Theo’s First Birthday

Sharing photos from Theo’s tiki-themed birthday party!

I had no idea planning a one-year old’s birthday party could be so intense, but let’s be honest: a first birthday party is more for the parents than the baby. I see it as a celebration of making it through the first year — a year full of new challenges, incredible memories and Googling, “Is it OK if my baby …?”

We live in New York City, but decided to celebrate Theo’s first birthday in Arizona with our family and closest friends. I didn’t have a party theme in mind until we booked a rental home through VRBO. We wanted a place where we could stay with our parents who also came from out of town, a backyard where kids could run around and enough space and seating options for guests to gather inside or outside if they wanted.

We found exactly what we wanted in this home! It also happened to come with a built-in theme: mid-century modern on the inside and giant tiki statues on the outside. So we decided to throw our little one a big luau in his honor!

When planning decorations for a first birthday party, I wanted it to be festive, but didn’t want to spend too much money on decorations that we’d likely never use again. We encouraged everyone to come dressed in their favorite Hawaiian shirts or tropical dresses, which is an easy way for guests to participate in the theme while also adding to the ambience.

I started searching for tropical-themed party decor on Pinterest and fell in love with the color scheme of green, gold, and white with pops of bright colors. I concentrated on decorating a few key areas: a backdrop for baby’s cake smash / family photos, a place for gathering, the eating area, and the backyard.

For the cake smash backdrop, I bought this $18 balloon arch kit and used my sister-in-law’s balloon pump to create this “balloon strip” to sit above Theo’s gold “one” balloon letters. The kit comes with a perforated ribbon for you to insert the balloon tails, but I recommend using tape to fill in any gaps with smaller balloons. We used packing tape to attach the balloons to the wall, sticking to double-sided loops on any balloon that would make contact with the surface.

In another corner of the living room, we printed out photos from every month of Theo’s first year and hung them in this birthday photo garland. It made for a great conversation piece and a tear-inducing walk down memory lane.

In the dining room, we hung a larger set of gold balloon letters spelling out “Theo.” These balloons are the 40″ size and are great for filling up space on a blank wall — you can buy them as individual letters or in a specific set of simple words like “one.”

Probably my favorite decoration was the tablescape. We turned a few pineapples into vases by cutting off the tops and using a pineapple corer to remove the insides. I recommend slipping a short cocktail glass into each pineapple to prevent the water from leaking. Can you believe these flower arrangements cost less than $50 to put together? I love how they look on top of the faux tropical leaves.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to do too much outside since our rental had a pool. We bought a flamingo pool float and pineapple pool float, along with a few more pool toys and noodles for the kids. And with the help of this bluetooth speaker, the party vibes were set!

Honestly, planning this party felt a lot like raising a baby for the first year: a lot of work goes into pulling it off yet somehow, it’s over in the blink of an eye. I’m really thankful we were able to bring together family and friends to celebrate Theo and our first year of parenthood in the books. I hope these photos inspire you to have fun with your festivities, however you choose to celebrate!

Tropical themed birthday party supply list:

Mamas: How did you celebrate your little one’s first birthday? Also, drop your ideas for birthday #2 in the comments!

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