Planning Your Baby’s First Birthday (Without Spending a Fortune)

The onesies, the booties, the 6-month bibs, the bouncy seat that is now all-too-small to the horror of your child have all come and gone in what seems only a moment. And now, is just a few weeks, days, or even minutes, your child is just about to reach another milestone. No more pacifiers and milk bottles (or that is the plan), your little one is about to be a year old! Usually, your child’s first birthday is a very special time to celebrate with family and friends. Even though your child may not remember it in the future, there will be lots of laughing, and maybe even crying, as your child opens presents and your loved ones celebrate to watch the child they love grow older. The last thing you need to worry about while planning for this special party is time and cost. You and your child need to spend as much time as you can together! So in this article, I am going to give you some life-saving tips from moms across the globe that made their child’s very first birthday extremely fun and special, and extremely cost-affordable and cost almost no time to accomplish, so that you can keep being the low-stress supermom that you are!


The first step is sending out invitations. You don’t have to send your invitations out as early as you do wedding invitations. 3 weeks prior to the date of the party should be plenty of advance notice. There are two effective ways to save money on birthday invitations. The first way is if you want to send your invitations by snail-mail. If you want a traditional birthday party, this is the best way to send your invitations. Make your own invitations with tinted card stock and rubber stamps or stencils. Run off the party details from your computer on one side of the page, and then fold the card and stamp a cute print in the front! Use colored ink for vibrance, or use pastel pencils if you want modest color. This will save you a huge amount of your budget that can be used for gifts and decorations. The second way is to send out invitations by email. Many mothers chose to send out e-cards (which can often be sent for free!) if they want the party to be an at-home, casual event.


The awesome thing about decorations is that they really don’t have to cost you much money at all. For a boy’s birthday, buy a bag (or use toys your child already owns) of cars, trains, or anything he likes and top the cake, tables, counter tops, etc. with the small toys. For a girl, the same idea works except use toys she will like. I have used princess cake toppers that come in a six-pack bag, and decorated the table with them! Rolls of streamers are a very cost-effective way to add color for a very small price. You can buy them anywhere for the same price as a pack of gum. Here’s a little secret. If you go to a party supplies store, you can often get party themed toilet paper. Use this in place of pre-made streamers, and tape them on chandeliers, walls, chairs, or whatever needs a lot of fun color! No one will ever know, and it will take you years to run out of streamers from the roll. Print free coloring pages as place mats, and have crayons in your party favors if you know most people will sit down for their meal.


Ideally, there will be lots of other children at your child’s party, and favors are a huge must. Fill clear bags with inexpensive trinkets like crayons for an art-themed party, plastic party rings and candy, or even small homemade deserts like toffee. Noise-makers are also a good option for a large group of children, that way candy and art will not destroy your house, but the kids will be entertained!


Usually, sweets dominate the menu at a first birthday party. Sherbet punch is always a hit! Make sherbet punch out of whatever color and flavored sherbet you want and mix with a large bottle of lime soda. Cupcakes are a cheaper alternative to sheet cake because they are easier to make in your own kitchen. Buy a cake mix and cook in muffin tins. Decorate with colorful icing and sprinkles! Many parents give the birthday girl or boy a smash cake! Bake your child a mini cake, put a bib or apron on him/her, and then let him or her smash the cake! Your child will thouroughly enjoy making an edible mess. For a cheaper and less-messy option, give your child a smash cupcake! Did I mention how awesome cupcakes are? Cupcakes are really an awesome way to save time, money, and messes at a birthday party.
For finger foods, try something a little healthier. Chips or celery and dip are always popular. For those who will not eat cake or ice cream, have fruit pops. Grapes are fun and cheap for this! Dip grapes in chocolate syrup and serve with toothpicks. Much healthier than cake, but (almost) just as delicious.


This is one of my absolute favorite ideas for your child’s 1st birthday! Buy a special toy (stuffed animal, toy truck, etc. works great) and let all the guests draw sign it with their name or a picture. As your child learns to read, he or she can point out the names and connect them with his or her friends. This toy will become a keepsake full of wonderful memories, and even when your child can’t remember the birthday party, a special part of it will stay with him/her forever!

When your child’s special day comes, remember to keep your phone, camcorder, or phone charged and ready to capture the memories of the birthday. Make sure you spend some time with your child beforehand so he or she will not become overwhelmed when guests arrive. Have fresh clothes laid out as an extra set in case your child gets dirty, and pajamas not too far away for tucking your child to bed after the long day. Last but not least, take a deep breath. Remember you don’t have to perfect, and neither does the party! Give your birthday girl/boy a hug and a kiss and hold him/her while you can, because you’re better than any party or gift that they could ever ask for, even though they’re too young to say it.


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