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6 Ways to Celebrate Their 1st Birthday, Your Way

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Whether it's a themed extravaganza, picnic at the park, or a simple cupcake and champagne get-together, you can make the milestone magical.

Alexis Teasdale is the party planning craft genius behind The Festive Co.

A first birthday is truly special. You made it through 365 days of parenting that delightful little squish, and it was no doubt full of the highest of highs, surprises, exhaustion and probably some lows, too. Parents deserve to take a moment to celebrate just as much as baby gets their time to shine. But a first birthday can come with a bit of pressure. For first-time parents, you may feel the strain of having to invite lots of family and friends. Before you let the overwhelm set in, take a moment to think about how you and your family unit really want to mark the occasion. It may be a big blowout (some families and cultures treasure it!), but for others, a simple cupcake and a little bubbly for the parents might be just right. For those who have friends with lots of little kids, a picnic in the local fenced park could be the best option, or for couples who have one of the first babies in the friendship group, a twilight barbecue with a simple ice cream cake could be the relaxing evening parents crave.

The point is, there are no rules and no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the first birthday celebration, but I have some fun ideas and themes that might inspire you.

1. For the family that has a lot of children

If you're from a fam that's already full of kids, there's no way to avoid a bigger party. It will be joyous and noisy and messy. The best option for managing more guests is to outsource where possible. A fun theme that can be done in your backyard or the local park is a Teddy Bear's Picnic party. Friends can BYO a rug and picnic baskets of snacks if you want to keep the vibe casual and not blow out on budget, or you can get your Pinterest game on and cater with lots of nostalgic checked blankets and platters of yumminess. I highly recommend either an entertainer if there are a lot of children as it takes the pressure off the grown-ups, or hire self-managed entertainment like soft play pieces, a ball pit or push cars.

Don't forget sticky name tags for any bears the kids might bring along. The last thing you want to be handling is a treasured friend going missing. A name and a phone number will ensure they'll be safe throughout the length of the party.


2. If you want to keep it simple but still super special

Skip town

For those who want to simplify the celebration, mark the milestone with a getaway. Whether it's hitting the coast in a caravan, a warm beach getaway or baby's first plane ride, spending time in your immediate little unit away from the mundane To-Do list of home life could be just what you need.

Birthday artists

Commemorate the moment by buying some mini canvases and asking all family members to paint a portrait in honour of the big day. Bubs can join the fun by finger painting, too. No matter your skill set, I guarantee those paintings will bring joy to their bedroom wall or your fridge.

For the wine lovers

Celebrating isn't just about the birthday babe. A sweet way for the parents to celebrate is to buy a special bottle of wine (or two) in the year of their birth. Store one to gift them when they're grown and one to toast with on the day. Having a cool collection of wine to open on their birthday in years to come will give you your own little adult moment together each year.


3. Set up a new annual tradition

A first birthday is the perfect time to start special traditions. The pay-off as they get older is priceless. Some ideas you might want to consider include:

Say cheese

Professional photography is one of the most precious gifts you can give yourself. The plethora of options available means you can find pro shooters at lots of different budgets, whether it's a speedy 15-minute session or a more indulgent home visit. Booking in beautiful family photos to capture each birthday creates memories that will be cherished for decades.

Bake your pick

For many families, selecting a birthday cake is a core childhood memory. In the younger years, it's often messy and wild (if you let them lend a hand). At 12 months, they're unlikely to have much in the way of preferences for baked confections but lay the foundation that you intend to continue for all future birthdays early, however that looks for your little one.

Pen a letter

An inexpensive idea you can start now is to buy a journal and write a letter to them each and every birthday celebration. Baby books are amazing too, of course! But if you're on the forgetful side and haven't had a chance to fill one in, a simple letter to your little love is something you can do on their birthday every year. If they've got siblings, have them get involved too. Then gift the book to them on their 21st birthday.

Plant a tree

Planting trees is a sentimental (and long-lasting) way to mark the milestone. Look up the meaning behind your favourite trees, and you might be surprised by how special they are. Apple trees signify happiness and the bounty of life. Birch trees represent new beginnings, and a Pink Magnolia tree means youth, innocence, and joy. If you're not the one celebrating the first birthday, trees with meaning also make a great gift for other new parents.


4. Getting crafty and creative

If you are the kind of parent who loves to make and create, then this is an opportunity you don't want to miss.

The Birthday Sash

Whip up a birthday sash that you can add a patch to each year. The visual of them wearing a sash covered in patches that represent each year, on their 18th birthday, revelling in the sweet tradition you set up for them will keep you motivated to start and then continue it.

A Time Capsule

It doesn't need to be buried in the backyard (although - fun!) but creating a box including some special items from their first year along with extras like the newspaper from their birthday, their party hat and some Polaroid pictures is guaranteed "oohs" and "aaahs" in a couple of decades time.


5. Costume ideas, because… costumes

Listen, why am I even writing this if I don't mention my favourite thing… dress ups. If you are also a costume lover, then allow me to make a few excellent suggestions.

  • If you don't want to go OTT but need something cute, I highly recommend a 'ONE' themed t-shirt for them to wear on the day and in photos. It's so easy to make or create the other numbers as they grow up.
  • If you're in the mood to level up, an adorable one-themed crown and cape makes for great pictures, and will become a keepsake too.
  • For the ultimate dress-up, Google 'baby cupcake' costumes and be inspired by all the fun. A creative costume will mean giggles for you (now) and them (later).

6. Sweet gift ideas for first-time parents

Let's be honest: the real superheroes of any first birthday are the parents.

The first year as a new parent is alot. Getting through it is an achievement, so parents really do deserve something special. We've already mentioned the potted tree and fancy wine, but some other ideas include a couples massage voucher, or if they have a great support network of child carers on hand, a gift card to their favourite restaurant (babysitting included). It could be Gold Class movie tickets with a promise that you will be their sitter for the night, or a foodie subscription box so they have snacks appearing on their doorstep throughout the year.

No matter what you choose, they will be thrilled that you took the time to love and appreciate everything they have gone through.


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