Kristen's first birthday tip:
Don't give the kid the whole cake to destroy, or even an entire one of his very own. Bake a mini-cake in a foil pot pie tin. Less mess and less wasted food.
I think this is a great idea (cupcakes would work as well if you're baking for a crowd). Of course, for my first child's first birthday (long before Parent Hacks), I went all-out and made a full-sized cake in the shape of a Whoozit, my son's favorite toy. I admit there was special pleasure in creating such a culinary masterpiece, and special pain in seeing it massacred by the little party guests who attacked it like famished wolves…before the birthday boy had even caught a glimpse of the thing. Not that he would have cared…he was one!