Toddler Birthday Party Ideas

Parties & Gifting
Toddler birthday parties

Toddler birthday parties

There’s something magical about birthdays when you’re young. The decorations, the friends, the cake and the presents are details that so many kids look forward to all year long. I know my little man asks me when his birthday is at least once a week! Creating a special event for your toddler takes planning, but with a little effort can be easy, affordable and fun!

Location, location, location

If there’s a local pizza and game center or kids’ amusement park, they can host the whole party and plan food, activities and decorations for you. But remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune on kids’ birthday parties.

If your toddler has a summer birthday, take everyone to the park where the kids can run and play – maybe even feed some ducks – and your house will avoid being destroyed in the process. The park might be just as special to them as a formal event, and unless you plan to rent a shelter, it’s free!

Toddler party themes

Once you know where you’re having your party, deciding on a theme is the next step. Consider the details of the party through your toddler’s eyes. Keeping their favorite things in mind will help you tap into creativity and create a special event all the kids will enjoy.

  • What are his or her favorite foods?
  • What games or activities does your child enjoy most?
  • What are your child’s most treasured toys?
  • What are the books he or she reads over and over (and over)?
  • What TV shows or movies does your child love to watch?

If you’re planning a first birthday party and your child hasn’t developed an affinity for anything in particular, some continually popular kids party themes include princesses, fairies, trains, robots and cars. Mustache themed parties for boys and owl themed parties for girls have also grown over the last year.

Mustache party theme

Once you decide on a theme, set the tone for the birthday party with matching invitations. My youngest son turned one last year, and we threw him a Mini Man Mustache Bash with these adorable invitations:

Toddler mustache party

Handlebar Invitations from

Birthday party food

Deciding on what foods to serve is the next easy step. The time of the party will determine the type of food you should serve. If the party is held during a meal time, plan on serving more substantial foods like build-your-own sandwiches or personal pizzas. If it’s before or after meal hours, simple snacks like fruit, veggies or Goldfish are more appropriate. (Try to take naptime and bedtime into consideration before you choose the time for the party!)

Of course, the feature food of the day will be the birthday cake! Coordinating the party theme into the design of the cake will make it even more special for the birthday boy or girl. Simple store-bought cupcakes with rings are popular and easy – or you can try your hand at a more elaborate cake.

Train birthday cake

Toby the Train Cake from The Girl in the Red Sweater

You can get really creative with toddler birthday cakes – they’re so young they’ll love whatever you try, even if it’s not perfect. As long as there’s cake under there somewhere, you really can’t go wrong.

Since my son’s favorite food is bananas, we served banana flavored cupcakes decorated with mustaches and speech bubble picks. Not only did they appeal to the kids, they made for a terrific centerpiece. We also had a smaller mustache-shaped cake made just for the birthday boy. It was so funny to watch him try out his first licks of chocolate icing and handfuls of chocolate cake!

Banana cupcakes

Banana cupcakes at the mustache bash

Toddler birthday party decorations

Decorating your party space doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The toddlers will be happier with simple balloons they can play with than fancy decorations they’re not allowed to touch. Work with materials you have on hand, or hit up the party aisle at your local superstore or dollar store.

Grab plates, napkins and plasticware in the colors of your party for a simple, affordable way to give your party a cohesive look and feel. Banners are a terrific way to decorate your party space and add a special message about your birthday honoree!

For our party banner, I used photos of my son from birth through his first birthday, added a mustache to his little face with an online photo editing program and printed them at my local 1-hour photo processing center. Then I simply punched holes at the top and threaded them onto a length of tulle.

Toddler birthday banners

Voilà - a custom birthday banner!

Party favors are another element that add to your event’s theme and send your guests home with a piece of the fun! Dollar stores and party retailers offer a wide selections of favors. We sent the kids home with a DIY ‘stache-on-a-stick, candies and a Wooly Willy game. Bubbles and fruit snacks are inexpensive favors that are sure to be a huge hit with the kids.

Toddler birthday party activities

If you plan your event at a location that hosts the party, the activities will be taken care of for you. Let those kiddos run wild and play! If you are hosting the party in your home, there are a few things to consider.

  • Are you inviting mostly big kids, little babies or a combination of ages?
  • Do you have enough space for the activity?
  • Will you holding the party indoors or outdoors?
  • Will you conduct the activity or game, or will it be self-directed?

Thinking through each of these details will allow you to properly plan appropriate activities for the party. Because we invited a range of ages to our party, we offered limited structured activities allowing the kids to play with toys outside or inside as they chose. The one party game we did play was a revised version of Pin The Tail On The Donkey. We switched it up a bit to fit our Mustache Bash theme and played Stick the ‘Stache on the Birthday Boy!

Toddler party activities

Toddler party activities

Planning your next kid-friendly party can be a piece of cake! Share your ideas (and blogs) for kids’ birthday parties in the comments below.

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