By Sandy Harper

When I was planning my son’s first birthday party, I felt overwhelmed by what I thought I had to do and what I really wanted to do. Moms often put needless pressure on themselves over what they think society expects from them. I know I am guilty of this. Needless to say I worried too much about my son’s first birthday party. So many things went well but there were many things I would have done differently. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that I learned the hard way and hope to help someone else not make the same mistakes.


-Plan ahead! Invites need to be sent at least 3weeks in advance. Just because most of your guests are family and close friends, don’t expect them to be there if you don’t give them enough notice. This is just plan common courtesy.

-Save money by DIY. Pinterest is full of fun and cute 1st Birthday ideas. That being said, many of the ideas on there are also unrealistic. If you are already not a crafty person I would suggest not trying some of the complicated ideas or at least delegate crafts to a friend or family member who is. I personally found ideas off of Pinterest that I incorporated into my son’s party. The cake idea was found on there and made by my talented stepmom Linda. The other things were simple and manageable.

Also, if you plan ahead you can find better deals online for party favors, decorations, etc. then you might find at your local Party City, Target, or Walmart.

-Understand nothing goes as planned. If you are planning an outdoor party weather is going to be the biggest uncertainty. It is important to have a Plan B and have that mentioned on the invitations.

One year olds are unpredictable. Like the song says “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”, this may very well be the case. If the child is overwhelmed by the amount of attention or activities, it can quickly change a happy day into a headache. To be on the safe side, get the pictures you really want taken closer to the beginning of the party.

-Have at least one trustworthy friend/family member take photos because you’ll be too busy. As the parent of the little Host, you are playing multiple roles. What’s new, right! By assigning this important task to someone else, you can have one less stress on your plate.

-Introduce your guests to each other that way they feel more comfortable mingling. Much like the previous suggestion, with trying to run a party and keep up with your toddler you will have trouble mingling with all the guests. If you introduce people they will feel more welcomed and more apt to interact with others they may have never met.

-Say thank you! Even if you are not the note card and mailing kind of person, saying thank you can go a long way. You know your guests so just sending a text, email or making a phone call the next day may be enough to let them know you really did appreciate them taking the time to come to the party.

-Give your child free time from being held by all the guests. If you know your child is not sociable or just needs free space to run around for a few minutes, and then give them that opportunity. This can help from having a complete melt down during an important part, like cake eating!

-Aim for about a two hour event. Anything longer can overstimulate and wear a child out.


-Wait until the last minute! It is the number one worst thing you could do.

-Waste money! Here are a few things to cut costs on:

-If you want to have kid goodie bags, keep them at a reasonably cost & get practical items

-Too many desserts – Hello, there’s birthday cake!

-Check around for cake prices

-Don’t push/overdo activities –yet keep things on a bit of a schedule so the party doesn’t run much over 2 hours

It’s important to remember to do what you want, not what you think others expect. Another thing to keep in mind is that this birthday party is more for you than it is for your one year old. They won’t remember a thing about that day but you will. It is our fond memories we are trying to create and hold on to. So keep it simple, joyous and stress-free.

Photo Credit: Happy Pixels Photography