We select the party suppliers that take the stress out of decorating and celebrating for your baby’s first birthday party
Words Helen Baron
The question of how best to mark and celebrate your baby’s first birthday party is surprisingly tricky to answer. On the one hand, there’s the obvious desire to make a fuss: this is baby’s first proper anniversary! That first year – so daunting and brilliant, so full of triumphs and apparent pitfalls – is over and (with any luck) your little one is thriving, happy and more downright enjoyable than ever. And it’s not just doting parents who feel the need to celebrate: friends and relations are just as likely to push for an event of some sort. New parent friends are looking for an excuse to drink a bit too much bubbly, and everyone with even the faintest link to your little one is hopped up on twelve months of extra oxytocin. All that happiness demands some kind of release.
On the other hand, there’s Baby: small? Of course. Sweet? Certainly. Oblivious to the very notion of birthdays? Without a doubt.
So, why bother throwing a party for a child too small to appreciate it? A child who may very well fall asleep as the guests arrive and continue to snooze until the last balloon is carried off? (Yes, this happened to us.)
Decide on the basics
Will you celebrate at home or elsewhere? How many people will you invite? How many kids will be there, and of what ages? What’s your budget? These are questions only you can answer. Once you’ve done so, you can start on the fun stuff…
Pick a theme
This doesn’t have to be too ambitious, like ‘Outer Space’ or ‘Disney Princesses’ (there’s a temptation to overthink this). It could be as simple as a colour scheme: black and white keeps things clean, limits what you can buy and is a great choice for photos. We had a ‘key prop’ at home, a cardboard igloo, and as the pub room we had chosen had dark blue walls (and a big electric star), we went for an arctic theme. The main thing is to set yourself a framework from which to proceed; hopefully it will stop you going overboard and doing (or spending) too much.
Choose your supplies
Balloons, party bags and paper plates are the usual mainstays, but the recent revolution in mum-style (and the explosion of visual networks like Pinterest and Instagram) means it’s easier than ever to get your hands on all manner of inspired party decorations. Check out our panel for details on the creative, stylish suppliers who helped make our polar party look the business.
Do you need entertainment for a one year-old? Probably not – they’d be happy playing with a ball of wrapping paper. But for the older children you’ve invited, it’s always handy to have something to do. We set up an inexpensive cardboard igloo (from notonthehighstreet.com) – a simple touch that proved a huge and instant hit with the kids (as well as some of the smaller adults). We also stuck to homespun musical games like Pass the Parcel and Musical Bumps, which we felt were more reliably entertaining than the traditional clown or magician.
Foodwise, it’s easy to stay relatively healthy while catering for all tastes and diets. On the treat side of things, big bowls of popcorn are great and simple – as are carrot and celery sticks with tasty dips. And don’t forget the cake… Professional suppliers can whip up some extraordinary themed creations, but sometimes all you need is a blank canvas for your own creativity. For our polar party, we had some special cookies custom-made for the party bags – that meant we could have a wonderfully gooey, rich chocolate sponge for a birthday cake. We simply iced it and used widely available (and inexpensive) animal figurines to bring it to life.
A Little Party Box
They reduce the hard work right from the outset, offering bespoke kits containing all you need for your party – you can choose from several inspired themes including Christmas, the circus, pirates, superheroes and unicorns. We went with the ‘Let it Snow’ box, complete with natty tableware, snowflake garlands, bunting, sparkly star confetti and a brilliant wooden table centre shaped like an ice castle.
An online boutique stocking stylish modern versions of all the traditional stuff: paper plates, cups and napkins as well as cool party bag treats, paper and star garlands, confetti and stationery. There are also party kits for busy mums looking for a one-click solution, and the balloon options (we plumped for some cheeky ‘POW!’ print balloons) are little short of spectacular.
Blossom & Crumb
They make cakes, cookies and macarons that make you smile: browse the the website and you’ll see that we’re not overstating it. With fillings as dreamy as chocolate brownie with dark chocolate ganache and Swiss meringue buttercream, Megan Collins’ artful creations are an Instagrammer’s dream come true. For our polar party, we went a little off-theme with a tray of Miffy cookies, modelled on the famous picture-book rabbit.