With Princess Charlotte approaching her first birthday the world's media spotlight will be focused on how the palace decide to celebrate her birthday. No doubt Kate will have an army of party planners to help her create a stylish and stress free event but for the rest of us the idea of planning a first birthday party can be daunting.
Let's face it, the first year of a baby's life is challenging to say the least, the shock of giving birth to a little human being is shortly followed by the exhaustion of sleepless nights and the relentlessness of feeding, changing, feeding, changing. Then they start to move under their own steam and a whole world of potentially fatal hazards opens up, from stairs, to plugs, to the small piece of plastic they decide to try and swallow. So a baby's first birthday is definitely worth celebrating and you deserve a party!
Although your little one will love the cake and balloons and fuss of a party it is well worth remembering that you have a few years before you have to fill your house with screaming children high on haribo or endure soft play hell, so, why not make this about you and your family and friends who have helped to make this year a little bit easier. The wonderful thing about your baby being too small to express an opinion is that you get to invite only the children and parents that you enjoying spending time with. This leads to a much more relaxed and enjoyable party. There are, however, some golden rules about throwing a party for very small children that we ignore at our peril:
Top five tips for a first birthday party:
1) Make sure your baby's normal nap time is still in place, an over-tired, over-excited one year old will not add to the atmosphere.
2) If you are inviting a few other one year olds, maybe consider limiting the party time to a couple of hours, you may have had enough by then!
3) Create a 'baby safe zone' with a couple of blankets on the floor and barricades to prevent any escapees. Put some toys inside and some chairs around the outside for the adults and the little ones can play while you have a chat.
4) A picnic in the 'baby safe zone' may be the easiest way to feed the party goers. Check in advance for allergies and chop up the snacks nice and small. A nice way to serve the food is in little paper cups, easy for the babies to hold and easy to recycle afterwards.
5) Maybe the best piece of advice is to keep it simple so as not to overwhelm baby and exhaust yourself. Having said that, if party planning is your thing you should go for it, they're only one once!
Although the little ones will be too young to play traditional party games there are some activities you can set up for them. Normal balloons can constitute a choking hazard but helium balloons can give a lovely effect. A paddling pool full of small plastic balls can make a mini ball pit and bubbles and playdoh will go down well. The best game ever for babies is to wrap up lots of empty boxes and allow them to unwrap them. This is a double win, they will love the paper and then they will play in the boxes! Finally rhymes set to music and baby dancing will keep everyone entertained.
A really lovely idea for the grown-ups attending the party is a time capsule party game. Ask everyone attending the party to write a message to the birthday boy or girl, messages of love, a prediction of what they'll be when they grow up, a memory of their first year, then maybe add some photos of the party and put the book away until their next birthday - this is a fantastic object to bring out for their 18th.
Most importantly make sure you take time to celebrate and savour the little human being you have created as they reach their first birthday. When they move from being a baby into a toddler they will learn and develop in so many ways, becoming more independent and starting to make their way into the big wide world. Give your little baby a squeeze, cuddle them close and enjoy this precious milestone.
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