First Birthday Party Games and Activity Ideas

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A first birthday party is a special milestone that most parents like to celebrate, but besides kissing the cute baby and eating cake, what do you do at a first birthday gathering?


Of course baby doesn’t understand all of the day’s hoopla and s/he isn’t going to actually remember the day, so many families are content to host a celebratory gathering with the intention of sharing food, looking at a timeline of baby’s photos and congenial conversation. If that’s what is most meaningful for your family, that’s enough; but if you’re hoping for activities to engage the youngest cousins and friends that might come, there are other ideas to keep the smallest guests amused.

Make sure to also check out these great posts when planning your child’s first birthday party:

Bounce houses get a mention as a potential and face painting has become a popular party activity with kids; even toddlers seem to enjoy the art. Pair that with a mirror where they can see themselves and you’ll get lots of smiles! Add a collection of hats and costume pieces for more fun.

Clowns, magicians and musicians are also favored diversions at kid parties. College and university students often provide these services at reasonable rates.

Activity Ideas for a First Birthday Party

Unlike games for older children, the following activities require some hands-on from moms, older siblings or perhaps a sitter that has been hired for the occasion. Setting up stations with a variety of diversions can be helpful, too.

Here are a few party activities that are especially suitable for one to three year olds:

  • tunnel crawl-thru, using purchased fabric tubes or handmade with connecting cardboard boxes; play houses are also popular
  • blowing and catching bubbles
  • dig for treasure; bury plastic objects in a sandbox and let the kids keep their prizes
  • activity table with (washable) markers, moon sand or other sensory material
  • building blocks or playsets such as barns and animals
  • dance with the music; dancing stops and starts with the recording
  • treasure hunt; hide objects around the room or yard
  • basketball; set buckets on the ground and use small, soft balls or clean rolled-up socks
  • bowling; use just a few almost empty (capped) water bottles and a small ball
  • felt story board with characters for free play
  • simple matching game; have pairs of objects and take turns putting the pairs together
  • story telling; after the story, children are given paper to decorate with stickers that relate to the story
  • make a band using (kid-friendly) objects like pans, wooden spoons, plastic bottles, pie pans, etc.
  • surprise in a box; have a wrapped series of gradually smaller boxes for each child; when they get to the last box they find a take-home surprise

First Birthday Party Activities

Make sure you create safe play areas, engage helpers for your party and enjoy the wonderful little package that the birthday baby is.

What activities will you offer at your child’s first birthday party?


  1. Betsy @ BPhotoArt says:

    Great ideas! We’re in the midst of planning a last minute toddler party right now… and some of these can be applied or adapted 🙂 …toddlers still find those types of activities very entertaining 😉

  2. I never know what to do for first birthdays! Lots of great ideas here. Thank you!

  3. I love the idea of the balloons on the strung as shown in the picture but I don’t see that one mentioned? Is there something inside of them?

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