Birthday parties are a very important time for your toddler. After all, they've only had two or three and these early childhood parties will be the first they will clearly remember. While you want to make your little one's birthday something really special, there's no need to run yourself ragged by throwing an event that adults would find spectacular. A few streamers, cake, friends, and activities at home is already a great time for your toddler. Not to mention friendlier for sibling participation and nap time in their own bed at the end. For any parent throwing an at-home birthday for their toddler, here are a few clever tips to keep the stress low and the fun going all afternoon.
1) Set Your Budget
The number one most common mistake for young parents is accidentally spending too much on your baby's birthday party. Before you go all-out at the party store, take a deep breath. There are a lot of birthday parties to come and planning with care will make a better party than splurging on supplies. Set your budget and then challenge yourself to get creative within those bounds.
Make sure the essentials like cake, plates, and goodie-bag basics are taken care of before getting too crazy with decorations or pre-made activity kits.
2) Offer Choices, Not Open-Ended Questions
Planning should also be a careful balance between what your toddler wants and your vision of a great party. However, toddlers also aren't exactly experienced party planners. If you ask them what they want for a party as an open-ended question, prepare for some fanciful ideas about unicorns, power rangers, rocket ships, and so forth. Instead, use your knowledge of their favorites and your capabilities to offer choices instead. Your toddler will feel in control and guide you toward their top favorites without any risk of disappointment.
3) Connect with Other Parents
A great party is going to require other toddlers, and anywhere other toddlers go, so too do their parents. While you can send your little one to preschool or kindergarten with invitations to pass out, real planning happens on the phone between parents.
Fortunately, parent connections are also an ideal way to plan a toddler party. By calling up parents of your child's preschool friends, you can make sure they're aware of the date (no risk of no-shows due to lost invitations), and get a heads-up on any food allergies. Other parents may also be interested in helping you chaperone to be present for their own children and can offer helpful advice.
4) Toddler-Ready Activities
When it comes to activities, there is no need to spend a lot on crafts and games toddlers will appreciate. Simple activities like bean-bag tosses, a shaving-cream or play-dough table, coloring, tag, water-balloon fights are all it takes to keep a crowd of three to six-year-olds occupied. You may also want to set up a quieter space near the TV where kids who get overwhelmed can watch a soothing video or a nap. Choose something you put on when your child was an infant, like music with shapes and colors, to prevent TV-migration.
5) The Goodie Bags
No child's birthday party is complete without the goodie bag. However, what you stock these little bags with and when you pass them out matters a great deal. We suggest separating your goodies into two categories. Start with a toy-table stocked with enough cheap plastic helicopters, parachute-men or other small themed party toys to play with and at the party and take home if they make it through the event. Then follow up with a take-home goodie bag passed out at the end so that everyone has a few fun souvenirs to remember the great time they had. Possibly with another, still packaged, version of your giveaway toys.
6) Plan with Clean-Up and Nap-Time in Mind
Finally, throughout the planning process, remember that your guests will be toddlers who will need to ride home in their parents' cars after the party. If there are wet or messy activities, advise that parents send a change of clothes and protect their back seats with towels like a trip home from the pool. You will also want to remember that some children will need a nap before the end of the party, if only a brief one, which is why a quiet, soft area is useful.
With all the logistics planned out, you can throw your toddler a fantastic summer birthday party they will love. And the best part is by planning a party at home, you and other family members can also have a great time creating wonderful memories your little one will never forget. For more smart budgeting and financial planning insights, contact us today! Our team is always ready to consult on anything from everyday budgeting to retirement and estate planning and everything in between.