Parties for toddlers can be a lot of fun, but they are different than parties for older kids. Toddlers are still babies in many ways, and large numbers of them can be difficult to manage. Here are some tips on how you can throw a fun toddler party.

Invite Just a Few Guests

Keeping the number of guests low is not just to save your sanity; it’s also a safety issue. Unless you plan to have multiple caregivers at the party, stick with no more than six guests. Toddlers can get into trouble in the blink of an eye, and with a large number of them it’s easy to lose track of their whereabouts.

One idea is to have most of the parents stay. There can be activities for the toddlers, but the parents can get some visiting in and there will be plenty of eyes and hands to make sure the little guests stay safe.

Time of Day

Toddler parties need to be scheduled around naps if possible. Usually toddlers have only one nap in the afternoon. Even after naps, some toddlers get tired and cranky in the evening hours, too. Late morning is a good time to have a toddler party, and if you like, you can serve lunch and send the guests home right about nap time.

Some good time slots for toddler parties are from 9am-11am, 10am-12pm (sending everyone home for lunch), or 11am-1pm. Two hours is usually plenty of time for a toddler party.

Games

What kind of games do you have at a toddler party? Games with winners and losers are generally best avoided – these can result in hurt feelings, as toddlers really don’t understand the concept of that kind of competition yet. Consider games with music, which most toddlers love. Here are some other ideas:

* Dancing with ribbons – give each toddler a scarf or ribbon on a stick to wave and swirl to music. Turn the music off periodically and have them “freeze,” then start dancing again. You can have specific dances, too, that involve everyone in a circle or weaving in and out of the circle with their scarves and ribbons.

* Crafts are fun for toddlers. Have a simple craft that everyone can make and take home. There are all kinds of resources for toddler craft ideas on the internet, from gluing googly eyes on various objects to homemade puppets!

* Guess the animal – have everyone get in a circle, then the adult draws an animal name from a hat and whispers it to the toddler whose turn it is. Then that toddler acts out the animal in the middle of the circle. The first one to guess the animal gets to go next.

* Weather permitting, have some fun in the water. Set out containers of water and a bunch of empty cups, watering cans, and bottles and let them pour and play. A plastic wading pool can be included, but it should not have more than a few inches of water in it.

Themes

You can choose a theme for the party if you like. Some people find this makes the party easier to plan. Some themes that toddlers tend to enjoy include:

* Trains
* Dogs/Cats
* Jungle/Safari
* Water Fun

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