Maxwell turned 2 just 23 days after baby sister, Amelia, arrived. My kiddos are 23 months apart! (Anyone else need tips for wrangling 2 under 2?) And Mama was (and still is) tired! I definitely wanted to do something to celebrate Max and make sure he knows that we did not forget about big brother in the midst of all of the newborn chaos. But, the thought of doing some big ol’ crazy party like we did for Max’s 1st sounded very overwhelming. (Max’s party animal themed 1st birthday was adorable though!) Andy and I decided to make the whole day all about Max and then we ended with a family party at a parking garage. Max is still talking about his “bertday”! So, here are my tips for throwing the easiest and most fun toddler birthday party ever!
1. Guest list: Keep it simple. Maybe it’s just family? All Max really wants is Andy and I’s attention. He loved having grandma, Uncle Russ, Mom, and Dad chase him around. And of course sweet baby sister, Amelia! I’m pretty sure he was very happy to have all of the attention on him.
2. Menu: So, if you follow tip #1 and keep the guest list simple, the menu thing is easy! We knew we wanted to do a picnic and include things Maxwell really likes so we made turkey sandwiches and brought chips, oranges, seaweed, and popcorn! (As of now, oranges, seaweed, and popcorn are 3 of Max’s favorites.) We had a few adult beverages for the adults and Max got to use my water bottle. Done and done! Pizza is always a good option too.
3. Location: It doesn’t have to be somewhere new and crazy! What does your toddler love to do? Swing? Swim? Ride scooters? Play in sand/ dirt? Trains? Arts and crafts? Construction trucks? Jump? Fire trucks? Boats? Animals? After you decide what your toddler would enjoy doing most choose a location based on that. Here are a few, free ideas:
- A park you don’t go to everyday
- The playground at a local elementary school
- Splash pad
- Your backyard and a sprinkler/baby pool
- Community garden
- Backyard campout
- Neighbors backyard
- Tennis courts for riding vehicles
- Top of a parking garage
- Fire Station
- Pond/ Lake with ducks
- Urban farm (or regular farm)
- A park/ mall/farmers market with a train
Our goal was a fun place that we don’t go everyday. The top of an empty parking garage works great if you’re toddler is into his or her vehicles. We brought Max’s bike and scooter and let him run around like a wild man!
4. Decorations: I picked up one “celebrate” banner in the Target dollar section and tied it up over the quilt in our picnic area. We brought 2 folding chairs and voila… party! And I’m pretty sure he could care less about my celebrate sign. I meant to grab a few helium balloons, blame it on the baby 🙂 Grandma did pick up some party poppers and blowers at the grocery store. The party poppers were a big hit! Those will be at every birthday celebration from now on! Oh and one of my favorite decorations was Max’s “2 cool” t-shirt! Not only is the t-shirt cute, but I love that when we look back at the pictures there will be no guessing about which birthday it was. You can see the popper in my hand and Andy and Max are watching the popper confetti fly out!
5. Activities: Your location will play a big role in picking activities. Playing with a new big toy like a swing set, scooter, bike, electric car, tee pee, tent, etc… I also thought it would be fun to do a string of fun activities and make the “party” last a few hours or even… all day! The parking garage happens to sit next to a construction site, so it was extra fun that the cranes were working while Max rode his bike and scooter all over.
6. Birthday Dessert: I thought about making cupcakes or a cake, but with my 3 week old, I decided to make things as easy as possible. There happens to be a bakery near the parking garage and I was going to run over and grab a few treats and bring them up to the top. We ended up all just walking over to the bakery and getting a few treats to go. Max picked out a dirt cup and I did buy a “2” candle so we could sing the birthday song at home. He loved the birthday song, ha! I can not imagine what would have gone down if 20+ people were singing Happy Birthday to him!
7. Gifts: This is a tricky one, and everyone has their opinion on the subject, so here’s mine 🙂 If we invited friends, I would have put something along the lines of “your presence is the only present needed” or a simple “no gifts please” on the invite. We live in a small house and honestly, don’t even have room for more toys. But, with a super small, family only party the guests know the birthday boy really well and that makes gift giving more meaningful. Each person got to give Max their special gifts whenever they felt it was a good time. Here is “Uncle Bruss” giving Maxwell his new bike accessories, this cute ladybug bike bell and lights! It was sweet that they got to take the time to put them on his bike together and Russ taught Max how to use his new lights and bell.
8. Pictures: Don’t forget to take some or designate a picture taker so that you can soak up the moments!
After the birthday party was over, we all kept talking about how much fun we had! And Max, well he is still asking about his “bert day”!