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Monday, 10 June 2013 07:00

Planning a Toddler Party

Last December, on Clara's second birthday I wrote this post on how I wanted to throw her a 1/2 Birthday party in June.  Now it's June, and we have the party set for next Saturday, June 15th.  I'm kind of freaking out, while I try to organize all of my thoughts on this! 

Some of what I need to do has already been done (like sending out the invitations - phew!), but I need to plan out my steps for the week anyway, so I thought I'd jot down all of my thoughts on planning a toddler birthday party from start to finish!

So, here is a collection of tips and steps for planning a toddler's Birthday party:

  • Choose your location, and make sure you have enough space for what you want to do!  We are planning the party at our own house, and hopefully the weather will be nice, because we want to be outside! We have a swing set in the yard and some other good toys for kids to play with. We do have a pretty good set-up downstairs for kids if we have to, but there isn't a lot of room for anyone else so the 'grown-ups' would mostly have to be upstairs and our house isn't very big... that was actually a big part of the reason we wanted to do a 1/2 Birthday party in June rather than a big party on her actual birthday in December.  Really hoping for nice weather! 
  • Choose your time, because we are planning a party around a group of people who probably need to go home and nap by about 1pm, so we chose a time in the late morning so it could be all over well before 1pm.  Late afternoon would work for this same group of kids, and if you know that none of your invitees are still napping you have much more flexibility!
  • Decide who to Invite. This year Clara actually has quite a few friends in the 2-4 year old range, so we had a lot of kids to invite! We have 6 kiddos on our list this year, which is quite a bit considering their age! Two year olds can get a bit overwhelmed at times, so fewer is probably better for this age.  Also, because 2 and 3 year olds might want their parents to stay with them (and you might too!) keep the families in mind when you are inviting. Our 6-person guest list actually means we need to find space for 20 people not including ourselves. 
  • Purchase or make invitations. There are so many possibilities here, from store-bought dollarstore or fancy custom cards for mailing, to online invites via email or facebook, to homemade cards. I almost always look ideas for this kind of thing up on Pinterest, but in this case, Clara and I made invitations to hand out to her friends. I had a pack of blank cards & envelopes from a $1.50 bin at Michael's, and we just used crayons, markers and stickers to decorate the fronts.

  • Send the invitations! This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many cards I've found around my house that were intended to be sent at some point, but never were... 
  • Plan the food! Because we are having a late morning party, we will be serving a quick lunch for the kids and families (Kraft Dinner - Clara's favourite). If you had a party mid-afternoon you wouldn't need to serve any kind of meal, but you probably want some kinds of snacks and desserts. And birthday parties just aren't birthday parties without some kind of cake!
  • Plan the drinks! Another thing that should be a no-brainer, but I did most of this post before realizing I was missing drinks!  
  • Plan the activities. Pinterest is full of great activities for toddler parties - here are just a few good resources:
  • Have a way to play music. Because we'll be partying outdoors (hopefully), we will have to set up a player and speakers in the garage so we can listen outdoors. We might skip this entirely out of simplicity, or to avoid creating extra noise, but it might be a cool thing to include. You will, however, need this if you plan to play a game like hot potato or musical chairs. 
  • Party Bags. The general consensus here seems to be that no one really appreciates these bags (except the kids, of course!), and I have seen atrocious amounts of money spent on trying to create bags that kids will really appreciate. My plan is to stick to things that are useful and consumable - like playdough, crayons and colouring books, bubbles, and possibly some candy or homemade treats. Including small toys can be a good idea, but I would stick to things that are cheap in cost but still of a decent to high quality so the parent isn't just trying to find the first opportunity to chuck it. 

Did I miss anything?


Overall, keep it simple. A 2 or 3-year-old will be perfectly happy playing with their friends in an unstructured environment, and planning too much will only serve to make your day more stressful. Decorations are also something that are unneccessary as far as the child is concerned - they really won't care if you forget to hang the big 'Happy Birthday' banner, so don't stress too much about that kind of thing. 

A General Timeline:

1 Month Ahead: Decide on the location, time and attendees - more time would probably be better for your sake and to make sure your attendees keep the day free.  If you need to book a location, you need to plan early enough for this venue to be available - this could be up to 6 months or more depending on the type of venue you're looking at. 

2-3 Weeks Ahead: Purchase/Make and send out invitations. 

1 Week (or more) Ahead: Plan out your food and activities in detail, jotting down how far ahead (or close to the date) certain things need to be purchased. You may want to buy certain things at one location a week ahead, but still require produce that should be purchased the day before or day of - keep track of these things! 

Also, if you're hosting the party at home, you may want to start thinking about cleaning up the space you will be using to make it company ready!

Day Before: Purchase activity supplies, prepare any food that must be made ahead or frozen. Make as much as you can ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until party time. Finish cleaning the party space. Put up decorations if you'll be indoors and if you can. 

Day of the Party! Put up decorations, set up activities and dress up the party girl/boy! As the toddlers are arriving, give them some free play while you set out any food and drinks from the fridge.

Take lots of pictures! 

Hopefully I didn't miss anything, because I'm at 1 week ahead (less, actually, so I'm already behind!) and I'll be detailing all of this stuff this week! Wish me luck! 

Read 1304 times Last modified on Sunday, 09 June 2013 21:29

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