First birthday themes: baby smashing a cake

After a year full of firsts — from their first diaper change to their first words — it’s finally time to throw your baby their first birthday party. It’s a big birthday not just for the baby but also for the parents. After all, you’ve survived a year full of late nights, early mornings, long walks, and lots of bouncing. And you’ve been rewarded with plenty of giggles, smiles, and milestones.

Now, it’s time to reward yourself and your little one for getting through a big first year together. Plan a party that will bring a smile to your face and your baby’s face by finding a perfect-for-your-family first birthday theme. A theme can make party planning easier (because parents have enough on their plates), and it can inspire your decorations, menu, and party favors.

Here are seven of our favorite first birthday themes to help you plan your little one’s big day.

7 First Birthday Themes for Your Baby’s Bash

These first birthday themes are whimsical and one-derful. They work equally well for boys’ and girls’ birthdays, and we’ve included tips for pulling off each theme — from your party decor to your menu items. We’ve also included matching online invitations so you can start inviting guests as soon as possible.

1. Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

First birthday themes: Whimsical Cake Invitation

Design: Anna K Design

Matching invite: Whimsical Cake Invitations

Technically the saying goes, “Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice …” but we think it’s true of all babies. Of course, if you really want to stick with tradition, you could throw a “snips and snails and puppy dog tails” theme party for your little boy — complete with a puppy dog invitation. But even your birthday boy will love a little extra sugar at their birthday bash.

To pull off a sugar-and-spice-themed first birthday party, set up a dessert table full of candy, cookies, cupcakes, donuts, and other baked goods. If your baby has a fall birthday, lean into pumpkin spice, complete with lattes for the adults (because parents with a one-year-old can definitely use the extra caffeine!). Or incorporate a little extra spice with a cinnamon or ginger birthday cake.

For some DIY centerpieces, fill Mason jars with cinnamon sticks and star anise, topped with a tea light candle. As for party decorations, use sprinkles instead of confetti, and look for cupcake-themed banners and streamers.

2. Little Monster

First birthday themes: Our Little Monster Invitation

Design: Claudia Owen

Matching invite: Our Little Monster Invitations

You love your little monster, but let’s be real — there were definitely times during your little one’s first year when they terrorized the villagers (and by “the villagers,” we mean parents). Their first birthday party is as much a celebration of you getting through all the late nights, temper tantrums, and poopy diapers as it is of the sweet little monster themselves.

To pull off this first birthday party theme, hand out monster-themed party hats, glue googly eyes onto disposable table cloths (and everything else in the house!), and dress your baby in the cutest little monster costume. And since it’s so very on-theme, let your little monster smash cake all over their high chair. (You might want to throw a drop cloth down for easy clean-up.)

3. Wild One

First birthday themes: First Safari Invitation

Design: frau brandt

Matching invite: First Safari Invitations

If your baby girl or baby boy is already a big adventurer — scooting, climbing, crawling, and toddling all over the place — then celebrate their wild side with a safari theme soiree. This is one of those first birthday themes that offers plenty of creativity.

Decorate with animal cutouts, stuffed animals, or figurines. Fill your list of party supplies with leopard-print or zebra-print everything — from napkins to paper plates to banners and tablecloths. Leopard spots are the polka dots of a safari-theme party, so get wild.

Safari animal figurines also make adorable cake toppers, and instead of party hats, you can hand out lion mane headbands or safari hats, which can double as party favors for all the kiddos on your guest list.

4. Alice in One-derland

Adventures in Wonderland Invitation

Design: Signature Greenvelope

Matching invite: Adventures in Wonderland Invitations

An Alice in One-derland theme is a pun-derful way to celebrate your baby’s first birthday. This is one of our favorite first birthday party ideas because the story of Alice in Wonderland is so full of fun imagery that you’ll never be short of party ideas.

Set up a Mad Hatter’s tea party table. Hang clocks and pocket watches as decorations. Make space to play flamingo croquet (complete with lawn flamingos as croquet bats). You can hand out “Drink Me” bottles as party favors — fill them with bubbly for the adults and sparkling apple juice for the little ones.

If you want to go all out, you can even go in costume. Consider dressing up as the King or Queen of Hearts, and the guest of honor can be Alice or the Mad Hatter.

5. First Bee-Day

Bee Our Guest Invitation

Design: Claudia Owen

Matching invite: Bee Our Guest Invitations

For your baby’s birthday celebration — oops, we mean bee-day celebration — embrace a bumble bee theme. You can serve honey cake, decorate with black and yellow stripes or polka dots, hand out antenna headbands instead of party hats, and even make a beehive-shaped piñata.

This is one of the simplest yet sweetest first birthday themes (and not just because of the honey). Bees are pollinators, so you can incorporate plenty of flowers into your party decorations, which will allow you to add more colors to your theme. Choose between pretty pastels (light yellow for the bees and soft pink, purple, and blue for your florals) or bright colors (with bright yellow bees and hot pink and orange flowers). With this theme, you’re free to bee creative.

6. Twinkle, Twinkle

Starlit Invitation

Design: Ashley DeMeyere Design

Matching invite: Starlit Invitations

Your little star is turning one, so celebrate with a classic lullaby theme. A “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” theme allows you to incorporate adorable boho decor.

Leave time in your party planning process to make DIY clouds from fluffy cotton and string lights. Then hang star-and-moon streamers, use teddy bears and other bedtime essentials as decor, and play dreamy classical music in the background.

If you want to lean into the lullaby theme, make it a pajama party that ends before your baby’s bedtime. Not only can you dress your little one in their cutest pair of PJs, but you can also sport your favorite jammies — because every parent needs a little more comfort in their life.

7. One in a Melon

One In A Melon Invitation

Design: Loree Mayer Design

Matching invite: One in a Melon Invitations

Let everyone know that your baby is one in a million with a watermelon theme. This sweet theme is perfect for summer birthday parties, and it comes with a built-in color scheme. Decorate in shades of pink or red with bright green and black.

For a little extra fun, make this party a cookout and set up a kiddie pool for the little ones to splash around in. Serve watermelon popsicles along with fresh slices of fruit. Keep the kids happy with fresh watermelon juice, and for the adults, pass out watermelon mimosas. You can even decorate the perfect birthday cake with some easy DIY instructions to make your cake slices look like watermelon slices.

Here’s to a Year of Firsts

Throwing a first birthday party is just one more first in a year full of milestones. And much like how you figured out the best way to put your baby to sleep or make them laugh, you’re sure to choose one of the best first birthday themes.

Once you do, you can pick out an online invitation to match. There are hundreds of kids’ birthday invitations to choose from. Then, customize the invite with your party details and send it to guests in seconds. That’s one more thing you can check off your to-do list.

For more inspiration for the perfect birthday party theme, check out these outdoor birthday ideas or these extra creative birthday party ideas.