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Kids Birthday party; Kids eating cupcakesI have a 2-year old.  He officially turned 2 on April 21st, I can’t believe how fast it’s gone, but we’ve always been very good about consciously living in the moment so every day with him has been an exciting experience to watch him grow.  Being a Mom of a toddler means I know other Moms of babies, toddlers and kids of all ages.  As our children grow, it seems that birthday parties to do too.  Believe it or not, even as the party planner that I am, I don’t necessarily think it’s necessary to have a big blow out for a 1 or 2 year old.  Kids at this age really don’t know the difference between a big blow-out birthday party and a day at the park with a minimal amount of friends.  We are still in nap territory at this age, sharing is a brand-new concept, and jumping off a small park structure is just as fun as a bouncy house.  Therefore, save your money for his or her college fund (or future blow out parties if you like) and your sanity with kids of this age. 

The rule of thumb is have as many kid guests as the age of your child.  For Kieran’s 2nd birthday party, we set-up at the park and invited 4 kids (double the rule of thumb, but in a park setting it worked nicely).  Because sharing is still a new experience, we didn’t open any presents with everyone there; we chose to open presents with just family after the party at home.  Also, because we only invited 4 other children, I was free to create some fun take-away toys for the all the kids.  I know not everyone believes in favors or grab bags, but at this age, it’s nice to have everyone playing with the same toy.  I bought cool inexpensive lunch boxes for each child and filled them with toy cars, bubbles & other fun stuff.  Pizza, cupcakes and snacks for the adults and we were all set.

Here are my 10 Tips to Plan Your Tots Birthday Party

  1. How Many?  The child’s age should approximately match the number of child guests invited.
  2. What Time?  I suggest having the start time of the party 1/2 hour to 45 minutes after the usual end of your child’s afternoon nap.  It may help to know the child guests’ nap times too, but don’t stress yourself if they’re all different times.  Find the best middle ground and go from there – people can come and go as needed.
  3. KISS.  When it comes to decorating, Keep It Simple.  This doesn’t mean it can’t be fun or pretty, but there’s no need to go overboard here.  You can still make it look like Martha Stewart  herself had a hand in it by keeping to a basic theme and colors and sticking to it.  There’s no need to overcomplicate in this area.  Find a few cute touches and that will be enough.
  4. How to Invite Everyone.  Be creative with your invitation method.  Incorporate your child in the invitation and let them help craft a cute invitation.  I have a very creative girlfriend who created an invitation by having her child hold a cute home-made sign with the party information and she took a picture of him.  They then printed off the photos and scrap-booked them onto home-made invitations.  Your child can help by attaching stickers, fun drawings or using the glue stick to attach other fun items.
  5. Gifts.  We are of the opinion that gifts and presents should wait to be opened after the guests have left the party, with only close family or friends who want to be there to see the excitement on your child’s face.  I believe that (1) the other kids get bored quickly when they realize the gifts aren’t for them; (2) melt-downs will happen faster and more readily when the other kids aren’t able to run around and play with these fun new toys; (3) adults get antsy and bored watching a child struggle with opening each gift; and (4) it takes forever to have a child open each present, play with the toy for a few minutes and then have to move them onto the next one.  I could probably go on with reasons, but I think you get my point.
  6. Activities.  When it comes to kids, you are dealing with 2 things:  short-attention spans (bad); great imaginations (good).  Because of these opposing factors, we suggest a few easy activity ‘stations’.  A Few examples are an area set aside for sidewalk chalk crafting; a dress-up area where the kids can put fun halloween costumes on over their clothes; a make your own goodie bag station using brown paper lunch bags, ribbons, glitter, marker, crayons, googly eyes, etc. then have a pre-packed cellophane bag filled with candy or healthy muffins to put inside their bag.  Other than that, set out toys and let them run and play.
  7. Let Them Eat…When it comes to feeding your little guests and their parents, you’ll want to consider the time of your party, and the age of your guests, but you’ll still want to keep it simple.  If the party is not long after lunch, then just simple snacks will be fine.  Try to find snacks that both adults and kids enjoy – Pirate Booty, veggies with dip, peanut butter crackers (check for allergies first), apple slices with yogurt dip.  If the party will spill into dinner time, plan for something simple like ordering pizza or grilling hot dogs and ask the guests to bring a side dish to share.
  8. Thirst Quenchers.  I’m going to say it again – KISS.  Yes, that’s right, this is another area where you can keep it simple and still provide cuteness and yumminess for your guests.  A fruit tea/lemonade mixture of a drink is not only yummy but lower in sugar than a soda alternative and is very thirst quenching.  Plus, you can sweeten it up with honey and put it in a pretty sun tea carafe.  It’s okay to provide some alcohol for your adult guests.  Just because it’s a kid party doesn’t mean they can’t have a drink.  Just follow usual responsible drinking etiquette (no drinking and driving…you know) and perhaps only a few options rather than a full bar.
  9. Where.  Rather than telling you what is best, I will give a few pros and cons and let you decide what is best for your family and situation.  HomePros – allows you to set the exact time and allows for a more free-form schedule.  Gives you more control over decor, food & drink options and unique activities for the kids.  Cons – you have do all the set-up and (ugh) clean-up.  It takes time and energy to come up with, set up and supervise activity tables.  You will be more focused on being a host with food, drink, etc. than having someone else do it all for you.  PartyplacePros – They set-up and clean-up everything for you.  They will often provide minimal decor with the price.  They have their own fun activities for all the children to enjoy. They often provide the pizza and drinks for a minimal extra cost.  They let you bring in your own cake.  There are many options – from bouncy house places to museums and science centers that allow children to really have fun and learn at the same time.  Cons – They can be pricey.  You only get a set amount of time – usually 2 hours and can feel like you’re being herded and rushed through the pizza party time.  If you love to personalize the decor, you won’t be able to do anything unique in these locations.
  10. Timeline.  While it’s good to have a general idea of how your party is going to flow, a strict timeline (like one needed for a wedding or bigger event) isn’t necessary for your child’s birthday party.  You will, however, want to have some general guidelines in your head about activity times, meal times, and of course, cake eating time.  Try not to stretch out the cake time too far.  For one, you’ll want as many people still at the party in order to enjoy it, and you’ll want some time leftover for the kids to be able to run off some of the sugar before you send them packing with their parents.

We hope these tips have given you a little food for thought on how to go about planning your child’s next birthday party.  We’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, comments and stories about your children’s birthday parties too.

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One Response to “{Kids Parties} 10 Tips to Plan Your Tots Birthday Party”

  1. Tamara says:

    I can’t believe you have a section for “kids bday parties” on this website now! I previously saved your site to “my favorites” because it is easy to reference for quick ideas and info. I like the idea of the “make it yourself” goodie bag for the kids. I think I will use this idea for my daughter’s next birthday in October. AND, I think I will keep the number of guests to her new age of 5- that is a great idea. Thanks.

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