A Theme-less First Birthday Party

As my son’s first birthday was quickly approaching, I would casually discuss a possible theme for his party with friends. I just needed something simple yet perfect to steer me in the right direction to plan. They’d ask me what Judah’s interests were to help me narrow down some ideas. Here are Judah’s interests:

  • His big sister/parents
  • Chewing on his sister’s toys
  • Laughing
  • Our Dog

I wasn’t inspired to make a theme from any of these (although I don’t think big sister Isla would have minded the first theme)! I started searching Pinterest for first birthday party ideas, not really knowing what I was looking for when I came across something so obvious; the theme would be Judah, my son himself!

Basically, to make the theme all about your child, you need to print out a lot of photos of him or her–and be ready to cut them up. I used a printer we had easy access to and printed all photos in black and white/grayscale. I printed photos in all different sizes all just to cut out one thing from each photo and recycled the rest: Judah’s head.

I’m going to go over in detail, how to complete the DIY projects I did for my son’s Theme-less Birthday Party!

**Major tip for printing photos: For smaller projects (food decor, bunting), I printed 4 photos on a page and that head size usually worked. For the large photo for the photo book, I had one photo take up the whole page.

MAKE: A Decorative Judah-Garland


  • 10 (+/-) grayscale photos of the birthday kid
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue or white glue (I used hot glue)
  • Party hat paper: origami, wrapping or construction
  • Tiny Pom-poms

Garland Directions:

  1. Cut your child’s head out of every photo (do include hair, don’t include neck).
  2. Cut triangles out of origami paper and tape onto your child’s head.
  3. Hot glue tiny pom-poms to the top of the triangle; now it’s a party hat!
  4. Glue the “party-heads” onto the string. Lay out string as long as you want the garland to be and try the best you can to evenly space the heads on the string. This is how I CAREFULLY hot glued small heads onto a string:
    1. Lay all of the heads face DOWN on a flat work surface. Put a small dot of glue on the back of the head and then lay string down ONTO the hot glue. This way, no glue gets on your work surface!

MAKE: A Photo Booth IMG_0768.PNG


  • Thicker construction paper or cardstock
  • Scissors (+ pinking shears are a fun idea here)
  • Tape
  • Popsicle sticks or chopsticks
  • Several medium sized photos of the birthday youngin’
  • At least one large photo of the birthday kid
  • A marker you love (you know, the marker you use that always makes your handwriting look AMAZING)
  • Something for the backdrop: streamers, triangle bunting, etc (use Pinterest for inspiration)
  • Snack/side table to hold props
  • Selfie Stick (optional)

DIY Photo Booth Directions:

  1. Declare one wall (or corner) the photo booth wall (or corner)
  2. Decorate background (Pinterest is GREAT for this–I cut up an old painting of my daughter’s into triangles to form a triangle bunting; I added a beautiful, sparkly gold star garland. See lots of photos at bottom of this post.
  3. Make a sign to put on a small table that gives instructions for the photo booth. For example, should everyone use their own phones or will you have a designated photographer with a camera? We provided a selfie stick at the party but also had a family member taking photos. If you’d like, include a special hashtag so you can find the photos on social media later, or provide an email address to send photos that way.
  4. MAKE PROPS! Here are some prop ideas to cut out and put on popsicle sticks: Giant photo of child’s head, “I Came For the Cake,” Age the child is turning, Child’s first word, “Happy Birthday ______,” and “Team ______.” A funny addition for lots of these props is to have the birthday boy or girl’s head and the words in a speech bubble.
  5. To make the props really stand out, layer, layer, layer! Use several colors to make the sign stand out! See photos for examples.
  6. Tape popsicle stick to the back of the sign

MAKE: Food Table Decorations

Look at that egg salad now!


  • A few smaller photos of the birthday celebrity
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Construction Paper
  • Sharpie (optional)

Food Decor Directions:

  1. Once again, cut out your child’s head
  2. Tape or glue head onto construction paper.
  3. Cut out a shape around child’s head
  4. Tape onto a popsicle stick.
  5. Stick your popsicle-sticked child into some food. Bonus points for labeling the food it’s going into.

MAKE: Kid Activity — Paper CrownsIMG_0770.jpg

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Crayons or gel pens
  • Stickers

This was so much fun. As a teacher, I love facilitating kid activities (especially craft projects!) but knew I would’t get a chance to do that for this birthday party. Nevertheless, we still needed that one extra activity to keep kids busy, so I set up a “make your own crown” station.

On a kid-level table, I laid out supplies to make and decorate paper crowns! This included pre-cut construction paper (and tape to secure it at the proper size), gel pens, crayons, fun stickers, pre-written names on white labels; most of the toddlers and babies I know can’t write!

Parents did this project with their kids (or didn’t, no big deal) at their leisure throughout the entire party.

I hope you enjoy recreating some or all of these ideas to suit your party! Tag any photos with #islabands so I can see how you’ve made it work for your special day! 

Proud Grandparents
Judah in his gold Islabands crown





52 Weeks of Judah


Sleeping baby = end of a successful party


I make really cute and comfy birthday crowns and you can find them in my Islabands Etsy shop, here!

Here are some Amazon Affiliate Links for items to complete your Theme-less Party! Click on link to purchase item.

Gold Star Garland for Photo Booth

Popsicle Sticks

Painter’s Tape

Gel Pens

Selfie Stick


* All photos taken by Adina (unless Adina is in them; then someone else took them. Thanks Faith, et al).


One Comment Add yours

  1. lksquared says:

    this is wonderful!!!! sorry we weren’t able to be there!!!!! xoxoxoxo


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