Let’s all admit together that we went over the top for that first birthday and probably spent way too much money.
The next few years, we continually learned more lessons on how to be experts in throwing a kid birthday.
I have now attended enough little kid birthday parties to know how to royally screw up your party. In this article, I’ll help you learn the best ways to ruin a birthday so you can avoid being “that” parent.
Having a Bad Friend to Family Ratio
I understand that you might not know a lot of toddlers but seriously, unless you know a person really well, please do not put them through having to socialize with all of your family. At least make sure there is one other family there who isn’t part of your family.
I have been in this situation a few times. It is awful. At two birthdays, we were the only people outside of family. It felt like we were crashing. Additionally, it was hard for my kid to join in on the fun since the other kids knew each other so well (aka cousins and siblings).
Letting Your Child Pick the Guest List
Once your kid gets older, they might start to have some opinions about who they want at their party. This is where you are the good parent and you teach them some social lessons.
One family in our friend group let their son pick the guest list. He was adamant that one of the little girls couldn’t come even though she had invited him to her party. They felt they couldn’t make him because they had told him he got to pick the guest list.
Do not give your child this power. They are not old enough to be picking their guest list all by themselves. Some parent input is necessary. You want to teach them that we include everyone. I think the only time to limit is when you are doing a little party where space is limited, like a gymnastics party.
Having the party mid-day.
I still can’t figure out why some people do this. I don’t understand why 1 pm would ever be a good time for a party. First, mid-day is prime nap time and if your child is old enough where they aren’t napping, consider people with littler siblings.
And honestly, my kid is still a fuss mid-day even though she doesn’t nap. She absolutely needs downtime then.
Additionally, it is peak heat of the day. I always want to instantly RSVP “no” to any summer birthday that starts after 11 am. If you really don’t want a morning party, then stick to a 3 pm start time.
Also, why in the world would you schedule your party to be during your child’s nap time? We went to a party for a 3-year-old who was so tired. She was zoned out for most of it. Her mom kept saying this is usually her nap time. It took everything to not ask, then why did you schedule her birthday during nap time?
Having no Rain Date or Location
Before you send out invites, picking a rain date or a rain location is a must. Our friends didn’t consider this and last minute had to email out a change of location. They switched it to their place which was WAY too small to have a party at.
They felt they couldn’t cancel or change the date because they had waited until last minute. It was such an uncomfortable birthday party.
A good rule of thumb is if you really want to use that location and it won’t cost you extra, have a rain date. If you can host a party at your house, then I recommend always doing that as it is so much cheaper and you can always have a rain date. Or use your house as the rain location.
Just have a plan in place before invites go out and simply add a line to the invites such as “Rain date is Sunday, will provide notice on Friday.”
Not Having an Activity
It is so easy to forget this when you are hosting a party for super little ones. Let’s be honest, that first birthday is for you. You survived your first year of parenthood! However, even those brand-new tots need entertainment.
Host your party at a playground or have lots of baby toys (musical instruments, kid kitchen items, balls, and stuffed animals) in baskets on the floor so play time can happen.
Other great ideas for older toddlers or preschoolers is to have a fun theme and an arts and craft project. In the summer, a sprinkler, water table or kid pool in the backyard is also an awesome way to go. Recently we attended a birthday for a preschooler, and they rented a bounce house. That was a huge hit and was surprisingly pretty reasonable.
Toys that aren’t easily shared
This one was our mistake. For our kid’s 2nd birthday, a friend brought her a big bouncy ball. We originally put it inside. However, at some point during our party we thought it was a good idea to bring it out.
Kids ran to it like it was the only thing in our whole backyard. Mind you, at this party, we had a play structure, water table, arts and crafts and a sprinkler. Kids were all wrestling over this one ball, which ended up with one kid getting hurt and others in lots of tears.
If possible, put away most of your kids’ toys and stick to ones that can be easily shared. It might also be a good idea to do a round with your kid and have them pick toys that they don’t want to share. You want your kid to be happy at their party, not losing it over sharing.
Taking Forever to Do Cake
I will never understand people who forget that everyone at the party also has children. These children (your party guests) might be on a different nap schedule or have a younger sibling who might only be able to hang in there for a few hours at max.
My absolute biggest pet peeve for birthdays is taking forever to do the cake. At the absolute latest, you should be cutting and serving that cake at the 2-hour mark. Once kids are turning 3, there is no way to leave before cake. Kids know by that point that a birthday means that special song, candles and cake.
Be considerate to your guests and don’t make them wait forever for cake.
Making the Guests Watch Your Child Open Every Single Present
I understand having your kid open presents. It is part of the traditional birthday party. However, when they are a toddler, they are slow at this. At least help them out if you are going to make everyone else (toddlers also) sit and watch.
Most of the birthdays we go to this isn’t an issue. We went to one where not only did we all have to sit and watch a 3-year old open every present from the guests, but also from mom and dad. She had five presents from mom and dad. Additionally, her mom wanted her to open each one. She didn’t help because she wanted her to open her own presents. So, we watched her struggle with each one and opening every present took around 5 minutes.
Kids don’t sit still for long and they aren’t getting presents, only the birthday kid is.
Requiring Presents to Attend
This is a personal opinion, but I just know that not everyone has the budget to get gifts. I would hate for someone to not attend a birthday just because they don’t want to bring a present. Honestly, at this age, my child doesn’t even realize or have the expectation that she needs presents or gets presents at birthday parties.
Not considering your kid’s personality
My oldest spent her entire 2nd birthday screaming her head off. It was an absolute disaster. She was in a phase where she hated crowds. She did best when there were only a few kids around. We did a backyard birthday and had aabout 60 people over.
Now looking back, we should have had two smaller get togethers or even just a really small get together with just her closest friends.
Or honestly, we could have skipped a friend birthday that year and just did a family birthday. We definitely had the birthday for us more than her. We learned our lesson and are trying to make sure the birthday fits her each year.
Pursue a perfect birthday party Today
The absolute best birthdays I have attended are usually the simplest and cheapest. Keep the food easy. Order pizza and get a cake. Backyards or playgrounds make great places to host a birthday. Keep kids entertained with a simple arts and craft project.
Avoid mid-day, don’t make people wait forever on cake and consider helping your kid open presents if they are struggling.
Lastly, remember to get some awesome pictures. After all, you are celebrating another wonderful and crazy year of parenthood.