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How to Throw a Toddler Birthday Party

My daughter just celebrated her third birthday, and I knew I wanted to have a party for her and her little friends. She is social and loves playdates, so I knew she would love to have a little party. Plus I love to decorate and plan so it is a win win for both of us. Throwing a toddler party can be fun and challenging, but it can also be pretty easy with a little bit of planning and work ahead of time. Here are my favorite tips and tricks on how to throw a toddler birthday party.

These tips and tricks will help you in planning any type of party, not just a toddler party, but there are definitely toddler related tips and tricks here as well.

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Tips and Tricks on How to Throw a Toddler Birthday Party

Tip Number One- Plan

First things first- plan in advanced. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you can, get as much planned in advanced. I like to first choose a theme. This helps me know everything I need to do and gather while giving me lots of time to do it. I started thinking about my daughters birthday 2-3 months out, but got more serious about it at the 2 month mark. I also planned to DIY a lot and this gave me the time to do it. You may not need two months if you are planning a more hands off/ not diy approach (which is totally fine!)

This is when you also want to make a guest list so you know how many people you are planning for. Also start thinking of what time of day you want to throw it. For toddlers it can be tricky. We chose the morning because most toddlers that nap do so in the afternoon, but this also meant I needed to probably serve lunch. You do not have to serve a meal and can plan it around not serving one, which will make things easier.

Tip Number 2- Gather Inspiration

After I have chosen a theme, or have a few ideas, I like to create a Pinterest board and browse for inspo, I pin everything that I like or that inspires me. I go through it multiple times nailing down what I may want to re create or how I want my party to look. I also figure out what I want to DIY and what I can just buy.

Tip Number 3- How to Throw a Toddler Birthday Party- Take Action and Start Buying

After you have figured out your theme and found your inspiration, make a giant list everything you may need to do. This list will change and cut down, but I like to write out everything I may possibly need to do. Ie…cake, games, decor, plates, pinata, napkins, cups, straws, balloons, decor, cake topper. I literally will write out everything I need to gather. You may be able to find a cute set online with plates, cups, napkins etc, but I like having a list of everything we will need at the party and before. This also helps with knowing what you will be DIYing if that is your thing and planning out when you need to get stuff done.

I suggest doing this at least three weeks in advanced because even with Amazon Prime, some of the stuff I ordered took longer than 2-5 days to get to me even though it was prime.

Tip Number 4- Plan your DIYs and Get Organized

Have a clear (it can be any color) tote bin set aside to put all your party supplies in as you gather it. This keeps everything together and easy to find, especially if you are ordering stuff months in advanced.

Consult your list of DIYs and get going on those. I make a big list of everything I could create myself, and then assign a time to it. For example, my piñata I assigned 3 hours to complete. I do this so I know what chunk of time I will need for certain things and know how to break down each thing. Obviously you may not know an exact time, but it will help gauge so you at least may know a time frame for the commitment.

Tip Number 5- Plan your Activities

Toddlers can be easily distracted. I planned 5 activities that could be done as they pleased. When throwing a toddler party, it may not be easy to have every kid do the same activity at the same time. I originally thought I would have the group of kids do the activities together all at the same time. This may work for smaller groups (2-7), but we had 12 kids and it was just easier to let them do their own thing.

Make sure to have something easy and entertaining to do when the kids first arrive. I had stickers set up, but a coloring page would have been fun too. I just used a white paper roll and rolled a super long sheet on a table that they could put the stickers on. You could also lay out crayons as well for the kids to draw on.

I had each activity clearly set out though so they knew what they could do. A few of the activities that I chose were

  • a bounce house ( I just made sure they knew to take off their shoes to jump). Mine is from Mini Castle Co
  • two large bins full of water beads (I used this pack of water beads, and these bins)
  • a bean bag toss (I made my own, but you could buy one)
  • a tattoo station (lots of choices so each child could have temporary tattoos, the parents will thank you later;))
  • a piñata- fill it with small toys instead of candy if you don’t want to more sweets (I used this pack from amazon). Make sure to have small baggies to give the kids to put their goodies in.
  • Another cute idea that I did not do, but may in the future, would be to decorate their own party hats

We did the party in our backyard which also has a playhouse and a few other fun things for the kids.

You could gather the children and explain each activity and have them all do it together, or have everything clearly set out. This would depend on the age of the toddler/ how many parents you have to help you. It worked for us to just have the kids pick and choose each activity as they please.

When you plan your activities, keep in mind toddlers have a smaller attention span. I planned each activity to last only about 5-7 minutes.

Tip Number 6 and 7- Plan your food and timeline for your party

If you are serving food, start figuring out what toddler friendly food you want to serve. We served uncrustables and pizza (super healthy, I know). I also had cups of gold fish set out the whole party so kids could always have a snack. I also made sure to have water cups out with plenty of water so the kids were never hungry.

Also, if you have smaller tables or shorter tables for little ones, that works great because you don’t have to worry about them falling off of chairs or being able to reach the food.

Plan Your Timeline/ The Actual Party

Figure out the flow of your party. Make sure to have an activity to do as the kids arrive (a coloring page, or stickers, or something easy). After all the kids arrive, you can gather them and explain the activities. At this point you could have them all do each activity in a row, or allow them to play freely. Each activity should take no more than ten minutes. I like to keep it around 5-7 minutes each. Know when you will serve food, as well as cake/ ice cream if you will be serving it. We did not do gifts, but make sure to plan time for that as well. If you are doing a piñata make sure to have baggies for the goodies. If you are handing out favor bags, the last 5 minutes, or right as the parents are leaving is a great time to do so.

Tips and Tricks for Planning a Toddler Party

  • Talk to your child about their birthday in advanced. My daughter loves friends but can be a little shy. I mentioned casually multiple times about her party and friends coming over a few weeks before. Then I also mentioned it nearly every day leading up to the party to help prepare her. This will differ from child to child, but it is what we did and what worked for us.
  • Keep your party time short- I planned 90 minutes and served lunch with it and it was the perfect time. If I wasn’t serving a meal, I think 75 minutes would have been perfect.
  • Allow parents to come if they want, but make sure you enlist extra helpers too.
  • Have an easy activity set up for when the kids arrive- ie a coloring page, or stickers. Something that doesn’t really require instructions
  • Label the kid’s cups. They may not be able to read, but at least you can hand them the cup and help them find theirs time and time again.

Master Timeline for Planning your Toddler Birthday Party

How to Throw a Toddler Birthday Party

2 Months Out- Start planning/ thinking of a theme. You do not have to nail anything down, but have it on your mind

6 Weeks Out- create your Pinterest/ Inspo board and getting ideas on theme

4/5 Weeks Out- Create your guest list and start thinking about invites and whatnot. Make your master list and start your DIYs. Start ordering supplies/ looking

3 Weeks Out- Finalize your invite and guest list. Finish ordering the supplies you need

2 Weeks Out- Send out your invites. I like to have guest rsvp if they can because I hand make a ton of my stuff and need to know a general idea. Gather your games and activities. Go through your lists to make sure you are on top of what you need.

Week of Party

1 Week Out- Finalize food, games, goody bags, guest list, and supplies. Also enlist other adults to help. Assemble goody bags if you are giving them out.

2/3 Days Out- I laid everything out and made sure I was good to go with the small things, wrap up your DIYS. Make sure you have all the stuff for activities. Start thinking of party flow and timeline of party. Write down your timeline but be flexible.

Day before- If you are doing balloons, start early and get your balloon decor done in the morning. If you are doing your party indoors, you can set up the day before if it will remain untouched by little hands. If you are doing your party outdoors, set everything out by the door or close to outside so you can grab it easily. Have your activities gathered, prep food, and go through your list again to make sure you have done everything.

Day of the party- Set the party up, set activities out, and have fun. If you are stressed, it will wear off on the children. Make sure you have the food ready to go and everything you need before the party.

Do you have any tips on How to Throw a Toddler Birthday Party? I would love to hear them below!

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