Birthday party ideas for under threes

The smaller the child, the more a birthday party needs to stick to the rule of three S’s – short, simple and stimulating. For toddlers, the party will need to be held around sleep times, either early morning or late afternoon.

Keep guest numbers down – the general rule of thumb is that the amount of children invited should correspond to your birthday child’s age e.g two guests for a two year old.

Of course, a first birthday party isn’t much fun with one guest, but consider where you will host the party and how well your child gets on with other kids before inviting the whole world. Stick to three or four little friends as guessts for your child and insist that a parent remains with the invited child for the duration of the party.

Wherever you host the party, make sure the entry and exits are secured as toddlers can turn into mini Houdinis in the over-excitement of a party and no-one wants a missing guest to spoil the day. Make sure the grandparents or some good friends will be on hand to help you during the day!

The weather isn’t always kind when it comes to birthday parties, so even though you may want to host it outside, make sure you have an indoor option as a back up.

Children under the age of two have no concept of structured party games, so don’t even bother setting up a-pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. You could try playing musical chairs or cushions but the real fun will be playing some great kids’ music and watching them dance around.

Party theme ideas for under threes

Going all-out on a party theme will be wasted on very young children, but you can still have fun by choosing a simple party theme (which the adults may appreciate as much as the official birthday party guests! This will save your strength for the birthday parties to come in future years. Simple party themes include:

  • Teddy bears picnic: Who hasn’t at one stage or another been besotted by a teddy bear? Ask each guest to BYO teddy and then hold the party outside sitting on the lawn on a picnic rug (where all mess and food scraps can stay outside!).
  • Colour themes: Choose your child’s favourite colour and base the theme around that. You just need to devise the menu, invitations and decorations around a colour and off you go for some fun that will colour their world. Think pink, get some yellow fever or go true blue!
  • Balloons – up, up and away: Littlies love a balloon and adorning a party with plenty of colourful balloons can make it fun – try and choose balloons that come in a variety of shapes and colours. Be warned though! Smaller kids often hate the sound of a balloon popping.
  • Sandpit fun: Sand play is fun and so is the beach. When it comes to tiny tots and a party, a sandpit party is perfect for those with a backyard that comes fitted with one. Otherwise see if there is a local park with a sandpit where you can set up a party picnic. Give each guest their own bucket and spade, and let them have fun.
  • Hat party: Most little kids hate wearing hats when they go out to play, but how about some crazy sparkly hats? A mad hatter’s tea party theme can work well – you can beg borrow or steal as many hats as possible for each child to choose and play with.


  1. kymmage 30/08/2018 at 6:28 pm

    I think we had a storybook theme for one. I love the idea of a balloon theme. That would be super cute. Rainbows would be an excellent theme for the wee babes too. At this stage they are just happy to have cake and balloons and friends to hang with. You also have to be aware of nap times moreso.

  2. Jen_Wiig 27/08/2018 at 2:41 pm

    I dont have any under 3s anymore but these ideas are just too cute ..i want one of my firends with an under 3 to have a teddy bears picnic party heheee soooo cute!!! these are so simple yet just ideal for the little people and dont completely break the bank either…one of a few reasons ive always dreaded the idea of having a bday party for any of my boys

  3. dawnblyth 27/08/2018 at 1:37 pm

    Some great ideas for even older than 3 children I think – especially keeping it simple. Simple is sometimes the best kind of fun. I like the idea of playing some kids music and letting them dance away. We took my eldest boy to the train park for his 3rd birthday – we had a picnic afternoon tea and then the kids all went for rides on the trains. That was great fun. Although a lot of preparation is required when going out for a party, the flip side is that kids can run around in a bigger area and there is no need to vacuum afterwards!

  4. Mands1980 22/08/2018 at 5:27 pm

    The Three s’s is diffinately true we always did small party’s with just family and a basic cake they don’t need a huge party at that age. We never had the kids friends only cousins at that age and they are just happy to open there presents and get a cake at that age.

  5. Bevik1971 21/08/2018 at 4:27 pm

    We didn’t really make a big deal about our daughters birthdays pre 4 years old, we just had at home parties with a couple of friends and some family. Once she turned 5 it was a bigger deal though 🙂

  6. MuddledUpMolly 20/08/2018 at 9:56 pm

    Our daughter turns 2 in November so this article has come at a perfect time! I don’t really agree with only inviting as many friends as their age though, that’s a bit strange in this day and age! We are part of a few little groups and would struggle to narrow it down to only 2! I did like the teddy’s bear picnic theme. It’s an oldie but a goodie 🙂

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