toddler party planning

In a mere two and a half weeks, my little baby girl is going to be 2 years old. That alone is sort of mind-boggling, but I’ll leave that topic for a different post. For now, let’s talk about the thing that’s been occupying the majority of my brain space this weekend: the birthday party.

Under normal circumstances, I would think that it’s a bit silly and self-indulgent to have a huge party for a 2 year-old who isn’t old enough to understand or care that it’s her birthday, and who won’t even remember the party a year from now. For Catie’s first birthday, we had a mini-party that consisted of the three of us and some cupcakes. It felt like a party would’ve been more for us than for her, so we didn’t have one.

However, soon after we moved into this neighborhood and Catie started to get acquainted with the kids who live around here, they all started asking me when her birthday was, and what kind of party she was going to have. Um…? I guess it makes sense, nothing is a bigger deal than a birthday when you’re a little kid (except maybe Christmas). But since I was talking to little kids – who, let’s face it, don’t have much of a sense of tact – it quickly became obvious that they all expect to be invited to Catie’s birthday party. Hmm.

Here are the problems I’m facing:
(a) our guest list consists of about 12-15 kids, plus their parents – I know that probably seems like a ridiculous amount, but that’s actually leaving out some of the kids that we don’t know that well or who very rarely play with Catie. These kids range in age anywhere from one to 12 years old. Yikes.
(b) Catie’s birthday is on January 27th. Late January is typically not the best time of year for an outdoor party, so inviting the kids over for a big backyard shindig isn’t really an option.
(c) I don’t want all those kids (plus their parents) in my house. It’s too much, I would be ridiculously overwhelmed.

So that leaves me with only one option that I can see, and that’s to have the party somewhere else. After much investigation, we’re thinking about having it at Chick-Fil-A; it’s relatively cheap, there’s an enclosed play area, and they handle pretty much everything for you. They provide meals for each kid, decor (plates, hats, cups, etc.) based on the theme you choose (I don’t think Wonder Pets party supplies exist, so I’m torn between Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine, Catie’s other two favorites), balloons, cake, ice cream, everything. Oh, plus we get a visit from the Chick-Fil-A cow mascot, who I imagine will absolutely terrify Catie. But still, big scary cow mascot not withstanding, it’s a really good deal.

I was talking about this with Meredith, the mom next door, and she said that the kids usually love parties that take place anywhere outside of the neighborhood. There’s something about seeing their friends outside of their normal context (i.e., at each other’s houses) that gets them all jazzed and excited. So I think that’s probably what we’re going to do.

What do y’all think? Is it too white trash to have a birthday party at a fast food restaurant? Or too over the top to have a big birthday bash for a two year-old?

4 thoughts on “toddler party planning

  1. First – never underestimate character marketing – especially when targeting kids:

    Second – not white trash at all. Luckily, we have a summer b’day at our house, but we have been know to do the restaurant party. You ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BEAT having someone else do the work. Especially when your kid is so young and probably won’t remember the party. Save your energy for the next ten to twenty birthdays!

    Congrats on gracefully surviving the first two years – especially with a cross country move shoved in there!

  2. I don’t think it’s white trash at all. I do think she’ll be overwhelmed by that many kids and her being the center of their attention, so you might want to be prepared to have some kind of activity for the older kids to enjoy that will keep them from constantly being up in her grill yelling HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CATIE!!!! I don’t know what that would be… I’ll think about it.

    I like the rule of thumb that you have the number of kids equal the age + 1 for birthday parties (until school age, and then it’s pandemonium). But I can understand why you’re kind of in a bind about doing that.

    I bet she’ll understand a birthday party– she “got” Christmas pretty well, and I bet she’ll LOVE being the birthday girl, too. It won’t be something she’ll really remember next year, but she’ll love it this year.

  3. Thanks for the link, jrut! I mistakenly assumed that since there was no Wonder Pets section at Party City (and there were sections for Dora, Thomas, Pooh, etc.), that it must not exist. I should’ve known better, the Nickelodeon marketing machine is almost as powerful as Disney’s.

    Cat, I think you’re probably right about having a distraction; Catie is used to being mobbed by this particular group of kids, but it might throw her off in an unfamiliar environment. But most of the kids are in the 4-8 year-old range, so I think they’ll probably spend a lot of time in the enclosed play area, which may solve that issue.

  4. Heck no, that’s not WT at all. As a matter of fact, I now wish we lived near CFA, because Mr. Scotto would LOVE to have a 32nd bday party at the enclosed play yard there. 🙂 I think it’s a great idea, and even better, no mess and no fuss for you!

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