Gift Rabbit is supported by our readers. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

50 Unforgettable 1st Birthday Party Ideas: With Photos

Your baby's first birthday is a monumental milestone – make sure their first celebration is a memorable one.

If your little one is approaching their first milestone birthday, you’ve probably already had quite the year! And, from food to party themes, there’s a lot to consider when planning a first birthday party (not to mention keeping your sanity!).

With our guide to 1st birthday party ideas and themes, you’ll have everything you need for a memorable celebration. Whether you’re on a budget or need to keep the party indoors due to the weather, we’ve got you covered.

So say goodbye to the stress of party planning and hello to creating cherished memories for your child and loved ones.

Unique 1st Birthday Party Ideas for Girls

These easy-to-plan 1st birthday party themes will inspire happy giggles from baby girls everywhere.

1. Fairy Tale

It’s super easy to treat your baby girl to a memorable fairy princess birthday party. It’s all in the decor, from balloons and lots of soft fabrics to a birthday cake fit for a princess. Matching flowers (whether real or fake), streamers, and electric candles will keep your princess safe while showing off a royal aesthetic.

2. Unicorns

You don’t have to be creative to bring unicorns to your baby’s first birthday party. Unicorn crafts are easy to make using paper plates, plus glitter can elevate any party decoration. A unicorn cake tops things off wonderfully, even if you only use it for a baby birthday photo op.

3. Ballerina

Your baby girl may not be walking yet, but she’ll love looking back at her ballerina-inspired first birthday party. If you can dress up any part of the party space with pink tulle, you’re halfway there. Twinkling lights will help make her feel like the ballerina star she is. Adding some tutu material to her high chair isn’t a bad idea either.

4. Tea Party

First birthday party ideas like a tea party offer adorable photo opportunities. Your baby girl will love the elegant florals and delicate decor, as will the adults. While the little ladies enjoy their treats, the adults can have tea and sandwiches, petit fours, and other elegant fares.

5. Rainbow

When a baby girl turns one, she is all about bright colors and shapes, and there’s nothing more exciting than a birthday party that looks like a rainbow. You can create a rainbow background with ribbons, balloons, or anything colorful. Buy a rainbow-themed cake, or get creative with food coloring.

6. Minnie Mouse

Minnie Mouse is a wonderful mascot for your baby’s first birthday party. Decorations come in all manner of materials made to look like Minnie, from signs to balloons. Minnie Mouse cake toppers will please everyone when it’s time to wish the birthday girl “Happy Birthday.”

7. Frozen

No matter what time of year your baby girl turns one, she’ll love the blue fantasy world of Frozen. An array of blue, white, and purple decor will turn your party space into an ice castle fit for a princess. It goes without saying that you have to dress your birthday girl up like Elsa for the celebration.

8. Mermaid

You’d better grab a camera quickly once your little one is dressed like her favorite mermaid. Seashells, pearls, and netting help turn her 1st birthday party into a magical under-the-sea extravaganza. Don’t forget to bring the treasure!

9. Barbie

What little girl doesn’t love Barbie? If you think your soon-to-be one-year-old won’t appreciate Barbies, you’re mistaken. Between the bright and vibrant decor to an awesome Barbie box photo set-up, she’ll enjoy looking back on this special day. You can even feature a Barbie doll in the birthday cake for the ultimate “cake doll” combination.

10. Honey/Bumblebee

1st birthday ideas like a bumblebee-themed party can turn your baby girl into the cutest honey bee in no time. It’s an incredibly easy costume that could come together with a bumblebee onesie and some antennae. You can add a little honey to the cake and serve honey-based cocktails to the adults too.

Unique 1st Birthday Party Ideas for Boys

Baby boys will enjoy these fun-loving party themes, as will all who are invited to celebrate their first birthday.

1. Basketball

Your little guy may be too young to play basketball, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a basketball-themed party. Round orange plates and balloons can mimic the basketball, while you can have a ball and hoop game for the guests.

2. Shark Party

A shark-themed party is the perfect 1st-birthday idea for boys who love the ocean. There are fun shark-shaped balloons available to bring baby shark fest to life. The blue waves of the ocean will find their way to a delicious birthday cake shark boys can dig into.

3. Peter Rabbit

The iconic Peter Rabbit character makes for wonderful inspiration for your baby boy’s first birthday. Transform your backyard into Mr. McGregor’s Garden and host a garden party. Little ones can even play in the dirt and look for toy carrots to pass the time.

4. Monster Mash

Your baby boy isn’t too young to enjoy silly monsters in all their glory. This unique approach to a 1st birthday party will be as lively and colorful as it is cute. Whether you get store-bought monsters or construct your own, everything from decor to one-eyed cupcakes are in order.

5. Petting Zoo

You probably won’t take one-year-old boys to the petting zoo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have one at home. There’s no need to source live animals when you can set up a baby-friendly petting zoo made of soft toys. Stuffed animals can entertain baby boys, keeping them busy until it’s time for cake.

6. Superhero Birthday

While there’s time for babies to become superhero-loving boys, their first birthday is a great place to start. The bright colors of superhero costumes pep up birthdays, as do cookies decorated to look like their own favorite hero.

7. Pumpkin Patch

Even if your baby boy wasn’t born in the fall, a pumpkin patch is a festive way to wish him a Happy 1st Birthday. Candy corn may not be on the menu, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it inside mason jars for decoration or for the older kids. A scarecrow and some pumpkins round out this simple yet fun set-up.

8. Dinosaurs

Little boys love dinos, so it makes perfect sense. It won’t take long to transform a home setting or backyard into a prehistoric wonderland. Add scales to birthday hats and decorate the party with baby-friendly dino toys the guests can take home.

9. Nautical Theme

If your little one loves the sea, a nautical-themed 1st birthday party is in order. He can dress up like the captain of his own ship or take it to the pirate side. You can add anchors to the decoration, birthday cake, and party favors. The guests will be saying “Ay, ay, Captain” in no time.

10. Lego

It’s true—you may have more fun setting up the Lego party than your baby boy will remember having. Spell out his name in giant Legos or add Lego designs to the cupcakes to make this the most colorful and well-organized party.

1st Birthday Party Ideas at Home

You’ll find tons of cute ideas when you have to plan a first birthday celebration at home.

1. Balloons

Using balloons isn’t the newest trick on the block, but they can make or break even the best 1st birthday party themes. You can create an entire background wall using various balloon colors, sizes, and shapes or keep it simple for a pop of color. The photos you get from the event are sure to be unforgettable.

2. Ball Pit

Your little ones may not be old enough for a traditional ball pit, but a soft one keeps the fun going. An inflatable pool for babies and young toddlers can be filled (to a shallow level) with soft balls. A little supervision goes a long way where ball pits are concerned.

3. Sesame Street

Sesame Street is a great idea for your baby’s first birthday party. In addition to decorating, you can set up a Sesame Street-themed banner of photos for your little one’s first year. From newborn to three months to almost one, it’ll be a poignant way to honor their first year on earth.

4. Cake Pops

Most babies will make more of a mess than a meal out of their first birthday cake. Cake pops are a festive way to celebrate them and let them eat just enough cake. You can even shape them like the number one or in any way to suit your overriding theme.

5. Beach Party

If you don’t want to bring one-year-olds to the beach, you can recreate it at home (indoors or outdoors). A sand pit, buckets, and some beachy decor are all you need. They’ll keep busy and enjoy the activities no matter the time of year.

6. Camping Trip

There’s no need to head to the great outdoors when having a camping-themed 1st birthday. From tent decorations and green trees to s’more-flavored treats, everyone can enjoy the wilderness, at least in theory.

7. Sock Puppet Show

If you’re the crafty type (or even if not), creating sock puppets for 1-year-olds is a good way to keep them in a great mood for a birthday party. Some puppets can also be constructed without sewing skills. It’s not hard to impress your gaggle of kiddos who’ll love having extra friends around.

8. Smash Cake Video

Smash cake birthday rituals are all the rage these days. Whether just for the fun of it or to take photos and videos, letting your birthday boy or girl smash up a cake can be epic. There’s plenty out there to help you do it right, from healthy “smashable” cake recipes to photo shoot tips and tricks.

9. Birthday Parade

If you’d rather forego driving your one-year-old around for a traditional birthday parade, you can have one at home. There are even kits to help you construct a full-on replica of a Macy’s Parade, right down to cardboard cutout floats. Take another lap around the house, because it’ll make everyone smile.

10. Birthday Safari

Your baby may be too young to appreciate the zoo, but you can throw a “wild one” birthday party at home instead. Display safari animals anywhere you can fit them, whether cupcakes, balloons, soft toys, or a bigger background. Bring in some greenery from the garden, and the wild animals of the jungle will feel right at home.

1st Birthday Party Ideas on a Budget

These budget-friendly ideas focus on making your baby’s first birthday as memorable as possible.

1. Girly Birthday

It’s not costly to put together a girly pink first birthday for your baby girl. With no specific theme, anything pink will do. A pink banner, some matching party favors, pretty flowers, and some pink frosting on the cake are ideal!

2. You Are My Sunshine

Whether your baby is celebrating a summertime birthday or not, a sunshine-themed party can be bright and shiny for all. A little yellow and gold DIY goes a long way, plus babies are attracted to eye-catching shapes and textures.

3. Lemons to Lemonade

If you decide to throw a lemon-themed 1st birthday party, all your wallet needs to worry about is anything yellow. Lemonade is cheap to make, and lemons make great party decorations. The bright and sunny event is sure to warm your guests’ hearts, no matter their age.

4. Donut Party

Donuts make everyone happy, so why not get started making your baby boy or girl thrilled to turn one? A donut party is ideal on a budget because you’ll easily be able to find discounted plates, napkins, and decor. Cake pops made to look like donuts will beg them to “donut grow up.”

5. Baby Bunny

One-year-olds love to hug their favorite baby bunny, so why not make bunnies a central part to their party? You can find different-sized stuffed bunnies on a budget and give babies plenty of cuddly friends to be around. A bunny-decorated birthday cake won’t get expensive when you can make it yourself.

6. Crepe Paper Party

You’d be surprised how amazing a 1st birthday party space you can create using only crepe paper. There are plenty of crepe paper decorations to help get you started, while you also find your crafting skills. Get as colorful as you like, and none of the 1-year-olds will be anything less than entertained.

7. Picnic Time

There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of a free public space when your budget is tight for a first birthday party. A great spot in the park near shady trees is a goldmine for keeping little ones happy and entertained. A picnic is a low-key way to treat everybody while letting them crawl around.

8. Bubbles

There are few things one-year-olds love more than bubbles, and you don’t have to break the bank and rent an industrial bubble machine to get the job done. Simply giving each adult guest baby-friendly bubbles to make themselves is enough. There will be squealing and giggling before you know it.

9. Teddy Bear Party

Even if you can’t hire a giant teddy bear for your child’s 1st birthday, a teddy bear party can still happen. Teddy bears are in every type of store and come in all shapes and sizes. From a bunch of teddies to join the guests to teddy bear take-home treats, these fuzzy friends will win big.

10. Photo Collage

The one thing you have a ton of by the time your baby turns one is photos…lots of them. Cut a giant “1” into cardboard and cover it with images of their first year. There are a lot of inexpensive photo printing sites to make the whole process even easier.

1st Birthday Party Ideas for Winter

When the weather isn’t cooperating, you’ll find plenty of fun activities with these winter-friendly party ideas.

1. Indoor Carnival

When it’s too cold to go to a real carnival (and you’d rather not with one-year-olds), create one yourself. Whether at home or in an event space, the bright carnival colors and fun activities you provide can make the little guests feel like they’re visiting a summertime amusement park.

2. King (or Queen) For a Day

Why not treat your baby boy or girl like the king or queen they are for their 1st birthday. You can have some fun with their personalized regal robes and a very special crown for the birthday royal. You might want to include strong blues, reds, or purples for this stately birthday bash.

3. Winter Wonderland

If you can’t avoid the cold weather, you may as well embrace it! Lean into the season with a fabulous winter wonderland birthday party. You can have meringue treats and hot chocolate for the adults. There’ll also be romping in the fake snow of a winter forest set up for the babies.

4. Berry First Birthday

When stuck indoors, babies miss the colors of spring and summer. Using berries as a theme is an easy way to add some summer fruits into the mix. The reds, pinks, and blueberries will pep up any party space, and are safe to serve to 1-year-olds too. Just make sure the berries are cut small enough to avoid choking hazards for the little ones!

5. Finger Paint Party

Finger painting is the first step for your little ones to become great artists. A surefire way to keep the young party guests entertained is with safe and fun art projects. There’s no shortage of non-toxic, edible painting materials they can use (and eat). They won’t leave the party looking the same, but will have enjoyed themselves so much.

6. Storybook Time

Once upon a time, there was a first birthday party that was truly amazing, thanks to you. A storybook birthday party can draw from whatever your birthday boy or girl’s favorite tale is, from the decor to the cake. Make sure to include a storybook reading as part of the celebrations.

7. Slumber Party

While no one expects your one-year-old birthday party guests to stay over, a slumber party theme can feel casual for all. No one has to dress up, even the adults (which they’ll appreciate). Kid-friendly breakfast food items like pancakes and cereal treats will be the perfect end to the shortest slumber party around.

8. Indoor Tropical Luau

Though winter means your tropical luau masquerading as a 1st birthday party will be indoors, it won’t make a difference. Just crank up the heat and play some soothing Hawaiian tunes. It won’t hurt to dress up your baby in a lai and grass skirt, so the winter weather won’t be on anyone’s mind.

9. Indoor Playground

By the time the one-year-olds enjoy themselves in the indoor playground you create, no one will ask to go outside. It’s easy to arrange different, baby-safe activities and make sure they’re supervised. Adults can work in shifts, so others can check out the amazing food spread you’ve provided for them alone.

10. Indoor Pool Party

Who doesn’t love a pool party birthday in summertime? When your little one’s first birthday falls in winter, don’t worry. You can create an indoor pool party with some protective tarps and inflatable kiddie pools. If you go all out, there are pool spaces you can rent with supervision for one-year-olds in mind.

Why is a First Birthday Celebration Important?

Celebrating your baby’s first birthday is a huge milestone! Whether a party with friends and family or a private celebration at home, it is a chance to commemorate your baby’s first year of life. It’s a way to acknowledge the trials and tribulations you’ve overcome and the joys that having a little one has brought to your home. Plus, when your baby is older, they can look back on the memories of their first birthday and know how much they continue to be loved.

How to Throw a Fun 1st Birthday Party

There are many ways to make sure your baby’s first birthday is special. Limiting the guest list and keeping the party intimate is a great place to start. Celebrating your baby’s birthday is the most important part of the day, so don’t break the bank for decorations. Babies don’t remember their first birthday, so it’s a great opportunity to keep things simple.


Who Should Be Invited to a First Birthday Party?

While you may want to celebrate a baby’s first birthday by inviting everyone in town, a small guest list is best. A few close family members are the most important guests you can invite. Outside of that, a few good friends or daycare pals can round out a great 1st birthday party.

How Far in Advance Should You Send 1st Birthday Invitations?

Invitations for a first birthday party should ideally be sent out about four weeks in advance. This gives loved ones ample turnaround time to save the date, buy gifts, and prepare for the celebration. A good cut-off for sending invites out is two weeks. Any less than that isn’t being thoughtful to the people you want to share this momentous occasion with (1).

How Many Hours Should a 1st Birthday Be?

Even if you’d love to celebrate your baby’s 1st birthday party all day long, it’s best to keep the celebration brief. One-and-a-half to two hours is a good window for little ones to enjoy but not be exhausted. Unless your baby tends to take early naps, mid to late morning or midday is usually ideal for baby’s energy levels (2).

Can Babies Eat Cake on Their First Birthday?

Babies can ingest solid foods around six months of age, so it’s ok to enjoy a few bites of cake at their 1st birthday party. Chances are, they won’t eat anything close to a whole slice of cake, with more on their face than in their tummy (3).

Should You Open Presents at a First Birthday Party?

There are two camps when it comes to opening presents at a 1st birthday party. Those in favor of opening presents during the party believe it’s fun for guests to see the baby’s reaction to the gifts, which also makes for great photo ops. Others think opening presents is best left until after the party since 1st birthdays are typically short, so time is precious (4).

What Goes in a Goody Bag for a One-Year-Old’s Party?

While not mandatory, giving out a goody bag for a 1st birthday party is a thoughtful gesture for the little guests that will bring a smile to everyone’s face. Bath toys, cloth books, or even age-appropriate treats work well as party favors for babies to use after the event wraps up

Headshot of Maryana Vestic

About the Author

Maryana Vestic

Maryana Vestic is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and food photographer with a background in entertainment Business Affairs. She studied film at NYU, Irish Theatre Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and has an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from The New School. She loves cooking, baking, hiking, and horror films, as well as running a local baking business in Brooklyn with her boyfriend.