planning your childs birthday partyThe first birthday is generally a grand affair on our sunny island of Singapore. And why not? Those first twelve months will have stretched you physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually in more ways than one, and such a journey is worth celebrating!

As your child progresses to his second, third, fourth year of life, he’ll become more aware of his surroundings, the people in his life, and begin to have friends. For a start, those friends will, by default, be the kids of your friends, whom he meets on play dates or at play group. Gradually, as he moves on to kindergarten, he’ll begin to be more selective in ‘choosing’ who his friends are, and maybe even have a best friend or two!

Planning a party for your toddler that involves all these little ones can pose quite a challenge. Besides crowd control, you’ll have to think about what food to serve (since they would all be onto solids now), games to play and goodie bags to give. Even deciding on a time for the party can be a headache when everyone takes naps at different times of the day!

Here are some suggestions:

1. Go by your child’s schedule

Let’s face it, you can’t please everyone. And while you definitely want to make sure his best buddy can make the birthday bash, you don’t have to accommodate every potential guests’ nap times – it’s just not possible.

In general, most toddlers will take an afternoon nap soon after lunch, so you can consider hosting a brunch or late afternoon-tea party. Most importantly, arrange it such that it’s during a time slot when your child seems most energetic and engaged, because it’s his day after all.

2. Get your child involved

Just like any major event, your child needs some forewarning in order to enjoy his special day to the fullest. Do include him in as much of the planning and preparations as you can, so that he knows what to expect – and likes it!

Have fun DIY-ing some party décor, like a string of bunting, the invites or making of the birthday cake. You’re not just preparing for a party – you’re building memories for life!

3. Parents are welcome!

Do ensure that your adult-child ratio is as least 1:1. Toddlers are apt to have mood swings and petty fights, among other things, and having enough parents around to watch over the kids is essential to party success. And besides, a party is a great opportunity to catch up with your peers as well!

4. Finger foods are a favourite

Stick to simple finger foods and leave the caviar and steak for another occasion. Sandwiches, hot dogs, chips and dip, and pizza are some easy-to-eat treats for all ages. Little hands will get sticky and messy, leaving marks and crumbs in their wake – but that’s to be expected. Just reserve some energy for the big clean-up after.

presents5. Games to play

Don’t expect two, three or even four year olds to play complex games that involve multiple instructions or quick witted-ness. Go for games that are simple to explain and demonstrate (Simon says, Pass the parcel), involve some physical movement (Musical chairs, Step on the newspaper, Treasure hunts) and get everyone involved at the same time. Have some exciting prizes on hand to motivate participation, but do remember to prepare consolation ones as well, so that no one finishes empty handed. Toddlers are notoriously competitive.

6. Take-home treats

Goodie packs for the guests add a nice touch to any event. Simple, generic gifts that fit your party theme can be sourced for in advance. They’ll bring a smile to every guests’ face, and serve as a clever prop to signal to everyone that the party is over and it’s time to go home.

By Dorothea Chow