run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Sunday 13 May 2018

DIY toddler party at home

Hell is a sweaty London soft play on a Sunday afternoon. Especially with a toddler and a baby, the former wanting to sprint to every sticky corner, the latter really keen on playing with a stray abandoned dusty sock discovered in the ball pond. So when tiny man's birthday approached, I was really keen to avoid the de facto soft play / freaky entertainer chap and do a DIY party.

I know the kiddos really do love a soft play / freaky entertainer chap. But until we're at the age of having to invite all the school class and having 40,000 kids to entertain, I started googling some easy ways to entertain kids with a do-it-yourself party. 

I mean, I'd already started wrapping the pass-the-parcel - but I figured that couldn't last a whole hour... even if kids do pass it r.e.a.l.l.y slowly to boost their chances of the music stopping.

The party had to be active, I reckoned. And I prayed, prayed, prayed for sunshine - actually, scrap that, just no rain would do - kids don't feel the cold, right? 
Luckily we hit the jackpot: tiny man's birthday was at the tail end of the recent sunny heatwave. We did get a few spots of rain, but just ducked inside the house for tea before escaping outside again after.

There was one pro at the party- tiny man loves face-paint and really wanted a face painter for his birthday. I knew I could try to do this myself.. but I'm about as artistic as a flea and would have loads of other things to do on the day. 

Luckily we'd had Snazaroo experiences before - they're the pro face paint people and their artists are so incredible! Check out some of Jade's work... the mums were just as keen as the toddlers!

And here's what we got up to for the rest of the party - with lots of ideas for DIY toddler birthday bashes:

1. Bouncy Castle
I wavered over this, due to, er, recent awful news reports about their dangers. But in the end I decided to go for a small bouncy castle to use up endless toddler energy and because everyone loves them. It worked out almost the same price to buy or hire, so I went for a purchase and intend to use the bouncing castle at every party we ever have..!

The two best options I found:
1) Snowflake castle - £50 - this one comes with a 'blower' keeping it inflated all the time, and there are also larger versions available. (see above)
2) Happyland Bouncy Bus - £50 - this one is inflatable like a paddling pool, so doesn't need to be near an electricity supply. It's more compact too.

2. Outdoor games

The ELC site gave me lots of inspo - they've got loads of outdoor games and I decided it was a good idea to invest because the kit will be used all summer long in our house. We had egg and spoon races - this set (£7) was really great: big plastic spoons perfect for little hands to hold, plastic egg shells and beanbag eggs inside. Sure, it's not as fun as the crack of a real egg hitting the floor, but it's a lot less messy and reusable..

We also had these super cool light-up hoppers - we bought two and the kids were racing up and down on them; again, they've been really popular for garden play-time since the party too.
 This inflatable target square and its beanbags was a bit old for three-year-olds to 'get' the target bit, but they liked throwing the beanbags (and Mr ROOW and I got a bit competitive with it whilst tidying-up..!). 

We had a load of bubble blowers for a bit of party atmosphere - and for the sibling babies, who also loved the ball pond - it's convertible into a paddling pool when (if?) the sun comes back too.

 I bought some cheap solid gold medals for games winners (aka everyone, we're talking toddlers here) which went down well.

3. Imaginative play stuff

Alongside the more vaguely organised games, we also had a sand table - a present from tiny man's birthday last year which he plays with all summer-long - and a lawnmower and Little Tikes dino car that the kids swapped in and out of. We had quieter games too that some more shy kids enjoyed, and this honey bee game was a big hit.

4. Food

Since we had a lot of family coming, we made a buffet tea table: loaded bridge rolls with smoked salmon, houmous, cream cheese, peanut butter and jam and egg mayo; peanut and chocolate squares; millionaire's biscuits; rice krispy cakes; banana cake; watermelon; fruit sticks and crisps etc. 

We asked parents to pick their kids' favourite bridge rolls, then gave them bowls of Pom Bear, crudites, yogurt raisins, Babybel, melon, grapes, Frubes. There were also 25 Mini Milks in the freezer which I forgot to get out ... so we've been chomping our way through them.

5. The cake

Tiny man kept changing his mind about what kind of cake he wanted - one day a fireman, next his teddy bear, next a dinosaur, etc - in the end I had to pick one and went for this beach cake. It's four Victoria sponge cakes and decorated with Hobnob 'sand', chocolate shells (via this mould) and fondant crabs.

Have you hosted DIY birthday parties? Any tips or Qs? Write below or get in touch!


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