You’ve got a bunch of little kids coming over and need to know the best party games for toddlers?
This is your go-to guide for setting up the perfect event, whether it’s a birthday, holiday party, or a simple play date. With this 3-step system and over 20 ideas to choose from, everyone will be laughing, playing and enjoying themselves all day long.
So you’ve decided to host your three-year-old’s birthday party at your house.
You’ve picked out a theme, planned an amazing menu, and started crafting decorations. Then, it suddenly hits you…
What are the kids actually going to DO at your party?
Coming up with party games for toddlers (ages 2 to 4) is possibly the hardest part of hosting an at-home party for young children.
Sure, it’s easier to come up with themes and fun decorations for little kids parties. After all, the younger they are, the more influence you have on those decisions.
But the attention spans of 2 to 4 year olds are extremely short, and kids in that age range aren’t quite ready for most structured party games.
Furthermore, 2 to 4 year-olds are usually accompanied by their parents. We’re all so busy these days, that your child’s birthday party is a fantastic time to get to know the parents in your child’s preschool class.
But, if you are acting as party director for a dozen children during the entire party, you won’t have time to do that.
The easy three step sytem for planning toddler party games
The most important thing you can do, is to keep it simple.
The more structured and planned out your party activities are, the more stressed you will be. Keep your activities short, simple, and easy for little kids to navigate.
In order to do that, I like to follow this simple plan:
- Plan open ended activities
- Set up a few activity stations, and
- Consider adding one or two structured games
This system will keep the party fun and light-hearted, without turning you into a ball of stress.
Ready to learn more? Let’s go.
Step 1: Open Ended Activities
Since our kids all have summer birthdays, investing in an inflatable pool was one of the best things we ever did. All we have to do is set it up and tell the guests to wear their swimsuits. Then, we just let the kids play and have fun.
But that option isn’t always available.
Summer storms can definitely dampen the best-laid plans for outdoor birthday parties. (corny pun totally intended) And winter birthday parties are notoriously difficult to plan.Here are a few fun ideas for open-ended party games that are sure to be a hit:
Step 2: Toddler Friendly Activity Stations
Even with large-motor and open-ended activities, it’s always good to have at one or two activity stations.
While some toddlers won’t use them at all, others will enjoy having a short break from the mayhem. And shy kids often appreciate having a place they can go to quietly play as they warm up to the party.
Activity stations don’t have to be complicated, either.Some Fantastic Activity Stations for Toddlers Include:
Step 3: Consider Adding One or Two Structured Party Games
We’ve all been to those parties where an ambitious parent planned party games for kids that were too young to understand what was going on.
I still remember attending a party for a 3-year-old where an enthusiastic mother insisted that all the children play Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
It took 20 minutes just to get the kids settled enough to start the activity. None of the kids knew what they were supposed to do. And most were bored while waiting for their turn. It wasn’t disastrous, but it wasn’t worth the effort, either.
Don’t be that parent.
When it comes to toddlers, structured games are completely optional. And if you do choose to include some, only do one or two games, and make sure you keep any them age-appropriate.
Children ages 3 and older can enjoy quick, high-energy party games for toddlers.
The important words here are "quick" and "high-energy". Make sure to choose games that the kids all play at the same time. This keeps the games more engaging for toddlers who are already impatient just from the excitement of the party.
In other words, save the turn-taking games for older kids.
At age 4, start introducing more structured party games:
It's still best at this age to include party games that involve the whole group. But around age four, little kids are better able to follow structured activities.
Here are a few that we've found successful:
Now, It’s Your Turn
As you can see, there are LOTS of party games for toddlers that you can do right in your own home. And they don’t have to take all your time and energy during the actual party. But, I don’t want you to plan too many of these activities, either.
Here’s how to put these ideas into action:
- Plan one big, open-ended party activity that your toddler guests can do from the moment they arrive
- Put together 2 activity stations, at least one of which is a quiet spot for shy kids to warm up, and
- For older toddlers, include one classic party game that will be held right before the cake is served.
And there you have it, the kids will have fun, you can mingle with the other parents, and you can spend your party planning time working on the decorations and food that won’t get used later.
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Which of these games is your favorite?
Do you have any other recommended party games for toddlers? Let us know in the comments below!