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15 Brilliant 2nd Birthday Party Ideas

Bev Feldman
June 16, 2017

Your toddler is about to turn 2! Now that she's more active and expresses her own interests, you may want to have some 2nd birthday party ideas up your sleeve.

Before you pick a theme, here are some tips to help you get started with planning activities for the big day:

  • Have Stations With Different Activities
    "You're better off to have lots of little stations that they can freely move around to than to try to get an entertainer that's going to do a show that requires them to sit quietly," explains leading balloon expert Sandi Masori, a birthday entertainer for 20 years. Both she and "play advocate" Ashley Jefferson, who specializes in party planning for children, suggest having different areas, such as crafts or play dough, from which the kids can choose.
  • Include Tactile Activities
    Toddlers love touching things! Consider including sand, bubbles and water play as some of the stations. Jefferson suggests also tailoring these activities around the theme of the party. For example, if you are doing a truck party, you can put mini trucks in with the sand.
  • Skip the Balloon Art
    As Masori explains, toddlers don't really have the patience to wait, and they're too young to really appreciate balloon animals -- plus there can be a safety concern with popped pieces. However, if you are planning on inviting older cousins, consider including balloon art and other activities that older children can also appreciate and enjoy.
  • Limit the Party to Two Hours
    Due to the short attention spans of toddlers, you'll want to keep the birthday party on the shorter side. Also, as Jefferson suggests, plan it around your child's naptime to help prevent meltdowns.
  • Keep It Small
    "It's much better to have a party that's manageable than to have it be overwhelming for you," Jefferson explains. While you may feel obligated to invite lots of people, a smaller party will be more manageable, and your toddler will be less likely to feel overwhelmed.

Are you in need of a theme for the big day? Here are 15 2nd birthday party ideas to get you started with the planning:

  1. All Aboard the Train by Home Made Interest
    Decorate your home with train banners and railroad signs and give out party favors with a train engineer hat, bandana and train whistle.
  2. Bubble Birthday Party by Oopsey Daisy
    Toddlers will love playing with the bubbles and doing activities with bubble wrap. For decorations, hang up circle banners and streamers.
  3. Construction Site by Intentional by Grace
    Use toys trucks to display food and shovels in place of spoons. Building blocks and a stop sign bean bag toss provide inexpensive entertainment.
  4. Zoo Animals by Moneywise Moms
    This low-budget party is easy to put together using stuffed animals donned with party hats, animal cupcakes, foam animal crafts and pin-the-ear on the elephant.
  5. Fairy Tale Party by Childhood 101
    Tots will enjoy tossing (or placing) rings on plastic bottles decorated to look like elves and climbing through cardboard box castles.
  6. Ball Party by Teach Me Mommy
    This simple theme plays upon a toddler favorite using colorful balloons and circle garlands to jazz up the room and activities involving balls.
  7. Messy Art by Sow Sprout Play
    From painting with shaving cream to coloring with chalk, toddlers will have fun getting their hands dirty and eating colorful snacks.
  8. Dinosaur Party by Place of My Taste
    Kids will love eating fruit from a watermelon cut up to look like a dinosaur head and munching on "Dino Bones" -- also known as pretzels!
  9. Cowgirl/Cowboy Party by The Chickabug Blog
    Dress up with bandanas and cowboy hats and play pin-the-hat on the cowgirl.
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Sugarhero
    Make this children's classic come to life with colorful candies and crayons melted into butterfly and caterpillar shapes.
  11. Sesame Street by The Mom Creative
    A tub filled with bird seed and small Sesame Street toys makes for a fun sensory game to play while the kids wear visors with their favorite characters.
  12. A Book Party by Pizzazzerie
    A book-shaped cake and oversized colorful plastic glasses as party favors make for a cute literary-themed party.
  13. Farm and Barnyard Party by Bird's Party
    Create a mini farm where kids can race on stick horses and decorate animal-shaped cookies.
  14. Mickey Mouse Party by Lindsey Blogs
    This party is made easy with a red, white and blue color scheme, Mickey Mouse decorations and bubbles and plastic discs with personalized stickers.
  15. Carnival Party by Busy Hands Blessed Hearts
    Toddlers will enjoy having their faces painted with fast and simple designs, as well as playing carnival-style games.

Need some extra help organizing or setting up the party? Hire a babysitter or housekeeper to help out for a few hours.

Whatever theme you pick, when all the planning is through, enjoy the day with your special 2-year-old! 

Need a gift? Check out the 20 Best Toddler Toys of 2015!

Bev Feldman is a writer and mom in the Boston area who enjoys immersing herself in crafts with toddlers. You can connect with her on Twitter.

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