Three Year Old Birthday Party Ideas
June 24, 2009 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Our daughter is turning three next week, and we're looking for ideas for a fun time with her and her little friends, about eight to ten kids ranging from two to five years old. What makes for an excellent birthday for preschoolers?
posted by Pater Aletheias to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How about story time? She's three, she probably likes being read to. Why not if the parents act out like a really easy, ten minute kids play like, Chicken Little, and then you can do face painting and have cake. Easy!
posted by parmanparman at 9:47 AM on June 24, 2009

Best answer: If you have a big enough yard, sprinklers and baby pools in the back yard is perfect. I have never found kids en masse to need planned activities, they're happier running around for two hours.

I've only done this with kindergarteners, but we had a few parties where I made some sugar cookies and let the kid decorate with ziplocks of (WHITE) icing with a hole cut in the corner, sprinkles, raisins, m&m's, etc. If you do cupcakes, that can be the cake. (Limit one per child to actually eat, but get lots of extras so that they can decorate one for their parents.) I think Sam's might sell plain cupcakes if you don't want to bake.
posted by artychoke at 9:50 AM on June 24, 2009

Best answer: In my experience, both boys and girls of that age are CRAZY for bounce houses.
posted by peep at 9:51 AM on June 24, 2009

Best answer: Most kids that age love to squish, splatter, scribble, glue, and glitter. Kids Craft Weekly is a great resource for cheap, fun projects appropriate for very young kids. (Works best if the parents stay and help their young'un.)
posted by dogrose at 10:04 AM on June 24, 2009

Gym parachute games are also fun if you can rent a gym parachuete or parachute and parachute handler. The parachutes are usually flat with a hole in the middle and they're spread out on the ground all big and billowy. Kids can have fun and practice colors/motor skills at the same time.
posted by ShadePlant at 10:06 AM on June 24, 2009

Squirt guns and/or bubble soap are perennial favorites. Another suggestion might be a do-your-own sundaes (with a little adult help). Line up some bowls of vanilla ice cream, offer ou a few different toppings and let 'em have at it.
posted by jquinby at 10:10 AM on June 24, 2009

Inflatable bouncy houses and pinatas have been a big hit at several parties I've attended for kids turning 3. Also a big plus: a keg (for the parents, of course).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:37 AM on June 24, 2009

1 add sugar
2 bubble machine/adult blowing bubbles
3 running around like idiots

if only it were so easy to be happy as an adult.
posted by fistynuts at 10:41 AM on June 24, 2009

Best answer: Be sure you have plenty of space, in your backyard preferably. Have one table that has several bowls of different kinds of snacks - since it's summer, there's a lot of fruit that's in season now, so if you don't want to sugar-dose the kids, you can always go with good stuff like strawberries, blueberries, grapes, watermelon and such.

Do you or anyone you know play a musical instrument? Get together a repetoire of kid's songs for them. Barring that, music CDs of kid's music will also work. Encourage dancing.

If it's hot enough, you can't go wrong with a Slip 'n' Slide, either. Basically any water-based fun on a hot day should appeal - water balloons, super soakers, etc. Some of the younger ones might enjoy a sprinkler run more.

Also, you can get facepaints for pretty cheap. You don't need to be a great artist - painting the nose and drawing on rudimentary whiskers is usually enough to delight children.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:05 AM on June 24, 2009

posted by Scoo at 11:06 AM on June 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

The bubble wrap party I described here was a big hit across the age spectrum.
posted by TedW at 11:21 AM on June 24, 2009

I put on a "juggling show" for my brother's 3rd birthday party. I was in 6th grade, and had been practicing juggling for less than a month so basically I threw bean bags around and I gave the kids bean bags to throw around and we all just chased bean bags around the yard. It was a huge hit.
When my other brother was in preschool our mom used to decorate (refrigerator sized) cardboard boxes with something related to the theme of the party for the kids to play in. She made a bat cave one year and a zoo another year.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:12 PM on June 24, 2009

My daughter's 3rd birthday party was in October. We had a balloon tank with balloons (for decorations and for kids to take as they left); we got a crown craft kit at Lakeshore Learning (peel & stick stickers to put on foam crowns - the parents enjoyed this almost as much as the kids); pinata. Throw in the cake and present opening and that's 2 hours easy. We did the party from 3:30 - 5:30, and it worked out well.
posted by mogget at 2:52 PM on June 24, 2009

My little guy is 5. I will nth the bouncy house, and the bubbles and will add that having a small gift (bouncy ball, stick on tatoo, noisemaker) for each of the other kids really helps.
Keep it short too.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:00 PM on June 24, 2009

Its all about the bounce house. Seriously, all you need to do is rent a bounce house, put out food, and some tables/chairs. Adults will sit, eat and drink. Kids will go into the bouncer, come out and eat/drink, go back in the bouncer, repeat until you send them all home.
posted by Joh at 3:50 PM on June 24, 2009

I will add that having a small gift (bouncy ball, stick on tatoo, noisemaker) for each of the other kids really helps.

Helps WHAT? Helps each kid expect to get a present every time they go to a party?
posted by dogrose at 10:25 PM on June 24, 2009

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