Birthday Parties for Preschoolers

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    By: ActivityTree

    Your baby is now a big preschooler and you are thinking it’s time to throw a real birthday party. One with other preschoolers, games, cake . . . the whole shebang.  It’s a little scary, right? Don’t worry. Just follow these simple suggestions to create a memorable birthday event for you and your preschooler.

    A Party At Home
    If you don’t mind the prep and clean-up, a party at home can be a great option. Simply abide by the following guidelines.  First, keep the guests to a minimum.  Most homes can only safely hold 4-5 preschoolers before you begin risking injury (and sanity).  This is not the time to teach your child a lesson about including everyone.  If you feel strongly that you should invite more than 5 people, I recommend hosting your event at a birthday party venue. 

    Second, limit the party to 1 ½ hours.  Preschoolers’ attention spans are limited.  I have attended many preschooler birthday parties that were scheduled for 2 or more hours.  Inevitably the first 1 ½ goes smoothly and then chaos starts to ensue.  Stick to this rough schedule and avoid unnecessary stress on yourself and guests. 

         Arrivals:            5-10 minutes
         Entertainment:  40 minutes
         Cake:              20 minutes
         Presents:         15 minutes
         Departures:      5-10 minutes

    Present opening can be a trouble spot as preschoolers don’t find joy in watching other children receive new toys.  Expedite the gift opening portion of the party by asking the guest’s parents to skip a card and/or forego wrapping paper.  Gift bags are easily accessible and keep things moving along.

    Third, keep it simple.  Your child will have plenty of birthday parties.  There is really no need to set the bar too high on your first attempt.  I can almost guaranty your 3 year old will not appreciate the time and effort spent in creating a full sized, custom made pirate boat, pirate outfits and custom made pirate themed pirate music CD.  Cool ideas?  Yes.  But unnecessary and certain to lead to added stress and exhaustion.

    Finally, consider bringing in professional entertainment.  Jumpers, face painters, balloon artists, costumed super heroes or princesses are all great options.  If you choose to provide the entertainment yourself, keep it simple!  Think piñata, balloon games or hokey pokey.  Even treasure hunts and pin the tail on the donkey can be too complex for preschoolers.  Another sanity saving suggestion, avoid art projects other than simple coloring. A group of preschoolers and craft supplies such as markers, glue or sparkles are a risky combination. 

    A Party Away from Home
    Party venues offer a lower stress alternative for your preschooler’s first birthday.  No pre or post clean up, built in entertainment and help wrangling the little darlings . . . need I say more!? You may think hosting your event at a party venue is “too much” for a preschool birthday party.  However, the additional effort required to direct and manage preschoolers may make it even more appropriate for their age group.    In addition, party venues provide the additional space and entertainment necessary to accommodate a larger group of preschoolers.  Feel free to invite your child’s whole class. 

    Certain venues are better than others for preschoolers.  Consider a gymnastics provider who typically offers toddler gymnastics classes.  Gymnastics venues not only offer a variety of activities to keep the children entertained, but they often come complete with a teacher who directs the party.  Inflatable party places (a.k.a. jumper gyms) are another great choice.   However, be prepared for the inevitable bump on the head. 

    You may also consider hosting your party at a local park or an ice cream parlor.  Local zoos, nature centers and children’s museums have age-appropriate games and educational activities included in their birthday party packages. Avoid amusement parks, bowling alleys, roller rinks and arcades at this age.  Save these gems until your munchkin turns 6 or older.  Regardless of the venue you choose, try to keep your event to 1 ½ hours.  There is nothing wrong with leaving them asking for more.

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