Some of you will remember I asked what you did for your child's second birthday a while back. My son turned two in December and I took on board some of your helpful suggestions for his party and it turned out really well. I thought I would now share some of the things that made it successful and one thing I will do differently next time.
Maybe those of you who also have children with winter birthdays will find it useful, as not being able to take them outside is a challenge in itself. These were the main aspects of the party that helped make it work well:
Space. I knew more than two energetic toddlers running around in our living room would soon feel crowded and would probably stress me out, as well as them feeling like they had nowhere to run. So I hired a spacious dance studio at a local gym. It was perfect, as there was tons of running around room for them all.
Numbers. The temptation with a big space is to invite more people. Yet, I knew my son doesn't like being in very big crowds and that to take advantage of the big space I hired, it made sense to keep the numbers down to the people we really wanted to be there. There were people who'd invited us to their birthday parties who I didn't invite to my son's. These are people we never spend time with, we just see around here and there so I didn't feel bad about not inviting them along.
Soft play. The gym where we'd hired the room provided soft play equipment at no extra charge so we had that set up for the children to play on. There were climbing blocks, steps up to a little slide, chunky mats and also things like balls and hula hoops to play with. They all had a blast running and jumping around on it all. It was a great way to have them safely expend some energy and allowed parents to sit back and chat in the meantime.
Music. My son loves his music, especially the usual 'Wheels on the bus' type songs so we had a bunch of those songs on our iPod playing in the background. We also concluded the party with a little sing-a-long in a circle, which was a nice wind-down after the vigorous play and excitement.
Art activities. In her comment on my previous party post, Urban Mums had suggested doing a simple art project. That was an idea I really liked. I had to be careful about any mess created, as a yoga class was following my son's birthday party! In the end I kept it very simple and put out some PlayDoh, paper and crayons on some plastic mats on one side of the room. I was glad I did that, as a couple of the children prefered that to the soft play or would come and do a bit in-between the active play.
As for the one thing I will do differently next time....
Food. I spent ages making home-made mini pizzas and totally over-estimated how many I'd need. We had loads left over that I ended up giving some away to friends. It wasn't just the mini pizzas either, I made way too much food overall! So next time, I'll know better and will hopefully prepare a more sensible amount. For an afternoon party, I guess mums are not wanting to spoil their child's dinner by giving them too much to eat and likewise with themselves!
The main aim of the party was for my son to have a good time and he certainly did. Seeing his smiles and watching him run around, stuff his face with party food and generally have fun was very rewarding for mum and dad! Everyone else seemed to enjoy themselves too.
Thank you to those of you who left suggestions in my other party post. If you have a birthday party approaching for your nearly two-year old, I hope it goes well and that my shared experiences might help you out a little. If anyone has other tips for toddler party planning, please let us know in the comments.