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First Birthday

1st Birthday Invitations


Baby Turns One! First Birthday Parties and Traditions


First birthday parties are more for parents than babies. We've all heard this. And while it's true that your 1-year-old won't remember her party, a first birthday is major milestone for the entire family.

Around the world, families celebrate first birthdays differently, depending on their cultural traditions and beliefs, but the spirit of the celebration is the same. A first birthday party celebrates the day your child came into the world; introduces her to family, friends and the community; commemorates all those important firsts—first smile, first tooth, first solid food, even first haircut; and continues a rich legacy of family and cultural tradition that may go back generations.

Your baby might not appreciate the significance of her first birthday party—she may even sleep through it—but the traditions you establish as a family for her special day, whether rooted in the past or brand new, will become part of her birthday celebrations for years to come.


First Birthday Traditions from Around the World

Historically, first birthdays were a celebration of survival: if a child made it through her first year of life—or even the first 100 days—chances were good she would grow to adulthood. Happily, most children born in the world today are healthy and thrive, but a number of customs from the past are still observed. Explore the customs of your own country of origin, and other cultures around the world, and consider incorporating traditions that have meaning for you in your baby’s first birthday celebration.

In China, common household objects, such as a pen, money, or a calligraphy brush, are placed before a baby. Whichever she grabs first predicts her future. For example, the money symbolizes wealth. Some parents include such modern items as a computer mouse (computer programmer), measuring cup (chef), or a stethoscope (doctor) in the game.

Korean families celebrate a child’s first birthday, or Tol, with a sumptuous feast. During the event, the baby wears special ceremonial clothes and family and friends pray and give thanks, and present her with gold rings, which are saved for the future.  

Children in the Cook Islands receive beautiful hand-embroidered quilts called tivaevaes for their first birthdays. Tivaevaes are made communally by groups of women and are treasured heirlooms in the Polynesian culture.  

The Hindu rituals of Annaprasanam (first solid food) and Mundan (first haircut, to symbolize freedom from the past) are sometimes performed on or around a child's first birthday.

In Hawaii, a child’s first birthday is celebrated by a luau where the baby is formally presented to family, friends and the community. Some luaus are attended by hundreds of people.

In Japan, 1-year-olds are made to carry a rice cake on their backs in a custom called issho mochi. The word issho is both a unit of weight (1.8 kilograms) and an expression: “for an entire lifetime.” This ancient tradition symbolizes the parents’ hopes that their child will always have more food than they can carry. 

Beyond Cake and Balloons: Modern Family Traditions for Baby’s First Birthday

Many families have special longstanding birthday traditions that have been passed down through the years as children grow up and have children and grandchildren of their own. As you plan your baby’s first birthday party, why not start a new tradition to go along with the old? Here, some ideas for Baby’s big day that may become an annual ritual as he grows.

A Star is Born. Create a DVD slide show of photographs from your baby’s first year and play it during the party. Make a new DVD to commemorate each year of your child’s life.

Signs of Growth. Take a photo of your child on her birthday holding a sign (prop the sign beside an infant) that records her age, date, height and weight. She can make the sign herself when she’s older. Keep the photos together in an album to share each year.

Birthday Tablecloth. Using finger paint, press impressions of your baby’s hands and feet onto a tablecloth and write the year. Update the tablecloth annually to create a treasured and decorative keepsake.

Special Cake Plate. A personalized dessert plate, to be used through the years, is the perfect first birthday gift.

Birthday Party Scrapbook. Put together a scrapbook just for birthday party photographs and mementos and add to it each year.

Messages of Love. Pass around a blank notebook to guests during the party for them to write a brief, loving message to the birthday boy or girl. Use the journal to record gifts, too.

Get The Party Started! Decorate your child’s room with streamers and other safe decorations while they are asleep so that they will wake up surprised and excited. As your child gets older, paint messages on the bathroom mirror, or incorporate a treasure hunt or a ribbon they can follow to their first gift.

Photo Garland. Attach twelve photos—one for each of your baby’s first 12 months—to a string with clothespins and hang it across the entryway for party guests to see.


New Customs in Gift Giving and Goody Bags

In many cultures, including the U.S., it’s customary to give gifts to the birthday child. But some parents today are considering new and even controversial alternatives to this age-old tradition, especially for Baby’s first birthday. A trend that is gaining in popularity is to ask guests to bring a children’s book to start Baby’s library. Another option is to encourage guests to donate a toy or book to a charitable organization in your child’s name. If you prefer that guests not bring gifts at all, designate No gifts, please on the invitation, but expect that some people will bring presents anyway.

More and more parents these days are waiting until after the party is over to open gifts. A 1-year-old is really too young to be able to unwrap, or appreciate, a pile of presents in front of an audience, and might become overwhelmed. The situation can be even more chaotic if there are older children in attendance who want to “help” open gifts.

To keep youngsters happy, engage them in a make-and-take craft activity, or give them one small, age-appropriate wrapped gift (e.g., craft kit, books, puzzles) instead of the usual, oft-maligned “goody bag” filled with throwaway plastic toys and candy.

For more great ideas to help you in every step of first birthday party preparation, from choosing a theme, to designing an invitation, to etiquette do’s and don’ts, read our article, A Little Cake, A Lot of Fun: Birthday Parties for Babies and Toddlers.


Make Lil Sweet Prince Part of Your Birthday Tradition

The designers at Lil Sweet Prince, who are parents themselves, know how important and culturally significant first birthday parties are. We love working with parents to create lovely, archival quality photo invitations and matching thank you cards, which feature sweet verses; clean, modern design; contemporary colors; and our signature Little Prince and Little Princess line. From first birthday parties to sweet sixteen celebrations, make Lil Sweet Prince a part of your family’s party tradition.


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Lil Sweet Prince is a Birth Announcements and Baby Announcements online greeting card company. Our main offerings include: Photo Birth Announcements, Custom Birth Announcements and First Birthday Invitations.