Seasonal Guide To Planning A First Birthday Party

Your child’s first birthday party should be fun and memorable. But planning it doesn’t have to be difficult. Want to create a picture-worthy party no matter what the season? Check out these ideas!


Often cold and rainy, winter might seem like a hard season to plan a successful party. But there are lots of creative ways to celebrate your little one’s special day.

Karina Elizalde Ferrales, a party planner from Clifton, N.J., suggests a “cool” first birthday for a winter party. Go with a penguin theme.

  • Decorations can be as simple as black and white balloons and streamers.
  • Use black tablecloths with white plates and yellow utensils.
  • A “black and white” cookie with your child’s name on it in yellow icing would make a yummy souvenir.
  • The cake could be chocolate with white meringue snowcaps. A couple of small plastic penguins purchased from a local toy or craft store can adorn the top of the cake.

Wanza Leftwich of Brooklyn, N.Y., offers her Frosty the Snowman theme idea – especially fun if you live in areas with lots of snow.

  • Dress the birthday girl or boy as Frosty the Snowman.
  • Decorate the tables, chairs and walls with snowflakes.
  • For a fun activity, cut out snowflakes and color or paint them.
  • Make an ice cream snowman as an activity the kids can eat. Take three scoops of vanilla ice cream and put on a plate in the shape of a snowman. Use chocolate chips for buttons and eyes and M&Ms; for the nose. Offer more edible embellishments and let the kids get creative. Parental supervision is required as small candies could be a choking hazard.
  • The cake, of course, should be in the shape of Frosty.
  • For entertainment, watch the movie Frosty the Snowman, hire someone – or use Dad – as a big Frosty.
  • If you really want to go all out (and if it’s snowing) make a snowman together outside.


For a springtime birthday, depending on where you live, there may be sunshine or rain. But there are sure to be lots and lots of flowers and fun.

Cindy Lo, president and owner of Red Velvet Events in Austin, Texas, suggests a sunflower/growing theme.

  • Tie invitations to a fake or real sunflower and hand-deliver to invited guests.
  • Put party favors inside a terracotta flower pot instead of the traditional plastic gift bag.
  • An activity could be to fingerpaint decorate their own flower pot (which can then be used to take home their party favors). Give the little ones oversized T-shirts to wear over their clothes for protection, maybe decorated with a photo of the birthday child’s face embedded in a sunflower image. This would serve as a secondary take-home gift.
  • For the cake, decorate cupcakes with a sunflower frosting top.

Courtney Ramirez of Sanger, Calif., suggests a teddy bear picnic birthday party, which can be held indoors or out, depending on Mother Nature.

  • Invite guests to bring their teddies.
  • Decorate with red and white picnic tablecloths.
  • For an activity, let older kids attending the party make teddy bear puppets. They can put on a puppet show for the little ones.
  • The menu could include hot dogs, beans, chips and other picnic food. Always supervise small children when eating hot dogs or other foods that could be a choking hazard.


The weather’s warmer now and parties can be moved outside. Casual is the name of the game for summer birthdays.

Break out the bathing suits for a pool/beach party! Ferrales suggests the following:

  • Fill up several inexpensive inflatable pools with small colored balls to create an instant ball pit.
  • Have a couple of beach balls lying around and it’s sure to invite some fun for the kids.
  • Use inexpensive sand buckets and shovels for souvenirs.
  • For dessert you can make individual cupcakes iced in a light chocolate butter cream. Decorate with a small drink umbrella on top of each cupcake and each guest will have a tiny little private beach.

Or how about an under-the-sea party?

  • Hang streamers in different hues of blue from the ceiling.
  • Cover the floor with blue balloons to give the impression that you are under water.
  • Purchase fish-shaped Mylar balloons and weigh them down at different heights around the room.
  • Serve goldfish crackers as snacks.
  • For dessert, serve individual cupcakes, iced in blue frosting and topped off with Swedish gummy fish.
  • For souvenirs, purchase small glass fish bowls from a craft store, fill them with blue M&Ms; and add red Swedish gummy fish on top.


Leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air – it must be autumn, which is a great time for a first birthday full of great memories.

A baseball party theme might be fun for your little one, suggests Ferrales.

  • Create a baseball game ticket for your invitations.
  • Serve peanuts and cracker jacks as snacks (for adults and older children) or go all out and rent a hot dog cart and serve hotdogs.
  • For souvenirs, create inexpensive baseball T-shirts with each child’s name on the back. All you need is a blank T-shirt, iron-on transfer sheets and a home printer.
  • Decorate with red, white and blue streamers, balloons and accessories.
  • For the cake, create a baseball field out of a chocolate iced cake with green sprinkles for the field, crushed vanilla wafers for the dirt and white fondant shaped into bases. Purchase small plastic baseball players from a party store or mold them out of fondant.

How about a Farmer in the Dell party theme?

  • Decorate with a bale of straw and some straw sprinkled on a red and white checked tablecloth, farm animal stickers on plastic cups, plastic farm animals on the table and tie horseshoes made from cardboard from hanging balloons.
  • For an activity, kids can color various farm-themed pictures copied from a coloring book or found on the Internet and printed out. (Small boxes of crayons could be part of the party favors.)
  • Party favors could be given in small cowboy/cowgirl hats. Include a bandana in each and have all the kids wear the hats and bandanas for a fun party picture gathered ’round the hay bale.
  • Pick theme music such as “Farmer in the Dell,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” etc.

“Don’t forget to ask someone to help you capture the event in photographs and or video,” Ferrales says. “This will probably be the only way your 1-year-old will remember his or her birthday party.”

“Don’t forget the party you’re so carefully planning is for the kids,” Lo says. “They will be happy with just having their friends over and a birthday cake with their favorite super hero. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a good time!”

4 Birthday Planning Tips

Here are some general birthday tips and hints from Cindy Lo of Red Velvet Events, Inc.:

1. How early to send invites? Definitely no later than three to four weeks from the event date, and if people don’t RSVP, plan on following up with them about a week out.

2. How many kids to invite? The younger the kids, the fewer should be invited, as it’ll be much harder for the hostess to manage the party and make sure the kids don’t get into trouble. Definitely no more than 25 kids unless you plan on having enough adult supervision.

3. How long should the party be? Definitely no more than two hours, but one and a half is actually plenty for a first year birthday party.

4. What time of day? The early afternoon is best so that it avoids naptimes and doesn’t interfere with major meals.

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