Chicagoland 1st Birthday Party Guide

Congrats, mom and dad, you made it almost a full year! You have figured out when to freak out and call the pediatrician at 3 a.m., when to simply relax and pour yourself a glass of wine, how to get your little one to sleep through the night (hopefully), and have memorized oh so many books that you are well on your way to becoming a librarian. The one thing you might need help with? Planning the 1st birthday bash for your little one, especially when our weather is so incredibly unreliable. So here is my no fail Chicagoland 1st birthday party guide!

Pictured: Jumps and Jiggles in Elk Grove. Plan ahead, this venue books almost nine months in advance but is oh so worth it!


After thoroughly researching the large amount of options in Chicago, here are my recommendations for fun and unique parties from local businesses, so you can support your fellow moms and dads while celebrating your little one.


Purple Monkey Playroom

Pied Piper

Heritage Littles

The Sod Room

Pickles Play Room

TuTu School


Kohl Children’s Museum


Adventure Playland

Ball Factory

The TreeHouse



I found picking a theme for my little one’s first birthday to be a bit tricky since their personalities were still emerging and there were so many things that they were interested in that it was hard to focus on one thing. So here are some ways to narrow down a birthday party theme for kids of any ages:

Favorite Animals: Sea creatures, jungle animals, insects

Favorite Books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Little Blue Truck, Anything Dr. Seuss, Maxi the Taxi Dog, Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, The Day the Crayons Quit

Favorite Songs: The Wheels on the Bus, ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, You Are My Sunshine, Rock n’ Roll!

Favorite People: Policemen, firefighters, princesses, doctors, cowboys/cowgirls

Favorite Characters: Anything and everything cartoon-ish…Sesame Street, Disney Junior, Nick Junior

Favorite Toys: Legos, cars, trucks, airplanes, teddy bears, dolls, sock monkeys

Just Plain Fun: Hot dog, mustache and tie, “Sweet Pea,” “Cute as a Button,” Wonderful Winter



I’m not sure why, but people tend to FREAK out about catering when throwing any type of party. My biggest piece of advice: Think about where you like to order from/where you have consistently great food and customer service experiences. Use them for your party. It’s not worth searching for special deals from a new company. Trust me. Go with what you know is reliable and delicious. Wanting to do some of it yourself? That’s great, but be sure to take as many shortcuts as you can from the grocery store. Costco has been my saving grace when throwing parties. And if you want to stick to a certain budget, check out my tips for party planning on a budget.

Breakfast: Bagels, donuts, muffins, waggles, eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit, yogurt, coffee, and MIMOSAS AND BLOODY MARYS

Brunch: Fruit, bagels, quiche, salads, MIMOSAS AND BLOODY MARYS

Lunch/Dinner: Mac n’ cheese bar, build your own grilled cheese, pizza/pasta/salad combo, soups and sammies, chili with toppings, SANGRIA/CROCK POT CIDER



Balloon Artist Dgeign

Little Miss Ann

Miss Jamie From the Farm

RC Juggles & Co

Princess Party Co



For balloons, appetizer/dessert plates, napkins, table cloths, and DIY centerpieces, there truly is no place better than the Dollar Store. Just make sure to get your entrée plates and utensils from somewhere else (like Costco or a Mariano’s) to make sure that they are move heavy duty. There is nothing worse than flimsy plates while eating.

If you are into DIY, be sure to hit up Michael’s and Jo Ann Fabrics…and be sure to search online for coupons before you head to the store to get the biggest bang for your buck.

And don’t forget to check out one of my favorite Chicago shops, Uh Oh Pasghettio, for unique birthday party invitations. Looking for an adorable personalized shirt? The local moms behind TypeBaby and Tori’s Bitty Bows can whip up something fabulous for you.

Not feeling crafty? Research your theme on Esty. There are so many other crafty mamas out there, which I am ever so grateful for, and it is wonderful when moms can support one another.



So now that you have the tools and inspiration, start planning. Oh, and one last tip. Designate a photographer (Lori Sapio, TK Photography, and Kristen Lisa Photography are some of our favorites) so that you can relax and enjoy the party and have great photos that show all of your hard work in honoring the first year of your little one. Oh, and don’t worry, no one expects you to do this next year. The second birthday party is truly a piece of cake. We are going on vacation instead of having a huge 2nd birthday party for our little guy…Mama needs a tan!

Looking for other birthday party venues?  Here are the best venues in Chicagoland. In search of a great gift? I’ve got you covered with these affordable and unique gift suggestions!

Happy Planning!
Amanda 🙂
Don’t miss a post…follow me on Blog Lovin’.


  1. Natalie says

    I LOVE theme parties. I have been trying to think ahead for my son’s 3rd birthday because I think it will be a big one, but I haven’t decided what we are doing yet. This post certainly helps get my wheels spinning.

  2. Anita Ojeda says

    Great ideas and beautiful cakes :). We did birthday parties with friends every other year for our girls–it helped keep costs down ;). When they’re 8 or 9, they do a great job of planning their own parties (or at least giving you the basics and all you have to do is organize it!).

  3. dogear6 says

    What a lot of great detail! Even though I’m not in Chicago anymore, what you have here is still useful. You really put a lot of effort into this – thanks!


  4. Tara says

    So much fun and such great ideas!!! I think I will share this post with some friends who will be planning first birthday parties this year.

  5. Wendy says

    This is an ultimate guide… and I love it! And I love 1st birthday parties in general. 1st birthdays are so much about “Mama” and the joy she’s experienced. Way to help your Chicago peeps make their parties GREAT!

  6. Marina says

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a first birthday that has outdoor with an indoor backup in case it rains? My son is turning 1 in June and would love to be outdoors!!!
    Thanks a ton in advance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.