Are you about to throw a birthday party? I’ve come up with a few simple birthday party ideas for LA Moms after realizing that a toddler birthday party doesn’t need to over the top. This year my daughter, Charlotte, turned 3 years old. I went back and forth a lot between what kind of party we should have for her and finally decided on no party at all.
For C’s second birthday I nearly killed myself trying to plan a big extravaganza in the park with 15+ families, gift bags, décor, food, etc. NOT WORTH IT. Not worth it when your child doesn’t even recognize what a party is, could care less about opening gifts, and just wants to run around.
SO, LESSON LEARNED. This year, C’s birthday fell on a Monday and in lieu of a party with friends, we celebrated her third birthday over three days. The idea was to make it easy on our wallets + ourselves, while still making C feel special.
Mike and I have Disney passes and decided to take advantage of it (children are free before 3)! I know this part seems extravagant but we were trying not to spend money on a party and use what resources we already had.
Day 1: Saturday morning Charlotte woke up to a muffin with a candle in it. We sang her happy birthday (with my two friends who were visiting) and C opened two gifts: one from my friends, and one from us. She was THRILLED. Our gift was a fun outfit for her to wear at Disneyland and after she put it on, we were off for the day!
Day 2: On Sunday, we invited two families to join us at Disneyland (who already had passes themselves) and I made small party bags for each of the kids. The party bags were filled with snacks, small party favors, matching shirts, and a Disney Princess doll. During lunch, C opened two gifts from her friends and I bought 3 cupcakes to sing Charlotte happy birthday. The day itself was really easy because the families came and went whenever they wanted and there was endless entertainment at the park. (Budget & health friendly tip: bring your snacks/food to the park! Disneyland allows everything except for glass.) See our post, Tips for Taking Toddlers and Babies to Disneyland.
Day 3: Monday morning was Charlotte’s actual birthday. She woke up to a balloon wall (all bought from amazon, no helium needed) and a stack of Trader Joe’s Blueberry Waffles (already in our freezer). Our family sang her happy birthday and she opened 2 small gifts. After breakfast, Charlotte was off to school to celebrate the big day with her class and teachers.
Her school gave her a hat and frame!
In the evening, we ate a traditional Korean birthday soup and bought a small bear shaped cake. Our family sang Happy Birthday to C one final time and Charlotte opened up 3 grand finale presents (from my parents + brother). The rest of the evening C picked a movie to watch (The Incredibles) and we cuddled together as a family in bed.
This three-day celebration may have seemed long but it was truly the easiest way to celebrate as a family. We did normal things with a birthday twist. Instead of a party our family spent time together. If we didn’t have Disneyland passes, I would have looked for some alternative ways to celebrate while still keeping things simple and easy.
Here are a couple of ideas:
- Picnic at the Park
- Ride bikes along the beach (there’s a great route from Santa Monica to Venice)
- “Explore the wild” (aka a normal hike)
- Swimming at a local pool
- Staycation in a neighboring city
The parts that kept this weekend laidback was that we did what worked for us! Then we sprinkled our weekend with birthday songs and small gifts so that Charlotte felt extra special.
Spreading out her birthday gifts and singing to her each day was awesome. C literally glowed with excitement at each activity (even if she had done it dozens of times before). (Side note: since C is only turning three, it was easy to buy her small low cost gifts like $7 Barbie doll from target, $7 bracelet and a necklace set from amazon, $16 Elsa dress from amazon, etc.).
I’m not sure what next year holds for us, but I definitely plan on repeating a version of this sweet and simple way to celebrate! If you have simple and easy ways to celebrate birthdays I would love to hear!