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Throw a Fabulous First-Birthday Party!

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Guest blogger Lara Shriftman: When my son turned 1, I had never thrown or attended a first-birthday party. But as the date approached, I decided I wanted to throw him an extra-special party. I did not want to consider the conventional locations. And since it was going to be held in New York City, I wanted something iconic. The legendary Waldorf Astoria Hotel immediately came to mind ....

Baby first birthday party
We all know how easy it is to get wrapped up in extravagant and exciting ideas throughout the party-planning process. Therefore, it is essential that you adhere to what you initially planned to spend. When laying out your spending for the party, think about what is most important to you. Is it the toys? The gift bags? The food? Really think about all of the nitty-gritty details, and how much specific items and services will cost. 

It's important to consider the parents when choosing a location for a first-birthday party, so keep in mind places that would be appropriate for adults. This idea of focusing on the adult factor also makes the location -- and therefore the rest of the party -- much more chic. Here are some suggestions:

  • A new or favorite restaurant 
  • A party room at a friend's apartment 
  • A club house 
  • The social hall of a church or temple 
  • A local hotel 
  • A kids' gym 
  • A kids' playgroup area 
  • Your home 
  • A local country club 
  • A local beach club 
Making your own invitations is more personal and original, and they can set the theme of your party. For my son Lucas' party, I used Google to find a vintage black-and-white photograph of the Waldorf Astoria entrance. Using Photoshop, I then inserted an image of my son and his dog, Lulu Flynn, standing in front of the hotel. The text of the invitation (including all of the party details) was printed on the back of the photograph. I used a copy machine to copy the text and pasted it to the back of the cards. I used big black envelopes that were left over from an old Halloween party. 

In this case, I suggest that you over-invite, because with young guests, anything can happen! You never know when a naptime or last-minute cold will interfere with attendance -- even if a guest has sent an RSVP. 

For my color scheme, I stuck with shades of blue and white in order to make the party very "boy." But you can use all of these ideas with any color scheme:

  • I had light blue, dark blue and white balloons with little plastic present boxes as the weights. I found a cute variety at Party City. 
  • To personalize the space and warm it up a bit, I had labels made with Lucas' monogram on them and wrapped them around inexpensive votive candles. 
  • I used toy cars to decorate the tables, and they ended up being something else for the kids to play with. 
Lucas' party lasted around three hours, so I created a three-hour iPod playlist to have on hand. Some fun songs to consider: 

  • "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" 
  • "The Wheels on the Bus" 
  • "Itsy Bitsy Spider" 
  • "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" 
  • "Bingo" 
  • "Mary Had a Little Lamb" 
  • "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" 
All of these songs can be found on the "100 Sing-Along Songs for Kids" CD, available on I also played my son's personalized CD from "Name Your Tune" throughout the party. With this service, your child's name will be sung throughout the playlist of 14 tweaked children's classics. 

You can never provide too many toys at a 1-year-old's birthday party -- but be sure that all the toys are age-appropriate and that there are always adults watching the kids as they play. Hiring professional entertainers or "real life" cartoon characters for the kids to interact with is another great way to keep little kids' attention, if you can afford it. At Lucas' party, we also had a music class with sing-alongs, and lots of bubble-blowing. 

Accommodating both kids and parents can be a challenge, so try to serve enough options to suit both. For food which could be wrapped, I made custom labels with Lucas' monogram on them in blue -- it's an inexpensive way to give your party an upscale appeal. Also, remember to serve sensible portions. Here are some possibilities:

  • Organic animal crackers 
  • Sensible Portions veggie crisps and multi-grain crisps 
  • Peanut Butter Pretzels from Harry & David
  • Organic banana bread squares 
  • Turkey hot dog slices 
  • French fries served in personalized containers 
  • Mini grilled cheese sandwiches wrapped in personalized wrappers 
  • Juices boxes 
  • Soft drinks 
  • Wine and beer 
  • Water with personalized labels 
  • Clear cocktails (so as to not introduce another color to the party)
  • Grey Goose cocktail recipe for adults (recipe follows)
The Grey Goose Classic Martini
½ part Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth 
Dash of orange bitters (optional) 

Method Fill a shaker with ice. Add Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth. Stir to coat ice and strain out. Add the vodka and bitters, if desired, and stir well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Present with an olive or a lemon twist. 

CHIC TIP: Another fun and creative way to add a festive and customized look to your party is to put ice in cold metal bowls and then add food coloring so the ice matches the theme of your party. 

My son's birthday cake and sweets were from Mrs. Beasley's and CRUMBS. I gave a picture of him to Mrs. Beasley's, and they were able to put his photograph on his birthday cookies. They were delicious, and it was a perfect personalized touch for the party. In addition to the cookies, Lucas' picture was placed on cupcake icing and sugar cookies that spelled out his name. Moose Munch popcorn from Harry & David is also festive and fun -- and you can create your own Moose Munch flavor online at We also had a large vanilla cupcake from CRUMBS.

Along with some little toys for the tots, here are some unique and glamorous items to add to your gift bags:

  • Products from Jurlique's baby line, such as bubble bath and calming massage oil 
  • Gourmet Belgian Chocolate Fairytale Brownies 
  • Kids' frames from Style Science Sunglasses (They have a great selection -- everything from Disney Princesses to Power Rangers!)
Luxury, fashion and lifestyle expert Lara Shriftman cofounded Harrison & Shriftman in 1995. The agency specializes in public relations, marketing and events for high-profile luxury brands. In addition to serving as a correspondent for "Extra" with her own segment, "Party Confidential," Lara and partner Elizabeth Harrison have authored four books on entertaining: "Fete Accompli," "Fete Accompli Workbook," "Party Confidential" and "Party Confidential: New Etiquette for Fabulous Entertaining." For more information, go to, or

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17 comments so far | Post a comment now
Birthday Ideas November 6, 2010, 7:59 AM

A lovely article, very well researched & written.
Thank you

Cala November 6, 2010, 9:46 AM

One year olds don’t need this. This is clearly for the parents. And I’m not trying to say you don’t need to make it special. But you can make it special with much, much, MUCH less. My son’s first birthday party cost maybe $20, and that was for the food. We had snacks (chipsm pretzels, vegetable platter) and a cake and some ice cream. Decorations were balloons and streamers from Dollar Tree. Entertainment was family and friends. And it was a very special day, focused on celebrating my baby boy.

Anon November 6, 2010, 11:17 AM

Are you out of your friggin’ mind?

Jamie November 6, 2010, 3:57 PM

Wow, some people will do anything for atten November 7, 2010, 5:10 AM

Great ideas! We already had our 1st party back in September. Cookout at a park pavilion with a playground for the older kids. It went well.

Katie November 7, 2010, 5:22 AM

I understand the desire to make you’re kids 1st birthday special but wanna know what we did? Hamburgers and hot dogs with grandmas yummy potato salad. You’re child won’t remember their first birthday so doing something extravagant like that? Thats for you, not the child. Our son had a wonderful day because he understood he was the center of attention, not his parents

Dale Kids Party Entertainer November 8, 2010, 5:40 AM

Just remember it is all about the birthday baby..:)

pharmacy tech November 9, 2010, 11:05 PM

What a great resource!

de slabit January 3, 2011, 7:18 PM

I have beeing looking the WWW for this information and i wanted to thank u for this post. By the way, just off topic, how can i find a version of this theme? – 10x

cura de slabire January 11, 2011, 6:56 PM

I was beeing scouring the WWW for such information and just wanted to thank u for this post. By the way, just off topic, how can i get a version of this theme? – 10x

test iq January 19, 2011, 7:41 PM

I have been searching the google for this information and just wanted to thank you for the post. BTW, just off topic, how can i get a version of this theme? – Thanks

Dale Dinardo February 11, 2011, 4:37 AM

You are a very capable person!

filme online March 9, 2011, 6:01 PM

I was beeing looking the Internet for such information and i wanted to thank you for this post. Also, just off topic, where can i get a version of this theme? – Thank you

Beula Jewett March 16, 2011, 12:08 PM

This is a topic close to my heart cheers, do you have a RSS feed I can use?

Jenine Mauro March 16, 2011, 2:08 PM

strong post you get hands on

Willa Anhorn March 29, 2011, 5:30 AM

Incredible posting,I reckon you’ve absolutely designed a web page I wish to read regularly. Keep it up.

Disappointed April 5, 2011, 9:23 AM

Are you KIDDING me? This is precisely what is wrong with America today. This is so unbelievably over-the-top and ridiculous for a one-year-old’s birthday party. Save the galas for fundraising and charities and let children be children. This was obviously a party thrown for a materialistic and selfish mom, not a little boy who would have been happy with MUCH less of a circus. Or wait, maybe I’m wrong. He wouldn’t have been happy with much less because his parents have already instilled their own shallow give-me values. And to top it off, this nonsense is posted on “Momlogic.” Really? What, exactly, is “logical” about this, (in relation to children and parenting) aside from its being a well-planned event?

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