Low-Key 1st Birthday Party Ideas

I felt a terrible stab of the terrible mum guilt when I started thinking about William’s first birthday party and realized I didn’t have a single child to invite on his behalf so a party was going to be a bit of a bust! There’s nothing wrong with a low key birthday party or birthday celebration though, I did some research and very thankfully found out I’m not alone. Not everyone has friends with children and a baby is obviously not capable of making independent friends. If you haven’t gone to a regular class or clicked with any other mums and family doesn’t have young kids, you may find that like me you’re faced with the prospect of an empty birthday party.

Even if you have loads of friends with kids, the idea of spending your childs first birthday party running around and organizing things for little ones and being screamed at in tenfold might sound like a nightmare not a celebration.

A low-key first birthday party celebration is a good compromise. At the end of the day, a 1 year old won’t remember their birthday party and doesn’t understand the concept. It’s more for you and your family to celebrate and grab a few photos. Raising a tiny human (well, surviving…) for a year is a big celebration for you!

Here are some low-key ideas for things to do for a birthday when it’s just you and close family or a small group.

Day Out – Zoo or Aquarium

At a year old they can start looking at different animals and into fish tanks and be mesmerized by the different things they see. They may not be able to fully understand what it is, but they’ll definitely know it’s something different!

Zoos are excellent for good weather as they have great picnic locations and usually have playgrounds to tire little ones out too. Aquariums are perfect for incelement weather as they’re warm and toasty, with loads of different things to see.


Lots of simple finger food and a picnic outside will make a nice change and be super fun. This can even just be in the garden or a local park. If your little one is into teddies, take a few along and have a teddy bear picnic.


A family BBQ means the adults can have a chat whilst any kids run around the garden and munch on some different food. This is an informal way to have a party that doesn’t really matter exactly who’s going to be turning up and ideal for birthdays in the summer.

Meal Out

If the weather isn’t good or you fancy something a bit more formal, what about just inviting a few family members to a meal out? Pick somewhere with a good kids menu and make sure you all get a slice of cake for dessert! Most restaurants will let you take your own birthday cake in with a booking. It’s still a lovely way to socialize and celebrate.

Cake Smash

You don’t need a big party to have a cake! A one year old doesn’t need an expensive fancy cake, but a small birthday cake makes a great opportunity for photos. Let them squish it and play with it and get it everywhere, whilst you grab a few snaps!

You can also get professional photo shoots done that provide props and cakes if you want a really special keepsake.

Balloon & Badge

Whatever you do – whether it’s a visit to somewhere new, a morning at soft play or a walk in the park, tie a balloon to the pram and give them a “1st birthday!” badge or sticker and you can be assured they will get lots of smiles and attention throughout the day.

How did you (or are you planning to) celebrate your child’s first birthday?

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  • Reply Harriet October 2, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    I just used these ideas as I’m planning a 1st birthday party. We ended up deciding on going to the Zoo with grandma and my sister and his two cousins.

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