A first birthday party is something that all new parents eagerly look forward to. Their tiny little bundle of joy is about to turn into a one year old baby and it is certainly time to celebrate! And like every other thing associated with your precious baby, this one comes with its own set of anxieties. You neither want your baby to be stressed out nor to miss out on all the fun.
But it is a very different affair in India as opposed to the rest of the world! Here are some true and tried tips from my own successful and memorable 1st Birthday parties that you might want to read before plunging into the party planning process:
1. Choosing a Theme
Celebrating a Themed Birthday Party certainly has its own charm and makes the planning more organized and interesting, but you can also skip choosing a theme and simply plan a party that is a lot of fun for your baby. Lots of colorful balloons, streamers, cupcakes and finger foods is all that your baby needs to enjoy the day. I even planned one using my baby’s pretend play toys as the main theme and activity 🙂
But if you do want to go with a theme, look to your baby for the choices. Your baby’s favorite toys, cartoon character, animal or any beloved object can provide you with an idea for a theme. Doggies, Duckies, Tweety, Stars and bright colored butterflies and flowers are liked by most 1 year olds. See what your baby prefers. My first birthday parties have all been based upon my children’s favorite characters:
- Fifi and the Flowertots – They used to show it on Nick back then and my daughter fell in love with the character, theme song – everything!
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – My son would love nothing more than ‘Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse’!
- Strawberry Shortcake – Through her older sister’s books, my little one fell in love with Strawberry Shortcake
2. The Guest List
It is generally preferred that the guest list for a first birthday party be kept small. However, things are almost always the exact opposite in India. We have been invited to tons of first birthday parties and need to invite them back. Also, not everyone is invited to the post-baby functions so a first birthday is the time for many friends to meet your baby for the first time. As long as you make arrangements to keep the baby happy and occupied, a larger guest list does not matter.
Also keep in mind that a first birthday party is likely to have more grown-ups than children. Your baby does not have any friends yet and it’s family, extended family, grandparents and your friends who would love to be a part of this special day. Of course, there will be some children, but keep the rest of the preparations in tune with grown-ups also.
3. Deciding Upon the Time
Most of the other guides on this topic will suggest that you host the party during daytime preferably from 12 to 3 pm when most kids are at their active best. Sadly, these times do not work with Indians. Also, most babies nap during afternoon hours.
I find it best to host the party an hour after the baby wakes up from the afternoon nap. Take into account the daily routine of your baby before you set any time. Every baby has a different routine and most of them differ from the timetables described in every baby book. Choose a time when your baby is normally fresh after a nap and a good meal.
If your guests can manage an early timing on perhaps a sunday, it is great. But if your baby stays awake and fresh during the evening, there is no reason why you cannot hold the party then. Give your guests a certain timespan when they can come in along with their own kids (according to their kids’ daily timetables) but do mention a specific time when you will cut the cake so that your baby does not get desperate to dig into it after waiting for too long.
4. Deciding Upon the Place
The party should be hosted ideally either in your home or some hired place which provides rest rooms. Your baby might need to rest before, after and even in between the party. Besides, your guests are likely to include other new moms who might need to go a rest room to breastfeed or rest their own babies.
I have hosted two birthday parties in a hotel and hired a room or two along with the party hall. The last one, I hosted in the community hall of my apartment complex which obviously had easy access to my apartment. In both cases, I had hired help (hotel staff and catering staff) to help with winding up, carrying the gifts, packing up the cake, leftover food etc. That is a big plus!
Bright colors please babies. Like yellow is liked by almost all of them. Turn to your theme for choosing colors. Most kids’ favorite objects have bright colors themselves. Use balloons and streamers in your theme colors to decorate. Print out or buy a Happy Birthday banner.
If your budget allows you to, get enlarged prints/standees of the cartoon/animal made or you could even go ahead and re-create some of the characters and their houses and create ‘sets’ like I did for the Fifi and the Flowertots birthday party (above). These can also be outsourced by hiring professional decorators. Blow up characters and shapes are also great for decoration and so are bubble machines. You could also use your baby’s photographs to create interesting decorations. Tables can carry 3 or 4 sided ‘photo tents’ and banners can carry your baby’s photo on it.
A first birthday can be a stressful affair, but if you are armed with some pre-preparation and the right attitude, it can be great fun planning one. Stay tuned for more tips for planning a first birthday in Part 2 of this series.