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Plan a Very Hungry Caterpillar 1st Birthday

When you're planning your child's first birthday party, focus on keeping it simple and fun. A great resource for themes is your growing baby's bookshelf. Pick a book that features lots of bright colors and easy-to-identify characters and objects, then find creative ways to weave them into the decorations and food. Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar is always a favorite.

THREE TO FOUR WEEKS BEFORE:

Send invites. Your invitations are a great place to introduce your theme. For our Very Hungry Caterpillar party invites, we made caterpillars out of pom-poms, wrote the details on a leaf cut-out, and hand-delivered them in glass jelly jars.

Plan your menu. Steer clear of foods that stain easily, since many people will eat standing up, and curious babies will investigate everything. The wide variety of foods that make an appearance in The Very Hungry Caterpillar can be a great

starting point for a fruit salad and more (salami and swiss cheese sandwiches, anyone?).

Plan your decorations. Bright polka dots abound in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and they make an easy decorating theme, too. Plan for extra-memorable photos by using our template to make butterfly paper crowns. Or make an oversized Very Hungry Caterpillar mobile with paper lanterns like the one pictured up top.

One to three days before:

Prepare a birthday dessert. Our apple cake is a great centerpiece that ties into the theme. Prepare the cake ahead of time and refrigerate; save the frosting and decorating for the day of the party. For a hand-held option that's sure to delight your little guests, try our recipe for Caterpillar cake pops.

Prepare decorations and party favors. Cut out and assemble your crowns; Hang the oversized Caterpillar

lantern over the table.

Shop. Cheese and crackers, fruit, and bite-sized appetizers for the adults are easy and delicious.

Double-check all childproofing. Remember that babies are extra-curious about new surroundings; prepare your home for a high level of climbing, jumping, tugging and poking.

Day of the Party:

Frost and decorate the cake. Arrange it as a centerpiece - it's the perfect easy decoration.

Set the table for your smallest guests. A disposable tablecloth is a great idea since it will probably get pretty dirty.

Clear a space on the floor. If you can, it's a great idea to move furniture to the

perimeter of the main space where you'll be entertaining, to leave an open area where the babies can crawl around or sit happily when they're not eating. You can spread out a few blankets if you want to protect your flooring.

Arrange food. Make sure nothing sharp, hot or breakable is at the edges of tables where curious fingers can pull them off.