Planning a one-year-old’s birthday party from scratch: Part I

Okay, so this is the part where I plead for help with planning ideas for Sadie’s first birthday party. I keep rattling it around in my brain, and I feel like I’ve just got some idiot hamster in there on a wheel, going nowhere. Here are the things that I know:

  • I completely realize this party is more for Trevor and me and our family and friends. And the pictures to show Sadie when she is older. She’ll have no idea what’s going on, other than the fact that she LOVES a crowd. I know she has zero expectations about what her party “should” be like.
  • We have a lot of friends and family who have supported us in this year, and we want to share it with all of them.
  • Our house is small (really small), but we don’t want to spend money to have it somewhere else. And since her birthday is the beginning of April, it’s too risky weather-wise to plan on having it outdoors. We’ve definitely had parties over here before with upwards of 40 folks, but never with any sort of purpose (no, “Hey everybody, let’s watch while someone makes a mess of herself eating cake for the first time” kind of thing).
  • And speaking of cake. We work very hard at avoiding food waste, and we don’t want to put that on hold just because it’s Sadie’s birthday (this is NOT a judgement call on anybody, just how we roll). So I don’t want Sadie to have her own cake to demolish. I’m thinking more like a larger-than-usual cupcake. Maybe?
  • Also, I don’t want her cake to be a sugar-coma-inducing empty-calorie sort of thing. Anybody have any recipe ideas? And should I just make a big cake for the guests with the same recipe? Or order or make the kind of cake I know I like to eat (as in, a sugar-coma-inducing empty-calorie sort of thing).
  • I’d rather have a big party with lots of friends and have people not bring gifts than have a small party so the number of gifts will be fewer (Does that make any sense?). There will be plenty of birthday parties in the future where she’ll know enough to want gifts. But she doesn’t have a clue, and she doesn’t need a thing. So I’m thinking of alternative ideas… any suggestions?
  • Time of day. Who knows what Sadie’s nap “schedule” will be like at that point. Right now, she still hardly naps at daycare, but she relatively reliably naps at home from 9ish to 11ish and 2ish to 4ish. I think trying to have a lunch time party will be biting off more than I can chew. Pre-morning-nap would be a nightmare for me, as I’d have to get up at three in the morning to start getting ready. Should I just push her afternoon nap back? What about the other kids that might come? Will people just work it out? How do people decide this sort of thing?
  • Food. I want it to be kid-friendly, healthy, but also something the adults will enjoy. Because there will definitely be more adults than kiddos. Thoughts?
  • Also on food… I’m not sure I can handle both cleaning the house top-to-bottom AND making all the food. Should I just have it catered? Would that cost one million dollars?
  • Will anybody care if there are no decorations? I’ve been stressing about having a cute, sweet theme for a while, but I can’t come up with anything that sticks. I absolutely LOVED seeing pictures of Tara and Becca’s twins’ party (their pictures are on FB, otherwise I’d link to them), which was a woodland creatures sort of theme (think gnomes and faeries). And you know how in school, when you heard someone else’s science fair project idea, and then you couldn’t think of your own, because all you could think about was how great an idea it was? I’ve had that going on for weeks now.

So am I being a total nutjob? Am I completely over-thinking this? Can anybody help me!?

6 thoughts on “Planning a one-year-old’s birthday party from scratch: Part I

  1. tara

    so glad you liked our party! it was super cute and you can copy any of it. we have a cake pan that is basically an overiszed cupcake that you are welcome ot use! They didnt really eat a lot so they didnt really have the sugar-induced coma. we just ordered cupcakes for the guests from sams. one less thing for us to make and they were super cheap. i am sure kroger’s are good too. we had the same problem with location ideas. our house is too small and we have dogs, and we didnt want to spend money renting a place. we ended up using my parents house which was perfect. summer birthdays would be so much easier! just go to a park somewhere and have plenty of room! we did ours at 10 am and had brunch items (more on the lunch side) it isnt too much for you to ask people to bring somehting too. we had friends bring an item and family members bring food too. there was enough to eat if people were counting on it for lunch but we didnt have to get tons of lunch meat, etc. we did pigs in a blanket, turkey roll ups with tortillas, hummus, spinach dip, pita chips, cookies, fruit salad, punch, little rolls with brisket and condiments. everyone got plenty to eat and we even had lots of food left. they crashed at about 2 even though they usually sleep from 12-2. i wouldnt stress about the nap time. she will be excited and playing with people and her schedule will just be a little off. also, you cant try to plan around other kids either. we lucked out and all the kids we invited were awake and happy. one parent came 45 minutes late due to her napping child. it all wokred out. and NO you are not over-thinkning. it is a big day and loads of fun to plan and put on!

    1. Brooke Post author

      Were y’all just running around like madwomen trying to get ready that morning? I’m a) not much of a morning person, and b) kind of slow at just about everything I do. I think we’re going to send the dogs down the street to the neighbors’ and lock the kitties (for their own safety) in our bedroom. I’m starting to lean more toward late afternoon and not worrying so much about her afternoon nap–or just try to have her nap earlier. Thanks for all of the ideas!

  2. Shannon Horton

    Yes you are overthinking it but we all do. (at least I know I did and I know several other mom’s that did as well). Nash’s party, I thought, turned out good but never goes exactly you plan no matter how much of a planner you are (you know I am too). With naps and all that just use your best guess and go from there. I thought about catering too just not to have so much on my plate but I ended just buying fruit and snack stuff from Sam’s and it turned out good and was a lot cheaper that way. No one is really coming there to eat so whatever you decide it will be fine. Do you have any family for friends to help you get ready for it? I did most of mine but it did help to have people help set up or pick of last minute things. Bottom line-don’t stress too much over it (if that’s possible), go with whatever you think will be best for Sadie, and enjoy her big day. Everything will be fine. I can say that now looking back at it but I swear I had all the same questions you had in some form. Can’t believe she is almost one! I remember how little she was at Nash’s first birthday party. If I can help in any way let me know.

    1. Brooke Post author

      It’s true… people won’t be coming to the party to eat. Very good point. I guess it’s because parties that we usually throw are very food-centric that I was projecting that on this party. I think we’ll just go with some simple stuff. I’m sure we’ll get some help getting ready for it. I doubt we’ll mess with decorations, so it’ll really just be keeping Sadie out from under us while we clean. Nash’s birthday was fun, by the way! It’ll be time for round two before we know it!

  3. Pingback: Planning a one-year-old’s birthday party from scratch: Part II – Parenting from Scratch

  4. tara

    we had a lot of help from my stepmom and a couple of friends so we werent too crazy. i would suggest having the dogs elsewhere too. i would have gone crazy if my dogs had been there! your plans look great though so have fun and just let it happen!


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