When your baby gets to an age where they can appreciate the excitement of a birthday party, it’s easy to end up having a mini meltdown wondering how to start planning one.
I’m terrible at hosting parties for myself. I’m one of those people who tend to get “the fear” that no one will enjoy themselves, meaning I don’t actually end up enjoying myself!
It’s much easier to be enthusiastic about planning other peoples birthdays though, especially the little people in my life! I still want to make sure everything goes well, but this can often start to manifest into anxiety and stress.
Tips from an expert
To get some tips, I spoke to party and events planning expert Bethia Thomas to get her take on how to plan a toddler’s birthday party.
“The most important thing is to keep things simple. I always say it’s better to do a few things really well, than try and cram in too many activities and end up feeling frazzled.
You may be a little nervous about throwing a party, but my top tip is to write a list of all that needs to be done and tick it off along the way. It doesn’t have to be a full on spreadsheet, but just a simple way to feel like you’re achieving something every day in the run up to your event.
As well as thinking through all the practicalities (where will the adults sit? Is the garden child friendly? Are there any dietary requirements?), it is always the personal touches that make a party complete. At the end of the day, if you and your child are having fun, this sets the tone for the rest of your guests to have a good time too.”
— Bethia Thomas (soon to be Naughton-Rumbo).
Keeping this in mind, I’ve created a list of all of the basic things you should remember to organise when planning your toddler’s birthday!
Party Planning Checklist
Think about where you’d like to host the party. If you want to invite lots of people and don’t have enough space in your home, think about hiring a room in a local child friendly venue. Or, if it’s sunny, maybe meet in the beer garden of a gastropub. The benefits of this are you won’t have any mess to clean up and everyone can order their own food and drinks.
- Let the venue know with as much notice as possible, the date that you’re planning on coming. Also tell them how many people you’re expecting. This way they’ll know to keep tables clear for your party and will advise if there are any other events planned there that day.
Is there anything in particular that your toddler loves? Maybe they love animals, a certain colour, pirates or superheroes? Why not theme your toddler’s party around those things they enjoy, incorporating dressing up, a themed cake and decorations?
I like to create an event on Facebook well in advance to invite people. This means I can easily keep track of who can and can’t come, it also saves paper! If you don’t have a Facebook account, pretty much everyone has a mobile phone these days so it’s easy just to send out a group message.
If you want to make the invites more formal, there are lots of websites where you can find and make personalised invitations. Optimal Print have some really fun invites that parents will love as much as their kids!
Food and Drink
If you’re hosting the party at home, think about some simple food that’s easy for toddlers to eat. Mini sandwiches, sticks of cheese, jelly, fruit cut into slices, pizza slices (served warm or cool), bread and simple snacks are perfect.
If there are lots of parents coming along and you want the food to be more appealing to adults, a mixture of breads, dips, cheeses, salad and other antipasti style food is easy to serve and pick at throughout the day.
For drinks, water, a selection of soft drinks and watered down fresh juice for the little ones is great. Adults might like a glass of wine or beer. I like to make a slightly alcoholic punch or Pimms for occasions like this!
- Remember to ask parents if their toddlers have any food allergies.
Usually toddlers can be easily entertained, but you can always provide some extra fun and novelty on the day.
A ball pool is a great idea for non-messy play-time and can be brought indoors! If the weather is warm, a shallow filled paddling pool filled with floating bath toys will be a hit with the kids.
There also might be a toy library in your area where you can rent children’s toys out for a few days at a time, so it’s worth investigating!
However you plan your party, remember to have fun and not to succumb to “the fear” that others won’t enjoy themselves. Remember, as long as you’re having fun, everyone else will too!