Celebrate Your Baby’s First Birthday Without a Party

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No, you don’t need to throw your baby a first birthday party to have a special day. If a party isn’t your thing, try these fun party alternatives to celebrate your little one’s first year of life. Invite relatives or friends, or keep it immediate family only.

photo: iStock

Balloons!
On the big day, gather the best elements of a birthday party and have a family day celebrating with them. We're talking things like balloons, streamers, music, cake and lots of hugs and kisses. You'll make the day special for both of you and have lots of photo ops without all the stress and expense of a party.

Fishy Fun
Dive into a day of birthday fun with a trip to your local aquarium. Your baby will be mesmerized by all of the watery sights and sea creatures. (And mom and dad will be mesmerized watching baby!) Watching fish float by is fun, but we bet the dolphins, seals, sea otters and other marine mammals will be the biggest hits of the day. Don’t forget to visit the tide pool animals, too. Bonus: Children under two are usually free at most aquariums!

Festivals
Scope out local festivals, and then head out for a day of fun. (Red Tricycle's city guides always keep you in the know. And check local websites or Facebook groups for event calendars.) Your child will love taking in all of the sights and sounds that accompany a street festival. Music, people watching, new foods—the event promises to be as fun for mom and dad as it is for baby.

photo: Suzanna Palmer

Go Wild
Your little one’s first birthday is the perfect time to head to the zoo. Kids love seeing animals they've read about in storybooks and making animal noises with you as you view the exhibits. All the new sights, sounds and smells will likely keep baby’s senses engaged, but bring a stroller or carrier for naps. Best spots for photo ops: The petting zoo, tram, carousel or kiddie train.

Art Project
Channel your little one's propensity for making messes into a work of art with a painting session. Gather some basic painting supplies from your local art supply store, like a small canvas, washable paints and a smock. Then, secure baby in a high chair and let the fun begin. Note the date and occasion on the back of the work of art; then find a place of honor to display baby’s first-birthday masterpiece. 

Seasonal Celebration
Baby born during the fall? Head to an apple orchard where you can bounce along on a hayride and sip apple cider. If you have a winter baby, take a walking tour of your area’s best holiday lights. For babies born during spring or summer, visit an outdoor concert or botanical garden to celebrate the season along with baby's birthday.

photo: Suzanna Palmer

Let Them Eat Cake!
Just because you aren’t planning a party doesn’t mean you should skip a cake. Having a smash cake sesh might just be the highlight of your little one’s day, and yours. Your baby is more likely to feel at ease—and dive face-first into the goodies—without dozens of eyes and cameras peering at them, like they'd have at a party. So bake up your favorite cake or pick one up at your local bakery and then dig in, baby!

Park It
Scope out the local parks for baby-appropriate offerings, such as bucket swings and paved walkways for strollers. Bonus points if the park has a water feature, such as a fountain or pond for fish, turtle or duck-watching. Pack a blanket and a picnic and enjoy a relaxing day together as a family.

Low-Key Playdate
Get your mommy & me crew together for a casual playdate at one of your usual haunts. Bring a snack (cupcakes, cookies or fruit) as a nod to the birthday babe, and let the kids play while you and the other moms celebrate that you got through your first year as a mom.

—Suzanna Palmer

RELATED STORIES:

18 Healthy First Birthday Cakes (and Smash Cakes)

Turning 1 & Having Fun! 13 Secrets to a Successful First Birthday Party

10 Healthy Alternatives to Cake for Baby’s 1st Birthday

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