We start with four ideas that even the one year olds can enjoy - if
they're not asleep :) Got kid guests? Grown ups clamouring to play a
game? What about themed games?
No need to panic! You can entertain all the kids, and keep the grown ups happy too.
Simplicity is key. Choose two or three activities, print out and prepare anything you need - nothing here is complicated - and you'll be all set.
Assemble items that represent different professions.
If you already have a fireman's hat, nurse's uniform or other kid toys representing jobs, so much the better.
Lay these out together on the floor and cover with a blanket. Now you can let your baby crawl or waddle towards the blanket.
Uncover the items, and let your child choose one of them. The first item picked up predicts the future profession of your child! You may want to take a photo at this point for posterity!
Singing together is one way of entertaining all of the little guests at your party.
You can play a recording of a few favorite nursery rhyme songs, and do the actions together.
Have a dance! Play a couple of great dance-able songs from the Wiggles or Barney, or any of your child guests' favorite character shows, get up, and have a bop about! Pick up the babies, jiggle about, have fun! Your one year olds will love to imitate some of your dance steps, too :)
Alternatively, if you have a book of nursery rhymes, you can sit the little ones around you and read or sing some together.
A large book with pictures of animals provides an opportunity for everyone to make some great animal noises! Get the adults to join in too, of course - they'll enjoy it more than the kids!
I hope you're not looking for neat and tidy first birthday party games - because very small children find filling and emptying buckets or bags hilarious!
And the messier - the better!
A bucket of soft balls, or socks, a sturdy bag with a selection of kid safe items collected from around the house - or your own selection of toys collected into a basket - will do fine.
Tip everything out and gather it all together again. Let your baby help you tip it out again - and again. All the children can join in with this one. If you laugh, the little ones will think it's great fun too!
You can finish by emptying out a bag of small party gifts for each your little guests - something to squeeze in the bath, a small cloth book or something nice to shake.
If your child guests are all about the same age, it's best to get the same thing for everybody to avoid tantrums.
If you're still feeling energetic, get the kids crawling...
...do make sure they haven't just eaten, however!
Clear a space, and place a large cuddly toy at the end of the room. Ask where it is, then "spot" it, and crawl towards it as if your life depended on it!
Get another adult to move the toy to the other end of the room. Repeat the process and dash off, on all fours, towards it. If your older guests join in, the little ones will be ecstatic. Then you can take a break if you think it's time for a drink and the cake!
You don't have to choose a theme for a first birthday, of course. You might just want a few friends and family round, keep the day simple.
In which case, you can use any of the game ideas below :)
When my son turned one, we'd just moved back to the UK. We didn't have much time to organize a party, let alone think about a theme. Here's his cake, and the cards. I still have those cards - they're here next to me as I type. Make sure you keep all your photos and cards, you know, they make great memories :)
However - if you're going to entertain a lot of guests and you have the time to make this into a proper "occasion," then it's nice to have a theme - you can get all organized with invites, decorations, balloons, and so on.
Tip: To keep young guests busy for a little bit, feel free to print out as many of my coloring pages as you need.
Theme ideas and examples of suitable games
Here's a list of themes - you could include one game based on whatever idea you choose, then mix in any other kind of game.
I'm including a few printable games for you, which can give some of your grown up guests something to play, helped by other kiddie guests.
Color inspired themes -
For children at your party, why not play a pink/blue/green etc treasure hunt? Wrap up candy or cookies or favors in the party color and hide them around the house!
Any kind of animal theme lends itself to a version of pass the parcel, with an animal toy as the prize, pin the tail/wings/etc on the animal, follow the animal leader, or "I went to the zoo and saw..." - see my list of classic games for more ideas.
For these "profession" type ideas, little kids can all sit down at a table laden with paper, coloring markers, themed stickers, stamps, and so on, and get busy making a Princess poster with a castle, or a fairy garden picture, or a road with stickers of cars on it.
A baby party should be kept simple.
It's best just to invite a few friends and other babies and young children. You will need time to look after your baby during the party, and other parents will also have to pay attention to their young ones.
But if you're going to have a big celebration, hopefully there will be lots of adult friends and relatives around who can help out with the little kids.
Babies and toddlers love being with other children, but won't tend to play with them. Playing some fun first birthday party games together will add a more sociable aspect to the party, but don't expect every child to want to join in every time.
Think of your guests.
Once you have decided who to invite, consult with your guests about timings.
Avoid nap times if possible - although each child will have their own routine. Mid-morning or an afternoon slot would be appropriate, and then you can serve morning or afternoon tea, without having to prepare and serve a meal...
...which gives you the opportunity of bringing out the cake, blowing out the candle and singing Happy Birthday!
Expect your party to last between one and two hours.
Let's face it, an hour is probably a realistic estimate. Any more and little guests, and your baby, will begin to flag.
Provide a selection of baby-safe toys for them to play with such as:
...and then add some baby books and nursery songs to the mix.
Where to go next:
In addition to games, you may want to add some activities to remember the excitement of that important day a year ago...
...as well as find more tips on hosting and enjoying the day!
I've added some fantastic ideas that will make your own celebration oh-so-special!