How to Plan a Stress-Free First-Birthday Party

Image via Mindi Stavish

There are many ways to throw an amazing first-birthday party with little stress. By having the party at your house or at an outside location (such as at a park under a pavilion), you can give your child a birthday party to remember. Best of all, your child will not feel overwhelmed or overstimulated in a new environment.

While planning previous first-birthday parties, I organized party preparations by using the IDEA system. It has helped me save money and stay ahead of the party preparations. Using this method, I kept track of everything, including the timeline, shopping lists, craft ideas, and grocery shopping list in my planner using a two-page spread. There are also many free party planning printables you could use to keep you organized.

{ MORE: I Ditched the Party Favors. So Can You. }

Today, I'm sharing tips for using this method for a fun and stress-free first birthday!

party invites.jpg
Image via Mindi Stavish


There are several ways to save time and money when it comes to the party invitations. If you want to skip mailing invitations, send an Evite. Perhaps you are more of a traditionalist like I am and prefer mailing out invitations. The possibilities for DIY invites are endless, including simple, pre-folded card-stock cards from the craft store, upcycled fabric cards, or printed invites you create using apps such has Halftone.

superhero lanterns
Image via Mindi Stavish


Even moms or dads who aren't super crafty can create simple and easy party decorations using these tips:

  • Choose party decoration crafts that create a big statement so you can focus on just a few decorations.
  • Spread out the decorations between the areas that people will be spending the most time. Decorate the main entrance with one “wow” decoration to greet your guests.
  • Free subway-art printables make fun and easy table decorations. Or use Picmonkey and make your own customized subway art. Include your child's favorite foods, favorite activities, growth, and milestones.
  • Inexpensive party lanterns can be purchased online and decorated around the theme.
  • Never underestimate the power of cheap tissue paper and streamers. Create these simple tissue-paper balls for a large impact.
  • Create a simple birthday banner using card stock, ribbon, and glue. Banners cover a large space and are easy to custom decorate with the party theme.

Check out my previously published post for more DIY party decorations.

{ MORE: It's Okay Not to Throw a Birthday Party for Your Baby }


food collage
Image via Mindi Stavish


  • Plan the party time before or after a meal so you don't feel obligated to provide a full meal. Mid-morning parties work well for toddlers and mid-afternoon parties are great for older children.
  • Serve your child's top three favorite foods from different food groups. Parents will appreciate a party that involves something other than candy, cake, and ice cream.
  • Make your own cake, cupcakes, or cake pops. My personal favorites are Devil's Food Cake with Nutella Buttercream Frosting and Applesauce Spice Cake with whipped-cream frosting.
  • Save the earth and your budget by making one or two beverages in large pitchers instead of buying individual bottles of water, soda, or juice.
Image via Mindi Stavish


  • Do not over-plan activities! Younger children will be happy to do one craft activity and then play the remainder of the time.
  • Create your own pi?ata around the birthday theme. Again, Pinterest is a fantastic resource for pi?ata ideas.
  • Go for simple activities such as freeze dancing (dance and when the music stops, freeze), having a photo booth using props and clothes from around the house, building a blanket tent, or creating a fort tent out of cardboard boxes and duct tape.
  • Skip the party favor bags of useless dollar store junk and set up a station for the kids to create their own art project to take home, based around the theme.

{ MORE: The Hardest Time in My Marriage: The Newborn Phase }

What are your go-to party IDEAs?

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How to Plan a Stress-Free First-Birthday Party

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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