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:
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.
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!