It is our birthday and we are planning a party!
But planning a party for the very young is different from other parties. They have short attention spans, you need help to manage them as they cannot do things for themselves, they need to be engaged, etc. So how do we plan parties for toddlers?
We share the insights from some of the moms of toddlers we spoke with
Who is invited? Children from the neighbourhood, play school mates and maybe some best friend's little ones are the invited guests. While toddlers do like other toddlers to play with, they do not care or remember the guest list. Calling kids who live close by means a short commute and kids are fresh and ready for the party. Adults in the family can have a separate party if needed at a more appropriate time. Just understand that the birthday baby might have had an overdose of partying from school, toddler party etc. So plan accordingly.
Friends for the party
Time is everything – Nap time, play time, sleep time, eat time; a toddlers life is governed by eat sleep and play and hence it is essential to plan accordingly. While too late in the evening will mean sleepy and cranky babies and toddlers and too early may mean nap time. So plan late afternoon or early evenings if you get a chance. It may be good to plan during school hours with permission from the school.
The place to be – Fancy restaurants are certainly out but your home may not be the best place either to have the party. Toddlers can bump into furniture and get into artefacts etc and hurt themselves. Choose a venue close enough to home, so you can use the home as a staging place. Many neighbourhoods these days have club houses that can be rented out for such events. Just rent out some soft mattresses or dhurries to spread around and you have a safe space. For very young kids an outdoor venue may not be safe.
What to do – Plan activities that keep them engaged from the start. Hand out paper hats and crayons to stamp and colour as they enter. Involve them in some decoration and last minute prep, like blowing more balloons. This will help them settle in. The invite can specify activities so toddlers can be dressed appropriately. If there is face painting for instance, older comfortable clothes are a good idea.
Involve them in activities.
Gifts – you can specify whether or not you will accept gifts and also if you prefer a special kind. As a guest, it is a good idea to gift books and simple and safe toys as also gift certificates for online stores for children’s sites so that the parents can choose what they feel suits the toddler needs.
Eats – Cakes are mandatory at parties and while theme cakes are nice, it is more about what is in the cake that is important. Toddlers and babies might be allergic to nuts and other items in cakes and other goodies, so please ensure that all food items are safe to be consumed by all. It is better to be safe than sorry. Finger foods that they can handle themselves are easier and more fun than complicated meals.
All the cake they want
Going home with goody bags – A gift for the guest is a good idea as toddlers and kids might get too involved in the party and refuse to leave or get cranky about leaving. A goody bag is a good way to ensure that they can be happy as they leave for home. Again, small simple toys, chalk, crayons, stickers and some eats work well.
Gratitude for what we have – All gifts must be opened with care and the toddler must be told about the love behind each. No gift must be criticised in front of the child and even if you find it inappropriate, just stow it away till it is the right time to use it. You can also share some with the less privileged little ones in the community.
Birthdays can be a great time to create memories, create bonds and have a special day for the family. Just keep in mind that doing too much and trying to cram in too many things is not good for little children who may get cranky from over stimulation, crowds, and lack of naps.
Keep it short and sweet and spread the celebration over a few days in separate groups if that works better for all. Do not get stressed and ask for help if needed.
Have fun, create memories, celebrate your toddler!! Happy birthday!
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