Your child’s first birthday is really more than just a milestone in his or her development. It’s a triumph for you too – you made it through the first year! All of the sleepless nights and late feedings have led to this shining moment. There will be temptation to go all out for this momentous occasion, but let’s face it: your son or daughter will probably not be remembering any of it. So before you go and rent a pony, here are a few tips when planning a first birthday party.
Keep it Simple
Skip on renting a catering hall or breaking out your fine china. While this is a special day, keep in mind your child is a year old, and having a party with a ton of things going on can frighten them, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. To avoid sensory overload, play soft music or keep the volume low, have colorful decorations, and be sure to have a few things on hand that your child is familiar with, like a toy, stuffed animal, or blanket.
Trim the Guest List
Resist the urge to invite the intern at work who made copies for you once. Stick with family and close friends, since your birthday girl or boy probably hasn’t made too many friends yet. This will also help settle your child’s nerves. If they see familiar faces they will be less anxious.
Timing is Everything
Few people know your child’s schedule and moods better than you do, so be sure to plan the celebration accordingly. If you know your daughter gets cranky when she doesn’t nap, then don’t plan the party to happen during nap time, or worse, have her skip napping altogether. Remember, your child should stay on his or her schedule to avoid meltdowns at the party or even in the days following the big bash. Plus you want your shining star to be happy and enjoy their big day.
New York’s 529 College Savings Program, where you can set up a college fund for your child with just $25 to start, has forms for you to print out and give to family or close friends as a great gift alternative. Who wouldn’t want to contribute to your child’s education? Click here for more information on New York’s 529 plan.
Location, Location, Location
Figuring out where to have this shindig is probably the most daunting task of the party planning. If having it at home isn’t feasible, here are a few local places to try.
This gym/play room is great for smaller gatherings. Call them to discuss what party packages they have available.
38 Great Neck Road, Great Neck (inside New York Health & Racquet Club in Waldbaum’s Shopping Center) – (516) 829-8099
The staff here will customize your child’s party activities based on the age of the birthday girl or boy and their guests, as well as your wishes for the party.
222-14 Union Turnpike Bayside – (718) 740-1616
Their Fab 1st theme starts out with guests making handprints they get to decorate and take home with them, and is followed by dancing and more crafts. It’s a great spot for creative kids.
The Greek Cultural Center, 26-80 30 Street, Astoria – (631) 613-6505
This party space will also customize your child’s party, making it suitable for everyone in attendance, but focusing on the guest of honor.
59–36 Grand Ave, Maspeth – (718) 366-2318
The variety of themes here seems almost endless. From the Puppy Party to the Architots Idol party, you’re sure to find the one that’s right for your child. This too is a great place for creative kids.
64-64 Dry Harbor Road, Middle Village – (718) 894-7777
Is your little one really active? At My Gym, you get exclusive use of the play gym during the party, and they even have games and puppets for added fun.
176-60 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows – (718) 380-4599
Here your little birthday bundle gets a special gift, and guests get their own gift bags. They also provide a trained Gymboree teacher to run the show.
Various Locations. To find one nearest you, click here.
Café with a music stage where you can rent a space and just hang out.
23-14 Ditmars Blvd. Astoria – 718.95.music
Beer Gardens like Bohemian Hall and Studio Square in Astoria have tons of space both indoor and out for adults and tots.
A fun Summer idea could be having a Water Baby Birthday at a Pool or Beach
This is quite possibly the most important tip. Make sure you’re present at the party, and not just running things in the background. Try not to get caught up in making everything perfect. Enjoy yourself, your family, friends, and enjoy the look on your child’s face as they taste their first birthday cake!