An Adventurous Life for the Budgeting Family

A First Birthday Beach Party

A First Birthday Beach Party

Since my family was already gathering for our annual beach trip to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, we decided to celebrate Baby A’s Birthday a few weeks early so everyone could attend. It also turned out that my best friends from NY could come as could Bobby’s family. Needless to say, I have been looking forward to this first birthday party for a long time. My mom helped a ton with the planning and we came up with the cutest games and decorations and food for this beach themed first birthday!

The Birthday had a second theme, which was the traditional Korean doljanchi. You can read all about the Korean traditions we injected on this post. These elements were definitely the most special and my favorite part to plan.

Feel free to pin these images as inspiration for any beach party and a child’s party in particular! Most of the following photos were taken by my extremely talented sister-in-law. You can commission her for photography and early childhood education consulting at¬†She also has a great early readers blog at

Beach Ball Baby


No beach party would be complete without beach balls and beach rafts all over the place. We even used a blow-up baby pool as our drink cooler. La Croix galore Yesssssss!

Baby Pool Drink Cooler

We had a couple of activities that involved prizes for the kids. Sunglasses, toy fish, and this cool watermelon cup were just a few of the fun prizes.

I still can’t believe my friends came from afar to celebrate A’s first year. He is a loved child!

kristina michele_jonny


Although first birthday parties are more of a party for the parents to celebrate their child’s first year than they are for the actual child, we still wanted to make this a very child-oriented party. So, we had to have some games! We DIY’ed a super cute deep sea fishing game for the kiddos, who ranged from 6 months to 8 years old.

During our beach vacation, my family colored these cute sea animals to use at the party for the deep sea fishing game. We decorated a big piece of craft paper, hung it across a doorway, and had the children “fish” for prizes. I sat on the floor behind the sheet and attached prizes to the DIY fishing pole. When they felt me tug on the fishing pole string, it meant they got a bite and could reel it in. The little boys and girls were giddy with delight every time they caught a new toy!

To make the DIY fishing pole:

  • buy a cheap butterfly net from a toy store or a dollar store (we found ours at Dollar General)
  • cut the tape holding the net onto the stick and remove the net and metal pieces
  • slide a thick, metallic cording/yarn through the holes that were holding the net in place. You can tie the cording off or tape it to the pole with cute Washi tape
  • cut your cording so that it is the proper height for a child to hold and throw over the other side of your paper seascape
  • on the dangling end of the fishing line, tie a large clothespin. This is how you will attach toys to their fishing pole!


Baby A Fishing

Little Boy Fishing

We printed out some extra coloring pages of sea creatures and left out markers and crayons so any guests could do their own decorating and coloring.

Coloring Sea Creatures


The guest of honor was a little confused by the birthday song, but he was totally into his smash cake. He went for it face first. I could not stop laughing.

Bringing out the smash cake


By the way, how cute was my parrot t-shirt? I got it from a local surf shop on Isle of Palms, and it was made by Billabong. I paired it with high-waisted shorts and colorful sandals for the casual party. The pom pom shoes were from Target.

Party Pom Pom Shoes

For the rest of the guests, my mom and I made a sandcastle cake. It was 3 layers – 2 small and 1 large – of pound cake with cream cheese frosting, marshmallow castle turrets, gummy starfish, and crushed graham crackers and Nilla wafers for the sand. It was cute and delicious.

Sandcastle Pound Cake
We also served Chick-Fil-A nuggets, gummy sharks, Swedish fish, goldfish, fruit, and “sand dollar” ice cream sandwiches. We used snickerdoodle cookies for the sandwiches as they already feel sandy.

Another little detail was leaving cute children’s books about the beach out on the low tables.


cousin_hugs crab_toss

We also had a bubble machine blowing on the screened-in porch and had fun beach-themed toys to pick up and play with, like the crab catch mitts my nieces posed with.

The food was served out of beach pails and we finished the look with a fishing net, sand dollars, seashells, and tiny drink umbrellas dispersed on the table. To serve the food, we found super cute matching whale and goldfish paper plates and napkins from a local party supply store. It all came together beautifully.






Man oh man I love the beach and I’m so happy our littlest family member does too! It was a first birthday for the books!

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