Have you got a toddler’s birthday party to plan for soon? Are you struggling for ideas or wondering how you’ll survive? Let me try and help you with some insights and tips.
First of all, let’s be honest. It’s not just about the child. Yes, you want them to have a fun time as it is their birthday after all, but it’s also about impressing the other parents! That said, you don’t have to spend a fortune to pull together a fantastic party. Come up with some quirky ideas that add variety, drama or sophistication to your event rather than just hosting a party like everyone else’s or paying for a session at the local soft play centre (after all you can do that anytime).
Entertaining the children.
If they are old enough for party games that’s easier but make sure you modernise some of the old favourites or give them a twist so they are a bit different. If your child has several parties to go to in close succession they will soon tire of pass-the-parcel, musical statues and musical chairs. You could use coloured spots to stand on for a version of musical chairs or pull faces and silly poses for musical statues for instance. Why not find some alternative games and activities for them instead? Send them on a treasure hunt around your house or garden, do an obstacle course, have a mini Olympics or tie wool around furniture to make a kind of spider’s web and challenge the children to get through it without touching it. You could also try things like making sweets, cakes or decorating pizzas that they then eat later. Just make sure, whatever you do, you “allow” each child to win a prize during the party so no one feels left out.
If the children are younger and unable to understand or concentrate on party games just treat the party like a big play date. Get out lots of toys, borrow from others or ask the other parents to bring some along to the party so the little ones have different things to occupy them. If they are say 3 or 4 years old you could consider hiring a bouncy castle or entertainer if you have the money. If not, why not get some face paints and do some simple face painting yourself, better still, let them have a go!
Feeding the children.
Don’t just bring out the cheese sandwiches. Kids like more variety these days. You can make healthy vegetable kebabs, fruit cups, mini pots of pasta, all sorts! Get creative and make sure you think about presenting the food in a fun way too. Make faces, animals, bright colours, put things in pots or even make picnic boxes up. This is one way you can wow kids and adults alike. Some people just say they are feeding the children but in my experience parents like to have a nibble at parties too (perhaps they are reliving their childhoods?) so make sure you cater for them as well if you can.
Of course, make sure you don’t forget the birthday cake!! Although it is the centre-piece it doesn’t have to cost the earth these days. By all means get a professional cake made if you have the budget but you could save some serious pounds by getting or making a simple cake with white icing then go online a find a company that does personalised cake toppers in edible paper that you just dampen and lay on so you can decorate it how you like. Don’t forget about other ideas like cupcakes, donuts, iced biscuits, brownies or even sweets. Find something different that your child would like. It doesn’t have to be traditional all the time.
Do you or don’t you give goody bags to the guests as they leave? It depends on the party and what you want to give. There has been a trend for a while to give away a bag full of cheap toys, crayons, colouring books and blowers, which the kids love but the things don’t last more than a day (leading to tantrums and tears) or in some cases aren’t safe for the age of the child. Wouldn’t it be better to use the adage of “less is more” and give something more personal and worthwhile for the same money? How about a small box containing home-made biscuits or sweets, a home-made decorative name card for each child, a small reading book or how about a little craft kit? Don’t think cheap and tacky to fill a bag, think of something nice that will last. Parents will appreciate that too!
Yes or no? Entirely up to you. Would you like to theme the party? Great. Get what you need or ask your kids to make stuff! You can add colour with just a few balloons and streamers without having to go to much effort or expense. You can get some cheap bunting online to put up either indoors or out for some great colour and movement and little windmills work well in the garden as well. Think about a little bubble machine for toddlers as they love to chase the bubbles around. Coloured lights are good in the Autumn/Winter when it gets darker earlier. You can always ask friends if they have bits you can borrow rather than everyone buying pretty much the same stuff.
Make sure you have catered for the parents to have a drink and nibbles so they are happy. If you have enough birthday cake, give them a piece too. Provide some seating as they won’t want to be standing for 2 hours whilst the party is on, unless their child needs close supervision for some reason. Make sure each child gets a prize for something so they have nothing to moan about. Involve them in judging games, managing the music, helping the kids with the food and setting up/clearing up games and remember to ask them to take photos as you’ll probably be too busy to do it yourself. Keeping them busy helps you and stops them from getting bored at the same time.
So, there you have it. A few ideas and helpful hints that I hope will steer you through some of the intricacies of children’s parties. The biggest tip is HAVE FUN. If you do, everyone else will.
If you have some good suggestions or have had some interesting experiences (good or bad) I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mum plus One
Fit for birth, fit for baby!