The key to a successful toddler birthday party is to plan activities with developmental expectations such as social development, attention span, and energy levels in mind.
These tips below, including decoration ideas and more can help you plan the perfect birthday party for your toddler!
Many parents go to a lot of work to plan the perfect party for their toddlers. The results can quickly become disappointing when chaos erupts, or the plan falls apart. A large part of the chaos can be avoided by considering developmental issues prior to planning the party.
Printable Birthday Party Planner Checklist
The following topics below will help you plan your next toddler birthday party including theme and decoration ideas, what to serve your guests, best time and days to have the party, choosing a location, who to invite, planning activities, and social expectations.
How to Plan a Toddler Birthday Party
Deciding on a Birthday Theme, and Decorations
A fun part of the toddler birthday party planning process is choosing themes and decorations for birthday parties.
It’s totally a personal choice on how big or small you want to go to help your little one celebrate their big day. I know some moms go all out and plan very detailed toddler birthday parties. Or, if you want to go simple, you can go that route, too.
To help with my own kid’s birthday parties, I purchased convenient party sets that were already planned out and put together for my kids birthday parties!
These kits can include a variety of items like the tablecloth, table runner, centerpiece, cake toppers, banners, streamers, balloons, confetti, cups, plates, napkins, utensils, and more.
Kits vary in size and come with items that typically serve anywhere from 8-16 guests.
Here are a few popular themed birthday party decoration sets available:
- Disney Princess
- Mickey Mouse
- Minnie Mouse
- Winnie the Pooh
- Paw Patrol (includes a pink Skye set for girls!)
- Toy Story
Choosing What to Serve
Besides the cake, cupcakes, and ice cream that are normally served at toddler birthday parties, consider serving other finger food snacks like gold fish and crackers. Be mindful of choking hazards and make sure foods are toddler friendly.
You can also serve juice pouches or juice boxes, or have mini water bottles available for toddler guests.
Consider the parent guests, too. They may want to have access to drinks and food while watching their very energetic toddler at the party! Consider setting up a space for adult non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.
Best Day and Time to Have the Party
Consider energy levels for both kids and parents.
Most children in this age group need naps in the middle of the day, at least be needing quiet time during the day. Although it may not be the most popular time for parents, mornings can work well for toddler parties since the toddler is more refreshed from a full night’s sleep. Afternoons can work if the party is held shortly after nap time.
As a mom with three kids, I always planned our toddler parties from about 10-11:30am or parties after 2pm or 3pm on a Saturday. This all depends on your toddler’s nap schedule. I did notice that we had great attendance on Sunday afternoons after church when Saturdays weren’t available.
I would avoid week day parties after work hours if possible, considering parents may be exhausted after a long work day!
Printable Birthday Party Checklist
Choose Your Location
There are a variety of locations to host a toddler birthday party. Check around your local area to see what options are available and are considered toddler friendly.
Consider the cost when choosing a location since some areas you may have to rent the space.
Having a party at a local park is always a popular option. Just make sure to secure a space the day of the party to make sure you’ll have room for your guests.
We did plan several Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties for my kids. But there are many other options, too.
I don’t recommend planning locations that are over 30 minutes away unless you know for sure you’ll have a great attendance that day. It’s not always easy for guests to drive a long distance to make a birthday party.
Consider reading, Should You Have Your Child’s Birthday Party At Home or Away?
Inviting Guests – Include Other Parents or Caregivers
It is perfectly acceptable to ask the parents or caregivers of the other children that are invited to attend the party with their child.
Many parents already assume they will attend with their child, but some may look at it as an opportunity to have their own quiet time while their child attends the party.
Including the parents of the guests has two benefits.
First, the guests will feel more safe and comfortable knowing their own parent or caregiver is available should they become anxious.
Second, this allows the parents of the birthday child more opportunity to enjoy the milestone celebration along with their child rather than spending it trying to console unattended and possibly overtired guests.
Printable Birthday Party Planner
Attention Span and Planning Activities
Toddlers have short attention spans.
Party activities that last a long time will lose the interest of the children quickly. The best approach is to have a few different activities that can be completed in a short period of time rather than one or two hour-long games that require concentration.
Getting to the point of the activity as soon as possible is more stimulating for young guests.
Some quick tips to think about regarding attention span when planning a toddler birthday party include:
- Keep the party short. An hour to an hour and a half is plenty of time to accomplish a few activities and have a few treats.
- Keep the party activities brief and to the point. Long-drawn out activities will lose the interest of the children quickly.
- Be flexible. If the children are losing interest in musical chairs and choosing to play with the box in the corner, abandon the game and go with the box.
It is important to remember that children of this age are not yet developmentally ready to socialize the same way older children do.
Two and three-year-old children tend to play side by side rather by interacting with their peers. This means that parents do not have to feel that they did something wrong if the birthday child and guests are playing in separate corners.
Sharing is another issue that parents tend to base the success of a birthday party. Toddlers are not yet developmentally capable of sharing. Parents should expect that battles over who had a toy first are perfectly normal and not a sign of bad parenting.
Often, some gentle distractions can help alleviate the situation and keep it from becoming a larger problem.
Toddler birthday parties can be full of fun and create some wonderful memories. Keeping a few developmental issues in mind when planning the party can turn an otherwise chaotic party into a raving success.
Party Planner Event Planner Party Organiser Birthday Party