A successful birthday party for a 2-year-old at home is something anyone can do!
Since we moved to the suburbs, Sasha has made many new friends. We've been invited to a few toddler birthday parties, from house ones to ones in a rented space. When Sasha turned one year old, my husband and I made her a smash cake, took some photos, took her to the play area, and left her with a babysitter to go on a date. We set our priorities straight. No regrets whatsoever. I bet she will never hold it against me or even remember it. Since her first birthday was far from special, I thought she was old enough to enjoy a party for her second birthday.
The only thing was, as much as I wanted to throw a party, I didn't want to rent a space, hire a clown and go into extensive spending. Let's be real: what does a toddler really need? (Besides your unconditional love). Nothing. Toddlers are quite flexible and can be happy going through garbage if you let them or other low-cost activities.
To throw a great toddler party, you'd need three things: a cake, simple activities, and a great company of like-minded crazy kids. (To make a great adults party is even easier and requires only two ingredients: wine and a great company of like-minded adults). Sasha had a great birthday party and everyone, including adults, had so much fun that they didn't want to leave.
Update: (05/05/2020) I'm planning to throw a half-birthday party in the backyard this summer, and my new Fantastic DIY backyard playground will be a star of the action. Get inspired, grab FREE PLANS, and build an ultimate playhouse for your kids! It will take any party to a whole new level!
Tips on how to throw a successful, super-fun birthday party for your 2-year-old at home
Invite both parents
Make it clear that you invite a couple, not just the kid's mom. I made this mistake with one of my friends, assuming she would bring her husband, only to learn later that she thought it was a "mom and kids only" gathering. (As you can guess, I skipped the "pretty invitation" part since our party wasn't big and I felt it wasn't really necessary)
Keep your kids' count to a minimum.
You don't want an army of crazy kids running around, ruining everything on the way. When toddlers are involved, everything can go wrong, and to minimize the risk of a fiasco, minimize the number of attendants. We invited Sasha's four friends, but one of them couldn't make it, so we had four toddlers (including Sasha) and seven adults. I think 4-6 toddlers is a perfect number for such a party, also depending on your space. Our living room isn't very spacious, and I didn't want the party to extend beyond the living room and the kitchen, which brings me to the next point.
Organize your space and draw a limit.
You must ensure that all fragile things are put away and that all electronics and loose items are out of reach. I had to reorganize our living room for this particular little crowd. We pushed the couch from the middle to the side, covering the tv and bookshelves; covered the keyboard from the prying eyes; put away all toys in small pieces. We live in a townhouse, where the living room is on the middle floor. We blocked the entrance because I didn't want kids to run to the second floor. Also, make sure that you get the gate to cover the stairs. We never used one since Sasha is a little stairs ninja, but when there are a bunch of kids involved, you better be safe than sorry. One of my guests brought a gate, which was super helpful.
Have a list of things to do and try to do most of it the day before.
I made a cake, most of the snacks, prepared activities, and some decorations. Don't forget to charge your cameras the night before!
Set up a time around your guest's nap schedule.
It can get tricky since everyone goes to bed at a different time. Sasha is an early napper and usually takes a nap for 30 mins between 10.30-11.30 am, while most kids usually go around 1-2 pm. Because we didn't have many guests, I asked everyone about their schedule and decided to put Sasha to bed early (at 10 am) and have a party at 11 am so everyone else could take their tired toddlers home by 1-1.30 pm. Here is another great point - keep your party short. We had so much fun and were pushing it. Everyone left around 2 pm when one kid got tired and became hard to deal with.
Have activities ready for entertainment.
I set up "stations" with different activities around the room. This post is already getting too long, so I wrote a list of things we did here. My main advice is to keep it simple and as mess-free as possible.
Take care of adults.
Kids are very easy to please, but you need to make sure that adults are happy as well. After all, they are parenting so hard and need to be celebrated the most. We kept it simple with snacks and had a cheese plate, hummus, fruits, and wine. I set up an adult table as a buffet in the kitchen. Amid everything, I forgot to take a photo of it.;/ But check out this amazing mouthwatering charcuterie table that I made for a different party and my tips on how to make an epic one!
Decorations for the party
If you are crazy about decoration, go for it! But the Truth is, as much as you want to choose a theme and decorate everything, your kid at two years old doesn't care. We kept it relatively low-key but super fun. I got this fun backdrop (which was a hit with the kids) and this party decoration pack for $15 that had everything we need (balloons, garland, cake toppers)
- A cake. You can buy one, but I made one myself since it's a tradition in our family. I made my favorite Honey Cake, and you can find a recipe here.
- Mini Zucchini Muffins. Find Recipe here. They are to die for! Super healthy and one of my toddler's favorite foods.
- Cookies. I got these cute cookie cutters at Michael's
- Fruit that I laid out in the shape of a palm. The kids were happy ;D
The party was a huge success! We've learned a lot from our first experience and planning to throw more parties soon!
What're your tips for organizing a successful birthday party for a toddler at home? Comment below. I plan to do it again at home this year and would love to hear from you.
UPDATE 02/10/20: I wrote an ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ORGANIZE A SUCCESSFUL 3-YEAR OLD PARTY AT HOME that you might be interested in. It includes all DIY birthday decorations, kids' healthy birthday party menu, adults menu, and stress-free tips on hosting a party at home.
I hope you enjoyed my tips on how to throw a successful birthday party for your 2-year-old at home. If you like it, follow me on Instagram @ifonlyapril where I share more fun ideas.
Here is the link to my YouTube Channel, where I post videos about simple DIY decor, mom hacks, and activities for kids.
Also, don't forget to follow me on Pinterest, where I create inspiration boards for my next projects.
Check out how to throw an outer space birthday party!
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