Sunday, February 27, 2011

8 Things I've Learned By Hosting Toddler Birthday Parties

Sweep Before, Mop AFTER
You know, so you don't end up mopping twice as part of pre- and post-party cleanup. Like I did. As much as I didn't want anyone to end up with really dirty socks at the Babby's second birthday party, the various icing and drips that ended up on the floor killed that dream. A pre-party sweep or vac would have been sufficient.

Skip the Chips
Crumbs, much? At the Babby's first birthday party, we had chips in bowls along with all the other food. Bowls in the living room, no less! And one year old kiddies sure do love chips. By which I mean they love to grind them into cracks in the floor and drop them in radiators. I was finding chips crumbs for weeks. This time, with no chips served, the post-party cleanup is going a lot more quickly.

Brunch Is the Best
Very few people don't like breakfast - and brunch foods often straddle the fence. There's something for everyone at brunch, and that something will usually be less expensive and easier to prepare than fancy appetizers or other party foods. Plus, having cake as part of brunch seems to make sense.

Room Temp Rules
At the Babby's first birthday party, we were running the oven almost non-stop the entirety of the party, and that meant we had the doors open in February because the house got too darn hot! At the Babby's second birthday party, I decided that I only wanted to serve foods that needed nothing more than warming or could be served at room temperature. Bagels. Fruit. Pre-cooked quiche.

For the Crafty, DIY Saves
Sure, I could have ordered a custom prefab party pack of decorations for the Babby's second birthday party like I did for her first birthday party, but I have a sewing machine and plenty of scrap fabric. For a cost of $0 - thanks, Lorna! - I made rainbow banners, rainbow mini-banners, a tall rainbow party hat, and even a rainbow banner spelling out the Babby's name. I even made a rainbow cake that turned out pretty spiffy, if I do say so myself. 

Don't Forget to Eat 
All that yummy food you buy for your toddler birthday party and your awesome cake will delight your guests, but they should delight you, too. After you're sure everything is ready to go and your guests are situated, grab a plate of food and a drink and find somewhere to sit down and relax. Or at least pretend to relax.

Anticipate the New Toy Influx
There's nothing like a toddler birthday party to make you realize how many toys kids have. (And no, I'm not going to say they have more than I did, since I'm pretty sure I had tons of toys growing up.) The day after the party, I put a few toys away to bring out later on, bagged up all the Babby's really babyish toys to stash in storage, bagged up a selection of other toys to swap out in a few months, and only then distributed the loot. Now we have roughly the same amount of toys as we did last week, but they're age appropriate and novel.

Childproof Like Crazy
The more space the toddlers in attendance have to work off all that cake-fueled insanity, the happier parents will be. My advice: Childproof as many rooms as you can, spread out your toys, put a few chairs for grownups in each room, and watch the adults chill out in the full knowledge that their kids are safe and that your stuff is safe from the kids.

Birthday #2 Is More Fun Than #1
At the first toddler party I ever hosted, i.e., the Babby's first birthday party, the Babby had some fun. But she also found some parts - the singing, the cake, etc. - pretty stressful. I wish I could go back in time and tone that party down, actually. This year, though, she seemed really energized by having so many toddlers her own age around and even spent most of the party totally ignoring me and the BabbyDaddy! The crazy number of people who attended did not phase her, and the fact that the Babby was having a good time meant I could have a good time, too :)


  1. What a gorgeous cake. And, naturally, your beautiful child! OMG. She is so adorable.

    (But the cake! You will likely say something like, "Oh, it's really easy" but - it's something I would never be able to pull off. Color me impressed.)

    Confession: I haven't actually had a birthday party for P yet. The first was going to be #3, but about a month before her birthday, we went to her best friend's party. It was chaos on a level I had never before seen, and it terrified me. Also, I have heard of a friend's friend who hosted something at a GLASS BLOWING STUDIO for preschoolers. Seriously. These people frighten me. I'll do a picnic at a park and call it good.

  2. Oh my cuteness! Lots of good, solid tips too :)

    I know this is weird, but since I've never met you, I think you look different in every picture! I think we need to meet so I can use the real you to compare pictures to :)

  3. @E.H. Thanks! And you know what, one thing I'd add to my list is that if you (the grownup) don't feel like having a party yourself, there's not really a point to party down on behalf of toddlers. They won't remember - heck, we didn't even really do anything on the Babby's actual birthday because she was tantruming so bad that day.

    @Courtney It's the hair. Right now I've got a dyed blond shag going on - mostly because I haven't been to the hairdresser in, oh, months. I am trying to grow it out, and she kept taking too much length off, IMO. So eventually it'll reach some length and stay there, heh!

  4. An important thing to note is that P should've had some downtime that day. We got to 3pm and said, "Oh yeah this kid isn't napping," and she had a really happy rest of the day as family hung around and played with her and gave her more presents and fed her more cake.

    Unfortunately, she woke up a four hours after going to bed and stayed awake for another four hours. She was crying and screaming a lot, but wasn't sad... it was like her brain was still processing the whole day and she couldn't do it alone: she needed mama or papa around.

    So this is my $0.02: After a morning/early afternoon party, enforce some downtime. Nap time or play alone time or even, I imagine, just sitting and reading to her... I don't know if it would've prevented a rough night and a sleepy following day, but I can imagine it would've helped.

  5. Happy 2nd Birthday P!
    I am in awe of the DIY moms who make the cake and decorate and craft for their kid's parties. I am taking notes mi lady!

  6. So cute baby! And adorable cake, it looks really delicious. Want to throw my niece a birthday party at one of local LA venues. Need to hire caterers for this party as will plan to make it best one. Will take some help from my friend who is a party planner.


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