10 things that your baby does not need at his first birthday

Baby on her first birthday

One whole year, a full trip around the sun!! Your little one’s first birthday is around the corner and you are feeling all the feels. You are probably also feeling a little overwhelmed with party-planning, gift giving, cake smash planning and Pinterest boards full of inspiration.

10 Things your baby does not need on their first birthday party

  1. A professional cake! Guys, I know Pinterest has your heart set on a beautiful buttercream creation, but is it really worth it? Yes, the pictures will be amazing, but a home-made cake oozing with imperfection and love will be equally special.
  2. A cake smash. This is a trend we are happy to say goodbye to. As a photographer, I have seen my fair share of cake smashes. More often than not, your 1 year old will barely touch the cake. Take the pressure off and supply a selection of their favourite teething biscuits, fruits, purees and a cupcake- chances are you’ll get some amazing photos of your little one enjoying food they already know and love, as well as sampling that cute little cupcake.
  3. Hiring lots of props and decor. I LOVE a party theme. The more parties I photograph, the more I have come to learn that less is more. Play around with colours and one or two special details on your party packs. Keep any other decor items neutral and use what you already have. Always remember, this party should be something you enjoy; it should not make you feel pressure to live up to unrealistic standards.
  4. Overflowing party packs. This one is seriously my biggest pet peeve when it comes to birthdays. I regularly visit parties overflowing with sweets, half of which end up in the dustbin. The best party packs I have ever seen at a party? Some Salted Caramel Popcorn, sliced biltong and a home made chocolate brownie. The kids, and parents, could not get enough. Guests were also welcome to refill their packs with more of these delicious treats.
  5. Too many guests. A party should be filled with joy, so invite the people that will fill it with joy! You don’t need to feel guilty for not inviting someone. Invite those who love your family, those who have been there for you through this first year of parenting.
  6. Balloon arches. Yes, I’m gonna say it! Balloon arches are pretty, they make for a statement piece. But they are also expensive- especially if you want them to look Pinterest-worthy. Really consider the cost of that balloon arch, how long it will be in use, and how you will pop each of those balloons and put them in the trash.
  7. A printed birthday t-shirt. Keen one printing that “Wild One” shirt? Chances are, that shirt will be worn once as it is highly specific. Rather opt for a shirt that is on theme but can also be worn in future.
  8. Entertainment. A one year finds joy in the simple things in life. Wait till they’re a bit older before you rent that petting zoo, face painter or balloon artist. Rather opt for some finger paint, a jumping castle and a bubble machine to provide the day’s entertainment.
  9. An event planner. Do not let the pressure of social media make you feel like you need to prove your worthiness as a mother by hosting a picture perfect party. This day should be a celebration of life, filled with special moments of joy. Focus on one or two elements that make the day special and feel at peace knowing that doing less is OK!

5 Things that are totally worth investing in

As we speak, I am prepping for my little guy’s 5th birthday- 5 parties in, these are the things I have invested in for parties:


  1. A photographer. Yes, I am a photographer and I have all the skills required to capture the day. But I want to be part of the day and not worry once about snapping a photo. I save up for this every year, book way in advance, and make sure I have a photographer that has a great eye for capturing natural moments.
  2. Glassware. I have built up a very small collection of glassware that I use for every party. I never have to rent a drinks dispenser, bowls, glasses or cake stands- as the ones I have can be reused for any occasion.
  3. A printer. I find this the easiest way to incorporate my theme in a way that doesn’t break the bank. I can easily print name-tags, activity booklets and labels.
  4. Canva. On the topic of printing- no need to let someone design these items for you. Canva is a great online tool, with a Free Version, that has a great collection of templates, fonts and artwork for you to play around with.
  5. A good selection of drinks. I mention this specifically as I photograph a lot of parties and you hear things when you are a fly on the wall! Most party guests complain about a poor selection of drinks- specifically water. Be sure to have water available for adults and kids.

Share your favourite party planning tips in the comments below.


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Celesté is a Pretoria based lifestyle photographer and mom of two. Her photographs focus on capturing emotion, unposed moments and timeless imagery.

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