6. Pick a theme
Finally, we get to the fun part — and this is where your Pinterest obsession comes in. The first birthday party theme can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, ranging from Sesame Street to a little princess. You can also pick up a few fun ideas from our DIY children’s birthday party slideshow.
7. Order the cake
You’re going to need a big cake for all of your guests, but don’t make the rookie mistake of forgetting to order a smash cake too. Smash cakes are the latest in first birthday party trends (basically a smaller version of the big cake for the birthday boy or girl to go crazy on), and they can be ordered separately with their own message, candles and decorations. You can also save money by making your own smash cake at home with this quickie Pinterest tutorial.
8. Plan the menu
This one’s a toughie because it could easily suck up all of your time and energy before and on the day of the event. Sticking with the simplistic first birthday party vibe, we recommend keeping your food menu as straightforward as possible. Order some pizza and give the adult guests some beer (which we promise they’ll appreciate at a kid’s birthday party); cook out with hot dogs, hamburgers and chips; or even stick with some easy finger foods that the kids are going to love, like Cheerios, animal crackers and squeezable yogurts.
9. Recruit a cleanup crew
As the mom of a soon to be 1-year-old, it’s almost ridiculous to think that you’re going to have time to set up, host and clean up after the party. If your friends and family members are so inclined, ask them to lend a hand in lieu of bringing a gift. Most people will sense your party planning hysteria and will be glad to help.
10. Assign a photographer
This is one thing you’re going to thank your past self for setting up way before the party. You can go the professional route and hire a photographer to document the event, or you can ask a trusted friend or family member with good photography skills to take pictures on a camera or smartphone. Either way, a designated photographer is a must to make sure every cute little moment (and especially the smash cake) gets captured.
Originally published May 2012. Updated Oct. 2016.