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15 Ideas for the Best 1-Year-Old Birthday Parties

It's an important birthday, but you've probably got to keep it simple. Here are the best ways to go.

Your child’s first birthday comes with a lot of expectations. After all, it’s the first public milestone in your child’s life, an event whose pictures will be cherished in years to come, reflected upon on future birthdays or graduations and shared with future friends. So, how do you create the best 1-year-old birthday party?

The truth is, your kid won’t remember the thing. They probably won’t be any more impressed by the hand decorated smash cake than they are by pureed sweet potatoes. Let’s face it, this event is for you. And you deserve it! You survived a whole year of keeping another human alive. So choose a theme that you like, and enjoy one of the few birthdays in which little guests won’t need to be entertained, beyond maybe a safe area to crawl around. It’s your party and your baby will definitely cry if they want to. 

Winnie the Pooh

Pooh Bear was made for a first-birthday theme. The books themselves serve as easy, functional decor, while these precious art prints can be hung in the birthday boy or girl’s room afterward. Of course, there’s always Winnie the Pooh balloons, customized name bannerscake toppersonesies, and even a honey pot piñata

Music Themed

A musical theme is perfect because it’s one of the few activities 1-year-olds can participate in. Pick up a baby instrument set ($21.99) or some maracas ($8.95) for some festive entertainment, and you can still play your favorite songs to appease the adult ears in the room. Bonus: They’re not old enough yet to play a drum set. Of course, there is plenty of premade decor out there to really drive the theme home, from cupcake toppers ($8.49) to inflatable guitars and microphones ($15.95) and music balloons ($11.78). 

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Very Hungry Caterpillar

One of the difficulties of choosing a theme for the first birthday is that 1-year-olds don’t really have interests yet. But books provide the perfect theme with a dose of nostalgia. You could gift your child this Hungry Caterpillar plush toy to entertain them festively during the party or have a reading of the classic book. This lantern decoration will serve as the perfect backdrop, while these leaf-shaped serving trays will add some fun to your snack display. There’s even a pack of Very Hungry Caterpillar–themed paper plates, cups, napkins, and a banner. And don’t forget the invites!

Brunch Themed

Like we said, your kid won’t remember the party, so you might as well do something you like. Brunch time is perfect for hosting those guests who are still on a nap schedule before they’re tired and cranky, and it requires little else than pancake mix and maybe some balloons (these flamingo balloons are super cute and semi-reasonably priced, compared to party store pricing). To add a personal touch, use this photo banner to display a photo from each month of your baby’s life. If you’re still not satisfied on the decor front, there are a plethora of high-chair decorations out there, like this pink one ($11.17) or this colorful version that comes with a matching birthday hat ($14.99). These plastic stemless champagne flutes are perfect for offering the adults a mimosa, and this first-birthday paper goods set will minimize cleanup.

Where the Wild Things Are

Because if there was any word to describe your child’s first year of life, it would probably be wild. Keep things easy and consider ordering from the plethora of decor available on Amazon, from a high-chair decoration, ($14.89) to a banner, ($8.99) crowns ($8.99), or a cake topper ($8.99). Or go DIY with a cake topper made out of a good-old-fashioned construction paper crown, and decorate with some strategically placed greens. Chocolate-covered pretzel rods look like sticks, and gold balloons and a copy of the book pull the theme together. 

Baby Shark

Doo doo doo doo da doo doo doo. From banners ($8.99) to balloons, ($8.99) cake toppers, ($8.99) entire decor sets ($13.99), and even kid-size masks ($10.99), the internet makes it really easy to put together this theme. Now if only getting the song out of your head was that simple. 

Cookie Monster

What’s a first birthday without a cartoon character and dessert consumption? Not something anyone wants to be a part of, that’s for sure. A Cookie Monster party can be as simple as some blue balloons ($19.99) and a generous serving of cookies and milk. Of course when you give a mouse/new parent a cookie theme, they likely be tempted by this onesie ($14.99), personalized banner, ($22.50) high-chair banner/crown/cake topper combo ($17.99), or even a cookie piñata ($27.99). 

Strawberry Patch

Dress your birthday girl or boy in pink or red, and serve strawberry shortcake or, even easier, chocolate-covered strawberries. For other easy ways to get the theme across, serve snacks in these pink paper berry baskets ($9.51), and send guests home with these functional hair-tie favors ($19.99). Thanks to the wonders of the interweb, there are even these strawberry and the first birthday–themed high-chair decorations, ($10.63), banner ($7.95), lantern decoration thing ($11.60), and cake topper ($7.50) available at the click of your fingers. 

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

This childhood favorite makes the sweetest gender-neutral theme. For inspiration, check out this banner ($11.88) and cake topper ($11.99). For decor you won’t throw away as soon as the party’s over, try these star and moonlight signs that double as a soothing nightlight. 

Humpty Dumpty

Start with a soft color scheme, and create a space for guests to play with toys like this Humpty Dumpty plush ($12.99) or listen to a reading of the book and other nursery tales. For food, try Humpty Dumpty deviled eggs ($2.99) or cake pops dipped in white chocolate and decorated with a friendly face. 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This fun and educational childhood favorite offers the perfect twist on the classic luau party. Decorate all of your favorite baked goods with these letter sprinklesand display a copy of the beloved book. This inflatable palm tree alludes to the story, especially if you tack construction paper letters to it. Since the story takes place in a palm tree, finish off the theme with this tropical party pack, which includes leis and coconut cups ($24.99). 

Bumble Bee 

As scary as they can be to kids (and adults), bumblebees make the cutest first-birthday theme. Start with this “happy bee day” balloon set ($12.99) or this adorable burlap banner ($10.99), and avoid a scary looking attempt at a bumble bee cake with these cupcake wrappers ($11.99). For the extra run, provide a bee-themed photo backdrop ($18.95). Black and yellow balloons and black-and-white striped or polka-dot paper goods keep things cute and festive. 

Rubber Duck

Turn a nightly chore into the most adorable first-birthday theme with these banners ($8.20) and balloons ($9.99), and this high-chair topper ($14.99). Birthday rubber ducks ($12.72) can serve as simple cake toppers or party favors, while bubbles provide theme-appropriate entertainment. 

Watercolors 

This simple theme lends itself to lovely decor you might have trouble parting with once the party is over. Start with this beautiful tableware set ($24.99), or make table mats by painting plain white paper with watercolors. For a DIY decoration, anyone can do, place tape on a canvas in the shape of a “1” before painting it with watercolors. When you remove the tape, you’ll have a white “1” and the perfect decoration for a gift or cake table. Let little guests exercise their creative side with these paint palettes ($22.65), and if you really wanna go all out, put your baby in a little beret ($7.69). Striped shirt and necktie are optional. 

Pumpkin

If your baby was born in October and you’re prone to pet names, you’ll love this theme. This pumpkin-themed first birthday high-chair toppers in pink and brown will get your birthday girl or boy looking festive even if they’re just crying and throwing Cheerios around. There are plenty of options in terms of cake toppers, like this “one” or this “little pumpkin”This banner featuring 12 numbered pumpkins is the perfect opportunity to showcase a picture of your baby at every month of his or her life. This set of premade decorations will set an elegant color scheme with relatively little effort on your part, while these photo booth props add some interactive fun.