When your beautiful babe turns one, it can be really hard to decide how to celebrate their birthday. They’re too young to actually remember the proceedings but it is a special occasion that needs to be marked – for us, if not for them!
Although a party might seem obvious to celebrate the first year of life, at the tender age of one, it is likely they will miss the point. Remember, there will be many years ahead when you can create Instagram worthy parties.
Instead, keep your child within their comfort zone by doing something you know they will love and something you will remember forever.
But what to do instead of a party?
Here is our list of 1o fabulous first birthday ideas (that aren’t parties).
15 Fabulous first birthday ideas (that aren’t parties)
1. DECORATE THE HOUSE
Just because there’s no party doesn’t mean you can’t have decorations. Have a blast decorating the entire house with your child. Before the big day, prepare by shopping for supplies. Make sure you have enough time to get good prices and compare shops. Etsy and eBay are some great online stores where you can get cheap party supplies.
Keep your receipts so you can return things you don’t end up using. If you’re on a tight budget, DIY is the way to go. Gather up craft paper, leftover wrapping, ribbons, string and paper plates to make paper flowers, bows and cheap décor. There are tons of first birthday ideas out there (we recommend Pinterest). Or go with your child’s favourite TV show or book of the moment.
2. GIVE THEM A NEW EXPERIENCE
Babies are always thrilled to experience something new, whether it’s a trip to the local zoo or a mini vacation to a place they’ve never been. Your child would love seeing the animals and fish at the aquarium, and you can snap photos all day to commemorate the event.
A lot of places are excellent for kids to do things they’ve never done before: aquarium, carnival, petting zoo, park, seasonal festivals, exhibits, farmers market, camp grounds, children’s museum, activity centre, water park, and the great outdoors. Or give them a new experience without leaving home. Spend the day making art and paper crafts or introducing them to new sensory experiences with clay, slime, kinetic sand and silly string.
3. GET INTO THE GARDEN
Does your baby love making a mess?! Get them outside and into the garden! Little hands will enjoy playing with dirt and helping you grow a potted plant or herb garden. Plant a special bulb, flower or tree to mark their first birthday. The tree will grow taller each year, and it will be fun to measure your child’s height against the tree.
Many online shops sell growing kits for kids starting their very first garden. These kits have everything you need, including potting soil, seeds, fertiliser, garden pot, and trowel for digging. Great for indoor gardening when the weather doesn’t cooperate. This is also a great time for reading books with a nature or garden theme, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
4. LUNCH WITH THEIR FAVOURITE PEOPLE
Lunch with their favourite people is one of our top first birthday ideas. It’s the perfect excuse to invite grandparents and other people your baby loves for an informal get together. It’s best to keep the gathering small to avoid overwhelm if you have a fussy child. Plus your baby gets more one-on-one quality time with friends and family.
It can be a mini playdate with simple games, story time and opening presents, followed by a lunch or dinner. Don’t worry too much about the menu or décor. Order takeout if you don’t have time to cook. Or skip the prep altogether by taking the whole gang to a kid-friendly restaurant instead.
10 Fabulous first birthday ideas (cont.)
5. PLAY WITH NEW TOYS TOGETHER
If you’re out of first birthday ideas, try this:
Spend some quality time with your baby playing with new toys and give them undivided attention. It’s a fantastic day for bonding especially if you’ve been busy and are feeling the dreaded mum guilt. Toys can be educational or just plain entertaining. Find out what your baby enjoys the most and work from there.
Check out Amazon for a list of bestselling, age-appropraite toys for children. Brightly coloured puzzles are a hit with most babies, and so are toys that make sounds and music. Picture books and read aloud books are also great to build language skills and vocabulary.
6. MAKE A CAKE THEY WILL LOVE
Don’t skip cake and candles even if you’re not having a party! Cake is yummy for everyone and babies love eating and smashing into them. The popular first birthday cake smash has become a highlight for many families and you can start your own tradition at home.
Baking a cake is easier than you think (many recipes take less than an hour). Make a simple cake out of box mix if you’re pressed for time, or make a gorgeous elaborate cake from scratch. Check out our list of quick and easy birthday cake ideas. Read through the recipe and make a grocery list about one week ahead of the event so you have enough time to get the ingredients you don’t have.
7. PARK AND A PICNIC
The local park is an amazing destination if you’re running out of first birthday ideas. Pack a picnic basket and have a blast spending time outdoors and enjoying nature. Many parks have baby-friendly offerings and facilities like bucket swings and paved walkways for strollers to make your day easier and more fun.
Head to the pond to view the fish or the water park/fountain to splash in puddles. Visit the playground and let your kid loose. Have the birthday lunch right there on the grass if the weather permits or indoors if it rains. Either way, your baby will love the activities and new experience of being outdoors.
Our last fabulous first birthday ideas
8. TAKE SOME FUN PHOTOS TO FRAME
A first birthday won’t be complete without photos. It’s the best day to dress up your baby (and yourself) in a cute outfit and snap away. Go to the local park or outdoors in the garden to catch some rays and set up your photoshoot. Or you can hang up a sheet indoors as a backdrop and take photos there.
Get some props to make your photos pop! We love sunglasses, fake mustaches, crowns/tiaras, and paper decorations. All of these can be made at home with craft supplies (or buy them online if you don’t have time). If you have the budget, consider getting professional photos taken. The quality is definitely worth the price.
9. BIRTHDAY PRESENT HUNT
Turn your child’s first birthday into a fun, exciting event with a present hunt. As first birthday ideas go, this one is sure to be a hit. It’s like an Easter egg hunt but with birthday gifts. These don’t have to be pricey, just gifts you know your baby will love. Get lots of small presents, wrap them up and hide them in different places in your living room or nursery.
Then play some music and let the hunt begin. Your baby will need help finding things, so give them plenty of clues and directions. Half the fun is unwrapping the presents when the hunt is over. It’s also the perfect time for a photo op. Make sure you have your camera ready.
10. HAVE A MINI DISCO
Last on list of first birthday ideas is a mini disco. Because we all know babies love dancing to music. Make your child’s first birthday extra special by setting up disco lights and playing their favourite tunes. Invite some people over for a mini play date…dance parties are better with friends! You can even have a karaoke sing-along. Hearing their voice on a mic for the first time can be a fun experience.
Also try simple party games that involve dancing like musical chairs. Hang up a few decorations and set up a simple buffet (or order takeout if you don’t have time to prep). Make sure to take lots of photos and videos to remember the event.