The Secret To Creating Fantastic First Birthday Memories

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by Jennifer Kirkpatrick

The day has arrived, quicker than you could ever imagine, your baby's first birthday! You want to make this first celebration of life fun, significant and memorable for both your little one and your guests, but how? We suspect you still find it challenging to shower and dress by noon, let alone plan an elaborate complicated party.

Your baby's first birthday should be a day more about fun and celebration and less about stress for Mom, so we're going to give you a few ideas to create affordable, unique, once-in-a-lifetime party memories in a snap -- and free-up more time to clean-up the mountainous piles of diapers, wipes tubs, toys, and peas splattered on the wall next to the high chair before your guests arrive!

Picture/video Montage

Chances are you went and purchased a digital camera sometime 'round week 13. Admit it. You have a ton of pictures on your camera that you haven't yet uploaded, right? Now is the time!

  • Check the software that came with your camera
  • Use pictures from birth to present
  • Add your favorite tear-jerker songs and let it run during the party on your PC!
  • Or a create a DVD for playing on your television!

If you want to get really ambitious use some cute font from your word processing software, insert your favorite picture, and print out "CD covers" to create additional CDs or DVD's for your guests to take home. If you need help a quick Google search will give you some great pointers.

Framed "Guest Book"

Let your guests write "guest book" entries on a canvas and create a piece of art your baby can keep for a lifetime. Any craft store will sell art canvases (those for acrylic paints work best) you can use for this project. The same store will usually have open wooden frames (no glass) that fit the canvas size you choose.

Decide on your color scheme: dark blue and silver, dark red and gold, or light pink and purple, for example.
For the background, choose any of the multitude of acrylic paints (hint: The most expensive isn't necessarily the best; you shouldn't pay more than $5 per tube for this project, and one larger tube will paint a large canvas).

  • Select one or more paint pens and choose colors that will show up well against the background.
  • Allow your guests to write a message to the baby with the paint pens on the canvas as they arrive.

After the party, use the wooden wedges provided with the canvas, place the canvas in the frame, and with a few whacks with a hammer you have professional looking framed art!

Life Predictions Scrapbook

At the same craft store, go to the scrap booking section. Before you do this however remember that you could seriously go nuts, so unless you want to spend a chunk of Junior's college fund we suggest picking a theme and keeping it to a couple items.

  • Choose some great looking card stock paper and a blank scrapbook (hint: You may be able to find cheaper scrapbooks at the dollar store and make sure you check out the clearance section at the craft store).
  • You can get some additional decorating accessories in this section if you want to jazz up the pages a bit.
    You'll need scissors and Tacky Glue later.
  • Cut the paper into note card sized pieces and hand them out to your guests. (Hint: Use the paint pens but make sure they have something underneath the paper when they're writing.)
  • Ask your guests to predict what the baby will be later in life, either their personality, job, anything they want to say.
  • Encourage them to have fun with it and make sure they sign their names!

After the party, glue the notes into the scrapbook. It will be a blast to go back and read the notes 17 years later!

First Birthday Time Capsule

A final idea is to ask each of your guests to bring one inexpensive item to add to a time capsule to be opened on baby's 18th birthday. Allow them to choose anything they want and only place the restriction that it can fit in a sandwich-sized Ziploc baggie -- you'll be happily surprised at what they come up with! Use some of the leftover card stock and label each of the items, seal them up and place them in a sealed box.

Remember, this day is about fun and celebration, so don’t knock yourself out creating a 5 course spread for 100 people. Invite your closest family and friends, fire-up the BBQ, toss the little tyke in a walker with their own cake to destroy (patio and hose work best for clean-up -- both the patio and the baby), have fun, and don't forget the camera! Using the suggestions above you can create lasting memories of this day -- and a yearly tradition -- with fun items you can go back to reminiscence with year after year.

Jennifer Kirkpatrick is a mom turned entrepreneur who creates and sells unique items for kids of all ages. Visit her online store Pipsqueak Boutique for unique first birthday gifts. And check out her new clothing line, Define*Me Clothing for fun first birthday shirts.