Look Who’s Turning One!

Before you know it, that sweet bundle of joy you brought home from the hospital will be turning one. Whether your plans include a huge birthday bash or a small family affair, here are a few tips to ensure your baby’s first birthday is everything you hope it will be.

Creating the guest list

Deciding who to invite isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some people are a given – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and close family friends. What about friends from story time? Or friends you don’t see very often? Where the party is held often dictates the size of the guest list. Do you want the party to be intimate or large? Structured or more of an open house? Once you and your significant other have reached common ground on these points, you will have a better idea of who will make the cut.

Location, location, location

Now that your guest list is in place, you will want to ensure the venue you choose offers ample space. Hosting in your own home adds a personal touch. However, if you want to avoid the work that comes with throwing a party at home, there are plenty of other options, including community centers, local parks, splash pads and pools, and places that specialize in children’s parties.

What to serve your guests

If the party takes place during lunch or dinner hours, it is best to feed your guests some type of meal. If it is during an off time (like 1:00-3:00 p.m.), you have some wiggle room and could serve snacks and cake, or just cake and ice cream. It is always a good idea to let your guests know what to expect – the last thing you want is to prepare a meal and have your guests show up full because they weren’t sure if food would be served (or vice versa).

Baby’s first cake

First birthdays and cake smashing go hand in hand. During this messy ritual, cake is placed in front of the guest of honor…and the rest is history. Some things to consider for this photo-worthy moment:

  • Have a big cake for the guests and a small personal cake (or cupcake) for the birthday boy or girl.
  • It is a messy moment. Consider taking off your little one’s party outfit first (you can find a cute bib for the occasion!)
  • If you are inside, you may want to place something under the highchair to catch the fallout.

If hosting at a venue, check to see if they provide decorations or if outside decorations are allowed. For home parties, there are plenty of options. Consider creating a slide show of photos from baby’s first year that plays during the party or fill the house with helium balloons that guests can take home. Pinterest is a great source of ideas. 


You will want to gear any games toward younger children. Try classic games like Pin the Nose or activities like freeze dance, sidewalk chalk, blowing bubbles, story time or even a kid parade with musical instruments and streamers.

Party Favors

Enlist parents to help their child make a craft they can take home. If you decide to do a kid parade, opt for simple handmade instruments. Or have the kids decorate a frame and let them know you will send a picture from the party to fill the frame.

Preserve the moment: Consider creating a time capsule for your child to open on her 18th birthday. Have guests bring magazines, newspapers and other current items. Also, encourage guests to bring photos or write a letter outlining personality traits or characteristics they already see – or hopes they may have for your child’s future.

As with any party, there may be stressful moments. Just remember, if something doesn’t go as planned your child won’t know the difference. So take a deep breath, relax and have fun celebrating your little one’s first year of life!

Local Birthday Venues for Little Ones

Gymboree Play & Music 

Locations in Greenwood and Carmel specialize in parties for 1st through 5th birthdays.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

The museum’s brightly colored party room, complete with throne chair, makes any birthday special.

Goldfish Swim School 

Enjoy a swim-filled celebration complete with all the party trimmings at Goldfish locations in Carmel and Fishers.

Rhythm! Discovery Center 

Nothing says party like a room full of toddlers and percussion instruments!

The Urban Chalkboard  

This adorable play café offers both private and semi-private party options perfect for the youngest partygoers. www.theurbanchalkboard.com

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