Birthday party games are a popular element of parties for older children. When it comes to your bub’s first birthday celebration, don’t feel guilty if you decide to skip them altogether. For many parents and bub, a 1st birthday party can be a very big occasion, without the added stress of organising and playing some games. In many cases, the star attraction may need to have a nap or find the idea of a game completely overwhelming.
If you are keen to play some games with bub and their little friends a great rule of thumb is to keep them as simple as possible. Skip birthday party games with complicated rules or prizes at the end of the game. Your audience won’t care a jot. The focus when planning birthday party games for bub is to make sure it is about their entertainment and keeping them amused.
Remember this is not the year to hire clowns or party entertainers. Your bub is not going to appreciate it at all. Save your money and spend it on something else!
Top 3 birthday party games for 1 year olds
1. Bubble blowing
Nothing transfixes a baby quite so effectively as large bubbles being blown purely for their amusement. Stock up on a selection of bubble blowers ranging from the ones that blow millions of tiny bubbles, through to ones that blow huge shapes. Hand them out to all the adult guests or older children at the party. They can then snuggle up with the birthday boy or girl and entertain them with their bubble blowing skills.
If you want to add a competitive element you could award a prize for whomever you think blew the best bubbles, or better yet, kept your little one entertained for the longest!
Handy hints: make sure ALL bubble blowing games takes place outside. The liquid from bubble blowers is notoriously sticky and slippery and you don’t want it trailing throughout your home. Make sure your guests leave their bubble blowers up high out of bub’s reach. You don’t want the party game to end in tears with bub trying to drink the soapy liquid!
In the weeks leading up to the birthday party put out the call for boxes from family and friends. You’re looking for shoe boxes, packing boxes, even boxes that toys came in.
As you will have learned, babies will often be more interested in the packing of a gift rather than the present itself. Simply set up a box corner at the party and let bub play with them. They will be in absolute heaven.
Ways to play games:
- Encourage them to lift the lids off boxes and crawl through others.
- Cut out a hole in the side or top of a large box. Get some soft rubber balls or small bean bags and use the holes as a target.
- This is a great chance to play “peek a boo” through some cut out holes in larger size boxes or get some stuffed animals involved in some simple roles play games.
Handy hint: make sure you collect these a few days before the birthday party itself. Check them for any loosened staples or frayed edges. Cut holes in the sides of the larger boxes and inspect that they are safe and user friendly for bub. You can even paint or decorate the boxes. Suggestions might be a fire truck or even a little play oven and stove. Let your imagination run riot!
3. Discovery treasure box game
This is exactly what it sounds like, a box with lots of discoveries for bub to play games with. Bub can investigate and play with it any way they like and so can their little friends. It’s a lovely way to get the parents and their little ones down on the ground together checking out a variety of objects together.
It’s also a really meaningful way to promote bub using their senses to discover and investigate new materials and be introduced to a variety of shapes and colours and textures.
Simply get together some shallow boxes or any container your may have handy, like an ice-cream container. Collect a variety of objects, usually no more than 5-10 and place them in the treasure boxes. Present them to your guests and their bub and keep one for yourself.
Then sit down with your little one and present them with their box. Start with taking out an object from the discovery box. It is up to bub whether they play with it or not. They lead the play and you are there to support them.
You don’t need to spend much money on collecting things for your discovery box. It can be things you collect from walks in the local park or discovery trails. Just remember to include things that are suitable for bub’s age group.
Some suggestions for the discovery game box are:
- Left over cling wrap or foil cardboard rolls
- Pipe cleaners
- Large bouncy ball
- Wooden spoon
This simple box can lead to some wonderful game playing for bub at their birthday party. It is one you can store away and then use afterwards as often as you like.
Handy hint: make sure the items you collect are suitable for bub’s tender age. It is important you are with them during the time of playing the game, or that someone you trust is in charge. Once bub and their friends have had enough with this game make sure all the items from the treasure box are collected up and safely stored away for use in the future.
Simple party play for a 1 year old
Remember you don’t need to play games in order to have a wonderful time playing with bub at their first birthday party. Simple but lovely ways to play include:
- If you are hosting a Teddy Bear’s picnic get the guests to bring their favourite teddy to the birthday party. You can then all sit on the floor and play games and sing songs like the “Teddy Bear’s picnic” song or share a picnic together.
- Have a sing along! Hold bub in your lap or next to you on the floor and sing interactive songs like “pat a cake, pat a cake”.
- Spend some time on the floor rolling a ball back and forth between you.
- Fill some plastic containers with rice and use them as shakers. Make sure the lid is firmly secured and you and bub can play along to the music shaking your shakers together.
It’s important to remember that while all these ideas are lovely, you don’t have to do them. You can maybe pick one party game and trial it. If it goes well that is wonderful, but if bub simply isn’t interested, then feel free to let them wander off to do other things. This is an exciting time for them as well as for you. The important thing is to relax and enjoy this special occasion with bub. Because on their first birthday, surrounding them with the people that love them is all that really matters.
Last Published* December, 2022
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.