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How to Plan a Birthday Party for Toddlers and Kids

kids celebrating birthday

How to Plan a Birthday Party for Toddlers and Kids

What’s a birthday without a party. Kids birthdays and birthday parties go hand in hand. You may be any type of party planner. Are you that parent who plans months in advance about the how’s and where’s of conducting a party? Do you think of every minute detail that you have to get right and obsesses overs every tiny detail to the exasperation and amusement of your family members?
Or are of the normal category, mere earthlings who are not really sure if you have to throw a party, but then cave in a couple of days back because come on, your little one’s friend just had a hit birthday party last week and why even your child’s last birthday was so good you still pour over the birthday pictures and gush over how cute your little one looked. And of course, it is a chance for him to invite all his friends over and have a grand time on this very special day.

You don’t have to make the birthday party celebrations too elaborate. You can throw a simple party and still show your child a grand time. The only thing your kid will care about is being made to feel special.

But even a small party takes a considerable amount of planning. Who are the guests you are going to invite? How many of them? Where is the party going to be held? Planning for a party can be overwhelming or fun, depending on how you look at it.

One of the best things you can do is involve your kid in the whole planning. After all, it's the child’s birthday and he should get a say in how his party should be celebrated. Involve your child in picking the theme for the birthday party, allow him the choice of selecting his own birthday outfit and let him tag along with you as you pick up all the materials, goodies and decorations needed for the birthday party.

If you are any good at baking, you may even involve him the previous day in baking his favourite flavoured cake. What fun would that be! The birthday child will have so much fun anticipating his birthday and he will be even more delighted and proud that he helped plan his special day.

If you are feeling even slightly overwhelmed and want to get it all perfect for your little one’s birthday, we are here for your aid. We will show you how to throw a wonderful birthday party for toddlers and little kids. You could create a checklist from the suggestions you see here and make your little munchkin’s party a grand success!

Take your pen and paper, and get ready.

Prepare the guest list- who is invited to the party?

Who and how many people are you going to invite to the party? Are you going to throw a grand party with tons of family, friends and neighbours, or is it going to be a small cosy gathering with just a small group of intimate family and friends?

For this, your first need to know what budget you are going to allocate for the party and then determine how many guests you are going to be inviting to fit within the budget. Create a list of all the children you are going to invite and whether you are going to invite parents at all. If you are not going to invite parents, it's always okay to ask them to drop off their kids at your home and pick them up after an hour or two.

Once you have created a list of all the people you just HAVE to invite, if there is room to accommodate more, say that friendly neighbour you just got introduced to whom your kid immediately took a liking to or that really close colleague who is almost like a family member, then you might as well invite them over. While planning the guest list, you should also think of the space where you are going to throw the birthday party and see if you can comfortably accommodate all of those guests you are going to invite.

The location

You have many options for the location where you going to throw the party. It could be your house of course, but more people are finding that hosting a birthday at home is not all that appealing. The kids may bang around on the furniture and other decor and get hurt, and then there is the cleaning up involved post-party which can take a toll on you.

Plus, when it's you doing all the running around, like getting the cake, planning a game, ensuring that the kids remain safe, you may not really enjoy the party as much as you would have liked or attend to the birthday kid the way you would have liked.

There are some advantages to it though. For very young kids or toddlers, at home parties means comfort. They are comfortable in the environment, so there is less chance of them acting out or throwing a tantrum. It’s your home and you know where stuff is, so everything you want is just at arm’s reach.

These days, many apartments and gated communities have a clubhouse or society hall that you can rent. All the decorations have to be done by you, so take the help of some adult hands. If these ventures are closer to your home all the better, because it makes it easier for you to take balloons, cake, food and other stuff a lot quicker. Bring the space alive with colourful balloons and decorations. Do spread soft mattresses on the floor to make it a safe space for all the active kids who may find it a little difficult to stay put!

There are other good options like an outdoor garden or park area (just watch out for rain and ensure it's a safe space!) and managed avenues like indoor party rooms or soft play areas. The advantage with these spaces is that the decors are left in the hands of the experts, and so you have very little to do. Enjoy the party and spend all the time you want with your little one on his birthday!

If you have set your eyes on a space you love, just ensure that you call to book at least a fortnight in advance, otherwise, you may end up becoming disappointed.

Time of the party?

Timing is crucial - you don’t want to throw a party only for the birthday girl or boy to feel really hungry, feel supper sleepy or get uber cranky during the party, do you? A toddler’s schedule is divided between food time, nap time, playtime with the addition of study time in the case of preschoolers or school going kids.

It’s all about the timing. Too early in the afternoon means the child will either be too hungry or sleepy and very late in the evening means you may have to deal with a cranky, fussy or sleepy baby! Plan to hold the party right after the afternoon nap in that tranquil zone of late noon or early evening and your kid will have the grand time he deserves!

If your kid is a preschooler who has already dropped the afternoon nap, you may even conduct the party during lunchtime. There is no need to keep the party going for hours on end - an hour or two would suffice. As the child grows older, the timing and duration of the party shouldn’t matter too much.

Selecting a theme for the party

A birthday theme is everything! It's the crux that brings it all together and sets the tone and personality of the party. It shows what the birthday boy/girl is into and it is no brainer that you should involve your kid in picking the theme for his/her birthday party. While selecting the theme, rack your brains for the movies, TV shows, or places that your kid loves. You can also think of themes based on what are his favourite toys, games, or animals are.

If you are still undecided, we have a whole range of birthday themes that should align with what your child loves. Just pick one on the list and make the party come alive!
  • Animals Theme
  • Safari theme
  • Simba or Nala from the “Lion King” movie.
  • Mowgli from the “Jungle Book” movie
  • Dinosaurs
  • Dragons from “How to Train your Dragon” movie
  • Harry Potter theme
  • Lord of the Rings theme
  • Frozen movie theme
  • Moana theme
  • Finding Nemo theme
  • Dora the Explorer theme
  • Shrek theme
  • Winnie the Pooh theme
  • Kung Fu Panda theme
  • Unicorns theme
  • Mermaids theme
  • Mickey mouse theme
  • Batman, Superman, Spiderman, The Incredibles, the Avengers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Iron Man and other Superheroes theme.
  • Fireman or police theme
  • Cricket, football or tennis theme (if your little one is into sports).
  • Lego Party themes
  • Peter Pan theme
  • Toy Story party theme
  • Pirates theme
  • Cars theme from Disney
  • Arts and Crafts theme
  • “Up” theme
  • Alice in Wonderland theme
  • Monsters, Inc. theme
  • Minions from “Despicable Me”.
  • Smurfs theme
  • Pokemon theme
  • Rainbows theme
  • Robot theme
  • Star Wars theme
  • X-Men theme
  • Peppa Pig theme
  • Froggy theme
  • Teddy bear theme
  • Under the sea (if your child loves all things underwater).
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme
  • Farm theme
  • Circus or carnival theme

Party Decors and materials

The party hall or decorations is one of the first things guests almost always notice the moment they walk into the party. If it's a venture you rented, worry not, they will do all the hard work with inputs from you. If it's at your home or community hall, you will have to do the decorations yourself. You should arrive at the place a few hours in advance and get cracking! If the party is at home, keep it simple. Think balloons, birthday banners, ribbons, confetti, and a backdrop.

The backdrop could be placed right behind the table where you are going to set up the cake. This will ensure that you get some perfect snaps of your little one’s cake cutting. And speaking of pictures, what about a photographer? Book someone weeks in advance.

If they are already taken, just rack your brains for that one friend or family member who is great at capturing pictures (I’m sure we all know someone like that!) and hand over the responsibility to them. You could share all the pictures on google drive or on WhatsApp and even ask parents to share pictures of the party if they have taken any that is.

Games and other activities

The pacing of the party is important. As kids keep streaming in, usher them inside and keep them occupied with little activities like painting, blowing balloons. As most of the kids have joined in, you can start with the games. Keep in mind to have games that are easy enough to follow and that which kids find entertaining.

Simon says musical chairs, treasure hunts, and a variety of race games are some things you can ponder about. For very little kids, simply playing music and asking them to dance can be a great option. If you notice a particular game is super popular, have no qualms extending it. If you notice the energy dropping because the kids find a particular game boring, then simply drop it. After all, the idea is that all the kids should have fun!

Don’t be that tiger parent and go overboard with too many activities. For a two hour party, a couple of activities should do. The idea is that all the kids should have fun, laughing, playing and interacting together. You could even hire an entertainer like a stand-up comedian or clowns to get the kids cracking (I’m sure you could do with a few laughs too!), a magician to show a cool trick or two, storytellers (could be any one of your friends who can make a story come alive for the kids!), or musicians to keep them enthralled and introduce to them the beautiful world of music.

The Birthday Cake

No matter what goodies you serve, this takes the cake (literally!). You can choose the birthday cake depending on the theme. If you are confident with your baking skills, bake your own cake. We highly recommend you try out a batch or two of cakes and cupcakes just so you get it right the day before the big day!

If you are ordering out, you could either choose to order from a reputed bakery or a trusted home baker. If you are ordering from a home baker, visit their page, gobble up all the reviews, and if you think they will work for you, then go ahead and order away. You may tell them the theme you want them to incorporate in the cake, the flavour, what ingredients should or shouldn’t go into the cake, when you want it delivered, the payment terms, etc. For instance, if you want a wheat cake as opposed to a maida cake, or a cake with no fondants, you can specify all this to the baker and get it done exactly the way you want.

What Food to Serve

Once you’ve decided on the cake to order, you will then have to think of all the other food you are going to serve to your little (as well as big) guests. Don’t go overboard with junk food and carbonated drinks. Some toddlers and kids may be allergic to nuts, so the food items you plan to serve should be safe to consume. You should take into account the dietary restrictions of your guests. You don’t want any kid turning up sick the day after the party, do you?

If you have a thing for cooking, then you can prepare all of the snacks at home. Otherwise, you can order it from an external food caterer. Finger foods, paneer sandwiches, fresh fruit juices, steamed corn, pasta, chapati rolls, friend idlis are some popular choices that kids will love. And you can feel less guilty knowing that these snacks are about as healthy as they can get. No matter what snacks and drinks you choose, ensure to let the caterer know at least a week in advance. Also, just to avoid any last-minute hassles, mention the exact time you want the food to be delivered. Nothing like delayed, or worse, no food to ruin the party mood!

While serving the guests, we recommend serving the food on paper plates and drinks in plastic cups. No parent wants to deal with overflowing sinks filled with plates, cups and leftover food at the end of the party! Do keep a bin within reach so all waste goes into it rather than the floor or your precious carpet! If any food goes waste, you can get in touch with organizations in your community and have them distribute it to the needy.

Unwrapping presents

It’s a good idea to teach your toddler to say their thank you’s when they receive the gift. Toddlers are impatient creatures, and when they see brightly wrapped presents, they would really be tempted to unwrap them and see what surprise awaits inside. So, unwrapping them after the guests leave makes more sense.

If your kid is a preschooler or older, unwrapping presents towards the end of the party is a great idea. If the kids have picked up the presents themselves, they would love to see the reaction on the birthday kid’s face as he unwraps their gift. If opening the gifts later, you could snap pictures and share them with the guests. It’s a way of showing your appreciation.

Return Gifts

We think this is a pretty cool idea! Think of it like this: it’s not the birthday kid alone who gets gifts; all the children who turned up for the party get to go home with a gift. Cool, right? It's a way of showing appreciation for the people who helped make your little one’s birthday extra special. So, what are some great return gifts you can hand over?

Keep it simple, useful and meaningful such as crayons and sketches, painting books, activity kits, garden kits for the little green lovers, educational toys, and books of course! Kids can never have enough of these! The goody bags or favour bags as we like to call them can make kids leave with a smile - just as happy as when they entered.

You could have your child express their thank you’s to the guests and hand over the return gifts to their little friends as they take their leave.

Birthdays are a wonderful occasion to create special memories on your little one’s special day with people most important to him. We’re sure that this checklist will help you plan a kickass birthday party. Have fun!


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