Other than the age of the child, there is just about no difference on the surface between planning a 1st birthday party and a baby shower. Quite possibly, it's because the parents get to do all the planning with their personal ideas on how their child's preferences should be interpreted for the world to see.
When looking at the basics, the two parties are just the same. There is a theme to be thought out, there are decorations to be planned, a menu to be created, games to plan, and prizes and favors that need to be chosen.
In fact, the most of the themes that are used for a baby shower can be worked over just a little to make it suitable for a first birthday party. But there is where the similarities stop. While the baby shower is a little easier to plan because it involves adults, the first birthday party has the more difficult addition of children.
If the party is a small one, then planning around the children and creating distractions to keep them entertained is easier. But a full-scale party that includes more than ten children requires a little more detail to make it palatable for a child's tastes.
To begin with, take the decorations into consideration. After choosing the theme, the decorations should be simple, right? Well, with the baby shower, you were free to plan in detail and possibly include some dangerous things as well because you were dealing with adults. But with a children's party, such little things as where to place the music source becomes important because of the electrical wiring. In fact, the party area must be child proofed as much as possible.
While balloons are good decorations for both types of celebrations, you'll need to be very careful when thinking of where to put them with children about. Balloons do pop, and children can swallow them. It may be better to have large balls on the floor instead of balloons and stick to decorating the ceiling and walls.
Food is a consideration, too. While the birthday boy or girl may not care too much for the food beyond ice cream and cake, the guests will consider it something of the utmost importance. It's best to serve food that they are used to eating to avoid the sounds of “Yuck!” from one child which will result in no one eating any food from your menu.
When all else fails, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will save the day. Chicken tenders are another favorite, with possibly a ranch dressing to dunk them in. Cookies are good choices, too since everyone will eat them.
Remember, though, since you are dealing with children to confirm with the parents if anyone has allergies to a certain type of food and avoid it at all costs in the menu. You won't want to risk any allergy episodes of any kind.
One tradition completely absent from the baby shower is blowing out the birthday candle. Make sure that any hair is swept back out of the way and that matches or lighters are kept safely after the candle is lighted. Keep the candle away from the child and just bring it near after singing the birthday song.