So the little person in your life is having a birthday, and you’re keen to throw a bash, but you’re anxious to maintain a working relationship with your sanity. It’s possible! Here are our tips to plan, prep and host a toddler party!
When it comes to those little beings you brought into the world, it’s easy to go a little OTT. Especially on their birthday – you want the party to reflect the love you feel, right? A little planning can go a long way. And we give you ten points for dreaming big. But in all likelihood, they won’t appreciate those organza chair sashes you hunted down on the interwebs. 😉
Opt for bold contrasting colours in your decorating and plates. We adore the Barel Designs collection of melamine dinnerware – perfect for kids and outdoor entertaining, pictured right, available online at Zanui.
The key to success is to follow the KISS method – Keep It Short + Sweet. Whether you want to go town with an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatters Tea Party for your munchkins, or you’re thinking of a casual barbie with a couple of kid-focused elements thrown in, planning ahead will put you at safe distance from an adult-tantie. (Never pretty.)
Work weeks in advance
Martha Stewart recommends you start your planning 6 weeks before the big day – but let’s face it, not all of us were born domestic goddesses.
Even if you haven’t left yourself that much time, having a blitz session where you get all your thoughts down and create some good solid lists, this will put you in good stead.
Farmyard – what a cute theme! Image sourced: catchmyparty.com.
Find a theme
There are loads of options when it comes to theme. Pirates, fairies, a pyjama party for pint-sized people, a gathering of princesses or a Frozen or Marvel themed party are just a few cute ideas. Ask your little one their preference to get them involved. Take their answer with a pinch of salt.
Think how this could be reflected in your food + activities.
We adore these rice bubble lollipops and this paint-it-up party theme! Image sourced: southernbluecelebrations.blogspot.co.uk.
Colour themes are less complicated but work great. You don’t want to choose something too taxing for yourself (or your guests).
The rule of thumb is to invite as many kids as there are candles on the cake plus one – but realistically most people will push that envelope. Think about what kind of activities you’ll be doing as well. Less is more, usually.
Don’t make life hard for yourself!
Send out your invites 4 weeks in advance. We think e-invites work best – in all likelihood it’s going to be mostly your friends and fam who’ll be coming – but if you’re not besties with your little one’s besties’ mums, opt for the old-fashioned paper version.
Spell out the date, location (with directions), drop-off and pick-up times, and R.S.V.P. dates. Underlining if guests need to bring anything – swimmers/towel/a plate – is also a good idea. Specify if you’re serving lunch or snacks.
Ask yourself if your mini-me really needs a gift, or if your guests’ presence will suffice. Another nice idea is to request a gift for a child in need.
Save the date with the littlest BFF first
Check to make sure that favourite cousin/preschool pal/gymbaroo bud is free before you lock the date down. The terrible twos (or threes or fours) don’t need any extra motivation…
Image sourced: camillestyles.com.
You might decide you’d like to host at home, so you’ve got everything within arm’s reach. But the park, a play space, the local community centre, even Maccas are other options.
Wherever you are, lock down (!) an area. Anchor balloons and add streamers to create a visual boundary, but remember it might need policing – delegate this job to someone specifically. Not you. You need to be free to roam!
If you’re opting for outdoors, have a wet-weather alternative up your sleeve.
Minions and construction – more themes. So many choices!! Images sourced L to R: blog.thecelebrationshoppe.com and livinglucurto.com.
For toddlers, 1½ hours will suffice. And late mornings tend to minimise the cranks and interfere less with nap times. Keep those not-so-little temper tantrums at bay as best you can.
1½ hours is definitely long enough – you don’t want to frazzle your nerves!
DIY if you’re that way inclined – make your own party hats (or have the littles do it themselves at the party for fun!) Primary and pastel colours look great. There are lots of easy origami decoration tutorials on the net. Think about hanging some from the ceiling above your party spread with a smattering of confetti to dust the floor. Done!
Kids wall decals add an adorable touch, plus you can keep them for as long as you like! Homemade bunting is also great. Or nab some super-cute wood or fabric bunting or bunting decals that you can reuse.
Helium balloons are pretty and fun to play with!
Assemble your party crew
Often other parents will want to stay around. But have your fam on standby or call in that favour from your bestie to be on the safe side.
Do NOT do this alone. Book your babysitter as an extra set of hands.
When I was young, parties meant stuffing your little chops with chocolate crackles, fairy bread, cocktail frankfurts, sausage rolls and sauce. But not everything you serve needs to be unhealthy. Opt for fruit pieces, cheese sticks, mini quiches and the like.
Cookie cutters make even ordinary foods look ace. Serve mini-sandwiches in creative shapes, perfectly sized for petite hands.
Frozen yoghurt-filled raspberries and cookie-cuttered watermelon! So simple. Images sourced L to R: raisingwhasians.com and rockadesign.com.
Don’t send in the clowns
These days you can book your very own singing Elsa from Frozen to attend, if you so desire. But beware that some little people find such larger-than-life cartoonish figures terrifying.
Cue: tears. 🙁
Plan more activities than you think you’ll need. And games where no one (or everyone) wins tend to be better (for obvious reasons). Apple-bobbing, or simple craft activities are fun. Colour in your own placemat. Or decorate a star with glitter to create your own pipecleaner wand.
Pass the parcel might be pushing your luck, depending on your littlie’s attention span. But a dance circle where everyone creates a move (or just dances!) is always fun. Pin the tail on the donkey is old school but always ace.
Images sourced L to R: one-stop-party-ideas.com and hardlyhousewives.com.
Or you can just sew some lollies* to an old shirt and coerce a nearby dad into wearing it and running through the garden with a host of little people tearing after him! (An old favourite of mine… Ah, good times. Good times.)
Pull out your dress-up box as a back-up.
*Pick the ones in wrappers – it’s easier to get the needle through the wrapper than the sweet! 😉
Images sourced: catchmyparty.com.
Ah! The piece-de-resistance! You don’t have to make it yourself. But if you keep your snacks simple, you can spend a bit more time on this – if you like.
And, of course, it has to tie in with your theme. The possibilities are endless. Would your bub prefer a dragon, a ballet shoe, or a football-shaped cake? 🙂
Image sourced: diy.allwomenstalk.com.
This is just a token so no need to knock yourself out. It’s just a little something for the little ones to carry home with them! And in all likelihood it will be demolished in the backseat on the car-ride home.
Not keen on upping their sugar intake much more, opt for a homemade mini-muffin or fruit salad.
Then stick with the program
Follow Santa’s lead, make your list and check it twice. Plan out which food can be made in advance. Purchase all your craft and party supplies in plenty of time.
Then stick with the program. Don’t start adding in things at the last minute. (You have done enough!) You don’t want to be praying for the elves’ intervention at the 11th hour.
That’s it. DON’T do it all. Keep it short and sweet and simple. 🙂