Kid-Tested Toddler Birthday Party Activities

2 kids blowing bubbles
Image via Mindi Stavish

I truly love planning children's birthday parties, from the decorations to the games. Months ahead of my kids' birthdays, I start obsessively searching Pinterest and various blogs for ideas. Older kids seem easier to me – it's the toddler parties that stump me as far as striking a balance between planning too many games and having just enough. So I polled other parents for ideas for successful toddler games.  

{ MORE: What Does a Balanced Diet For a Toddler Look Like? }

Check out these great ideas, and share your own in the comments!

1.    Movement games

Image via Flickr/ Ryan Dickey

Many parents suggested games that get their little party guests moving. Among the favorites were hot potato, bean bag toss, freeze dance, and musical chairs. Katie Rosenbeach, mom of two girls, used 5-gallon paint buckets she bought at Walmart for the chairs, and the kids loved it. 

2.  Crafts

toddler crafts
Image via Mindi Stavish

Since toddlers have short attention spans, I found that keeping the craft simple is key. Also, having older kids be the craft helpers really helps move things along. For summer parties, lay out large pieces of paper and let the little ones paint with finger paints.

Image via Samantha Chase
Image via Samantha Chase

When they are done, you can hose them off for water play. If you're not the super crafty type, you can always print out some coloring sheets and create a coloring station with crayons and stickers. 

{ MORE: It's Okay Not to Throw a Birthday Party for Your Baby }

3.  Treasure Hunt

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Image via Flickr/KidsBirthdayParties
Image via Flickr/ KidsBirthdayParties

Treasure hunts with the little ones are definitely possible! It's up to you how to structure it, from the simple to the more involved. You can even use picture clues and guide them through on their hunt. 

Hide small toys in a huge bin of rice and have the kids search for them. Or place small trinkets into Easter eggs and hide outside or around the house. 

easter egg hunt
Image via Mindi Stavish

It always amazes me how excited kids get when they are searching for stuff.

4.     Sensory Activities

dinosaurs
Image via Flickr/ emmacraig1

Sarah Evans, blogger at It's a Vol, threw a dinosaur-themed party and set up a fossil dig. She used a big tub full of small animal bedding, plastic shovels and rakes, and little plastic dinosaurs. The kids had a blast searching for the dinosaurs. 

{ MORE: 5 Tips for the Best Family-Friendly New Year's Eve Celebration Ever! }

Depending on the season, make a corn-starch and shaving-cream mixture and place it in a water table. You can also use this mixture to make balls, which then you can have kids play with in a kiddie pool. 

5.  Let Out That Energy

Image via Shannon Staker
Image via Shannon Staker

Instead of a piñata, try this fun Punch-a-Box activity. Use a tri-fold cardboard display and cut evenly spaced five-inch holes in it. Place smaller boxes over the holes and fill each with a prize, and then cover with tissue paper in the front. When party time comes, let the kids punch them out.  

{ MORE: Preschool Prep: 5 Tips to Get Your Tot Ready For School }

What toddler party activities have you tried?

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Kid-Tested Toddler Birthday Party Activities

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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