My daughter is obsessed with dinosaurs, so it was not hard to choose a theme party for her 3rd birthday. I'd like to share with you the ultimate guide to a successful toddler birthday party at home.
Winter birthdays are so much harder to accommodate. The weather isn't nice, and you can't throw a party in your backyard. That's why I like to host a ½ a year birthday party for my kids in the mid-summer. Just give me a reason, haha
In the winter, you have few options - to rent a space or host a toddler birthday party at home. I always choose the latter since I feel it's so much more fun to do it at home. You might disagree since there is a lot more work that goes into hosting at home, but it's fun work, and I'm here to share with you my ultimate guide to a successful dinosaur birthday party at home for a 3-year-old, the so-called "3-REX" PARTY.
Easy DIY dinosaur party decorations
First, let's talk about decorations. In a blog post about last year's home birthday party for my back then 2-year-old, I mentioned that you shouldn't be bothered about decorations since a 2-year-old most likely won't appreciate it much.
Well, when kids turn 3, it's a completely different animal. Sasha was so excited about the decor and couldn't wait to show off her mom's awesome DIY skills 🙂 it made me so happy.
I opted for the easy-to-make dinosaur decorations. I had two main areas of focus - the fireplace with a Dino land and a table for kid's food and a cake.
Tips on decorating
1. Choose one main focus area to decorate and add toy dinosaurs all over your place. We've got plenty of dinosaurs laying around. I also got a bag of amazing dinos from the Facebook marketplace. Always check it out, and I'm sure they're someone who wants to get rid of their dinosaur army since the kids are outgrown them. You can find so many amazing toys and give them another life, instead of buying. As a result, you save money and save the planet.
2. Choose 3-4 colors and stick to them and their shades. I chose green, brown, yellow, and a touch of pink with the flower. I felt we had to add a bit of color to the earthy tones. Overall, we stayed in the earthy tones, so everything felt unified.
3. The fireplace became my art display, and every month I redecorate it with a different theme. (see what I did here for a fall theme, Halloween and natural Christmas)
A dinosaur birthday party sounded like a perfect subject to get creative with. I think it turned out simply amazing!!!
To assemble this land of dinosaurs, I used the faux moss from AliExpress, a lot of tall vases, and green plants. The idea was to create something super green, with brownish tones, where dinosaurs potentially lived. Sasha also got this superb set of 4 JUMBO dinosaurs and I'm amazed by the quality and attention to detail.
The Dinosaur garland
is made out of Recycled brown bags. It's a super easy but rewarding project. I absolutely love the way it turned out!
The dinosaurs are originally handpainted watercolors.
NOTE: I wrote How-tos to all dinosaur party decorations in one place here.
If you'd like to make the same garland, I created a PDF with dinosaur images for you to download.
You can download your FREE PDF by following this link.
Another idea to use the small images of dinosaurs is to make cupcake toppers. I think it would look super cute.
4. The second accent decoration area was the kid's table where we had a cake and decorated the wall with our handmade super simple birthday decorations.
You can find how we made the tissue flower, tissue Pom poms, yarn garland, and the 3-Rex sign here.
Since the party is at home and if you don't have a huge space to accommodate everyone, limit your guest number to a minimum.
There is a saying that a child should have a number of guests as his age plus 2. In our case, Sasha was turning 3 and the perfect number would be 5 guests. We had 6 kids-guests and 11 adults.
Fewer kids you have, less chaos you'll have to deal with. That's just the truth of life.
I was tempted to invite Sasha's whole class but decided to do it for our half-birthday party in the summer, where I could host everyone in the backyard and make my life easier.
My most important tip for a successful toddler birthday party at home (and any party actually)
Hosting a toddler birthday party at home can be as easy as you'd want it to be. My main secret is to prepare as much as you can the day before. It also includes the food, if you are making everything from scratch.
- Hang the decorations the night before, so you only have to add final touches on the day of the party.
- Set up activity stations the night before (I'm talking about them below)
- Pre-cut and measure all the food ingredients (the ones that could be pre-cut)
- Fill up the goodie bags
- Charge the camera
The key to a successful toddler party at home is organization. We did all of the mentioned above the day before and I even had time to go to the gym in the morning, before hosting a party at 12 PM.
Notes on the menu
I made everything from scratch because I love the challenge, just kidding ;D I feel there is so much warmth in home-cooked meals, that when people come to my house, I want to feel them properly. Probably it's a Russian in me 😀
It would be so much easier to get pizza, but where is fun in that?
I had a table for kids and a table for adults. Let me show you what I've made to give you some inspiration.
My main tip here is not to go too crazy on desserts for kids. Sugar overload leads to tantrums. Tantrums are not fun.
I tried to keep the kid's menu relatively healthy, and it included some gluten-free, dairy-free options.
The hit on the kid's table was Banana Spinach muffins. They are so delicious and all the parents were super happy their kids don't only eat junk but get a healthy dose of spinach. It reduced the overloaded by sugar tantrums. Win-win!
To complete the dinosaur theme, I chose most of the desserts in a brownish, green color.
Another hit of the kid's table was Oat pear cookies. They are super healthy and super tasty.
I also made a Dino-shaped almond butter-jello sandwich. To make dinosaur shapes, we used these fun cookie cutters.
The rest of the table contained fruits, rice crackers snacks, and loved by everyone Pirate booty.
And of course, the birthday party wouldn't be complete without my infamous Honey Cake. It became a tradition that I make this cake for my kid's birthdays. It was such a big hit last year that my friends even asked me to make it for their kids birthdays too😄
To decorate the cake I just put the dinosaur on top and it did a trick. The kids were super happy.
In my book, even if it's a toddler's party, adults should be taken care of. You don't want to have hungry adults chasing their kids on an empty stomach. Plus I feel adults deserve a party probably more than kids do.
As my friends know, no one can come to my party on a full stomach. I love to cook and feed my guests. To make the cooking process easy, I usually choose one main meal (preferably that cooks itself), one vegetarian meal, a bunch of appetizers, and a cheeseboard.
I wish I had a picture of the table but I forgot to take it, so will just list here what I made.
- Spinach cheesy meat pasta in a crockpot. In the winter months, it's such a great meal since you can keep it in the "warm" setting and it stays hot for your guests to enjoy. This one was an absolute hit.
- Quinoa broccoli casserole. Healthy vegetarian option
- Roasted tomato with ricotta crostini. They look very colorful and adorable and bring your hostess value to a whole new level. Like 3 Micheline stars level haha). Here are some more options for crostinis, they make perfect party food!
- Salami crostinis with cheese, walnuts, and honey. They were gone in the first 30 mins 😉
- Cheeseboard with a few dips is a classic that is ALWAYS at my party table. Super easy and fast to fix and so forgiving, since you can put there literally anything. I once made this Epic charcuterie table, and you have to check it out. It's legendary!
As expected, no adult left hungry and everyone loved the party!! Lol, I'm sure food had a lot to do with it ;D
I'm a firm believer that neither parents nor kids need more clutter or plastic stuff as a lot of goodie bags are filled with. Or candy, for the same sake. Kids are already sugared up from the party and poor parents don't need to deal with a meltdown over candy in a car on the way back home.
Instead, you can get some art materials or craft projects. Something that kids can play with and benefit from. When they are done, they get a great development deal out of it and you can toss it in the trash satisfied that it kept your kids occupied for an hour and served a purpose.
I ordered party favors from Oriental trading. That was my first time buying from them and it left me very satisfied since they have a lot of goods and the price point is perfect for the occasion.
Our goodie bags contained:
- Dinosaur stickers scene (since you won't find a toddler who doesn't love stickers)
- Extra dinosaur stickers
- Cool dinosaur tattoos
- Dinosaur coloring and activity book
- Crayons (because there is never enough)
- Dino dig puzzle
- Dinosaur print from If Only April Prints Etsy store.
Since I love you guys so much, I decided to give you a 70% OFF any dinosaur prints from my Etsy store.
Use code BIRTHDAY70 at check out to get ANY dinosaur print from our collection!
I also got this cute Welcome sign featuring dinosaurs from Oriental Trading since it was only $2.77 😄
Overall, I spent $30 on goodie bags for 8 kids and I still have some stuff left for my daughter.
Activities for a dinosaur-themed birthday party
"IF the kids are having fun - leave them alone". A great setup is essensial so adults can have fun too.
I'm not a pre-school teacher and organizing entertaining for kids isn't my gem. I like it when kids find their activities themselves.
I'm a big fan of "activities stations" that are spread around in the party area.
I had only a couple of activities planned, which were
- a dinosaur parade with the "We are the dinosaurs" song. My plan was to give the kids musical instruments and play silks and make them march around.
- Dino stomp with a balloon. Tie a long piece of string around one child's waist with a balloon attached to the end. They must run around while other children try to pop it!
- Run in Dino shoes (empty tissue boxes transformed to dinosaur feet). Kids need to run with a Dino egg (boiled egg) in a spoon and keep it safe.
We did none of these activities since kids got so busy in the "stations". And everyone knows the golden rule: "IF the kids are having fun - leave them alone". If there is a great setup, you can enjoy your adult party, while kids having their own blast.
Few rules of the activity stations we have at the party INSIDE the house are
- they have to be mess-free
- and no small parts should be involved ( unless you have it in you to clean up after for hours, which I have a feeling after hosting a party is the last thing you'd want to do)
- no fragile toys or toys that dear to your child's heart that could be broken. Like that, I had to remove our Play Monkey Tree House since I wasn't sure about its well-being after the last party.
So let me tell you more about the activity stations that we had:
- DIY face hole prop. Caveman on a dinosaur. I'll explain how I made it here. My husband drew an outline and I painted it. Teamwork is dream work.
- Paper taped to the floor with crayons and pencils. It works like a charm every single time. Kids loved our moving pencil holder from the log. This thing is a lifesaver. Sasha got as present dinosaur stamps and kids were happy to sit and draw, stamp, and have fun.
- DO-A-DOT. I printed dinosaurs with white spots and was thrilled to see kids enjoyed using do-a-dot markers to fill the empty spots. We couldn't use it on the floor since Sasha's sister loves to get a hold of it and eat it.
If you'd like to download PDF with the DO-A-DOT Dinosaurs activity, you can get it HERE.
- Music station for little dancers. Instruments that were supposed to be used for a parade but kids were just running around with it.
- Play silks. It's always a good idea! The potential is endless with them. See how I made DIY play silks here
- Building blocks that I made a few months ago were a huuuuuge hit. Kids absolutely loved it. They built a city and made dinosaurs jump inside. So much fun! If you want to buy this pyramid, you can find it on Amazon.
- Dinosaur tattoos station. I overlooked this one and didn't tell adults about this one. Luckily, kids had tattoos in their goodie bags that they took home.
- Wobble board. That was a present for Sasha's birthday and it was perfect for kids to play with.
- Kids also ended up playing with our adorable blue Ikea kitchen for a long time.
I think I covered most of it. The party was an amazing success and I can't wait to throw the next one!
What's your take on hosting parties at home? Comment below 🙂
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