Monday, February 28, 2011

Planning a Toddler Elmo Birthday Party

Cali loves and I do mean loves Elmo!  There isn't a day that goes by where she isn't begging to watch Elmo.  So when her 2nd birthday came around it was clear what the theme was going to be.

I knew I wanted a personalized photo invitation with Elmo on it.  I checked Wal-Mart, Snapfish, etc and couldn't find one I liked.  So I turned to Etsy - score!  I found these adorable Elmo and Abby invitations.

Last year I wanted to spend money on a cute first birthday dress but decided against it.  I found a much cheaper option but in the end regretted not getting what I originally wanted.  This time I found a dress I wanted and got it even though it was more than I normally spend on clothes.  We got her this adorable Elmo dress from Etsy.  She loves it so much she actually hugged it when I took it out of the bag.

While Disney is much better at marketing its products - a Mickie Mouse party or Princess theme would be super easy to decorate for.   But you can find Sesame Street items,  it just isn't as easy.  I found cute items at the Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Wal-Mart.   I also picked up some balloons from the drug store the day of.   I made a slide show of pictures of Cali over the past 2 years that ran throughout the party using iMovie.  Since Cali's birthday is after Valentine's day I racked up on 50-75% off Valentine's Day items.  I got good table clothes for $.75 and a pack of 5 treat bags for $.25!

Cupcakes are the way to go with toddlers.  The size is just right and they love having their "own" cake.  I found Elmo cupcake wrappers at Hobby Lobby.  I decided to go with the wrappers instead of cake toppers - less work.
Since the party involved adults and kids I had a variety of foods available.  Chips and dip, veggies and dip, cheese ball with crackers, gold fish, cake balls and cupcakes.

You have to consider nap time when planning a party.  You don't want your little birthday girl/boy cranky at their own party because they should be napping!  Morning or lunch time are pretty safe times.  Also consider the guest list - do you have people that will be driving a good distance to attend your party?  If so first thing in the morning doesn't work.  We decided on 9am-11am.  This way we could party around snack time and everyone could do what they needed for lunch and get home in time for nap.

If you have at least one toddler you need a safe place for them to investigate and destroy.  We held our party at our church office which is a big, open store front.  This allows the kids to run around and not damage too much.

At this young age doing organized games doesn't work.  I set up different areas to entertain the kids.  I had a TV playing Sesame street, I had a craft area with foam stickers and crayons, and I had a toy area.  This allowed the kids to float between the areas as they pleased.
The play area had toys and Sesame Street playing on a TV

The craft area had coloring books, stickers, and crayons.
Goody Bags
We had kids ages 2 to 6 at the party.  I found sticker books and coloring books on sale.  The sticker books were specific to the kids.  Examples: Cars for the boys, Princesses for the young girls, and Barbie for the older girls.  Except for the 2 older girls (they got spelling activity books) everyone else got an Elmo Birthday Party coloring book.  I also grabbed some 50% off Valentine's Day chocolate for the bags.  All total I had $1.50 in each child's goody bag!

Random Tips

  • Have someone (not mom or dad) assigned to take pictures.  This will allow you the freedom to mingle with your guests without worrying about taking a picture of something cute the kids are doing.
  • Assign someone to write down who gave what gifts (again not mom or dad).  Thank you notes may be tedious but they are appreciated.
  • Be prepared for tears.  They are toddlers - someone will get hurt or throw a fit.  It happens.  
  • Most important - RELAX!  If you make it too complicated you will be stressed and not be able to enjoy the day. 

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