Is your little one celebrating a birthday soon? Thinking about throwing a party but nervous about picking the perfect theme, party favors, food, entertainment, and/or venue? Whether it’s your first time entertaining dozens of kids half your height for hours, or are looking for some fresh ideas and helpful tips, we’re here to help.
Planning a party for the three- to five-year-old set can be a challenge. Some kids are active and independent enough that a series of games and activities that kindergartners would love are suitable, while others are shy and still cling to their parents’ side, unsure of what to expect when facing a crowd. We recently sat down with party-planner Linda Kaye of Partymakers and “mommy blogger” Catherine McCord of Weelicious — both highly experienced when it comes to creating exciting and memorable parties for all ages — to discuss navigating the preschool party scene and what the essential components of a successful party are.
1. Theme or No Theme?
When planning a party for kids, using a theme to inspire and guide the activities and menu is helpful — but it’s not always necessary as long enough as you have enough going on says McCord. “I love featuring activity “stations” at parties.” For example, put out cupcakes and let kids ice and decorate their own with candies. “Kids just want to have fun at a party and as long as you provide something to do or watch, they'll be thrilled.”
If you're set on a theme, Kaye advises keeping it simple for the three- to five-year-old set, like the ever-popular teddy bear picnic. “Little ones love to bring something that they’re comfortable with along them to a party,” she adds. Kids bring their bears, and all you need to do is set up a picnic table or blanket, serve teddy bear-shaped food and desserts, and have story time as a part of the party (and play the song, of course). Carnival and luau themes are also popular when the weather is warm.
2. When Should the Party Start?
Keep the party short and sweet to ensure your youngsters don't get overstimulated (and tired). McCord finds that two hours is ideal (“take that from a mom who goes to her fair share of parties,” she adds), and Kaye agrees. “You want to plan the party around nap times and feeding schedules,” Kaye adds. “Parties are a great way to start or end the day — I’ve found that parties that run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or three to five p.m. are most preferable,” adds McCord.