Five 1st Birthday Ideas Worth Trying


A first birthday is such a beautiful milestone. Not only does it signify that your baby is entering toddlerhood, but it means you have survived the first year of being a parent! And if that doesn’t deserve a good party, I don’t know what does. Let’s face it, your baby isn’t going to remember this day. You could spend hours hanging the perfect bunting banners around the house and blowing up balloons in your little one’s “favorite” color {not that I know anything about it} meanwhile your birthday prince or princess is holed up in an empty box unraveling the curling ribbon and destroying the brand new masking tape you bought for the occasion.

Here are five 1st birthday ideas sure to make the occasion a memorable. One you and your child will enjoy for years to come!

Empty time capsules before guests arrived

Time Capsule

One-year-olds aren’t exactly hurting for toys. Instead of a gift, ask your guests to bring an item to be placed in a time capsule for your little one to be opened on his or her 18th birthday. Pick up containers such as wooden boxes from your local craft store to serve as both decor for the party, as well as storage for the time capsule contents. Include a little note in the birthday invitation with time capsule suggestions for your guests.


  • Receipts for common purchases (e.g. milk, eggs, gas, etc.)
  • Take out menus
  • Poem
  • Sales Flyer
  • Predictions for the Future
  • Music CD
  • Common toy of today
  • Maps
  • Coins

Our guests took this gift incredibly seriously! We got amazing things I cannot wait for my twins to open in 17 years…Everything from a Grateful Dead t shirt, to Taylor Swift’s 1982 album, Disney Frozen memorabilia, an old iPod, newspapers, and gossip magazines. Don’t you just wonder what they’ll think of it all?

Note we placed beside the picture book for our guests

Autographed Picture Book

Choose a picture book that fits the theme of your party, or a book your child loves. Have every party guest sign the book. We did “A Very Hungry Caterpillar” themed birthday when my oldest son turned one. All of the guests signed a hardback copy of the book. We still read it all the time. It’s fun to read through the messages and remember who was there and what they said. This is also fun to do annually as your child grows!

Letter to your One-Year-Old

This is a great tradition to start when your child celebrates their first birthday and continue it throughout the years. If you have a family blog, it’s a great place to post the letter, create a journal for birthday letters, or even set up an email address for your child and email them a birthday letter every year. You can have family and friends join in the fun and write letters, as well!

chalkboard poster
DIY chalkboard poster

A List of Favorites

Chalkboard posters are all the rage these days! And why not? You think you’ll remember their weight, their favorite foods, and milestone accomplishments, but three kids later and you’re suddenly asking yourself, “Did Charlie like carrots or was that Eloise?” Needless to say, time does a number on those long term facts about our kids. Head to Etsy and order a poster complete with all of your child’s favorites so you have it as a keepsake. Or better yet, make your own! Even if you don’t have room to store it for the next 18 years, you can at least snap a picture of it which leads us to our final idea…

1st birthday shoot


You don’t have to hire a photographer or go crazy to commemorate the day. Although, if you have the means and the desire, go for it! If hiring a professional isn’t for you, then stop and take out your camera {the good one, not that smartphone} and set up a quick photoshoot. Grab some balloons, head to a park, and snap away! Go out into your backyard with a smash cake and let that kid go to town! When your precious baby is suddenly 17 and out past his curfew, you’ll thank your still sleep deprived self you have images to look back on when he was innocent and adorable and you were his world. They won’t be babies forever!



What creative 1st birthday ideas do you have to share with our readers? We’d love to hear all about them!

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Mom to a 3 ½ year old boy and 16 month old girl/boy twins, Liz Fendell is a recovering perfectionist hailing from St. Louis. Her current aspirations are showering three times a week and keeping all three of her precious munchkins alive. She survives on her ability to laugh at herself and with her nearest and dearest. Her new mantra is, “I am enough” and believes a healthy dose of humility and grace can get her through anything. And if that doesn’t work there’s always Plan B: witness protection. She exercises when she can and has recently pondered strapping her Fitbit to her 3 ½ year old son. Surely that kid is reaching 10,000 steps per day! A full time stay-at-home mom and talented lifestyle photographer {at Liz Fendell Photography}; she is passionate about capturing both the ordinary and the extraordinary moments in her clients’ lives.


  1. Thanks Liz, I love this! My party loving self is already thinking about 1st ideas for Josh (7 months), so I will definitely be referring back to this!

  2. Love this! We find a picture book that goes with the theme every year and have all the guests sign it. This year we didn’t really have a theme: my son just wanted donuts and chocolate milk so we found a book about donuts 🙂 it’s such a fun keepsake

    • Allie, I’m so jealous of your book ritual — I wish we’d thought of that, and hadn’t already missed this on a birthday! Maybe we’ll backfill!


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