How to Throw a One-derful 1st Birthday Party


This past weekend was Xaviana’s 1st birthday party, and it was a lot of fun for the kids, parents, and non-parents alike! We decided to throw a slightly unconventional 1st birthday party with no set end time, to allow for the kids’ celebration early (starting around 4) and an adult party that lasted past midnight! If you’re a mom or dad who likes to party, I would definitely recommend this, since you can keep hanging out with your friends after you put your baby to bed for the night. 🙂

We chose a Halloween theme, and everyone dressed in costume. We had about 30 guests throughout the night, so it was a fairly large gathering. Our colors were purple, black, and orange, but of course we had to add a little hot pink, since it’s my favorite color (and Xaviana’s too).

We kept our decorations simple: purple and orange balloons scattered around, Halloween lights outside and on the staircase, a black-and-silver sparkly Happy Birthday banner, and, of course, a First Birthday sign for the table.

We served fun and relatively healthy Halloween appetizers, including the Spooky 7-Layer Mexican Dip (garnished with a ghost from the $1 bin at Target) and the Haunted Pumpkin Patch. The “pumpkins” are made of peeled clementines with a tiny slice of celery in the middle, and the “ghosts” are strawberries dipped in a thin layer of white chocolate, with 65% cacao dark chocolate forming the eyes and mouth.

Haunted Pumpkin Patch of clementines and chocolate-dipped strawberries

Haunted Pumpkin Patch of clementines and chocolate-dipped strawberries

Spooky 7-Layer Mexican Dip ;)

Spooky 7-Layer Mexican Dip 😉

The 7-Layer Mexican Dip is my go-to party appetizer, and has evolved into waaay more than 7 layers over the years. It’s great with regular taco chips or pita chips, but our favorite way to eat it is with Fritos Scoops. Here’s how I make it:


  • 1 package of cream cheese
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 container salsa
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Mexican cheese
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Cilantro to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime


  1. Soften cream cheese and mix with 1 tbsp taco seasoning.
  2. Spread mixture at the bottom of 13 x 9 inch serving dish
  3. Add the layers in this order, spreading evenly throughout the dish: beans, salsa, shredded lettuce, black olives, green onions, and avocado
  4. Sprinkle with cilantro, and drizzle the lime juice throughout.
  5. Sprinkle with Mexican cheese, and enjoy!

We saved ourselves time and effort, and opted for a catered Lebanese dinner from one of our favorite restaurants, Ara Lebanese Grill. The adults raved about the food, and the kids liked it, too. We had cheese rolls, chicken with toom (garlic dip), kafta, fattoush, tabbouli, rice, pita bread and hummus, and French fries.

We went all-out with an elaborate Halloween cake from Taste and Sea Cakery in Encinitas. It was chocolate and buttercream inside, and it was incredibly delicious, not to mention a work of art!

The gorgeous haunted Halloween cake for our birthday girl!

The gorgeous haunted Halloween cake for our birthday girl!

That took care of the food, but how to keep the kids entertained? This turned out to be pretty easy. We brought down Xaviana’s tummy time mat and spread out her favorite toys there. The kids were excited to discover new toys, and Xaviana enjoyed playing with her friends. We also put light-up balls, slinkies, hacky-sack balls, and bubbles in the kids’ favor bags, which provided plenty of entertainment. (The parents blew the bubbles for the little ones.)

We brought out the cake around 8, which, retrospectively, was probably a bit late for the kids, since meltdown time was already in full-swing. If I had it to do over again, I would’ve brought out the cake around 7. However, everyone really enjoyed the cake and ice cream, and the kids’ crowd cleared out shortly thereafter. Xaviana responded calmly to the boisterous group of people singing to her; I think this is because we sang “Happy Birthday” to her all week, and conditioned her with small birthday treats with lit candles before the big day. She was weirded out and even cried a bit when we were conditioning her, but by the time the real cake and party happened, she was used to it!

Xaviana passed out into a blissful sleep after dessert, allowing the adults time to drink some beer and wine and just enjoy the night! I was glad to unwind, because 1st birthday parties are a lot of work!

Parents out there, did you throw a large birthday party for your baby, or did you keep the celebration quieter? What are your favorite party reflections? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s