Party Planning: How to Throw The Cutest Kid’s Birthday Party

Hi, everyone! It’s Ilana, one of your editors. I love a good party, and take every opportunity I can to plan one. And now that I’m a mama, I have years of kids’ parties to look forward to! We recently celebrated my little girl Eden’s 1st birthday, and I learned a few party planning tips along the way that I wanted to share with everyone. Since a kids’ party is likely filled with lots of grownup friends and family members too, you want to cater to both the kiddos and the adults in attendance. It’s all about striking the balance between stylish soiree and kid-friendly festivity. Check out my tips and some of the details from Eden’s birthday party below…

Handmade paper invitations

The Invitations

Sending party invitations via email or Paperless Post is usually my go-to these days. But since a 1st birthday party is a milestone that you want to remember, you may choose to send out paper invitations to your guests. Kind of like a wedding invitation, a child’s birthday invitation can be a keepsake that you hold onto for years to come. My husband Mark and I created handmade invitations for Eden’s birthday party, and sent them out via good old-fashioned snail mail. Mark designed the musical instrument text, and then cut out the text using a Cricut cutting machine (which is everyone on Team LC’s favorite crafting tool). If you’re not as crafty, there are so many other cute kids’ party invitations on sites like Minted or Etsy.

Selecting the perfect venue for kids' birthday parties

The Venue

Backyards and parks are typically great spaces for kids’ birthday parties, weather permitting. But it can also be fun to think outside the box. As a compulsive party planner, I’m always on the lookout for unique and creative spaces to host an event. Since it was the heat of summer, we needed an indoor space for Eden’s 1st birthday celebration. Our friends own a super chic house paint shop called Portola Paints that had plenty of space. Since it is closed on Sundays, they let us use it for Eden’s birthday bash. The colorful cans of paint lining the walls made for excellent party décor in my opinion. If you don’t have a friend or family member with a space to offer up, you can browse a site like 100 Layer Cakelet for kids’ party venue inspiration. Photo studios, loft spaces, or even an emptied out garage can also make interesting party venues since they tend to be blank slates that you can decorate according to your theme.

Yummy finger food

Eats and Treats

Since most kids’ birthday parties are not sit-down situations, I recommend serving mostly finger foods. Tea sandwiches (with fillings ranging from smoked salmon for more mature palates to PB&J for the little ones) are a fun option that both adults and toddlers will enjoy. To add an extra special touch, we had some of the tea sandwiches and Eden’s party cut into a No.1 shape using a cookie cutter in honor of her turning 1. As far as drinks go, the grownups will most certainly thank you if you have a light adult beverage on hand like Champagne or a mimosa bar.

Animal cracker birthday cake by Sprinkles for Breakfast

Dipped and sprinkled Oreos

Edible flower bark

But as everyone knows, the very best part of a birthday party is the cake! We had a small cake decked out in animal crackers for anyone who wanted a slice, and then a selection of other desserts like birthday cake truffles, chocolate dipped Oreos, and beautiful white chocolate floral bark, all made by Sprinkles for Breakfast.

Birthday calligraphy and signage by Poppyjack Shop

Decorating birthday parties with flowers

Children's party decor


When you think kids’ party, cheesy store-bought décor might be the first thing that comes to mind. But there’s no reason that you can’t find a happy medium of beautiful, chic décor that is kid-friendly too. Using a color palette of fun, bright hues that the kiddos would love, we decorated the space with beautiful blooms, calligraphy signage from Poppyjack Shop, and oversized gold Mylar balloons. All of the serving platters and the faux sheepskin rugs in the play area came from IKEA. If you host parties often, it can be worth investing in a set of inexpensive white serving dishes that you can reuse at each gathering.

Creative activity stations for kids' birthday party


One key difference between a kids’ party and an adult one is that you probably need an activity to keep kids entertained beyond just food, drinks, and music. I always think that a craft is a good option. The ideal DIY station will include something that the adults will enjoy helping to create and the kids will have fun playing with. For Eden’s birthday, we set up a “Make Your Own Instrument Station” where guests could craft paper plate tambourines, tissue box guitars, and cardboard kazoos. We pre-painted the materials in pretty pastel colors, and then let guests decorate and put on the finishing touches.

Handmade musical instruments for kids

The Playlist

Just like décor, I recommend a good mix of upbeat grownup tunes and kids music. We played lots of Beatles, Jenny Lewis, Paul Simon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Dr. Dog, and more. As far as children’s artists go, some of our favorites that you won’t mind listening to on repeat are Raffi (classic!), Elizabeth Mitchell, Dan Zanes, Caspar Babypants, and Ella Jenkins.

Party favors for new mamas


Favors are a fun part of a kids’ party that you don’t always get to experience at grownup gathering (other than a wedding). If you have a DIY station, you don’t necessarily need to have favors too since the kids will get to take home their creations. But we wanted to send the babies home with a few of our favorite things. Parents appreciate it when the favor isn’t sugar, and are even happier when it’s something at least a little practical. With that in mind we chose a little bath time bundle with items from Zoocchini, Babyganics, and Lulujo.

The perfect first birthday party


Even if you are opting to celebrate with immediate family only instead of throwing an all-out bash, I would highly recommend hiring a professional photographer. Having beautiful photos to commemorate the milestone that is your little one’s birthday will be the best gift you all will get. In the age of the iPhone, it’s still nice to have professional portraits taken every once in a while.

Do you have any tips for throwing an epic kids party of your own?

Please share them with me below! I’m already starting to plan Eden’s 2nd birthday in my head…

And here are the rest of the photos from Eden’s birthday, if you’d like to see them!

xo Ilana
Team LC

Photos: Stephanie Todaro Photography