Advice from Chicago experts on throwing baby's first birthday party


Debi Lilly

Chief eventeur at A Perfect Event and mom of two

Perfect 1st birthday gift: We've been doing Oprah Winfrey's gifts for years, and she taught me how to design the ultimate first birthday gift. Her thoughtful gift that I get to help create for every celebrity is a collection of favorite classic children's books, all presented in a big oversize galvanized tub and personalized with the baby's first name. There truly is no better gift than a book.

Food and dessert: A first birthday party is really all about the adults having fun. Setting a fun, interactive tasting bar in advance allows you as the hostess to focus on spending time with your guests and enjoying yourself, instead of being stuck in the kitchen. I love creating a custom, colorful theme, even for the cake, to dress up the party. The cake is the centerpiece and a smaller smash cake for the baby provides for great photos to cherish for years to come. For food, I love everything in miniature, just like the birthday baby!

Theme and venue: Always choose a theme that your child currently loves. Storybooks, characters, sports, travel or hobbies, any of these creates the perfect, personal party theme. For a Cinderella party, we served mini fruit "wands," "princess and the pea" chopped salad, star PB&Js, waffle cones filled with custom sweets and snacks, and princess punch. For a racing party, the kids went wild for mini sliders with racing flags, mini mac and cheese cups, and tiny grilled ham and cheese.

Top tips: Plan a menu with drinks, small savory bites and sweets that all can be premade in advance and set out at room temperature during the party. Make sure to focus on your child at the party.


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