If there’s anything we’ve all learned from a year packed with uncertainty, it’s that nothing can stop togetherness, even when we’re apart. If you’re planning a virtual first birthday party for your little one, don’t be bummed by a lack of traditional elements. Instead, be inspired by the opportunity to celebrate in a new way.  

Believe it or not, there are myriad pros to a virtual first birthday party, from a lack of cleanup to a lower chance of overstimulation—and the ensuing crankiness—for the guest of honour. Your baby has plenty of years ahead to run around and get messy with friends at birthday parties. This year, if you’re celebrating the first birthday online, we’ve got some cute ideas to help make it extra special, just like this first year of life has been. 

Decorate Anyway for Your Virtual First Birthday Party

Baby wearing a "wild one" romper and crown during a virtual birthday celebration

Photo: @hunters_little_life

You might not be having friends and family over to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean Baby’s big day needs to be bland. Throw all your decorating efforts into setting up a gorgeous table or sweet corner of the home for Baby with cookies, balloons, photos from their first year, themed details, and of course—a big ol' cake. Dress your little one to match and take lots of photos! When you FaceTime with family and friends, make sure your handiwork shines as an elegant backdrop to the call. 

Friends on Parade Virtual Birthday Party

Toddler girl wearing a dress outside in front of birthday balloons that spell "Carter" during drive-by first birthday party

Photo: @kellenkaneshiro

It’s not quite as festive as the real thing, but a drive-by birthday will still make your kiddo feel extra-special. And it brings with it virtually zero prep or cleanup… that’s a win! Ask guests to deck out their cars in colours and themes that the birthday baby likes and see if anyone knows a police officer or firefighter who can add some sirens to the mix for fun. We also love these name letters on spikes out front to welcome guests. Hire a photographer or phone a friend with a camera to capture the little guy or gal’s reaction to their very first—and definitely “one” of a kind—birthday celebration. 

Virtual First Birthday Character Call 

Sesame Street characters Cookie Monster, Ernie, and Oscar, on a video call

Photo: @sesamestreet

If your little one has a favourite character or TV show, consider setting up a FaceTime with them to be sung “happy birthday.” They might not remember it later, but in the moment, that familiar and surprising face on the other end of the line will be such a thrill for Baby. 

Virtual First Birthday Party Family Video Compilation 

Video still from a first birthday party video compilation that reads "Bennett's 1st Birthday"

Video Still: @karasewelltv

This first birthday party idea is a special way to bring family into the mix without having them in the house. Ask a series of questions about Baby and have them record their answers, including “Who did you think I looked like when I was born, and who do I resemble now?,” “Where were you when you heard the news of my arrival?,” “What’s your favourite memory of me?,” and “What are you excited to watch me learn and do this year?” Ask them to sing “happy birthday” on their footage as well. Use iMovie to combine all of it into one amazing film that your little boy or girl will treasure throughout the years. 

Cake Smash & Chill Virtual First Birthday

Baby girl sitting in front of a birthday backdrop with a pink smash cake in front of her

Photo: Lynn Puzzo Photography

Tired mums everywhere will love this idea the most! All you really need is a bit of sugar and a photo to commemorate it. Hire a photographer or dust off your own camera, order a cake and a cute (machine-washable!) outfit, and document Baby’s first experience with birthday cake. You can have family Zoom in for those first saccharine bites without ever having to step into the frame yourself. Sweatpants and a white tee for Baby’s first birthday? Now, that is how it’s done after the exhausting year you’ve had. 

Quar-One-Tine Virtual First Birthday

Baby girl sitting in front of a yellow "Vera's Quarantine Birthday" sign and yellow, white, and black balloons

Photo: @the.simmerlittles

There’s no way we’d let a birthday party ideas list go without at least one play-on-words. This “quar-ONE-tine” first birthday is going to be extra sweet and cuddly. Encourage those Zooming in to dress in coordinating colours to your decor, and consider sending them balloons or streamers ahead of time to make for a festive feeling. Remembering that littles tire of screen interaction quickly, we recommend leading with brief hellos and singing, so that the call can be short and sweet if need be. 

Virtual Dance Party 

Mother holding 1-year-old baby as she dances to a Mickey Mouse record in a bright yellow room

Photo: @hazel_and_bean

Is it fancy? No. Is it fun and easy? Yes! The best virtual first birthday parties are the ones where everyone feels like they are truly together. Send a playlist in advance and encourage participants to get up and groove in honour of Baby’s big day.

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