own sundae at home with ice cream.
Zoo animals is a gender neutral theme for a first birthday. You can also include farm animals if you want more of a petting zoo take on the theme.
Use card stock with an animal print border. Print your party details in the center of the invitation. Alternatively, print the party details on card stock that looks like it is an admission ticket to the zoo.
Serve cupcakes with small animal figurines on top. Find small colored pails to fill with "feed" for the animals. Fill each pail with cheerios, animal crackers, veggies, and other snacks. Serve chicken nuggets, French fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Set up a mask-making station. The kids and their parents can make animal masks. Print off a mask template and add washable markers, crayons, and string to tie around the children's heads. Be sure to have additional helpers available for parents who have more than one young child since the kids will need help making the mask.
Cow tipping bowling is another fun activity for the kids. Use two liter soda bottles. Remove the labels and paint the bottles white with black splotches to make them look like cows. Set them up like bowling and give each child a turn at rolling the ball to "tip over the cows." If kids aren't quite walking, simply set up the bottles throughout the room and let the crawling children knock the bottles over.
Turn balloons into balloon animals using construction paper and some tape. Turn pink balloons into pigs, green ones into frogs, white ones into cows, and orange ones into ducks. Cut eyes, beaks, ears, and noses out with construction paper and tape onto the balloons. Create balloon bouquets for centerpieces or attach balloons to tables and chairs around the party room.
Use your child's animal figurines to decorate food and party tables. You can even add little party hats to their heads with construction paper and tape. Use paper straws that have animal prints, such as cow straws, to round out the tableware decorations.
Hand out individual boxes of animal crackers. Attach a personalized tag with each child's name on it. Hand out sippy cups shaped like different animals.
Doc McStuffins Character Theme
Characters such as Elmo, Minnie Mouse, or Doc McStuffins are popular with kids of this age group. Party stores offer character party supplies, many of which are themed for the first birthday, and general ones that can be included with other first birthday party decorations and favors.
Cut a doctor bag out of pink and purple card stock. Put a bandaid with a heart in the middle with a pink circle around the entire bandaid to represent the Doc McStuffins logo. On the back side of the invitation, print your party details. Slide into a pink or purple envelope and mail to your guests.
You can also use a pink or purple card stock. Place a real bandaid at the table. Stamp a pink heart in the middle of the bandaid. Print the party details below the bandaid. You can use wording such as "The Doctor Is In."
Work with a bakery to create cookies that look like bandaids and some that look like prescription bottles. Stick with the purple and pink color scheme that is Doc McStuffins.
- Serve purple and pin k rock candy sticks for the kids to eat .
- Fill apothecary jars with foods, such as marshmallows, but put a sign that relates it to something medical, such as "Cotton Balls."
- Serve healthy "Doc approved" foods, such as veggies and fruit skewers.
Play "Make Stuffy Feel Better," which is a version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Print an enlarged picture of Stuffy and glue it to a posterboard that you can hang on the wall. Give each child a bandaid. Blindfold them and have them try to place the bandaid on Stuffy. Older kids will enjoy playing this game.
Have a session called "The Doc Is In," where each child brings one of their stuffed animals to have a visit with the Doc. The Doc can be one of the adults or can be your child. Doc can cure the stuffed animals with a band-aid and a sticker for each guest. This is simple enough for one-year-olds who have seen the show, and for kids who can't walk, parents can bring them to see the Doc.
- Hang alternating pink, purple, and white lanterns from the ceiling. You can also hang paper pinwheel decorations in the same colors.
- Use Doc McStuffins partyware, such as plates, cups, and napkins.
- For centerpieces, place large clear jars with lids in the middle of each table. Fill with items, such as cotton balls, Q-tips, and tongue depressors.
Fill pink and purple pails with goodies. You can include bubbles, a water bottle, a lollipop, and bandaid stickers. Give each child a toy stethoscope.
Peter Rabbit Book Theme
If your child loves The Tale of Petter Rabbit book, then she or he is going to love the theme party. Use the book as inspiration for coming up with decorations, favors, and more.
Find a card stock that has Peter Rabbit printed on it that you can personalize with the party details. You can also cut out card stock in a bunny shape and print the party details on to it. Use the Peter Rabbit colors, which include white, light blue, light green, and orange.
Make peanut butter cookies that look like buttons (round cookies with four holes in the center). Serve pink an d white marshmallows and label them "Bunny Tails." Serve foods that bunnies like to eat, such as carrots, cucumbers, and celery sti cks.
Hide faux bunny food, such as radishes or carrots, throughout the party room. Send the children out on a radish hunt to see who can find the most. Have the toddlers and younger kids paired up with older ones to make this work for everyone.
Ask a friend or family member who has a pet rabbit to bring it to the party. Keep it in its cage and have a designated petting time for kids to enjoy touching the bunny's soft fur with supervision.
- Use tin watering cans as table centerpieces and decorations. You can fill the watering cans with water and flowers.
- Add a sign that says "Mr. McGregor's Garden" to the party entrance.
- String paper bunnies and flowers together to create your own hanging banners or danglers. Hang the banners around the party room or hang the danglers from the ceiling or from trees if it is an outside party.
- Use terra cotta pots as utensil holders.
Fill carrot-shaped cellophane bags with Goldfish or Cheetos for guests to munch on at the party or later when they go home. Send your guests home with their own copy of the Beatrix Potter book or a pair of bunny ears they can wear during playtime.
Number One Is Fun
Party themes can be fun for you as the host and for the party guests. Choosing a theme that your child relates to can help them join in the fun, too.