This season, we will be showcasing the best party ideas in Melbourne to hopefully make it easier for you to organise your next event. My son is turning one in July, and I have been thinking a lot about the logistics of holding a toddler-friendly party in the middle of winter. While small, toddlers do need lots of space to roam and interesting things to explore. While I would love for him to have a birthday party at the park, it is just not feasible in cold, wet July. I also want to somehow hold the event at home. I would rather spend my dollars on a fun experience for him, or suitable toys, rather than a venue. It will also make catering easier as I can use my own kitchen and just relax with my friends while the kids play.
After much brainstorming, research and head scratching, here are some of my top ideas for indoor, at-home toddler parties.
Indoor soft fall play equipment
Wiggle Worm is a local company that hire out soft fall play equipment for kids’ parties. Set up the equipment at home or at a hire venue and then sit back and relax while the kids entertain themselves. Suitable for crawling babes upwards, your kids will have a ball climbing, crawling and tumbling. Who doesn’t love a ball pit? This is perfect for toddlers aged 1 to 2 who love exploring. Packages start from $280 for weekend hire. The most basic package includes a ball pit, large vinyl building blocks, 4 Hopperz (rocking ride-on animals), 1 rocking fish, a soft fall seesaw and a small soft fall climbing pyramid.
Hire toys from the local toy library and let the kids play while the adults get to catch up. Check out http://www.toylibraries.org.au to find a toy library near you.
Sensory Play Party
Babies and toddlers are highly sensory and learn through touch, feel, sound and taste. Set up activities based around these senses. Some ideas include:
Fill a tub/baby paddling pool with rice bubbles. Add buckets, spades and trucks and you have an indoor sandpit. It’s safe, edible, crunchy fun that will keep them amused for ages. It is also easy to just vacuum up after the party is over. If you are worried about carpets, put a tarp down.
Make musical instruments from common household objects. Biscuit tins make drums that can be decorated by guests, fill jars with rice, or even bells, for some cool shakers and let them create a racket!
Have fun creating terrariums. Get some large plastic jars, help kids shovel in dirt and pebbles and then let them choose some succulents to plant into each jar. Plastic zoo animals can be used to decorate them, turning them into little landscapes. These can then be taken home by each child as a party favour. With jars costing as little as a dollar and with succulent cuttings used from your own garden or a friend’s, this is an inexpensive but memorable party activity.
Cover your floor in large sheets of card/paper and let the kids go nuts drawing on it with crayons. Show them how to draw around their friends to create silhouettes. Or draw a road and have them push matchbox cars along it. The possibilities are endless.
Fill a room with balloons. Before blowing up the balloons, fill them with different objects that make sounds. Rice and bells work well. Just make sure they are objects that won’t cause choking.
For older toddlers aged 3, why not get them involved in making their own lunch? Set out some plastic tablecloths at small tables and have plastic plates with grated carrot, cheese and other veg. Show the kids how to fill their own wrap and let them choose the ingredients. It will be messy, but you are bound to have more kids eating healthy party food. Another alternative is to let them decorate pre-made cookies. Remember that trusty tarp for your carpets!
Kids love dressing up, so have a box of dress ups for the party goers. Some ideas: big shoes, old dresses, fun hats, plastic noses, feathers, masks, and capes made from sheets.
Alternatively, you can hire play kitchens from PartyKidz, make up some play dough and let them ‘cook’ in their own kitchen. You could even have some groceries set out, some pretend money and baskets for little shoppers.
Another idea is to hire large push cars from Hireatoy starting from $25 dollars per weekend. The day before the party you can create petrol pumps or houses from boxes for the kids to drive past or play with.
Ask the kids to come dressed up as kings, queens and knights and have them play in your very own castle. PartyKidz hire out toy castle cubby houses from $120 for 5 days.
Mobile Farm Animal Party
Does your toddler love animals? Who can resist cute fluffy baby chicks, bunnies, goats and lambs? Aussie Farm Animals come to you. Packages can be tailored for indoors or outdoors, so you don’t need to worry about weather conditions. Contact Aussie Farm Animals for package prices.