Checklist for planning a first birthday party

Updated November 21, 2016

The entire first year of your baby's life is filled with milestones, such as rolling over, first words and first steps. At the end of the first year, another big milestone occurs: the first birthday party. Planning a birthday party for a one-year-old can be stressful. However, a checklist can help you easily plan your child's first birthday and ensure it is a success.


Know the amount of money you intend to spend. Your budget will impact the party planning and help determine the number of guests, food and location. At this age, the party is more for you than for the child. Your one-year-old will not remember the party, so keep this in mind when choosing your budget.

Time and Location

A one-year-old child may not be able to handle tons of excitement or a long party. Consider throwing your party at a familiar location: at home, at a favourite family member's house or at a local park you frequent. As for time, consider your child's regular schedule. Avoid scheduling the party during nap times or quiet times. Be prepared to take your child out of the room and give him some quiet time, if he needs it. Even if the party is planned at the perfect time, he could still become overwhelmed.

Guest List

Take your child's temperament into consideration when planning your party. Does your child suffer from stranger anxiety? If so, avoid inviting people your child does not know well. If your child tends to get overstimulated, keep the guest list small. If your child thrives on excitement, the more the merrier. Just keep in mind that your budget grows with each guest you invite.


Depending on the time of day, food can be simple or more elaborate. If your child is at her best in the morning, plan an early party and avoid lunch time. This allows you to do simple snack foods such as fruit and bagels or chips and pretzels. If you are planning your party during a meal time, consider ordering a pizza or making sandwiches. Keep in mind what your child will and will not eat, and be sure to include plenty of foods she will enjoy. Offer kid-friendly foods, such as carrots, apples and juice boxes for any other children you invite.


The cake is one of the more memorable parts of a first birthday party. If you are good at baking, make your own cake. Or if you prefer, have a family member do it for you or purchase one from your local grocery store. Keep in mind that your child will likely get cake and icing everywhere. You may want to avoid icing that is coloured, since it will stain her clothes, hair and skin. Consider cupcakes instead of cake. This makes portion control easy for your one-year-old and the rest of your guests.

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