A Simple Party for Toddlers: Favorite Things

Scrolling through photos of our first child’s birthdays I saw themes for every party, games, party favors, lots of food, lots of guests…

In the photos of our second child’s birthdays there were a few themed parties, combo parties with family, selected friends-only parties with her cousins, grandparents and godparents…

Our third child’s first birthday (last year) was just family and godparents with a cake and some food.

See a pattern here? Maybe it’s because I’m getting older or maybe it’s the thought that I have three kids with birthdays two weeks apart burns me out. Hence, the reason why I’m all about simplifying everything I do.

A few weeks ago I suggested we throw a small party for our littlest one’s 2nd birthday. We put out a Facebook invite (no paper invite or even an Evite) and added to the guest list. I didn’t even know what we’d do except clean the house. Pinterest led me to some cute ideas but it was too much effort for a small “get together.” So I focused on the birthday girl and thought of all the things she liked… Ice cream, birds, donuts and bubbles. I picked a soft color palette of light pink, light mint/teal, and gold and went from there.

Decorations were simple, home-made tissue paper rosettes. I mainly focused on the cake table where I had my daughter cover up two glass vases with pink and blue scrapbook paper accented with gold dot paper (or acetate, in this case).

I made ice cream cone cake pops using a boxed cake mix and home made cream cheese icing. Sugar cones were cut to size and with the bottoms lopped off so I could poke a stick through it.

Mini donuts were attached by a stick dipped in candy melts. Once hardened, the donuts were iced with candy melts and topped with sprinkles.

The cake is where I put most of my effort. Inspired by masterful cake artists on my Instagram feed, I knew I wanted to make one of those trendy, tall drippy cakes that look “over-the-top.” I made gelatin bubbles a few days ahead of time and used the ice cream cake pops and donuts for a topper. Gold decorative floral wire was used to make her name and a little glittery bird was added to the cake plate. 

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This cake was 5 layers tall. I used a sturdy,  scratch-made butter yellow cake with a vanilla custard and fresh strawberry filling, and iced it with Swiss meringue buttercream. The bottom of the cake was sprinkled with Chocomaker “Shimmies” which taste and look WAY better than your regular “Jimmies.” I made a ganache out of pink candy melts to create the drips down the cake. 

A note on food waste…
I absolutely hate wasting food. Swiss meringue buttercream uses only egg whites and since I used so much of it, I had a bowl-full of egg yolks. To be less wasteful, I made vanilla custard and it worked out perfectly for this cake. I still have some leftover custard but that’s not a bad thing, either — more dessert for us to have later in the week!

Keeping it Simple
A small guest list resulted in a low-key party (except for the kids running around). It was manageable to plan and wasn’t overwhelming for a toddler. She had fun and I got to enjoy our guests. I feel the need to store up energy for the bigger milestone parties. But for now, I’m digging these scaled-down events. Bigger is not always better.

Small Party Tips:

  1. Keep the guest list to a minimum. Close friends and family work best.
  2. Food doesn’t have to be extravagant. Even ordering a pizza will make people happy. Salad kits can be a time-saver and tastes great!
  3. Decoration shouldn’t stress you out. It can be as simple as selecting a color scheme and purchasing a few plastic table covers, cheap streamers and balloons. 
  4. Most important, remember who the party is for. It’s not about how pretty you can make things. It’s all about the celebrant and how much they can enjoy the day.

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  • LifebyCynthia

    I love this! You amaze me! Everything is gorgeous and I love your small party tips.

  • Your cake turned out amazing. I want to know how you shaped her name using that floral wire and where you purchased it 😉 Happy Birthday to your baby girl!

    • Thank you! I picked up the floral wire from the Dollar Tree store. It’s quite easy to bend. I did everything free-hand but if you are nervous about messing up, you can try writing a word on a piece of paper without picking up your pen, then using it as your guide when bending the wire.

      • Awesome! Thanks for the tip, Melissa. I’m definitely going to try it out for something. .