A Marvelous Milestone: Ideas for 1st Birthday Parties in Westchester

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This spring we celebrated my baby girl’s first birthday. It was a lovely occasion, filled with family, friends, and fun. However, there are some things that make this milestone birthday a bit harder to plan than the others.  

For one, a baby’s first birthday party tends to have a longer guest list than subsequent celebrations. We wanted all our extended family and friends to be able to attend our daughter’s soiree. Our humble abode, however, cannot accommodate this kind of a crowd, so we had to determine an appropriate venue that could house a big group comfortably.  

Second, first birthday parties are more likely than others to have a large mix of ages in attendance. My son just turned three, and we’ll soon be transitioning to kid parties as he gets older. With just kids and their parents we won’t have to worry as much about space, decor, and food variety. Pizza, cupcakes, some game or activity and we’re done. 

More than any other birthday, I think a child’s first birthday is really a celebration of the parents and the family. After all, the baby doesn’t care if the theme is race cars or unicorns – they just want that smash cake! So I planned both my kids’ first birthdays for myself and my husband. I chose food, a theme, and activities that we like. This took a lot of the pressure off for planning the perfect event. At the end of the day, it was just a nice way to congratulate ourselves for keeping our heads above water.  

Location

  • Pick a place you love. A restaurant is a good choice if you don’t have too many little kids attending. Many local spots have private party rooms and special party menus. 
  • Outdoor locations are great fun if you don’t have a winter babe. Consider renting a pavilion at a local park. You can rent space at county parks or contact your town to see what’s available in the neighborhood. Alternatively, you could bring some pop up tents to your favorite playground or picnic spot and post up for the afternoon.
  • Many towns have indoor spaces for rent too. Contact your recreation department, and if you have friends who volunteer, many of the firehouses have nice party rooms you can use. Elks clubs and churches often offer their spaces as well.  

Activities

  • Think about what age kids will be in attendance. If it’s all grown ups or all other one year-olds, you don’t really need to plan anything specific here.
  • For toddlers and pre-schoolers, a simple craft is a great way to occupy kids for a while and also give them a little memento to take home instead of traditional favors.  
  • Sports equipment is always a winner. A mini basketball hoop and/or some balls, and you’re golden. Of course we’ve been to several parties with a bounce house which is a guaranteed hit. 
  • Consider setting up a baby zone. You can do this using a playpen or large baby gate and some balls and toys. This is a great way to give parents a place to plop their littles when they’re getting restless or need a distraction.

Food

  • I fully support potlucks for children’s birthdays. If you’d like to discourage gifts, asking folks to bring a dish is a great way to get everyone involved. 
  • Pizza and cupcakes are easy favorites for us. They don’t require forks and knives and can be easily eaten standing up or while chasing children. I can’t stress enough how much I prefer cupcakes over cake. We had them at our wedding before it was trendy, and the higher ratio of icing to cake is awesome. 
  • Bring your baby’s high chair. The ones at restaurants aren’t ideal for that first taste of sugar you’ll be offering, and it’s just nicer to have a comfy place for the guest of honor to be photographed. I recommend the IKEA high chair for its affordability and super easy cleanup (you can hose or even shower that thing down whenever needed.)

What tips do you have for hosting a 1st birthday party?

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Amy is a Hudson Valley native and educator working in New York City schools. She has two little kids and one little dog. Before moving to her current home in Ossining, Amy attended college on Long Island and then spent most of her 20s in Brooklyn and Queens. New York is truly home for her, and she’s thrilled to be living closer to her hometown of Garrison and her extended family. As a mom, Amy believes in empowered parenting, and she’s passionate about raising her kids to be partners in the fight for social justice. When she’s not working or trying to figure out nap time, Amy loves hiking, yoga, swimming, and relaxing with her family.