A Simple Up! Party & Tips to Keep Birthdays Happy and Fun For Little Kids

why i threw my son a simple party and won't go back to fussy parties again by sweetcsdesigns- great tips for making birthdays truly fun for kids and family and not overstimulating little kids or those with sensory

My baby boy just turned 3 this weekend. I can’t say I am thrilled that my baby is a big boy now, but I couldn’t be prouder of what a sweet, loving and smart boy he’s become. I wanted to throw him a party he would love- but one my wallet wouldn’t hate. It’s hard to find simple birthday party ideas and birthday ideas on a budget – but it is easy to create a meaningful small party your child will love. I feel like sometimes as moms we’re pressured to throw expensive parties to show our love, but if we can’t afford it, or would rather focus on family, you can still make your child feel incredibly loved! My tips below and this fun Up! idea can also be thrown together for a last minute party !

If you’re new to the blog, you might not know that my son has a mild sensory disorder and is most likely slightly on the spectrum. He is incredibly quick with puzzles and loves to read, but big chaotic parties stress him out (and frankly, I think they are stressful for ANY kid, sensory or not). He likes order and hates tons of noise and buzzing activity. It pains my party-loving heart to not go completely overboard (I could throw a complex, styled party every day of the week- I love it so…), but I knew it would make him the happiest.

I wanted to make the star or the party HIM- not decorations, fancy toys he doesn’t care about or zillions of guests we had to entertain and greet.

So what did I do? I threw the world’s smallest, simplest party ever. It was just my husband and I, and our parents, and my husband’s Grandma. Just family- and we even threw it while sister was napping so little man got all the attention and love on his special day.

And it was a HUGE hit! I’m never turning back. Here’s what we did, and how you can make a fun party with no stress:

why i threw my son a simple party and won't go back to fussy parties again by sweetcsdesignscom- great tips for making birthdays truly fun for kids and family and not overstimulating little kids or those with senso

We took the small playhouse he already uses at the farm and moved it into a big open field and hung a TON of balloons from the top (our playhouse opens up at the top so we just placed a weight we tied the balloons to under the roof and they stayed put). It looked just like his favorite movie- Up!

We had my husband distract him inside while we set up the Up! house and assembled a humble assortment of presents and placed out a store bought banner (Target has some DARLING banners for under $5) and set out some party horns that we could all blow as he opened gifts.

When everything was set, little man and daddy ran outside. He immediately saw the house and went nuts! He loved it and even said “Dug! Dug! Dug!” (which he thinks is Up!’s title). Instead of boring or frustrating party games, he played in his house with us, he chased the balloons as they bopped around in the wind, and he rode around on his new trike.

When he was ready to check out presents, we didnt have to wrangle a zillion kids to boredly watch him open presents. We also kept our presents simple- he got a trike from my parents, music lessons and an accordion from hubby’s, a slide from great grandma, and books and art supplies from mom and dad.

It sounds incredibly silly- but his favorite toy was a simple spiral notebook and some ballpoint pens I bought him from Walmart. He likes to carry them around and write. I am always an extravagant gift giver and felt silly giving him a spiral notebook and pens- but he LOVES them!

Kids at this age just want to be heard and be creative- so bombarding them with toys just works to overstimulate them. Simple gifts get kids active and help their brains grow, and they have such short attention spans, it isnt worth spending a ton of money on toys they wont play with very long.

Finally, we ended the party with a simple gluten free lemon pound cake from a baker little man loves. No big fancy cake (he gets those all the time since mommy blogs them), so this treat- no icing and all- was special to him because its something he doesn’t get that often.

If you want easy cake decorating ideas that look professional, but don’t take much time, check out these posts: How to Pour Store Bought Icing to Look Like Professional Fondant, A Cute and Easy Decorated Cake, Birthday Cake Doughnuts, and Homemade Pourable Icing.

the easiest way to frost a cake get a faux fondant look in seconds (and its delicious) #cake #party #fondant

Other than his gifts, and the Up! house, I know little man’s favorite part was getting all of the attention and not having to stress about tons of chaos and noise. It was a perfect party!


quick and easy up! inspired birthday surprise for a little kids birthday- great tips for stress free parties that wont overstimulate young children or those with sensory issues at sweetcsdesignscom!

13 thoughts on “A Simple Up! Party & Tips to Keep Birthdays Happy and Fun For Little Kids”

  1. I LOVE this post! I too have a child that is mild sensoryPD and high functioning autism spectrum. I read this agreeing with every part. Perfect! We have to do dairy free treats 🙂 loved relating while reading!

  2. Fabulous posts. I love the balloons on the house. BRILLIANT!!! I always did simple parties for Cal until this year when he started getting invited to parties and really asking about who he got to have at his party. The first two years it was just cupcakes with friends, and for his third, I made it cute, but all in a hurry using Walmart stuff and just invited relatives. My pics aren’t as a lovely as these, but this has encouraged me to share the nevertheless at some point. I think simple parties are great. I did a pretty setup for Jade’s party just for pictures, but we only invited one friends and our family and just ate while the kids played. Basically, I agree with you: simple is best!

  3. I love that you kept it simple and all about your son! I LOVE the UP! House theme… so adorable and I’m sure so much more memorable than a crazy extravagant party!

  4. Aww, I’m so glad your little man loved his party. I remember as a kid having small family parties too, which were always super special. Loved the way you creatived the ‘Up” theme with the playhouse and balloons. Great idea!

  5. I think your small party is wonderfully intimate but I don’t think you have to boost it by putting down big parties. I do big parties for my kids when I have the time, small ones on years we are too busy. My kids get to pick their theme, help with the decorations, the activities are fun and geared towards the kids so no boring games that they are forced to participated in. We never open presents during any of the kid’s parties. I feel that they should focus on spending time w/ their friends rather than what their friends giving them. Afterward, the kids have to sit down and hand write thank you notes to each of their friend and the gift they thoughtfully received. My kids would talk about the parties and the memory they have with it the rest of the year so it made it all worthwhile for me.

    1. It’s not meant to put down big parties- just the feeling we as moms get that we HAVE to throw a bigger, better party to show our kids we love them. I myself love big parties! My son has sensory problems and a big ordeal would just stress him. It’s all about what works for you and your family and making your kiddos feel special no matter the size of the party.

  6. Hi Courtney,
    When I saw the pic of the little house w the fabulous balloons, I was impressed by your cute idea. I totally agree with you that young children really don’t need big parties w lots of people. I admire you for thinking of your sons’ favorite things to do and planning the party around him. His face says it all; such a big, happy smile!

    1. Thanks, Victoria! It was everything special. It is hard to not throw something huge because sometimes we feel like a big production and a ton of toys equal how much we love our kids. But its just about how much we want to spend time with our kids.

      1. You are wise beyond your years; my daughter has done very small gatherings (mostly close family) for our grandkids, and I am totally on board with the trend. We need to instill the best values in our kids, and spending time w loved ones in a close setting is the important thing. Otherwise, it can become a frenzy of “outdoing” someone else’s party (or even your child’s previous years party! I just have to know, where did you find those balloons? The colors are really different and beautiful.

  7. I loved reading your post this morning! Our gorgoeus (nearly) 4yo has SPD so we know what it is like to have to “tone down” certain things. I think you did an AMAZING job of your darling little mans party. The other thing I loved whilst reading your post is thinking that not only did your son love it, it also meant you got to spend all your time enjoying yourself and creating fabulous memories of the day as a family, rather than remembering how you had to run around to make sure everything was prepared, cooked, put out, cleaned up etc. Awesome, awesome job!

  8. Thank you so much for posting this! I love party planning, but it’s hard for me to coordinate an over-the-top event without sacrificing time with my little one. Read enough blogs, and one begins to think that a simple party is somehow inadequate, but you’re absolutely right — whether the child enjoys it is the real measure of success. It looks like your little guy loved his special celebration.

  9. We have a policy in our family of only doing big parties on the big birthdays, 1, 5, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, and from then on just the decades. Every other year we just have a special dinner with grandparents, eat cake for dessert, and open a few presents. I like the low stress of it all. I’m planning my daughter’s first birthday now and am totally stressed. No one is RSVPing, so I don’t know how many people to plan for or if I just need to cancel it. I’m think that for now on I’m just doing small parties every year. Hopefully my kids will be okay with that. :-/

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