Your toddler’s third birthday might feel a little different to their birthdays so far. Now that they’re a bit older, they might be a bit more involved in planning their special day. Chatting more with your toddler about their preferences could be a fun bonding exercise as you work together to plan the celebration! But ultimately, you know best about what will be fun and manageable for your family on this day.
Home or away?
You may be wondering where to throw a third birthday party. Depending on your guest list size and budget, you may wish to host at home, in the park or playground or hire a venue or play centre.
The choice is yours. Although a venue may allow you to sit back and relax just a little bit more, a party at home can be just as much fun. While you’re celebrating your little one, remember to choose an option that seems manageable to you and your family.
If you do choose to host at home, consider the following factors:
Preparing the space
Your home will likely already be baby-proofed for your little one, but take some time to have a look over the house with fresh eyes to minimise any hazards for new and curious guests. Lock baby gates or shut doors to any rooms that will be off-limits during party time.
Before the party, you could ask your little one which toys they’re happy to share and which “special toys” you might want to put away. Keeping your child’s favourite playthings out of the picture could help prevent tantrums or arguments around sharing toys.
How many children to invite should be based on how big your home is, how many adults will be around to supervise, how your child behaves in large groups and of course your budget. You could start by deciding on a maximum that you feel comfortable with and setting this as the limit before you ask your little one who they’d like to invite. There’s no need to have a huge celebration this year; if your toddler only wants one or two friends over, that’s fine! If they’d like ten or more and you have the adult support to manage this number, that’s fine too.
If you’re unsure who to invite, you could chat to staff at your child’s playgroup/daycare to ask who your little one seems to get along with. If there are any parents you’ve clicked with, you could try inviting their children and even offer the parent the chance to stay for the party and share a cuppa with you while you keep an eye on the fun.
Making invitations could be a fun activity to do with your toddler. Get crafty with whichever art supplies you prefer – glitter, coloured paper, non-toxic paint, markers… whatever you and your little one enjoy! You could help your little one hand these out to their friends or the parents of friends; remember to include your RSVP details for parents.
With children around this age, one to two hours is probably enough time for a party. Consider the lifestyles of your invitee’s parents; do the other toddlers still need an afternoon nap? Do they have older children that require pick up from school? Consider an early afternoon time slot that works for you and your guests.
Presents and party bags
Presents and party bags are entirely optional! If you’d prefer to address presents in the invitation, you can write something along the lines of “No presents, please” or “Presents optional.” Otherwise, you can leave this up to your guests' discretion. It may be a good idea not to hype up the idea of presents from guests to your little one.
Providing party bags is totally up to you. If you’d like to get a bit crafty and put together some little bags with treats or toys for each child to take home, it could be a nice gesture or memory. Please remember that there is no expectation to provide these, throwing a party is fun enough!
Depending on the time of your party, you may not need to provide much food. Consider small, easy to eat snacks, and include healthy options like carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes. Check with parents about allergies beforehand, and try to let them know what type of food will be provided in case they want to give their child a big feed at home.
Around age three, children can often entertain themselves for a while with free play. Though if you want to structure the party a bit more, consider short and engaging games. A few easy options that help develop their motor skills include pass the parcel, musical statues, and Simon says.
They grow up so fast, right? Enjoy watching your three-year-old have fun on this special day. A party is a nice way to make them feel appreciated and celebrated, but the best gift of all is your love and affection! Happy birthday to your little one.