How to plan a first birthday party! (Party animal theme)

First birthdays….I can’t believe how quickly the first year flies by! We had so much fun planning, decorating, seeing loved ones, but it is a long day for this little one! It is truly a party for the parents like woohooo we survived this first year, cheers to us!

I started by searching Pinterest for first birthday ideas. A lot of people went with the “wild one theme”, “ONEderful”, “lumberjack theme”, “construction” and so on! I wanted something fun and unique! The theme we went with is “party animals” I fell in love with the theme, and my son loves animals so we just went with it! I tend to gravitate towards the animal theme. I did safari theme for his nursery as well, so I decided to stay consistent with the animal theme and do party animals! We stuck with keeping the colors black and white with minimal pops of color. My family and I always tend to go all out for our parties, so we were excited to brainstorm and get to planning, it’s something that sparks joy in my family.

We were excited to plan this party because Mav has a lot of older cousins and friends so we were able to create activities and games for the little ones. We debated about doing a bounce house, I feel like its pretty standard for a first birthday, but instead we opted for little stations. We had a photo booth, a chalk table, a ball pit, a corn hole, bubble machines, and a cute little kids table with goody bags and animal mask.

Activities for a first birthday

Calling all party animals. First birthday details. Alternatives to a bounce house. Fun activities for a first birthday party.

DIY first birthday ball pit

The ball pit was a hit at the party. All the little ones loved it. It was so easy to make as well! We bought a small kiddy pool and loaded it up with a couple packs of plastic balls from amazon. This was perfect for the little kids because they would just sit and play with the balls and they would be easily entertained!

First birthday activities. Get a plastic pool and fill it with balls for a DIY ball pit!

A chalk table

This chalk table was a DIY activity that was made with a wooden spool. We painted the top with chalkboard paint and placed chalk in the center. It was a easy cheap activities that the little ones loved as well as the kids that were a little bit early.

DIY Photo booth for a first birthday

A photo booth/backdrop is a must have for any party! It is great for both kids and adults! We used a black sheet as our backdrop, which we pinned to a wooden backdrop that was made for backyard movie events. Our backdrop was super easy and basic. We tied a balloon garland to the top and attached a wild one balloon to the center. We made DIY photobooth props on the cricut machine. I also bought magic animal mask that the kids could decorate on the table and they used these for pictures too!

DIY photobooth for a party animal monochrome first birthday

Corn hole

Instead of going through the trouble of making our own corn hole, we used a corn hole that we already had. We covered it with brown paper and made a “Maverick is a wild one” sticker. We had an adults only corn hole at the party as well, and I feel like the kids always want to join and “have a turn” so we had this next to the adults corn hole and it was perfect! My creative mother sewed some zebra print bean bags, and it was a nice little activity for the kids.

DIY Pallet kids table

The kids table was a hit and it was a lot of fun to prepare! The kids table was an area where they can do crafts, sit and eat, and basically anything else they wanted to do! We used 4 wooden pallets and stacked them 2x2. I covered both of the pallets with brown paper just to avoid any splinters, and there was no need to sand them. Under the planks I layed down table cloths because it had rained the previous day, so this was a just incase. We used small black pillows as the seats.

The top of the table I used a black and white striped paper as my table runner. Each place setting had a striped party hat, a cup & paper straws, a goodie bag, and an animal mask to decorate. In the center of the table we lined it with succulent plants which we made DIY vases out of used cans. We spray painted cans black and planted succulents in them. We also had on the table our “party animals” the plastic animal figures that we painted and decorated with small DIY party hats.

DIY kids bohemian table. First birthday party animals

Goodie bags for first birthday

The goodie bags were tan canvas bags with a cricut iron on “party animal.” Each gift bag was filled with animal printed sun glasses, a note pad, a pencil, tattoos, and a slap on bracelet. All very cheap easy gifts that was purchased from amazon that the little ones loved!

Gift bag ideas for babies first birthday

Another party favor we had were animal crackers! We got a large tub of animal crackers and filled little clear goodie bags with them. They were a perfect little treat for the little ones. We printed thank you’s on card stock and glued these onto our bags. I purchased these black tubs from hobby lobby and placed a sticker on the buckets.

Thank you party favors for first birthday party

Magic color mask

I loved these magic color scratch mask that I also found on amazon. They came in a large pack of 24 mask and they were different animal shapes and they were all colored black. They came with a “pencil” that you can scratch and doodle on these mask with. As you scratch away at these mask it would reveal a colorful design. The kids and adults had some fun getting creative with these! These masks were also used by the kids in the photo booth.

Create your own colorful animal mask

The Party Animals

Placed on all of our tables throughout the party we had little plastic Safari animals. We painted them with bright colorful paint, glued Pom poms on them, and made little party hats for them on the cricut machine of course!

Color plastic animals for pops of color for a party animal theme!

We also had large animal cut outs that I found from another mom blogger who did a similar party theme. I downloaded this template and had them printed at staples. They added a nice touch to the decor. I modge poged them on large pieces of cardboard, and hot glued wooden dowels to the back of them and stuck them into the dirt. Party hats were also made for these animals for that nice pop of color!

Party animal smash cake!

The Smash Cake

I considered do a “healthy” smash cake, but to be honest my child doesn’t even like sweets so I wasn’t concerned about him eating the cake. I knew it would be an uneventful smash cake event, we did a smash cake for his actual birthday and he played with it a little but he didn’t really care for it. A good friend of ours who usually makes all of our party cakes made this smash cake for us. It was Funfetti cake with a yummy buttercream frosting with sprinkles. I bought a number 1 candle from target dollar spot and I placed a couple party animals I painted on top!

Easy and cost efficient food for a first birthday party

The Food

The food was catered by a local Mexican taco shop. Tacos are always so easy for parties and they are pretty cost efficient. The taco shop provided chips, salsa, tortillas, carne asada, pollo asada, rice, and beans. Super easy! We picked up the food 30 minutes before the party and everything was hot and ready to go.

Drinks for a first birthday party

The Drinks

We had a fully stocked bar for the adults… because it is essentially a celebration for us parents! Besides that we had a watering hole for the little ones. We had small water bottles with custom “Maverick is a wild one” labels that I printed on these water bottle papers I found. We also had juice pouches for the little ones as well as lemonade!

DIY party animal dessert table for a 1st birthday party

The Dessert table

Desserts consisted of cupcakes both chocolate and Funfetti topped with a buttercream frosting, sprinkles, and an animal cookie! I found black and white striped cupcake liners to go with the theme. Since we were sticking with a black a white theme I used black and white donut holes on the table as well. I made little stands that I spray painted white. I made them by gluing a small wooden dowel onto a small wooden block. Super easy. Also on the dessert table were mason jars filled with black and white sixlet candies. We decorated the sixlet jars with party animals. We found smaller plastic animals to go on top that we painted and placed party hats on as well!

Overall the party was a success, all the little ones enjoyed themselves. My little one was feeling under the weather of course! It was a long day for him, and he only wanted mama.. of course!

How was your kid/kids first birthdays? Did you go all out? Did everything go as planned!? Share below in the comments section!

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