Perfect 1st birthday gift: I usually give something that my daughter loved at that age, such as an instrument set that comes in a drum, a set of wooden alphabet blocks or a little tea set for a girl.
Food and dessert: I think a first birthday party is definitely more about the adults, so I try to select a menu that appeals to them with options for the kids. Last year we had Big Star Taco cater our daughter's birthday party and it was a lot of fun. I am a huge Dairy Queen fan, so I also ordered individual cups of soft serve and had a topping bar for everyone to make their own sundae.
Theme and venue: A theme definitely makes it a little easier to hone in on the décor. It could really be anything from something your child loves (a favorite character, book or song) to something less specific, such as a color scheme or concept. We had a Mexican fiesta-themed party for our last birthday party that started off with a handmade invitation to set the tone. I also love to have something for the guests to put on right away to get in the spirit, so I had sombreros and maracas waiting at the front door.
Top tips: Hire or assign a photographer. Your child definitely won't remember their first birthday party, so I think it's important to capture the occasion. Plan the timing of the event around your child's schedule. A well-rested child is key.