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Birthday Parties for Toddlers by Christine Lee-McNaughton

10 September 2010 36 Comments

Circus clowns, magicians, bouncy gyms, and inflatable castles…That’s what I’m all about! Just kidding. I am deathly afraid of clowns, too cheap to hire a magician, and bouncy gyms and inflatable castles scare me because I see “DISASTER” written all over them. That’s just me though. I’m pretty paranoid about kids getting hurt under my watch. Bouncy gyms and inflatable castles are super cool at other people’s parties though!

Last year, we had a huge birthday bash for Little One. It was her 1st birthday party and we were happy to have her home with us. I was a bit concerned about having a big party with kids of all ages, since even though Little One was technically a year old, she wasn’t “really” a year old. Being a preemie, her doctors still used her “corrected age”. I wasn’t sure she’d enjoy her party because she was so young and couldn’t participate in any of the activities. At what age do kids actually “remember” their birthday parties?

The question was “do we make a big fuss over her first birthday?”

Of course!

Any reason for celebrating is a good thing!

I had a Hello Kitty party for her. I slaved over (errr…I mean “lovingly made”) a Hello Kitty pinata out of papier mache. I had a custom designed Hello Kitty cake made especially for Little One’s big day. Yes, I was pretty crazy. We invited everyone and their cousin’s uncle’s pet monkey. It was pretty chaotic.

Was it worth it? Of course! Will she remember her party? Probably not. The photos and stories will remind her though. Even though Little One was too young to remember her party, at least the older kids enjoyed it immensely!

For the school aged kids, we had pin the tail on the donkey, hot potato and the pinata. The little kids were happy to play with the balloons. Incidentally, I am totally against balloons and think they are choking hazards. Little One’s grandma (my Mom) was adamant that we have balloons though.

I’m a huge party planner. I LOVE entertaining. I love coming up with themes, decorations, delectable treats, a sumptuous menu, and interactive games. Yes, I’m one of those weird moms who totally gets into the whole party mode. I also love thinking about what kind of giveaways I can give to our guests. I’ve always believed that it is a MUST to give your guests a parting gift as a thank you for coming to your party and sharing your special day.

Well, Little One’s 2nd birthday is fast approaching. I’m already starting to think of a theme. It’s a toss up between a Safari Party or a Princess Ballerina Party. Let me be the first to say that I was totally against all things frou-frou, pink, and girly princess. However, I have made tutus for Little One and her best friends, and they all look absolutely ADORABLE in them. Oh, and pink is not that bad after all. Little One looks really cute in pink.

What do you do to ensure you have a successful birthday party for your child? Do you throw big parties for your kids or do you keep it low key and just for the family?

Share your comment! One person who comments will be sent two cups of their choice (Training, Drinking, Twist N’Pop) or two bottles.

Good luck!

Christine is a member of the BornFree Mom Panel.

The winner is Kristi with the email address: kd******@hotmail.com


  • Clare said:

    I try to keep the number of guests fairly minimal. We have a light snack, cake and lots of activities to keep the little ones busy!

  • Melissa said:

    We have always gone out for our little guys birthdays. We did his first birthday at home then after that we have gone elsewhere. We don’t do anything too big but just go to Play Zone or something like that where they provide the food & do the clean up (the best part) We found having people at the house was so much work and people tended to sick around long after the party end time. When we go somewhere we are in & out and we don’t have to worry about anything.

    This year for my baby we are going to a baby play place for our pre-natel class and then I am going to have JUST family over to the house for cake!!

  • Kristen said:

    For my son’s birthday we had a pool party in my inlaws backyard. Close friends and family nothing to chaotic. We did go all out and have an amazing bbq and I spent alot of money to have the cakes specially made. It was minimal but still a ton of fun. I know my little man won’t remember it but I will and that’s all that matters. I figure I’ll save the bigger bashes for when he gets older and can enjoy them more! My youngest will be having his first birthday in Feb. I can’t wait!!!

  • Cherry said:

    I am all about small family get togethers for the birthdays. Mostly letting the kid pick dinner and an activity and then having a simple cake or dessert. That’s my ideal.
    But reality is a different story. I am the one who always does too much for parties. I am already planning Lil’Miss’ 1st birthday party. It will be at home or a park so older kids are entertained by the playground or balls and hula hoops I’ll have on hand. I’ll make eclairs and cream puffs and cupcakes. And I’ll likely BBQ.
    We did something similar for our wedding so it just makes sense.

    Later birthdays will be smaller. This first one is more about celebrating the miricle and thanking our friends for their support during this first year.

  • Amanda said:

    For ours kids birthday’s I usually order a cake from winkel’s in Espanola. Then some fruit and veggie platters and invite some of our close friends. nothing to big. as it can get pricey with 5 kids. But my second oldest daughter’s birthday is coming up next month not sure of the theme but i am sure i will come up with something..

  • Wen said:

    My husband and I are both “party people”. We loved get-togethers before DD was born and her 1st birthday was no exception. We had 30 adults and 17 kids at her mod monkey themed birthday party. Monkey decor, invitations, cake and t-shirts were happily designed by me. I think you’ve got to do what you love doing and don’t feel pressured to do more or less! I think outdoor space or at least space for little tots to run around is a must. Finger food (we ordered gourmet pizza) and healthy, tasty items for kids is important to keep everyone well fed. We also had a start and end time on the invitation so no one felt obligated to linger behind.
    Enjoy your parties big & small!

  • Christianna said:

    Whoever is having the birthday gets their choice of meal and cake. This year my youngest is turning 14, she has again chosen Lasagna, garlic bread, salad and believe it or not zucchini cake. I should clarify that it is chocolate chip zucchini cake with chocolate icing.
    Birthday parties around our home include family and friends. Do it when they are young cause they reach an age when they don’t want family any more.

  • Danielle said:

    For our kids birthday all out all the time is our motto. We love to celebrate and especially for me, because my family live thousands of miles away. For my sons 1st I did a party and since I had all ages I had music and games for the younger ones and decorating their own cookies. For my daughters first I had a huge brunch which I catered myself. My sons 2nd we had a person come in and do musical games and activites and for his 3rd we rented a party place and for his 4th we had it at the community centre. (by far the better since the kids have a huge gym to run around in and they set it up and clean up) my daughter had the same for her 2 and will be having it for her 3rd. Instead of the huge lunch or brunch I have learnt to do cake and light snacks.

    I believe in celebrating everything. I also have the kids donate one present to charity.

  • Leslie said:

    The first Birthday is always grand. I have my daughter’s coming up. We will decorate the house with 1st person theme decorations. We wil invite good friends and family. Have activities for the older kids, foood.Then simply just enjoy and celebrate the great miracle of our little princess turning one!!!

  • Dorothy said:

    I like to have family and close friends and make it fun for the kids. Want everyone to enjoy themselves especially the birthday boy. This year I orders some chicken, rice and potatoes and baked a lasagna…had a few friends help out with salads and dessert. My little boy enjoyed himself with his cousins and friends. The had a blast on teh swing set and teh bouncy castle in the backyard. I just loved seeing that smile on his face.

  • cheryl said:

    we used to throw parties for our kids and go really overboard but we don’t do that anymore! It is way too exhausting .. we usually get the family together and have a nice meal. The kids always get nice presents and we try to make the day special and do something as a family. This year my daughter is turning 13 so I’m thinking of having a slumber party (am I crazy?) I don’t know! It will be fun though .. I think i’ll be making homemade pizza (early in the day and stick them in the fridge!) and get some good girly movies in .. lots of snacks and maybe some beading crafts!

  • Janet said:

    I love to go all out for birthday parties! I get so excited, just doing the planning, and figuring out details! We just had my daughter’s 2nd birthday party, and it was a Sesame Street theme. I made cupcakes of her favourite characters, and had a couple of themed games, and themed treat bags for the kids. I also think that it is fun to celebrate 1/2 birthdays! Some people think it’s silly, but I love the extra day to make your kids feel special! For my daughter’s 1 1/2 birthday, we had dinner with some special friends, and had cake and a couple presents – nothing big, just a little something. (We also cut the decorations in half!)

  • Lola Lee said:

    I loved celebrating the day you were born, so I always threw big parties for you and your two brothers each year when you were young…up to your high school years. They were big parties because we came from a big family that used to live minutes away from each other, and I also invited close family friends. The parties got even bigger when you started school, having to invite classmates as well.

    It is a disadvantage for Little One that we are living so far away from the rest of the Vergara and Lee sides of the family. It is not easy for most of our relatives (especially Little One’s cousins) to drive 6 hours from Toronto and 10 to 12 hours from Kingston and Montreal to attend her birthday party every year. However, she has several wee friends on the island that I’m sure would enjoy celebrating her birthday with her, and to keep up with our family tradition, you might want to invite your close friends as well.

  • sue said:

    I go big. To me it only happens once a year and its a celebration of another year of health and growth and love. They only have one day a year where it is all about them, other ocassions are shared so I want them to have their moment. I will opening admit right now they are only 6 months and 2.5 so they prob wouldnt’ care however I want to celebrate with friends and family and make it a special day for everyone that is enjoying them grow and let them have their moment.

  • Amanda said:

    We usually only have family over to Celebrate the 1st Birthday, That way is containable, no other kids running around other then my own, and its just Cake, so fuss no muss, usually its done after dinner so, family show up just after 5:30pm for dessert and by 7pm Baby is bathed and ready for Bed, tons of pictures and hugs from family,

  • Kristi Kocherkewych said:

    My son will be 1 on November 15th so I need all the suggestions I can get as he is our first baby!!! I think we’re going to do a monkey themed party b/c we call him our lil monkey!! But no bananas as he’s allergic to bananas, milk, eggs and avocados…that should be interesting when it comes to the cake!! lol

  • B's Mom said:

    My son’s 1st birthday until next year. But I think we’ll probably just have a small gathering of family and friends (with their little one’s)…the only thing I know for sure is that there will be a whole chocolate cake for my baby! He’ll be trying that for the first time on his birthday.

  • C said:

    One of our nieces has lots of food allergies. I’ve got TONS of recipes that don’t include bananas, milk, eggs, etc.

    If you’d like some recipes, let me know :)

  • Kristi Kocherkewych said:

    Yay!! I won!!! I’m sooooo excited!!!
    Oh, and Christine (I clicked on your “C” and that’s how I got your name!!) I would love and appreciate any recipes you have. I make my own babyfood for Lucas and he’s still breastfed so I’d love to have a source to go to for food recipes that will be safe and yummy for him. Thanks for thinking of me!! Oh, let me know how to reach you so I can send you my email (unless you have access to it since you’re a BornFree Panel Mom!!)

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