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Planning parties is one of my absolute favourite things to do. Some people say I go way overboard; some people can’t believe how far in advance I prepare for events like this; and some people think I am just plain crazy. I do it because I love it! It is about bringing pieces of someone special, memories, favourites, and unique attributes, and celebrating them with the most important people. It is about creating a beautiful space to enjoy that precious moment. I try to capture how amazing life can be because we live in such a crazy and fast paced world. It is nice to be able to stop and celebrate someone or something. Planning a first birthday party is a creative outlet for me and who knows if it will be the last first birthday party I will get to plan and host. WOAH, my heart just skipped a beat…I don’t want to say that!

So here are 7 things I think a first birthday party needs to amp up the celebration factor and help create those extra special memories.

1) Regular Post Invitations

How exciting is it to receive an invitation in the mail? Yeah, you totally get it! It is a keepsake that I put in my girls’ memory boxes and goes up on all of our friends’ fridges. I love a good old fashioned paper invitation.

2) Guest Book

There are so many different ways you can use a guest book; but it is so great to be able to have a record of who came to your baby’s first birthday party. I used a picture book with a sharpie for everyone to write their names on the pages. You can easily link it up to the theme of the party.

3) Chalkboard of Baby’s Firsts

Your baby only turns ONE once and it is priceless to be able to capture that moment in time. I used a chalkboard to record exactly what Molly was all about. She changes so fast, it was beautiful to see all of her little characteristics in one place depicting her spunky little personality.

4) Favours

Favours or goody bags do not have to be elaborate and expensive. I like to have simple take aways. This time around I really tried to stick with the theme of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and created little envelopes of plantable sunflower seeds. You can display them in a beautiful way and it is a great way to say thank you to your guests for coming and celebrating.


I know that Molly wouldn’t eat the whole thing, or even a 1/8 of it…but having a smash cake is probably my favourite part of a first birthday party. Letting a baby go to town on a cake all by themselves for the first time is so funny, cute and priceless! And of course makes for a perfect photo-op!

6) GREAT food

I don’t go super fancy with food because I spend so much time on the cake. I try to keep everything simple and delicious finger foods that can appeal to every age. I always have some fancy cheese and crackers for the adults, and little snack foods for the young ones. My signature is chocolate popcorn. All I do is get plain popcorn, dye white chocolate the appropriate colour, and drizzle it over the popcorn with a little salt. This sweet and savoury snack is always the most popular crowd pleaser.

7) Photographer

I was fortunate to be able to partner up with Angela Mirando Photography for Molly’s First Birthday. She captured the party so perfectly and I am so thankful to have the memories documented. Designate someone other than you that has a great camera to capture moments of the party because I can guarantee that you will not have time to get the pictures you want. Or book a photographer and I know you won’t be disappointed. I think that splurging on a photographer is an absolutely wonderful investment. I know I have treasured the photos of Amelia’s First Birthday and have used them so many times since. We have a beautiful album of the event and she loves looking back at them.

Although I do a lot for birthdays like this, I still stick to a budget and it is probably less than what you expect. I do everything myself and every piece of decor is borrowed or made. I love every part of the planning process and had a blast doing this for my little Molly.

What do you think is a must for a first birthday party? Share your tips!

xo Anna


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  1. Love this! Very cute ideas! I recently blogged about my little one’s first birthday party also so our kids must be similar ages.

  2. The article is great and it has great advice for new moms. There is 1 thing you are missing, childrens party entertainment. I find that even though parents are very hands on with kids, having entertainment can really boost th e enjoyment and memories of an event with activities. Plus it’s a perfect time to engage the kids with interacting to other children. Normally 1st Birthday parties have a range of children of all different age groups. It’s not ideal for the host to be responsible for activities on top of all the other responsibilities needed.

  3. Great list.
    *The only thing missing is a personal gift/keepsake for the bday girl! (#8). For example, start a collection of framed prints (by your favorite artist, of course) for the wall in her room. Every year add another one!
    Anyway, maybe not a necessity, but a special touch.


  4. My baby doesn’t turn one until July – but I’m already thinking of first birthday ideas and these hit the spot! Love love love it!!!!

  5. Planning my son’s first birthday with a pumpkin theme this October. I ADORE some of these ideas! Thank you!
    I also love Kagan’s idea of starting a collection.

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