No longer babies, but not yet big enough to tell us what their dream birthday party would involve, toddles pose a specific set of issues when planning their birthday parties. Hence, to maximise the smiles and minimise the tears, here are 5 great ideas to consider when planning different aspects of your toddler’s next birthday.
To ensure your toddler’s birthday party is a hit observe the following do’s.
Do make invites explicit. As a parent or guardian of a toddler, you will already know how appreciated it is when you are told what is going on, what to expect, when food will be served and what time goings on will be over. This, quite simply, makes keeping a toddler entertained, in a routine and fed, watered and happy far easier. Suffice to say being a parent of a little person is unpredictable enough.
Do remember to ask parents to let you know in advance if their little ones have any known food allergies. When preparing party food, it is always best to omit as many known allergy-causing foods as possible. It is still imperative to know of any guests who have allergies though, of course. Better yet, alert all parents of a child with an allergy so everyone is in a position to prevent a potential medical emergency.
Do not throw an all-dayer. A day for a toddler is a very long span of time. Hence, to avoid having to deal with a group of tired out and grouchy little people, keep a party to a few hours in duration and ideally throw it in the morning, ending with lunch. Morning is a particularly good time to throw a toddler party because most children at this age will only take one afternoon nap and will be most alert and best-tempered in the mornings after a night’s sleep.
The trick when throwing a party for a toddler is to keep things simple. Toddlers are seeing and experiencing everything for the first time. Consequently, they can become easily distracted and far too easily overloaded with sensory information resulting in tantrums and tears.
Hence, themes that work well are those that help a toddler to learn and build on what they are currently getting their heads around. Then, colour themes work well and don’t involve parents having to rush out or fork out for expensive costumes. For example, if you toddler has a favourite colours, for example yellow, ask guests to come wearing an item of clothing which is yellow. Then, a fun party game for little ones is to spot what each guest is wearing what is the theme colour.
For older toddlers or to get more creative with a theme and party, consider throwing a farmyard themed toddler party and call up the party planning experts at Twizzle to provide a real life petting zoo. Educational, engaging and fun, this is also an option that is likely to entertain children of various ages meaning that no one gets left out of the party.
Roll the Ball is a toddler friendly hybrid of pass the parcel and musical chairs that always goes down well at toddler parties. To play, have children sit on the floor and forming a circle with their legs apart. Then, encourage them to roll a ball across to each other. Play some music. When the music stops the child holding the ball gets a prize.
Throw a race. Whether it is a bum shuffle, crawling or toddling race (which will of course depend on the ages and abilities of the kids involved), throwing a few races is a great way to get the kids shuffling, jumping, hopping and toddling about. Further, to prevent tears, have a prize waiting for every little one to cross the finishing line.
Have a sing song. Most toddlers love to sing and dance, though some toddlers can be too shy to take to the dance floor. Hence, rather than putting music on and letting the kids run riot, form a circle and all sing and dance together. This is also a great game for improving toddler coordination as the kids try to stomp their feet or wave their hands in unison.
End a party with Story Time. To calm kids down at the end of a party sit them down and read them all a story. Either choose the birthday girl or boy’s favourite story or opt to tell a birthday themed tale, such as the story of Mog’s Amazing Birthday Caper (available to buy inexpensively via the Wordery Online Bookshop), or head over to the Today’s Parent website to choose one from their top ten.
Avoid sweets, which are often high in refined sugars, addictives, artificial colours and can present a choking hazard; toddlers are not yet old enough to miss or sulk over the absence of such treats, so there is no sense in providing them. Further, a buffet is not always a great idea for younger tots as most haven’t yet mastered using cutlery never mind sussed the art of sharing or filling a paper plate without collapsing it or overloading it.
Then, a great alternative is to invest in some fun themed paper lunch boxes such as those sold via the Ebay website (which by far has the widest range and provides the cheapest prices), and pre-preparing packed lunch style foods. Sandwiches, mini sausage or cheese rolls, jelly, fruit or yoghurt pots and vegetable batons all make great and vividly coloured fillers and the little ones often enjoy carrying around and unpacking their lunches. For a two year old it is like receiving a present and can prevent tears when the birthday boy or girl seems to be getting all the gifts.
Ask parents to stay to maximise safety as toddlers require a high level of supervision at this age and are accident prone. Further, they are also of course going through the terrible twos, hence tantrums are going to happen and so too are accidents as most children will also be potty training. Therefore, it is sensible to accept all the help you can get to manage these situations.
So, request parents to take responsibility for disciplining their little guests and generally helping to make the party as fun filled and drama free as is possible when filling a house or venue with two and three year olds.
And, last but not least, remember to enjoy the party yourself! It can be all too easy to forget yourself amongst all those kids to care for, but try to take a moment to stand back and just enjoy the festivities and fun being had. After all, they won’t stay this small forever. So, ensure you make the most of it!