5 Tips for a Memorable and Affordable Toddler Birthday Party

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When my (not so) baby girl turned 3 we celebrated by having her first ever “official” birthday party! Her first birthday was in the height of the pandemic so we had something small with her grandparents for that celebration (you can read all about it by CLICKING HERE). I was excited to have something that she and other kids her age would enjoy! We also wanted something affordable that required little setup or teardown.

Today I’m sharing 5 tips to help keep your kid’s birthday fun, kid friendly, and enjoyable for everyone in the family!

1. Book a local park pavilion

Although the rates for public parks can vary, consider booking a playground pavilion at your local park. It cost only $10 to reserve our local park pavilion for 4 hours (In our area rates range from $10 for 4 hours up to $20 an hour depending on the municipality). I used 2 hours on the front end to set everything up and then used 30 minutes on the back end for tear down.

Booking a playground pavilion helped us cut costs, included playground entertainment for the kids, and made for easy set up and clean up (and it meant I didn’t have to clean my house). I didn’t have to bring any tables or chairs, and the kids got to run free between the pavilion and the playground.

2. Make mealtime easy

I feel like one of the biggest challenges when attending events with kids is serving food. Parents are trying to balance a plate for themselves and their kids and it’s stressful for everyone. I recommend assembling bagged lunches for the kids and serve something a little heavier that the parents can serve for themselves.

For the kids, I put together a bagged lunch that included a prepackaged PB&J, a juice box, apple sauce, a mandarin orange, cheese crackers, and their party favor. To create these lunch bags I used white gift bags, and created personalized sealed tags by using my Cricut to cut out each child’s name onto sticker cardstock.

For the adults I made my 5 Ingredient Sausage Balls, ordered chicken nuggets and donuts, and had some fresh fruit. To drink I set up a coffee bar which included fresh made cold brew coffee, hot coffee, and home made simple syrups (we also had a cooler full of water bottles).

3. Have an activity that doubles as a party favor

I wanted to keep the activities light and also wanted a party favor that wasn’t going to get immediately dumped in the trash. So we did a tie dye station and it was a HIT! Both the kids and the parents loved it.

I captured all of the kids T-shirt sizes when I collected the RSVPs (Paperless post is my go to for evites) and ordered the tshirts ahead of time. I also, pre tied the shirts so the only things the attendees had to do was put the dye on their shirts.

I used a tie dye kit that I purchased online. I highly recommend this because it comes with everthing you need, gloves, bottles, dyes, and rubber bands. I purchased a few extra gloves so that both the parents and kids could protect their hands.

Once the kids completed their tie dye, I placed their wet shirts in gallon size storage bags for them to bring home. I also included directions for how to wash the shirts before wearing.

There have been so many times recently when I’ve been out with the parents and kids from her party and they’re wearing their shirts. One comment I’ve gotten so many time is how much the kids love wearing their shirts they dyed at our daugters party.

4. Decorate with Cake

I didn’t buy that many decorations for the party. The main decor item was actually our daughter’s cake! I did purchase a few table cloths and some baloons but that was it besides the cake!

Back in college and after graduation I actually used to run my own specialty cake business! So I do still enjoy decorating a celebration cake from time to time. Getting to bake and decorate this cake for my daugter was such an honor and it served as the main piece of “decoration” for the party!

5. Make it early & keep it short

Okay, I know 10 AM sounds early but hear me out… Kids generally wake up early and are usually the easiest to manage before that first nap time. We had a 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM party which is a perfect time for this reason! We wanted to make sure the kids could have fun and get worn out before nap time. And the hour an a half time fame didn’t take up too much of the day for the parents.

Again, so many comments from the parents thanking us for picking the time slot that we chose! The kids had so much fun and were worn out and ready for a nap once they arrived home!

Toddler parties shuld be short and sweet. I recommend no more than 2 hours for a 3 year old party. We opted to open birthday presents at home which meant more fun time for the kids and a less stimulating environment for our daugter.

Those are my 5 tips for a low key and kid friendly birthday party! Is there anything that I’m missing that you would recommend for a toddler birthday party? Let me know!

Happy Planning!

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