This is the first in a 2-part series on Stress Free Birthday Parties.

Stress Free Birthday Parties: First Birthday Party Ideas

My baby boy turned ONE last week. It’s true what they say — that first year goes by so much faster when it’s not your first kid. I feel like he was born a few weeks ago! I guess that tells you how chaotic this first year has been too. 🙂

The last thing I wanted was to plan a huge, stressful birthday extravaganza for him, thereby giving myself one more giant chore to do. So, that became my party theme: stress free.  I wanted this birthday to be a celebration of our sweet baby boy and the joy he has brought to our family — not about making a hundred Pinterest-worthy decorations, gourmet cupcakes and giving tons of presents. (I realize a lot of moms like to throw big parties because they really do enjoy the crafting and creativity that comes with that, but I am not one of those people — for me, all those projects are a major source of frustration and stress. I’m happy for you if those are your thing — will you come to my house for my other son’s birthday and help out? ha.)

So, now that the big day has come and gone, here are a few of my best tips for throwing your own stress-free first birthday party:

baby face birthday garland - Stress Free Birthday Parties: First Birthday Party Ideas

Stress-Free Birthday Parties:  DECOR

Any good celebration needs cute decorations — am I right? In our family, my baby boy is infamous for always smiling with a big, wide-open mouth, so I picked his cute (and rather large) mug for my decorating focal point. I made a garland and stripey straws out of some of my favorite photos of him (I got the idea from this birthday party featured on 100 layer cake-let) — just cropped his face out in Photoshop, printed in black & white, cut around the edges and added a party hat out of colorful patterned paper.

baby face party straws - Stress Free Birthday Parties: First Birthday Party Ideas

I keep a few well-designed garlands from Target (one says “happy birthday,” another is just a banner garland in my favorite color, etc.)  in my party supply box, so I put those up around my kitchen to add to the decor. Also, I made his birthday party hat from scratch using this template from Oh Happy Day. And that’s it! Super simple but still pretty cute.

birthday cupcakes made from a mix with homemade frosting - Stress Free Birthday Parties: First Birthday Party Ideas

Stress Free Birthday Parties:  FOOD

I made cupcakes from a box mix, but made frosting from scratch (the vanilla buttercream recipe from the Trophy Cupcakes and Parties!: Deliciously Fun Party Ideas and Recipes from Seattle’s Prize-Winning Cupcake Bakery, which has sooo many good ideas for party planning in general). Rolled them in our party colors and added a “1” candle that I picked up from Target back when my older son turned one — recycle and reuse! (Please notice the smashed frosting on one of the cupcakes…I wasn’t kidding, this was a stress-free party — I didn’t freak out when my preschooler decided to help decorate, even though my pictures wouldn’t be perfect.)

We had family over for a birthday dinner — I put my husband in charge of grilling BBQ chicken, had my mom contribute a salad, and I made a few other salads and rolls. I whipped up a batch of this strawberry agua fresca as a summery treat and we were good to go!

first birthday cupcake - Stress Free Birthday Parties: First Birthday Party Ideas

Stress Free Birthday Parties: ACTIVITIES

We were all about focusing on the baby boy, so we simply had dinner, opened a few gifts and let him go at a cupcake. It was laid back, fun and a great evening with family and friends. Everyone pitched in to clean up and my kitchen was back to normal in just a few minutes. A stress-free birthday success!

first birthday celebration - Stress Free Birthday Parties: First Birthday Party Ideas

I’ll be back with a few more tips for even better parties by adding healthy snacks and low-cost ideas too — but in the meantime, what are some simple birthday party tricks you’ve used before? Or, are you a Pinterest pro who doesn’t stress about party plans? I’m all ears.