I’ll never forget how confused my one-year-old son looked when Chuck E Cheese sang the happy birthday son to him. Some of the older kids were dancing with the costumed mouse man in front of the stage, but Devon seemed bewildered by it all.
It wasn’t a bad experience for him, just an unnecessary one. He wasn’t ready yet for all the excitement of a game room party. By the time he was four, he was getting it and having a great time.
With my second child I took what I’d learned the first time around and planned celebrations that were more age appropriate during the toddler years.
Short and Sweet
Even very young children can appreciate the extra attention they receive from extended family and friends at low key celebrations. The basic idea is to keep it small, so the child doesn’t become overwhelmed and to plan simple activities the birthday boy can enjoy.
A good rule of thumb is that a party for a one- or two-year-old should last no more than two hours. Try to plan the party for a time when your child is normally active during the day. If he naps from two to four in the afternoon, plan the party for eleven or noon. He should sleep well afterwards.
A home party is ideal for kids this age. Normally the parents of any small guests will stay with their children throughout the event when they’re this young. You’ll probably have family there, as well, so it’s common for these parties to include more adults than kids.
Having the party at home makes it easier and more economical to provide refreshments for your guests of all ages, and to ensure the safety of the little ones. However there are a number of outside venues that offer appropriate activities for young children, such as kids’ gyms, parks and even some swim centers (if they have a wading pool area).
Toddlers enjoy active play more than crafts or party games. For hire venues, like dance, swim or exercise centers come with built in activities, but you can plan fun, toddler friendly activities at home as well.
It can be as simple as turning on some music and encouraging them to dance. If you have a pint sized swing set in your back yard, you’re all set. Toddlers also enjoy simple games like “ring around the rosie” or “tag.” I think that every goodie bag we ever gave out included a small bottle of bubbles, and I never met a kid under four who didn’t relish blowing and chasing them.
When the little ones have expended some of that boundless energy they seem to have, you can refuel them with cake and ice cream, open presents, and maybe wind down the festivities with a story. After all that, everyone will be ready for a nap.
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