The milestone of a child's first birthday is an amazing occasion to celebrate the miracle of life and to honor the parents for making it through that often-challenging initial first year with sleepless nights. Most parents can't believe how quickly time flies and that their child is already one year old. Within that first year, the child makes so many amazing strides and achieves so many awe-inspiring milestones: they can smile, begin teething, play "peekaboo", clap their hands, and sit up on their own. We think it's all worth celebrating!
Naturally, many parents want to mark the first birthday with a party or other type of get-together. What are some of the best ways to honor this momentous occasion? As we mentioned in this blog post about the "Top 5 Reasons for Giving Add-A-Pearl", a girl's first birthday is an excellent time for gifting your loved one an Add-A-Pearl cultured pearl necklace. But you can keep reading this blog post for other fun and creative ways to celebrate a first birthday.
The neat freaks might want to skip this section!* One of the trendiest ways to celebrate a girl's first birthday is to provide the child with a "smash cake", which is a small cake baked specifically for the baby to destroy with her hands. Within the last decade, the smash cake has become a trend, especially for parents who enjoy posting photos of their baby on social media. A messy baby definitely makes for a funny and eye-catching Instagram post!
The small cake is placed before the baby on the food tray of her high chair, and the birthday girl has free reign to do as she pleases with it! Most babies grab the cake and frosting in their hands and then proceed to rub it on their faces and all over their bibs. With this tradition, you can make a messy but fun memory that will last for many years.
Of course, you won't want to serve the demolished cake to your guests, so you can purchase a larger matching cake specifically for serving or get cupcakes made with the same cake, frosting, and colors as the smash cake. Alternatively, you can give your baby a "smash cupcake" and then save the regular-sized cake for slicing and serving. *This blog post offers tips for embracing the smash cake even if you can't stand the idea of cake all over your baby - and likely the high chair and your floor.
"Year of Firsts" First-Year Photo Display
As we mentioned earlier in this post, the first year is a time filled with exciting milestones. The baby arrives as an adorable bundle but develops quickly every day. If you're a parent who loves taking photos, then the first birthday is the perfect time to round up all your favorite shots from the past year and assemble them in a collage or other type of photo display.
Beneath each photo, you can write a short caption about what the photo represents or which milestone has been reached. Do you have a picture of your child smiling for the first time? Do you have one of her crawling or even lifting herself up in an attempt to stand? Collect all your photos and display them in a way that you like best.
For inspiration, you can check out this first birthday photo banner, which allows you to display a picture from each month of the year. The tutorial includes a link to a printable template and instructions for creating the banner. Or you can try this photo frame, which simply requires a few household tools and supplies from the craft store. You can also get creative and match the display to your party theme!
High Chair Tutu
Coinciding with the idea of a smash cake for photo ops, you can also dress up your child's high chair in a festive and Instagram-friendly way. Some parents today will decorate the high chair with a "tutu", which is basically a skirt for the high chair's food tray. The high chair tutu is made from tulle in an assortment of colors and can also feature a banner like "One" or the number one on a pennant.
These tutus can be purchased ready-made from retailers like Amazon. We like this pink and gold tutu with crown-shaped letters that spell "One". There are also many online tutorials for DIY versions of the tutu, like this one featuring a halo of faux roses. The possibilities are endless and can allow you to coordinate your decor around a color or other party theme.
Snacks for Toddlers in Cupcake Cups
Will you be inviting other children to the first birthday party? You may be wise to avoid pumping them with sugar and inciting total pandemonium. Instead, treat your pint-size guests to healthy and low-sugar, kid-friendly snacks but present those snacks in cupcake cups for a more festive flair without the sugar rush. Depending on the age of the children (and taking potential allergens into consideration), these snacks can include Cheerios, Goldfish crackers, freeze-dried fruits, cubed cheese, pretzels, and trail mix.
Create a Time Capsule
Some people joke that a child's first birthday party is more for the parents than it is for the child because the child won't remember it. Photographs are a great way to "freeze" a memory in time, but a time capsule can be an even more impactful momento. You just need some stationary, envelopes, and writing utensils!
To create a time capsule, ask each one of your guests to write a letter to the child in the future, perhaps 10 years from now when the child will be old enough to comprehend the significance of the messages. The letters should include the guests' hopes and well wishes for the child as well as any other pertinent thoughts, including advice and wisdom. Then, you can store all the letters in a box or other secure container and remember to share those letters with the child on her 10th birthday.
Build a Photo Booth
As we mentioned, preserving memories will be important, since the child won't remember her party. One way to collect and imprint memories is to build a DIY photo booth, so guests can take their own pictures and express their personalities.
One option is to use a photo booth software like Sparkbooth, which can turn any computer with a webcam into an instant photo booth. You can also use a free or inexpensive app like Pocketbooth to transform a smartphone or tablet into a photo booth.
Once you've chosen your technology, you can then think about the backdrop and props. Setting up a photobooth can be as easy as pinning a piece of fabric or paper to the wall to add some pizzazz to the background. In addition, you'll want to leave a small box of props next to the photo booth location, so guests can play and be creative. Examples of props include hats, sunglasses, scarves, and masks. You can save copies of the photo booth photos for yourself and your child, and you can invite your guests to take copies as souvenirs!
Virtual Party Options
These days, not everyone can attend a party in person. Perhaps you have family and friends scattered all over the country and even the world. Or maybe the pandemic has prevented you from connecting. That doesn't mean you can't celebrate! New innovations in digital communication - like Zoom and FaceTime - have enabled people to connect and make memories even if they can't gather physically.
First, you'll want to send virtual invitations using a service like Paperless Post. In the invitation, include the link to a Zoom meeting event that you create in advance. Then, you'll want to build a loose schedule for the virtual birthday party, since you'll want to maintain everyone's attention throughout the event.
For example, you can start by asking everyone to share their well wishes, then move to sharing some footage of the child enjoying her smash cake, and finally play virtual party games, like a quiz game with questions all about the Guest of Honor or Birthday Bingo. A virtual birthday party may be unconventional, but it can still be as fun as an in-person party. And the best thing about a Zoom party is that you can record and save it for future viewing! You can even share the recording with guests who are unable to attend.
A first birthday party is truly a special occasion to remember, and it's one of our favorite reasons for giving an Add-A-Pearl cultured pearl necklace! With some planning, creativity, and knowledge of the top first birthday trends today, you can organize a bash that you and your loved ones will remember for many years to come. Stories and photos from the guests will enrich the birthday girl well into her teen years and beyond, so she can remember how loved and special she truly is.