If you are arranging a dress up party for your toddlers birthday, we feel for you... which is why we have put together a guide to help you through it.
Think of it as the calm before the storm! Toddlers can be super cute mini humans. They can also be hideous, uncontrollable, destructive and repulsive.
And if you are planning a party for one, proceed with caution...
Toddler + party food + cake + more cake + games + enforced sharing = tantrum, stomping, squawking, screeching, VIOLENCE.
HOME OR AWAY
The key to effective toddler party control is keeping them busy. If you're confident that you possess the necessary skills to keep a group of very excitable and inquisitive small people occupied for the duration of the party, then entertaining at home shouldn't be a problem. Devise a few good games and activities and you're sorted. If, however, you have a short fuse, limited imagination and you know what's good for you, get out of the house.
There's a whole world of entertainment out there for the partying toddler. Soft play centers are always a great bet. If you can get your head around the fact that millions of other toddlers have touched, licked and dribbled over the equipment (and quite possibly worse), a soft play session allows you to relax a little bit, safe in the knowledge that your three-year-old is having the best time EVER. Summer birthdays lend themselves to picnic parties in the park if you can find a fenced in playground, even better - and most local leisure centers have a decent menu of party possibilities for pre-school kids. If you want to bring the entertainment to you, expect to pay upwards of $200 for a crazy clown or energetic ex-stage school entertainer with a generous collection of percussion instruments.
The toddler years mark the beginning of a human's general obsession with dressing up. So a themed party can work quite well. Among the most popular toddler costumes for boys is a good old fashioned pirate outfit. A superhero rarely falls out of fashion amongst the toddler set, Especially in this Batman costume. And for the little girls, a princess is always going to get the most toddling female votes, and this Elsa costume is one of the most popular.
If you're heading down the DIY route consider the toddler granny. All this look really requires is a good grey wig, although a walking frame finishes it off rather brilliantly. The Hannibal Lecter look is also genius, if a tad distasteful. But you can't go wrong with an Oompa Loompa.
You can be certain that everyone who rocks up to your toddler party will bring a gift. In terms of toy quality, the toddling years represent everything that is truly awful about childrens toys. Deluded parents of toddlers will buy their little ones tasteful wooden toys hoping to distract them from the gaudy world of plastic. But most fail. Almost every toddling human desires a big pink pushchair or giant blue plastic train set. Avoid a plastic invasion by tactfully making tasteful present request pre-party. Drop hints about how much little Alfie ADORES reading books and how Jemima longs to expand her vintage doll collection.
If you are preparing a toddler buffet at home, always include the obligatory plate of slice cucumber and carrot wedges. Its unlikely they'll get eaten but you'll definitely impress the other mothers with this token healthy eating gesture. Mini sandwiches (crusts cut off) are a nice touch. But basically all toddlers want to do is eat biscuits. And cake. In huge amounts. Until they're sick, on your furniture.
What to do if you take a violent dislike to one of your toddler guests. Its a tricky one. It's a biological fact that children between the ages of two and four are finely tuned into the art of being as naughty as possible. This boundary-testing phase of childhood also demands plenty of poking, biting, scratching and biting. And very often try as you might, there's very little you can do as a parent to prevent these most primeval of toddler urges. As a result what start out as a cute pre-school party can quickly become a riot. Social etiquette says we should refrain from disciplining other peoples children in public but what happens when baby Damian chews a lump out of your child's ear at the birthday bash - react with the utmost restraint, in a children's TV presenters voice. Making the mental note to never invite them over again.