Dealing with toddler birthday parties is just one of those things all parents have to endure.
Nobody enjoys them – except the birthday child, of course. All the other kids are too jealous of the presents table.
You’ve done the sleepless nights, the scooping baby poo out of the bath, and the proud Facebook statuses about first steps.
Now it’s time for things to get real. You’re the parent of a toddler now, so welcome to the hell that is toddler birthday parties.
Toddler birthday party
If you’ve never attended one, you might be wondering what toddler birthday parties are actually like. Isn’t it just a gaggle of adorable toddlers sitting around playing a friendly game of pass the parcel and clapping a lot?
Um, no. It’s more like if you had 30 big bouncy balls that you hurled into a room, at speed, and then watched them bounce off the walls until they ran out of energy. Except these are not bouncy balls. They’re tiny human beings. And they’re covered in chocolate and cake. They will never run out of energy. And at least five of them are crying.
You will leave a toddler birthday party with a party bag and a migraine, and a deep sense of having survived something. You won’t be able to explain what was so traumatic about the event, and the other parents in attendance are the only ones who will ever understand what you went through.
Kids’ birthday parties are not as easy as you might think; you need to consider many things. For example , you might think of having a costumed character for all the children who will attend. You can ask your child what is his or her favorite character is.
Places to have a toddler birthday party
If you’re planning your first toddler birthday party, you might be wondering what makes the best party venues. Some parents go wild and throw kids’ parties in the comfort of their own home. Be warned, though, this option is not for the faint-hearted.
Others prefer to pay for a play center and let someone else do the dirty work. Another popular option is to hire a church hall or community space and get a bouncy castle or children’s entertainer to amuse the crowds.
The reality of party planning means the venue you choose will depend upon your budget and, of course, your guest list.
You also have to meet accessibility guidelines if you’re planning for a place for your kid’s party. So throw an at-home party for a budget-friendly option, but be warned the post-party clean-up will not be fun. You will be cursing the party guests while scrubbing chocolate cake from your carpets for days.
What will happen at toddler birthday parties
Here are ten things that will happen at every toddler birthday party:
#1: No one will be able to Let It Go
Unless the music set-up is kept firmly out of reach and the DJ is fully committed to ignoring requests completely, the child’s birthday party soundtrack will be Frozen.
In particular, it will be Let It Go, and Do You Want To Build A Snowman?
They will be on repeat for the entire duration of the party. The kids will love it.
You won’t love it at all, which brings us nicely to the next point…
#2: There won’t be enough wine
‘Oh’, you thought, ‘Let’s get some wine for the party – a couple of bottles will do’. Wrong. It isn’t easy to guess correctly the amount of alcohol you’ll need for one birthday party.
For a toddler birthday party, you need to take the number of children invited and multiply it by the number of times Let It Go will be played.
Then you need to multiply that by the number of tantrums during the party and add 10. Then you’ll know how many bottles of wine to buy. And, truthfully, it probably still won’t be enough.
#3: There will be fights
Parents will be fighting over who gets to down that last bottle of wine, but toddlers will also be fighting over everything everywhere. Seriously, everything.
They’ll fight over who gets to keep the present (the birthday child, obviously, but the toddlers might disagree on this), who gets to go in the ball pool, and who gets to eat the last breadstick.
Sometimes, they won’t even have a reason, but a huge brawl will break out anyway, and three parents will be needed to break it up.
#4: Someone will ruin the cake
Toddlers love ruining birthday cakes. As soon as they spot the magnificent homemade birthday cake on display, they will run over and jab their fingers in it. They can’t help themselves.
They know how tasty the buttercream on Peppa Pig’s dress will be, and they can’t wait to try it.
They don’t care about the hours of Pinterest research and baking that went into that cake.
They want sugar. All the sugar. And if the cake is left unattended, it will be entirely demolished in a matter of minutes.
#5:There will be the smell of poop
Why is there always one parent who can’t seem to detect the pungent smell of poop in the air?
Nobody knows, but you’ll probably be sitting next to her at the party.
Each time her heavy-nappied toddler waddles over, surrounded by the stench of sewage, your eyes will water. But the parent won’t be able to smell a thing.
After holding your breath for 15 minutes, you will be forced to make a very public display of checking your own toddler’s nappy for the offending stench.
Of course, your toddler is actually potty-trained and hasn’t worn a nappy for months, but nobody else needs to know that. Eventually, if you’re loud enough and dramatic enough, the offending parent will catch on and go and change her kid’s bum.
#6: No savory food will be consumed
The food table will feature an impressive mix of deliciously healthy snacks and brightly colored biscuits. When guests walk into the party, they’ll see sandwiches, sushi, falafels, breadsticks, hummus, and vegetable crudites. All of this stuff will still be there when guests leave because toddlers only eat junk.
All of the biscuits will disappear within five minutes (which will cause many tears), the crisps will go, and the jelly will go. Anything containing at least 80% sugar will go, and the party hosts will eat everything else after everyone has gone home.
#7: Mania will ensue
After each toddler has consumed five biscuits, two packets of crisps, three handfuls of fizzy sweets, eight gallons of cordial, and a fistful of birthday cake, all hell will break loose.
The toddlers will be high on sugar, pumped full of e-numbers, and experiencing the world’s most enormous sugar rush.
Oh, and there are 20 of them all in this state simultaneously, in a small room. So expect plenty of bouncing off walls, a lot of irrational crying, and a few fights. And the toddlers might play up too, hoho!
#8: The world’s slowest candle blow out
Toddlers are rubbish at blowing out candles. Blowing out candles on a birthday cake is a great tradition, but it’s not one for toddlers to attempt. Even with just two measly candles, they can’t seem to manage it.
It will take no fewer than 100 blows to put those candles out. And even then, it will only happen if somebody else delivers a sneaky puff at the opportune moment. The only risk is, if the toddler works out what has happened, the whole charade will have to start all over again.
#9: Hometime will be painful
‘Oh, look at the time’, you will say, carefully ushering everyone to the door. Your partner will make a very public display of tidying up (like you with the fake nappy check earlier, only way more desperate) while you stand at the door distributing party bags stuffed with landfill.
If there are 20 toddler guests at the party, that means 20 meltdowns are waiting to happen before this party finishes. Nobody wants to leave the party. Apart from the party parents, of course, who desperately wanted everyone to leave as soon as they walked in (about 60 Let It Go’s ago).
There will be lots of apologies at the door. ‘I’m sorry my toddler punched your toddler’; ‘I’m sorry my toddler licked the cake’; ‘I’m sorry I came’, etc. The exit to the party will be a non-stop apology fest until the last guest has departed. Parents will be desperately trying to get their kids to say their thank-yous while you try to nudge the birthday kid to say thanks for the gifts.
#10: Everyone will get PTBPSD
Post Toddler Birthday Party Stress Disorder. It’s a real thing. Ask your doctor about it.
The birthday child will get it because the birthday is now officially over, and that is terrible.
The guests will get it because they consumed too much sugar in two hours, and now their bodies have gone into shock.
You will get it because you have had to clean up random puddles of wee all afternoon and have decided you will never, ever, ever throw another party.
But you should all feel proud because you lived to tell the tale. Although perhaps you shouldn’t, not without a trigger warning.
As terrible as throwing a toddler celebration is, you already know you’ll be doing it again next year because your child has loved this special day.
Toddler birthday party ideas
Parents can end up getting competitive about, well, everything, but about birthday parties in particular. You’ll find some parents are desperate for their toddler’s birthday celebration to be the best in the class. So they end up taking 25 toddlers skiing even though toddlers are rubbish at skiing and much prefer playing musical bumps.
There’s no need to complicate a toddler’s birthday. All toddlers need for a fun party is space, fun, and food.
Pick a venue, organize your food and then figure out how you’re going to keep them entertained. Are you going to take on the role of entertainer and get them all playing games? Or are you going to hire some princesses to come and entertain the kids? You might hire a bounce house, so they can burn off that sugar rush. Whatever you decide, rest assured your toddler will love it, and that’s the most important thing.
Toddler birthday party games
If you’re throwing a birthday party for toddler guests, you’ll need some fun toddler party games you can play. Here are some party fun suggestions for games young kids will love:
The bean game
This game is excellent for burning off some energy at a child’s party. Get all the kids to stand up and make sure they have plenty of space. When you shout out a bean, they have to perform the corresponding action. The beans are:
Jumping bean – jump on the spot
String bean – reach for the sky
Runner bean – jog on the spot
Baked bean – curl up in a ball
Broad bean – do star jumps
Jelly bean – wobble wobble
French bean – shout out ‘Ooh la la’.
Nobody wins, but everybody gets to have fun. This game is always a hit with toddlers young and old.
Mr. Silly can be a Ms. Silly if you prefer. Mr. Silly loves making toddlers laugh, so he’s the ideal party guest.
Get all the toddlers sitting down and introduce Mr. Silly. Now, Mr. Silly has to do something silly that makes everybody laugh. Don’t worry; you don’t need a well-rehearsed stand-up routine for this; toddlers are easily amused. A simple fart joke or silly dance will do.
When Mr. Silly does something stupid, all the kids have to copy him. That’s it; that’s the game. It sounds too simple, but toddlers love it. You can also give confident guests a chance to be Mr. Silly for a bit.
Things to do at a birthday party at home
If you’re throwing a party in the comfort of your own home, you’ll need some organized activities to keep your family and guests entertained. With space at a premium, you might need to get creative when it comes to games. Here are some toddler birthday party games ideal for birthday parties in small spaces:
Pin the tail on the donkey
This classic party game is as popular as ever. You can buy a set or create your own. Avoid pins, though; stickers are much more toddler-friendly! Toddlers roar with laughter when they put the tail somewhere funny, so this game is usually a hit.
Some games work just as well for drunk wedding guests as they do for rowdy toddlers. A photo booth area is bound to be a great success. Have some silly hats, photo props and costumes set up near a frame so that kids can dress up and have their parents take photos of them. This will provide parents with a keepsake of their child and their friends at the party, which is sure to go down well with parents and toddlers alike.
Face painting takes up very little space and will keep toddlers entertained for all of five minutes. Have a face painting volunteer do quick and straightforward face paints for the kids. Have a mirror handy so that the guests can see their faces after. If it’s a big party, try and rope in some extra face painters to cut lines. Superheroes, animals, and princesses are always popular face painting choices for young children.
Party bag ideas
Traditional party bags are rammed with sugar and plastic party favors. These are also called goody bags. Be sure to include a slice of cake in each bag. If the idea of plastic pocket money toys fills you with dread, opt for something more environmentally-friendly, such as flower seeds and coloring pencils for each child. Just make sure the toys are appropriate for the child’s age.