Your child’s first birthday may have simply consisted of some party hats and a cake that ended up mostly on the floor or all over their face. That may have been a lot of fun, but as children turn 2 or 3 and enter that toddler stage, the birthday game becomes more serious. This year, they are going to be more rambunctious and opinionated. Couple that with a very short attention span, and you have a challenge on your hands.
You can rise to the challenge, however, by applying some of these tips for your toddler’s birthday.
1. Remember the Age Group
Try to avoid being too grown up with your party. To keep toddlers interested, you need to think like one. Be sure to have plenty of delicious snacks on hand. Simple, yummy snacks like fruit, yogurt, and chicken nuggets are easy to eat and healthy. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are another food that toddlers tend to love; just make sure none of the guests have allergies.
Picking out the right age-specific toddler gifts is also important to keeping your little guests entertained and having fun. Steer away from gifts that require a lot of assembly (or put them together ahead of time). Instead, pick the best gifts for toddlers that can be unwrapped fast and played with immediately.
2. Keep Things Moving Along
Timing is everything with toddlers. They have short attention spans, and they are very active. They also tend to have a specific schedule that, if messed with, can make for a cranky afternoon. Keep your party to only a couple of hours in length and plan a variety of activities. Shorter games mixed with free-play time can keep your guests’ interests better than totally unstructured time. Set a stopwatch if necessary but keep things moving.
Don’t forget that toddlers usually have nap time in the afternoon. Plan your party around this so your child and the guests’ schedules aren’t put off by it. A quick poll of the parents can give you a better idea of the required timing of the party.
3. Involve Everyone
While there may be brief times when toddlers can play by themselves, don’t expect your child and friends to be self-entertaining for long.
Crafts can be fun (if messy) but might not hold attention. Plan activities that are interactive and motion-centered. Sing-a-longs, bubble popping, and balloon games are all excellent choices and should be a big hit. Hiring a children’s musician or balloon artist for short sets can also be a great way to entertain toddlers.
Play stations set up at intervals can be a lot of fun. Make sure that each child has personalized toddler gifts to help avoid “that’s mine” syndrome and keep the peace. Also, be sure that each location is attended by two adults to keep things safe and running smoothly.
While you may be practiced at watching out for your curious child by now, be careful that you’re not overconfident, especially when dealing with a group of toddlers. Supervision and diligence by the adults at the party will keep everyone safe and having a great time. Avoid getting caught up in conversations with other adults and keep your focus on the event.
Define the boundaries of the party clearly so exploring kids and adults know where the limits are. If you are outside, try making a straw bale wall for your boundary. Indoors, be sure to block off any stairs and close doors to rooms you don’t want your little guests exploring.
Planning the perfect party for your toddler can be almost as much fun for you as the party itself will be for your kid. From gathering toddler gift ideas to decorating, there’s a lot to think about. If you plan ahead, you’ll be sure to present the best party possible for your little one.