6 Secrets to Hosting a Happy First-Birthday Party

Tips for throwing a memorable first birthday party (without going overboard)

little girl eating a pink cupcake

Although your baby is not likely to remember anything about her first birthday, it's still a milestone that adults like to commemorate, usually with a party. Follow these tips to keep the celebration simple so you don't overwhelm your little one.

Keep the time in mind Schedule festivities to begin soon after your baby wakes from her morning or afternoon nap, and limit the party to one-and-a-half to two hours.

Downsize the cake Specialty cakes make for great photo ops, but cupcakes are the right size for small hands. Kids tend to prefer simple tastes, so stick with basic vanilla or chocolate (be sure guests don't have chocolate or nut allergies, or plan accordingly).

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Put on your game face The age-1 set is too young to play together, but they may enjoy these activities with some help from adults:

Bubble ring-around-the-rosie Have little ones and adults grab hands and form a circle. Grown-ups can lead the game, while a bubble maker (or willing adult) adds another dimension to ring-around-the-rosie. FYI, nix balloons at the party—deflated or popped, they're a major choking hazard.

Musical peekaboo Place a box of toys on the floor. Play some children's music and encourage babies and parents to explore the toys together, while moving to the beat.

Stuffed animal hide-and-seek Hide animals in a small area and help little ones find them (make sure you put them within reach of crawlers as well as walkers).

Keep gifts under wraps Don't expect your baby to stay awake for gift opening. Save that for after the crowd leaves. If you must open presents during the party, plan to do the unwrapping, oohing and ahhing on your baby's behalf. (And don't forget to write thank-you notes!)

Simplify the parting gifts Keep the gift bag uncomplicated: A finger puppet or an iced cookie related to the party's theme are favors small kids will appreciate.