Your toddler is leaving the terrible twos and entering the terrific threes–good for you. Plan a fun, engaging birthday party for him, complete with lots of games and activities to keep him and his guests occupied. Keep in mind that 3-year-olds are still learning how to get along with others, so pick games that aren’t too competitive and won’t result in a group temper tantrum.
Keep the games at a 3-year-old’s birthday party simple. Make sure the directions are easy to follow. According to the National Network for Child Care, 3-year-olds are developing the ability to distinguish colors and to identify differences and similarities, so birthday games, such as Duck, Duck Goose or Red Light, Green Light, may be a good fit. If you play games such as Red Light, Green Light, you should be the leader to prevent any tension among the guests.
Plan on a party that lasts no longer than two hours. The guests will start to get tired after awhile, and you really do not want to deal with five to 10 cranky toddlers. Select three or four games to play during the party and limit the time of each game to 15 minutes. That amount of time may seem short to you, but to a group of 3-year-olds, it can feel like an eternity.
Depending on your preference and the size of the party, you may want to hire an entertainer to lead the children through the games. Hiring someone, be it a clown, magician or party facilitator, will allow you to relax and participate in your child’s party instead of running around, keeping track of all the guests. Keep in mind that the guests may not be in the mood for playing games or may want to keep playing the same game over and over. Be flexible and let the guests’ interests dictate the direction of the party.
Don’t single out any one guest and award him a better prize for winning the games. Instead, give each guest a small party bag at the party’s end. It’s better to award each guest equally, no matter who won the games, to prevent any tears and upset. Good party prizes include stickers, sets of crayons and coloring books and small toys, such as tiny cars or little dolls. Keep in mind that some children may still like to put toys in their mouths, so avoid any prizes that present a choking hazard.
Keep things small at your 3-year-old’s party. He may be the most popular child at preschool, but that does not mean it is a good idea to invite 10 guests. Limit the size of the party to two to three children for each adult chaperon. To prevent any tantrums on the part of your child, stash away any toys he may be particularly possessive about. If any guests should start to throw a fit during a game, take them to a quiet area and let them cool down.
- birthday party image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com