Let’s face it — your 2-year-old isn’t going to appreciate an extravagant birthday party. They have simple tastes: They want cake, shiny things to wave about, and to run free. Which is why paying top dollar to rent a space for them just doesn’t make sense. Bring the party to your home, and come up with a theme that requires little more than a creative look into your gear closet and a quick trip to the supermarket. Keep your hosting duties in the one-to-two-hour window and be sure to cater to the adults who come. After all, they’re the ones who will remember it. Here are some easy and fun birthday party themes perfect for a 2-year-old.
Indoor Party Themes for a 2-Year-Old
“Favorite Things” Party
Two-year-olds don’t like to pay attention, and they certainly don’t like being told what to do. That’s why sometimes it’s best to ditch the organized activities and games and just give your child the tools to have fun. And what could be more fun than having all of your favorite things on your birthday? So get decorations that are your kid’s favorite color, have all of their favorite foods and snacks, dance to their favorite music, and play their favorite games (or with their favorite toys). Because yes, second birthdays should just be glorified play dates.
This one is as simple as using color to entertain kids — because, let’s face it, kids just love color. The more color, the better. So bring out the multicolor streamers, rainbow cake, Technicolor clothes, and have fun with it.
Incorporate as many of your little one’s favorite fairy tales as possible (serve oatmeal as the “porridge” from Goldilocks and the Three Bears; let kids wear red capes for Little Red Riding Hood; offer mud pie, haystack cookies and “brownie bricks” for a nod to the Three Little Pigs). Then have kids guess what story each element of the party is from — and go ahead and tell the stories to keep kids entertained.
“Brunch” for Babies
No one wants to deal with a crew of fussy toddlers who either just woke up from their naps or who need their naps. So throw your child’s birthday party in the morning, celebrate everyone’s favorite meal, and have everyone home by noon. Serve eggs, bacon, muffins, juice, and include a “cereal bar.” An easy cake option for this party is to do a birthday pancake to light the candles on
Does your little girl love Superman? Is your guy really into Peppa Pig? What about Moana or Trolls or Bubble Guppies? Whatever character your kid loves most, take them as a theme and run with it. Bring the theme to the cupcakes, decorations, music, but maybe draw the line at hiring a look-a-like — that’s a little much.
Get some washable markers, finger paints, and crayons and spread out a giant canvas of paper. It wouldn’t hurt to get a few coloring books as well (for those kids who want a little more structure in their art) and let the kids go crazy.
Milk and Cookies
There is no one, at any age, who wouldn’t love to just sit around and eat milk and cookies. A second birthday is the perfect time when kids are just allowed to try milk (whether it be cow’s, almond, coconut, or hemp) and start having sugary treats. So bake (or buy) a variety of cookies, grab some milks and have a good old-fashioned milk and cookies bar.
If you haven’t noticed, toddlers love to touch things. So, play to their strengths and pull a few tricks from Rocky Horror Picture Show by gathering some buckets and filling them with random items — spaghetti noodles, play dough, sand foam, rice, packing peanuts, and whatever else you can find. Set up stations for the buckets and let kids entertain themselves with a sensory adventure.
Build a Cardboard Castle
This one is as simple as going to your local hardware and appliance store and asking for as many cardboard boxes as they have to hand over. Then, paint the boxes different colors. When the party gets going (and after the paint is dry), help kids construct a cardboard castle to play in.
At the beginning of the party, give each child $10 in Monopoly money. Then, let kids go around to different parent “vendors” to buy different treats and toys. Practical and fun, right?
Outdoor Party Themes for a 2-Year-Old
“Terrible Two” Outlaw Party
What better way to celebrate this year of life than by handing out a few fake mustaches, some sheriff’s badges, stick ponies, and taking plenty of Polaroids of all the little 2-year-old bandits running around the backyard?
Kids love bugs. Why? It’s unclear. But the rational fear that keeps them from just picking up spiders and beetles just hasn’t taken affect yet at this age. So take advantage. Spread some fake bugs throughout the backyard and have a contest to see who can find and collect the most “bugs.” You can take the theme further with bug-inspired treats, butterfly nets, and firefly jars to hand out.
Need some help in the garden? Luckily, toddlers love to “help.” Buy a few planters and some seeds and let kids plant fruits, veggies, and flowers together however they like. Then, let each kid have a small planter to take home and watch grow.
Playground Park Party
No big backyard to play in? Have your child’s friends and their parents meet you at the local park playground for an ever-lasting recess. If you want to supply food and drinks, most municipal parks have shelters you can rent by the hour.
Ice Cream Social
Everyone likes an ice cream sundae. Get a few different flavors of ice creams, some toppings, and some fun bowls and let kids make DIY ice cream sundaes. Of course, the birthday boy or girl gets to blow two candles out in his or hers.
It’s a little early to be swimming, but making a water blob and filling a few kiddie tubs in the backyard lets the kiddos have their own version of a pool party. Make sure you have umbrellas and a snack shack to keep kids extra happy (aka not hungry nor burnt to a crisp).
Two-year-olds love bubbles.Two-year-olds love bubbles more than they should. But we won’t argue. Arm the kiddos with bubble guns, bubble machines, bubble wands, bubble nets, and buckets full of soap and water (or the “bubble mix” you can buy at the store) and watch them go.
Go buy a few discounted bouquets at your local market and take them apart. Sort the flowers by type and let kids “create their own” bouquets that they can take home. Bonus points if you have flower-themed treats.
Sometimes you just have to embrace a child’s ability to get dirty. Let parents know to come armed with an old pair of clothes and a fresh outfit to change into before going home for this one, though. Get a few kiddie pools and fill them with mud, foam, and water. You won’t regret this one. There is a special joy to letting kids play in the mud.
One of the most special warm-weather treats I’ve seen is when my niece and nephew were surprised by their grandmother with a bucket full of snow she had collected during the previous winter and kept frozen until July. She let it thaw and then everyone cooled off on the hot summer afternoon by having a good old-fashioned snowball fight.