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Toddler Birthday Party Ideas

5 Budget-Friendly Party Themes for Toddlers

Two cute brothers enjoying colorful world

With so many trendy options for children’s birthday parties, it can be difficult to throw a party that will satisfy a backyard full of pint-sized, potty-training toddlers and won’t break the bank. The first rule to any Toddler Birthday Party is to remember: all kids that age are more excited about the plastic spoons than they are the extravagant five-tier cake you spent two days making. So before you turn your backyard into the Taj Mahal (with a price tag to match) let us help you find budget-friendly alternatives.


Princess/Super Hero Parties

There is no doubt that you have glass slippers and capes haunting your dreams right now. That is one of the many perks of toddler parenting. Even though you’re well aware that they may not remember their early years, you still want to make their birthday special. Cut your budget by making your own crafts.

For a princess party, craft a paper stone walkway using construction paper, leading to a billowing tower you made from painting and securing cardboard boxes. One box high should be tall enough. (I mean c’mon, they’re only two feet tall.) Give the tower double windows for them to look out onto their kingdom and await their prince (a seemingly shy boy hanging out by the juice boxes).

If your little super-hero has a birthday coming up, make a cardboard city for him to protect! Fashion capes out of materials from your local craft store for all of the guests. Creating these crafts on your own instead of spending hundreds of dollars on them will not only give you lasting memories and a sense of accomplishment, it will save you so much money that you can afford to have a Princess or Super-Hero make a surprise guest appearance at your party!


Have a Circus

There is no need to bring elephants and acrobats to this party. Think small scale entertainment. Don’t worry about spending money on expensive, themed decorations with lions and batons in front of circus tents. Your child won’t know what that means. Instead, opt for a simple red, white, and yellow theme. Frost your cupcakes with red and white icing and arrange them into coordinating stripes, top them off with tiny yellow flags made from toothpicks and card stock. Create your own Kissing Booth and Puppet Show stage using cardboard boxes and craft paint. There will be so much to do that toddlers can run free and have a good time. Hire a Face Painter to make it an extra special event, just be sure to keep the wet wipes handy.


Dance Party

It is a well-known, undisputed fact that toddlers love to dance and parents love to watch. Hire a Children’s Musician for a birthday celebration that will keep a smile on everyone’s face. Since it’s a Dance Party and the center of the party is music, you don’t really need a theme. So go to your local super store and grab whatever mix-matched party supplies are on clearance and arrange all your colorful supplies on a white table cloth to bring it all together. Give your cake a music theme and congratulations, you’ve totally nailed this party. As a sweet little bonus, those party animals are going to crash for the best nap they’ve ever had, leaving you plenty of quiet time to clean up and respond to the many “Best Party Ever” texts you will undoubtedly get.


Sensory Party

If your tiny guests are in the early stages of exploring, consider throwing a party centered around helping them explore. Find large, shallow clear bins at your local supply store. Fill them with different textures and colors. Shaving cream, sand, water, marbles, anything you can think of. Station them in an area that will be easy to clean, hand out plastic art jackets and let them go to town. After all the sensory exploring has been explored, the cake has been eaten, and the presents have been opened, hire a Story Teller to surprise them with a few books about what they’ve learned.


Variety Show

If your child has an excitement for a multitude of activities and interests, create a Variety Show party. Find a location that you can set up a homemade stage, complete with curtains you fashioned with fabric found on sale (score!) and nylon rope strung from trees in the back yard. Make it a grand stage by putting out an area rug (that’s right, an area rug in your yard), then make a popcorn snack to pass out to all the guests in decorated, rolled down, brown paper bags. Hire your very own Variety Entertainer to put on a skit and let those toddlers laugh the day away at their very own live show.


No matter what your budget is, it is always possible to have an extra special party. With a little hard work and some creativity, use your budget savvy to make the best party of the year and  still have enough left over to treat yourself. You’ll need it! Make your child’s birthday one you will all remember and include some birthday traditions. To see a few of our favorite traditions, see our First Birthday Traditions.

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Just because you've learned how to walk doesn't mean you're old enough to plan your own birthday party, lil' tike! We know your birthday is important to you, but maybe you should hand over the computer to mommy and daddy and let them take care of the plannin'. Now the only work you have to do is sit back in your car seat, eat your cheerios, look cute, and wait for your ultimate birthday bash to begin!
Make Parties for Toddlers and Younger Children Short, Sweet and Busy

Birthday parties for younger children can be pretty simple to plan. At this age, your child does not yet really understand the concept of a birthday party so you will not have to worry about meeting their demands or disappointing them by not meeting their 'expectations'. But due to the age, you do have the challenge of keeping your little one and the other young guests thoroughly entertained. There are several things to think about when planning a toddler's birthday party and GigSalad is here to help you every step of the way.

Keeping The Little Ones Entertained

There are several options you can choose when coming up with the activities and entertainment for your toddler's birthday party. You may choose to plan games or activities and then conduct them on your own, or you can hire a professional to come in and entertain the children. Hiring an entertainer to perform for the children or mingle in the crowd can be affordable; it's not (always) as expensive as you might think. For example, consider hiring a clown or a magician to entertain the crowd. If the theme you've chosen includes a popular cartoon character or super hero, it would be a great idea to have that costumed character make an appearance at the party! Or perhaps bring in some face painters or balloon artists to interact with the children. Balloon twisters make for great entertainment for your child's birthday party because they also provide balloon animals as keepsakes for the guests! If your budget and location choice allows, there are a lot of bigger, more extravagant ideas for your toddler's party. If your party is going to be outdoors and you have lots of room you can have carnival games or set up inflatable rides or bounce houses! Another fun idea, since most kids are animal lovers, would be to bring in a petting zoo! Finding just the right entertainment is key!

Start By Answering the Basics: Who, What, When, Where?

Before planning the details of what will actually take place at your toddler's birthday, you need to figure out the basics. Who is invited? If your toddler attends a daycare, you should invite the other children from the class. You should invite your family members and friends especially those with children that they can bring along. If your toddler is shy, you might want to avoid bringing in too many people that they are not familiar with. You do not want them spending the day being scared and uncomfortable. Next you should decide on a decorating theme. What cartoons or toys is your toddler into? All major cartoon characters are now plastered all over tableware, balloons and party favors. You can also go with a more generic theme such as animals or sports. Or perhaps a princess party, pirate party, or super hero party.

Once you decide on a theme, it should be easy to come across the appropriate party decor and most kids party decorations are also pretty inexpensive. The last two pieces are when and where. Remember that toddlers get cranky when sleepy, so do not plan the party around regular nap times. And you will want to keep the party fairly short so that they don't lose interest and get restless. As for the location, the most popular choice is usually your own home. Of course, the number of people invited will factor into your decision. If the party is taking place on a warm, sunny day you might want to have the party in your backyard. Or go to a local park. There may also be a local venue or play place you could hold the party if you do not wish to have it in your home. Once you've put all the basic information together you will want to get the invitations out! You could buy generic invitations or, for much larger parties with larger budgets you may have an invitation printer create some unique invitations that match the theme you've chosen. Another fun idea would be to sit down with your toddler and have an arts and crafts day and have them help make homemade invitations. Your child's young guests will get a real kick out of that!

Cake and Goodies

The only thing kids might like more than games and toys is sweets! So having a nice big cake is very important! You can bake a cake yourself or have a cake designed at a bakery that matches your party theme perfectly. Of course, cake does not make for a very well balance meal, so you will probably want to provide real food as well. You can hire a caterer or handle the food on your own. Even if your party time lands between meals, it is a good idea to provide snacks and refreshments. If you do plan to have the party around a meal time, plan for it to be a sit down meal. Toddler's do not really understand the idea of a buffet and the party could get pretty chaotic if you give children full access to all the food and let them run around with their own plates. Have a time for everyone to sit down and eat before allowing presents to be opened or entertainment to begin. If your party is outdoors, a fun idea would be to set up blankets and sit down for a picnic. Choose simple foods like hot dogs or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Remember, this is a toddler's birthday party!

As a parent, another thing you'll definitely not want to forget is pictures! If you want to experience all the little moments with your child and not worry about capturing them through a lens, then you may want to consider hiring a photographer for the party. Having lots of pictures is very important! This is not an age that many children will remember, so it will be really fun for them to look back at the pictures of this party when they are older.

These are just a few of MANY wonderful toddler birthday party ideas! Every child is unique, so make sure that the party you are planning is special to your little one. If you are too busy or feel that all this might be too much to take on, you can always hire a party planner to do it for you. However, with the right resources, you CAN do it yourself and have fun doing it. GigSalad is here to help you every step of the way as your one stop shop for all your toddler birthday party planning needs.