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Your Baby's First Birthday Questions Answered!

Posted by on May. 5, 2015 at 12:00 PM
  • 30 Replies

We asked you to share your best baby's first birthday questions with our party planning expert, Stephanie Keeping,  See Stephanie's answers below!

Stephanie Keeping is a wife to Mike and mom to a boy named Sam, as well as a blogger and Etsy-preneur. She loves to entertain! From baby showers to birthday parties and all celebrations in between, she loves to create an atmosphere for memories to be made. She shares party themes and tips daily on her blog, Spaceships and Laser Beams. Her parties have been featured on a number of blogs including Hostess with Mostess, Kara's Party Ideas and Amy Atlas, as well as in print. 


Stevensmomma  asked: How do you plan a party on a very low budget and get everything or close to everything that is wanted for that day? 


What about a party matters the most to you? Focus on that aspect of the celebration. Here are a few ideas to help you save:

For invitations, hand deliver to save on postage or send an evite.

Make more of a statement with decorations by focusing décor in one area (usually the food buffet/dessert table). Shop your house first, borrow items, then hit Good Will and dollar stores for decorative items that can be used as is or repurposed to fit your theme.

Food will eat up a large chunk of your party budget. Of course handmade will be more economical than having a catered event. Instead of offering an entire meal, focus on a simple menu, offer a build-your-own bar, or a desserts only table-and make a fabulous presentation.

For favors, be prepared to send extras home with guests in a cute package that you embellish. For children's parties, buy a less expensive multi-pack of something that reflects the party theme; re-packaging individual items is a way to stretch your dollar.


SweetLuci asked: Can you suggest some themes for twins-a girl and a boy? 

There are so many possibilities! This list might jumpstart your imagination:

Cowboy and Cowgirl

Hansel and Gretel

You Are My Sunshine

The Little Prince (book) and his Rose

Dogs and Cats

Star Wars, focus on any of the main male characters and of course Princess Leia

Hot Air Balloon

Tea Party, incorporate mustaches and bowties with ribbons and frills


Robin Hood and Maid Marion



Nursery Rhymes

Peter Pan and Tinker Bell

Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Hatter's

Sports star and a cheerleader

Teddy Bear Picnic

Dr. Seuss

Woodland/Forest Animals

Under the Sea

Milk and Cookies

Arts and Crafts

Down on the Farm

Circus Fun

Silly Monsters


momofsixangels asked: What's the best time during the day for a party?

That really depends on your own life circumstances and what the party is all about. It's always wise to check for popular community, school and church events if your potential guest list would be impacted.

If the party is to celebrate a toddler, plan it around nap time so s/he is at her/his best.

Parties for elementary age kids are typically during an afternoon.

High school kids enjoy an afternoon or evening get-together.

Because of work schedules, most adult gatherings are on the weekends-brunch, afternoon or evening.


mamamedic69 asked: What kind of food that is healthy and not sugary?

Fruit and veggie bars are a terrific alternative to sugary baked good dessert tables. Since there are so many things to make with fruit and vegetables, the bar can be populated with all sorts of fun animal shapes, critters, and silly monsters made from a rainbow of healthy options.  Use a cookie cutter on a slice of melon, add lollipop sticks and you'll have a garden of flowers that is easy to eat. Whole melons can also be cut to look like the Hulk, a frog, or a baby in a basket, for example. Dates, figs, and apricots become awesome "bugs". Have you ever seen a strawberry octopus, an apple turtle, or a banana penguin? Fruits, vegetables and imagination are great companions!

Mango fries with Greek yogurt, savory or spiced nuts, and flavored popcorn are also good non-sugar choices. Fruit pizza is very satisfying.


momofnatalie asked: What are some simple activities I can put together to keep the older kids busy? I am thinking of creating a couple of stations to keep them busy.

I agree: activity stations are a great idea! Stock a table with craft items and give a suggestion of what to build (robots, silly monsters, superhero figures, masks, etc.). Set up games that can be played with several kids. Photo booths are a fun way to start the giggles so if the kids are old enough to handle a camera, let ‘em have at it. LEGOs are popular with all ages and both genders and there are lots of games that can be incorporated in addition to free style building. If you have the equipment, older kids like to record themselves making mock commercials, "movie" shorts and music clips.


amomkeymom asked: What is a good menu that will please the children as well as the adults in attendance?

Unless you are hosting a sit down dinner, choose finger food and hand-held items. They make eating at a party easier and guests enjoy sampling lots of tastes. Look for menu choices that can be down sized but still full of flavor. I love to offer a variety of appetizers. Little brioche with a favorite cheese is basically bite-sized grilled cheese. Bacon wrapped anything is popular-stuff dates with blue cheese, wrap it with bacon and roast. Mini puff balls are great filled with chicken or tuna salad. Sliders or wraps can be filled with all sorts of tastes. Pizza bites go quickly. There are lots of dips for veggies, chips, bread sticks or fruit. The doughy kind of pretzels can be savory or sweet. Bite sized desserts offer the opportunity to indulge without going overboard. No-bake mini cheesecakes, cupcakes, cookies and party candy popcorn are some of my favorites.


la_bella_vita asked:  How far in advance to send invites?

Invitations for more formal life events such as weddings are generally 8-12 weeks previous to the event. A bridal shower for local attendees should be sent 2-4 weeks prior; out-of-town guests should receive theirs a month to six weeks beforehand.  Baby shower invites are sent 4-6 weeks before the party. Birthday party invitations are typically sent 2-4 weeks before the celebration.


newlife1214 asked: No one RSVP's anymore. If I have invited 35 people to a baby shower how many should I feasibly plan for?

That is really difficult to predict! The rule of thumb these days seems to be count on 85-90% of your guest list showing up. Personally, I would always rather have too much food, enough chairs for everyone, and take-home favors for all, so unless I know for certain that some on the invitation list are not coming, I prepare for the greatest number of potentials.


DNewman asked: How young is too young for entertainment? Like a magician!

Three-year-olds are about the youngest audience members for sit-down entertainment.  Music, dance, story-telling or a magician that involves at least some participation of the youngest guests has a greater success rate.


johnny4ever asked: Why don't people RSVP? It helps to know an estimate. How can I ask without being so pushy?

See answer to newlife1214 above. I believe most people don't mean to be rude. I think it's more that everyone gets busy and puts off making a reply. A friendly phone call might be in order. Say something light hearted like, "I know this is a busy season for everyone so I will only take a minute of your time. I'm trying to finalize my plans for our _____ and I'm wondering if you will be able to come?"


hugss asked: How do you keep kids of different ages entertained?

Some games and relay type races partner older and younger kids for cooperative efforts. You can also plan for success by providing several "stations" with a variety of activities appropriate for each age range that will be at your event.  A craft table might have simple coloring sheets and large crayons or washable markers at one end and more complex projects for older kids at the other end. Younger children enjoy batting at beach balls while older kids play volley ball. Whenever possible, hire or designate an older, responsible teen to help oversee youngster safety. That will free you up for other host/ess duties and it will give parents a chance to relax and enjoy adult conversation while the kids are having fun.


ablackdolphin asked: I have never been a fan of letting kids get all messy with cake. What ideas do you have for cute clean pictures with cake?

Put a bib on ‘em!  There are stylized bibs that still go around the neck, but they also have sleeves and cover the entire child.


ablackdolphin asked: Best way to display pics of their first year at the party? 

Here are several ways to display those darling images:

-Use clips or wooden clothes pins (perhaps decorate them with paint, glitter, or washi tape) to attach photos to ribbon or baker's twine. Suspend it as a banner. Alternately, arrange the photos so they will hang vertically.

  -Cut a piece of foamcore into the shape of a #1 or the honoree's first initial. Cover it with photos to make a collage.

-Simply frame your photos and display them on the food buffet.

-Use/make photo cubes with six different images. These work especially well on guest tables when you arrange three cubes with flowers, stuffed animals, etc., as the centerpiece.

-For a gathering where all guests might not be familiar with one another, attach different pictures of baby to guest's name tags. Instant ice breaker!

-Key rings and charms can display baby's photo and serve as party favors.

-Pre-party, create a puzzle with baby's pictures. The pieces should be beginner not expert size. Take a picture of it when it's assembled. On party day, display the photo on a table, next to a basket filled with the puzzle pieces. The puzzle is re-assembled during the party as each guest takes a piece of the puzzle and puts it back together.

Remember to make copies to use for your display so you keep the originals intact.


See more answers in the replies below!

by on May. 5, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Cafe Naomi
by Group Admin on May. 5, 2015 at 12:01 PM

ablackdolphin asked: When inviting a guest with a severe peanut allergy should you notify all other guests beforehand so that they do not bring any snacks with peanuts? Is it weird to do so?

It would be worse than weird to have a guest experience a severe allergy attack! I vote for the considerate route--let everyone know about the concern and clearly label any dish that has questionable contents. Also, as host/ess be sure to provide a few snacks that are on the OK list for the allergy sufferer, even if you are the one to make them.


ablackdolphin asked: If you have wheat free friends due to celiac should you at least get a gluten free cupcake for them?

Yes, whatever a host/ess can do to make each guest feel welcomed is appropriate. I'm certain that gesture would be appreciated.


ablackdolphin asked: If you want parents to stay should you state that on the invite?

Yes.  Especially with the younger set, extra adult hands are often very helpful to keep the party moving. If you are clear on your invite you'll know who you can count on for the celebration. Be sure to have refreshments for the parents, too. Some parents of younger children are more comfortable staying with their child so they need to know they're welcome. Of course, some parents would be glad for a free couple of hours, too!


ablackdolphin asked: are online invites ok?

If the gathering is very casual and the invitation is being extended to people you know well, it's OK to use an evite. My personal preference is still the traditional snail mail. Most mailbox deliveries these days are advertisements and bills so a party invitation is a most welcome piece of news!


ablackdolpin asked: What if it rains???

I once hosted a backyard yard looked gorgeous with the manicured lawn, flowers in bloom, tables and linens perfectly coordinated, quilts and pillows strategically placed in shaded nooks on the grass...and yes, we had a DOWNPOUR in the middle of the party. Everyone and everything moved inside just fine, but the 135 pairs of wet shoes ruined my carpet. Lesson learned! Always, always, always have a contingency plan for an outdoor party. If it begins to rain, think through where you'll put your guests, how to serve the food, what might you have to do differently, and where will you put all those shoes if you move inside?


Bob192 asked: What is a cheap and easy party favor for large groups of children?

Bake and package a theme shaped cookie in a cellophane bag. Pop a colorful "thanks for coming" favor tag on the bag top.


Bob192 asked: Do you ever use catering for your events, or do you always prepare the food?

I frequently outsource food for my parties for the main dishes but I usually fill in with a few of my favorites to personalize the menu. Catering companies are great, but Costco, Sam's Club, or a favorite local restaurant can also be a great time saver for a busy host/ess.


ablackdolphin asked: Is it ok to put an end time on invites?

Yes. Clear communication helps everyone know what to expect.


ablackdolphin asked: Are thank yous really needed?

Yes. Anytime someone gives of their time, energy or resources, you can't go wrong in letting them know you appreciate their gift or gesture. 


mrswillie asked: What are some ways to do a theme but keep it cheap?

There are on-line printable party collections that can be purchased inexpensively and downloaded. Add a little imagination and you'll build a customized party theme that looks a lot more expensive than it is. Other tips? Always shop your house first. For a children's party, the kids' toy boxes yield a lot of potential, too. Check dollar stores and places like the Salvation Army and Good Will for items to repurpose-spray paint can be your friend! Oriental Trading Company offers tons of inexpensive options.  I know of some groups of friends who keep non-perishable party goods and rotate them amongst their community, so that might be a fun way to recycle and stretch your party budget dollar.  


mrswillie asked: What kind of cake?

The guest of honor's favorite, of course! A personalized, special order cake from a professional pastry chef will likely be a big ticket item in the party budget. Alternately, you can make your own or order a simple version from the local grocery store bakery and embellish it with a tiny pennant flag bunting, party printables or a fun themed figure.


ablackdolphin asked: When should you bring a hostess gift?

Anytime you want to express appreciation to the hostess! Even a small gesture is appropriate. Flowers or a plant, specialty food items, a favorite CD or a small gift for the house (guest soaps, lotions, candles, picture frame) are potential ideas. Gift wrapping counts!

Thank you all for your fantastic questions.  And special thanks to Stephanie for her awesome answers!

by on May. 5, 2015 at 3:46 PM

Wow great tips thanks !!

by Gold Member on May. 5, 2015 at 4:28 PM

 Thanks for answering so many of our questions. I really appreciated reading through the answers; very informative.

by on May. 5, 2015 at 10:27 PM
Thanks for sharing, these are really good tips!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by on May. 7, 2015 at 10:54 AM

Great info!  Thanks =)

by Member on May. 7, 2015 at 12:58 PM
Thanks for the great advice!!
by Bronze Member on May. 7, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Great ideas, I love having different stations to keep the older kids occupied.

by Member on May. 7, 2015 at 1:49 PM
Great questions and answers. Some of the answers can be used for not just the 1st birthday. I love all the different suggestions.
by Member on May. 7, 2015 at 2:07 PM

we had adult table and kids table 

by Bronze Member on May. 7, 2015 at 2:52 PM
Thank you
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