As a first-time mom, I know what it is like to want to share the joy and excitement of the culmination of that first year with a baby. You want to tell the world, “Here’s my child! Isn’t she beautiful?” as well as, “Here I am, I have made it through this year!”. You want to invite all your friends, all your relatives, heck even that mom you don’t get along quite well from your Tuesday mornings playgroup. However, beware! Remember that although your child is turning one she is still a baby and babies do not react quite well to overstimulation with many people over a long period of time. Below are a few tips that will have you and your baby (and the rest of your guests) all giggles by the end of the day.
Little children usually find themselves quite entertained with the simplest of things and when there is the choice of downtime as well. Something that works very well with toddlers and babies are stations. Setting up stations around the room will not only keep things rolling during the party, but they will also give children breaks in between activities thus they will not feel they are on the go at all times. Another plus is that you will not feel the need to be the perfect host the entire duration of the party. Some ideas for stations are: cupcake station in which each child (and accompanying adult) can decorate their own cupcake with sprinkles and icing, face painting and/or sticker tattoo station where children choose the sticker they want and help color it, obstacle course in which children go through a series of simple obstacles like mini tunnels and potato sacks, or making face masks. The best part of these stations is that they will not break the bank!
Food: Let The Fingers Do The Work!
Finger foods work best with toddlers and make for an easy cleanup time. Costco has great selections and sells by the bulk (again, no breaking of the bank here) and in terms of cutlery, well you really only need serving spoons. Here are some suggestions: fruit kabobs – simply cut your toddler’s favorite fruits into squares and stick’em on a stick, chips, and salsa, taquitos (found in frozen section of Costco), cheese squares on a platter, chicken nuggets, well you get the idea. For drinks keep it light with a lemonade or fruit punch that is low in sugar content and give each child the opportunity to decorate his own cup with a glitter marker. This way you will have enough cups for everyone and germs will stay with their rightful owner. And what about the cake? Well, you can go with a low-cost sheet cake from Safeway or if someone in your family really enjoys baking (there is always one in everyone’s family!) then ask him or her to make a creation for your little one’s birthday. Your relative will be delighted and it will add a personal touch to the celebration.
Keep The Guest List Short
Remember that the last thing a one-year-old need is for a hundred people to carry her and hold her in a period of a few hours. Another thing to consider is that children at this age would rather sit on the floor and play by themselves with their favorite toy so a huge crowd will not leave space for such an area. If the guest list cannot be cut short because of a large family or cultural traditions just make sure that your little one has downtime in the hallway or kitchen from time to time, this will avoid latter breakdowns in the day. Finally, remember that this is a child’s birthday party so the main guests should the be children accompanied by their parents.
Figure Out The Right Time
Toddlers usually take one nap a day for a couple of hours and it’s usually sometime before or after lunch so having a three-hour party DURING lunch (including set up and clean up) may be the best. Of course, you want to follow your own child’s nap schedule so that he will be in the best mood possible. Ideally, it will also fall around the same time as other children his age. Following the children’s nap schedule will make for happy party goers and parents.
I hope these tips become useful to you when planning your child’s first birthday party. It’s certainly not an easy task, but you won’t need to write research papers for it either. Happy birthday planning!