Your baby's first birthday is one of the biggest celebrations in your baby's first year—for you. Your baby won't really understand the celebration is their first birthday party. They will enjoy the play time with friends and cousins however. They will even enjoy opening the first 10 presents before they want to get back to playing or nap. The key to creating a memorable first birthday is to make it memorable—for you!
Keep everything simple —from food to decorations. You don't want to be in the kitchen cleaning up or preparing food all day, you want to enjoy your baby's first birthday. It is hard to not invite your entire family and your close group of friends, but to keep the stress down limit the number of guests. Many babies this age begin to experience stranger and separation anxiety—a large guest list may overwhelm your baby. Alternately, if you love to throw large parties and your baby is a social butterfly, a large party will be worth the extra planning.
Don't go overboard with a birthday party theme—the theme is the first birthday and that is all you really need. Your baby is only turning one; activities and games should be kept to a minimum or left out altogether. A one-year-old simply doesn't have the skills or attention span required to participate in games and structured activities. It is best to just sit back and let the partygoers do their own thing. This is the one birthday that is more for you than for your baby—don't miss out on your baby's enjoyment by over-planning.
Keep the birthday party short—2 to 3 hours is fine. Many babies find this kind of activity over-stimulating. Keeping it short reduces the risk of birthday-baby meltdown.
This may be the first time your baby tries cake. Unless you want those birthday clothes completely covered in icing and ice-cream, snap a "Baby's First Birthday" bib around your baby's neck before dishing out the cake.
Since the first birthday is not one your baby will remember, you will want something special to save as a keepsake for your baby. Many parents choose the traditional silver cup engraved with the baby's name. A silver or gold charm or necklace engraved with your baby's initial or the number one is a newer twist on the first birthday gift. A classic first birthday gift is a baby dish set made of fine china or a porcelain tea set. Many babies at this age love push and pull toys that can follow them around like wooden pets or interactive games and toys that flash and beep.
There are many ways to make your baby's first birthday memorable and enjoyable for all. The most important keepsake of this momentous birthday is pictures. Take plenty of pictures. Your baby will not remember the day or the toys, but the pictures will show your teenager how well loved and celebrated they were on their first birthday.