Last year, I didn’t throw my toddler a birthday party. I am a bit of a bah humbug like that. What one year old needs a party? Beside it being incredibly inconvenient to try and fit a party between two naps a day and an early bedtime, I was quite certain my one year old a) did not need any more toys and b) would not really get what was going on anyway.
But this year she is two. Two. *Takes a deep breath* So we did the party thing. And it was actually not that bad at all. So here are my top tips for not losing your mind while hosting a toddler birthday party.
1) Find an other kid with a birthday very close to your kids and agree to go half-sies. My daughter actually has a friend at the Day home with the EXACT same birthday. When that Mom asked me when my party was (Ha! Like I was that organized) so that we didn’t end up on the same day, I made the suggestion that we should just do it together. She agreed and off we went. We split the planning, the cost, the food prep. Brilliant.
Everyone likes this approach. You know that time of year (ahem spring) where it feels like every weekend is someone’s party and your constantly trying to drag your kid from party to party, possibly bringing gifts to all of them… imagine if that number of parties was cut in half.
2) Hold your party at one of those coffee play houses. Why?
- Built in Activities for the Toddlers (all we had to do was break up a few fights and other wise they entertained themselves)
- Built in Coffee for Adults. And tables and chairs to sit at.
- Already toddler proof. (Does the idea of 15 toddlers running around your house terrify you… thinking of all the things you will need to move to higher ground?)
- Easy to clean up. We lay down a table cloth on the toddler table and other then that we just recycled the juice boxes and tossed the food still on plates at the end of the event. I am pretty sure the staff there just hose the place down between parties.
All in all- Awesome. We went to Coffee and Scream in the North West. I highly recommend it for parties.
3) Plan easy party food that’s not super messy. Keep it simple. Our menu was as follows:
- Cut up fruit, cheese and veggies
- Homemade sweet potato fries
- Turkey and Cheese “loaf” (Essentially Pizza dough with grated cheese and pieces of turkey meat, folded over and bakes and then cut into fingers)
- Graham cracker Fruit smores. Awesome. I just put one big marshmellow on top of each graham cracker and put in a 350 degree oven for 4 minutes. Then on an other graham cracker I spread strawberry jam. Smoosh together. Enjoy.
- Mini Cupcakes. The parents thanked me for not giving their kids too much sugar before bedtime!!
4) Again, on the keep it simple philosophy; no goodie bags, no presents.
Once again I am going to make my pitch for NO PRESENTS!! Seriously. I would like to institute it a national parental policy! International even. We stated no presents on the invite. A few presents still arrived. But without the official “present” opening, the chaos was much reduced. Without presents the need for goodie bags (to pacify the children whose birthday it is not when they see their little friend getting piles of loot) are unnecessary.
Overall, the key to the whole event actually being enjoyable is to make it as easy as you can on yourself. No one is actually going to give you a medal for the best, most elaborate birthday party ever. So unless it makes your heart sing to dot all the i’s with little hearts (figuratively), then don’t feel obligated to do it.