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 of venues, entertainers, themes, and more!
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.
In the Burbs
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 KINDS OF PEOPLE: Policemen, firefighters, princesses, doctors, cowboys/cowgirls
FAVORITE CHARACTERS: Anything and everything cartoon-ish…Sesame Street, Disney Junior, Nick Junior
FAVORITE TOY: Legos, cars, trucks, airplanes, teddy bears, dolls, sock monkeys
JUST PLAIN FUN: Hot dog, mustache and tie, “Sweet Pea,” “Cute as a Button,” Winter Fun
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
DÉCOR AND PERSONALIZED SPECIALTIES
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 (or book my amazing friend Tracy from Unsweetened T Photography who takes such fun smash cake photos) 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!