Party planning with a toddler: The survival guide

Every day’s a party with Baby, and you can celebrate every holiday from Arbor Day to Talk Like A Pirate Day. It’s one thing to throw a party Baby isn’t invited to – the biggest extra challenge may be finding a good babysitter – but throwing a party where Baby is an honored guest can be a little trickier. Trickier, but still definitely possible!

  • Keep it short: Babies and toddlers may start out bouncing off the walls, but they run out of energy and attention quickly. Keep the party to an hour or two at most. Plan the part post-nap so Baby will be most alert, or plan it for pre-nap so there’s a set ending time.
  • Keep it small: Now is not the time to have Baby meet all your old college friends at once and those neighbors you barely know yourself. Keep the guest list to VIPs and you’ll keep costs and Baby’s stress levels down.
  • Keep it simple: Look, no one’s here to ruin your Pinterest dreams. If you have the energy and money to create coordinated cupcake displays with tiny printed signs (and it’s what you truly want to spend your time on) go for it! But if that’s not your plan that’s 100% ok! If your party is an hour long, and the guest of honor can’t really understand what’s happening yet, no one’s going to be getting too judgey about the decorations. Simple snacks for children (graham crackers, fruit), and similar snacks for the adults (veggies, cheese) are generally plenty.
  • Keep it smiley: Although Baby may not have much of a social life yet, chances are a couple of your guests may bring children. In this case it’s a good idea to have a few age – appropriate toys on hand, or to plan for some simple guided activities such as Duck Duck Goose or A Bean Bag Toss. Goody bags don’t need to be complicated, and you can opt for a take-home party favor instead – balloons, pinwheels or “crazy” straws double as decorations and make great take-homes as guests are parting.
  • Keep it safe: Baby-proof a small area and set chairs around it so grownups have a place to chat and eat while keeping an eye on the wee ones. Prevent children from playing or walking while eating by having a designated food area. Opt for Mylar balloons instead of latex ones, which can pose choking hazards – or keep balloons up high and carefully monitor any balloon interactions.
  • Keep it sane: Ask for help from friends. Consider hiring a babysitter for an extra set of eyes on the kids at the party. Heck, skip the party and take your family to the zoo instead! Anything can count as a party if you go into it feeling festive.
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