Surviving your child’s first birthday party

Turning Points 3 min read

Custom-designed cakes, elaborate party decorations, live entertainment. Your child’s first birthday party is a wonderful milestone—for them and for you—but the desire to celebrate can quickly balloon from a simple party to an all-out extravaganza. A poll of more than 5,000 parents by Babycenter.com revealed that first birthday party spending can get out of control fast, with over a third of parents spending at least $200, and 11% shelling out over $500.

The truth is, it won’t make any difference to your baby one way or the other. Don’t stress over Pinterest perfection; just do what feels fun and festive to you. A well-planned first birthday party—captured with photos and video memories—can become a treasured part of your family history. Here are some ways to put together a party that’s fun, affordable, and stress-free.

Pick a theme and keep it simple

Party themes don’t matter to your one-year-old or the other baby guests. (That will change in a few years, so enjoy it while you can!) Think about going with a color-coordinated look or choosing tablecloths, plates, and napkins featuring a favorite cartoon character. On the other hand, you could buy a character tablecloth and match it with solid color plates and napkins. Whichever you go with, keep the look simple and fun. Here are some easy birthday themes.

Limit the number of guests

One of the easiest ways to keep party costs under control is to limit the number of guests.

Think about inviting just family or capping the number of guests at 10 to 12 people. You may also want to consider the number of adults versus kids. Adults eat and drink more than little ones, so they tend to be more expensive to have as guests. Of course, having adults at the party means extra hands to help serve food and control the happy chaos of a roomful of toddlers. 

Keep a lid on food costs

Food is always the biggest party expense, followed by decorations and cake. One way to help manage this is to have your party in the morning or the late afternoon (which also avoids naptime). If the festivities don’t overlap with a main meal, your guests will have likely already eaten and you can get away with just serving drinks and snacks. If you’d like to serve a meal, consider breakfast as an option. An assortment of breakfast rolls, orange juice, and coffee could be a more affordable alternative to lunch. Whatever option you choose, be sure to consider how many adults and children are attending so you can factor in both big and small appetites.

Another way to save is to have two cakes. Have one small, fancy cake for the baby to have all to themselves (a pretty cupcake would also work) and get a less expensive sheet cake for the rest of your guests to enjoy. The small cake for the baby is the one that will likely be in all of the pictures and then get smashed as soon as you finish singing “Happy Birthday.” You want the cake to look nice but not break your budget since it’s only for the baby.

Decorate for less

Party decorations can be a budget-buster, but they don’t have to be. There are loads of adorable decorations that are easy and inexpensive to make or buy. For instance, print favorite photos from your baby’s first year, back them with colored paper, and then string them together to create photo garlands to hang around the room. Crepe paper is another easy and affordable way to dress up your space—you can make pretty much anything out of it, from napkin rings and party favors to a centerpiece for a buffet table. There are tons of charming DIY ideas available online. Here are a few to get you started.

Protect their future

At times, it may seem hard to believe it’s been a whole year since your precious little one was born; you can’t imagine life without them. Your journey together has just begun, but one thing is certain—you want to protect them every step of the way. That’s why, out of all the gifts you give them, the most important may be protection through life insurance.

In the spirit of transparency, this blog post is for informational purposes only. We know how quickly things change, so we can’t guarantee the content and links to unaffiliated parties are up to date.

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