At a loss for 3rd birthday party ideas? Ask your preschooler! Most 3-year-olds have strong ideas and a clear preference for themes — fairies, superheroes, Legos, construction vehicles, dinosaurs, cooking or the latest movie character. After you choose a theme, other choices fall into place, like activities, decorations, favors and food.
“Keep the child’s personality, disposition and attention span in mind,” says Cara Pollard, Parent Coach Institute-certified parent coach. “The party is to celebrate the child, not to impress friends.”
She suggests limiting the event to one and a half hours, and inviting more 3-year-olds than adults.
“Three-year-olds are starting to enjoy socialization with one another and love seeing their friends,” says Pollard. “Have a separate family party, if necessary.”
Start the party with an art project or activity like blowing bubbles. Late arrivals can join in and bring their projects home to finish. At this age, kids can be hesitant when joining a group, and a low-key, open-ended activity can help ease that transition.
Once kids have eased into the activities, it’s time for some organized fun.
“Pack your child’s parties with activities and games where they are interacting with each other,” says Danielle Rothweiler, celebrity event planner with Rothweiler Event Design in New Jersey.
Pollard suggests dancing, group games, circle games, movement, bubbles and imaginative play. A 3rd birthday should be low-key.
“Studies say that people remember experiences instead of material things,” Rothweiler says. “All a child really wants is their friends and to have fun.”
Here are some great 3rd birthday party ideas.
1. Blow bubbles
Blow bubbles as kids arrive to ease them into the party. You might even try a bubble machine or using giant bubble wands. Or, better yet, make bubbles the theme of your party! Check out the bubble carnival idea from Catch My Party.
2. Put hands in paint
Try some shaving cream marble prints! Kids can easily create beautiful works of art with shaving foam, paint, a stick and paper. Check out the Art Room Plant.
3. Pop bubble wrap
Nothing supplies more crazy fun than bubble wrap freeze dance! Keep kids from crashing into each other and let them dance and pop away, as suggested on the blog Three Little Things. Scroll through some Angry Birds party highlights to see how it’s done.
4. Serve the chef’s special
Get little chefs cooking and playing with their food! Want to know how to do a kids’ cooking party with 3-year-olds? Cook Republic shares ideas. Decorating cupcakes is just the beginning!
5. Build it!
At your own construction site, kids can stack and hammer while wearing hard hats and eating gravel-themed Chex mix. Check out Spaceships and Laser Beams for more.
6. Sip kid-style tea
A perfectly pink tea party, such as this one from Foodlets is just tu-tu cute! (Plus, inexpensive tutus make great party favors!)
7. Go for gold
Everyone takes home a medal at an Olympics party! See this idea from Red Ted Art.
8. Put on some fairy wings
Take tips from fairy school! Check out this lovely toddler party posted by the Imagination Tree. Guests get a pair of fairy wings, jump on a trampoline (at flight school) and make fairy houses out of found objects and glitter.
9. Go ooey gooey
Have fun with science at a Dr. Seuss-themed party. Check out this Ooblek recipe from Preschool Powol Packets.
10. Nerf target practice
Stack red Solo cups and place Lego men atop and between the cups, then let kids loose with Nerf guns or beanbags to knock down the cups. Destruction and loud sounds ensue with this idea from Busy Kids Happy Mom.
11. Dino dig
Bury dinosaur bones from a kit in a sand pit, hand out shovels and let the fun begin. You can hide other treasures as well with this idea from fun365.
12. Minute to win it
Challenge kids to complete tasks within a minute in fun, fast-paced party games. Here’s some fun Minute-to-Win-It ideas.
13. Punch box
Piñatas can turn well-behaved kids of any age into Wild Things. The distribution of treats is rarely fair and the danger of getting stepped on or pushed aside is high. Instead, create a punch box where each child picks a circle in turn and gets a special prize. See how at Celebrate the Big and Small.
14. Wear candy necklaces
Scroll to the middle of the page at Design Improvised for simple instructions on letting kids create their own candy necklaces. Circle pretzels, Cheerios, gummy Lifesavers and Fruit Loops are just a few hole-y treats you can load onto a string or rope licorice.