June 13

We Didn’t Do a Big Toddler Birthday Party, and This Is Why


Our oldest baby girl just turned 2. We didn’t have an elaborate plan for her birthday celebration, but we knew it would be special. For some people, throwing a huge first, second, third, etc. birthday party is natural and that’s great. For us introverts, not throwing a huge party is natural. So we went with that. In case you are like us and are leaning towards the more simple variety of birthday celebrations, here are my top reasons to do so.

No Timelines

This one is first on the list because it might be my favorite. I stayed up late the night before Claire’s second birthday because I wanted the house to be decorated before she woke up in the morning. But I couldn’t get the 2 banners I was hanging just right so I finally gave up and went to bed.

I was able to hang them in the morning before she got up because I’m always up before her anyway. But I had the thought the night before that if this is my prep for a simple birthday for just our family, I can’t imagine what it would be if we were hosting hoards of people the following day (ok, a bit dramatic, but you get the idea!).

The balloons weren’t inflated until after her morning nap, and my husband inflated the kiddie pool in the living room after breakfast. She loved this! It was an event in itself just getting the pool inflated and her getting to play in it inside before the water was added.

I remember having this “the pool isn’t even inflated yet” moment the day or two before the big day. Like, who really cares? It was just us and inflating it on the day gave us one more fun thing to do that morning.

You Can Stay on Your Nap Schedule

Oh naps. I totally didn’t understand why parents were so into their babies napping before I had kids. Was it so they would sleep at night better? Ha! Now I get it!

We enjoyed Claire’s awake time on her birthday and let her stay up later than usual. But we were also able to start naptime when we needed to and let it go for as long as it did. Which gave our house that magical air of quiet that naptimes are so known for.

Save Money

While I did buy a few simple decorations on Amazon and at Target, we didn’t have to provide food and drinks for a whole party of people and we most definitely would have felt the pressure to do more to “impress” if there were other people coming over.

We had a just right sized mini cake that’s still barely touched in the fridge that we made with a box of confetti cake mix and homemade buttercream frosting. I snuck a piece the other day and had the thought that if I could do it over again, I would have totally made my own wedding cake with my husband! Whipping up some buttercream frosting and layering some cake rounds together is not rocket science. I could have done the crumb layer and he would have had the eye for the details. Oh younger me could have saved soooo much money if she would have known this!!!

We ate Bagel Bites for dinner because she likes pizza and we recently discovered that she’s a fan of bagels. Our plan was to order in pizza but we were too full from lunch. The Bagel Bites were a hit!

Honestly, if there were other people I might have felt more pressure to get her more stuff. We were fortunate to receive a few gifts from out of town friends and family that I saved for the day. I had made her a special photobook and that was the gift from us. And I could tell that much more than that would have been overwhelming to all of us.

Your Toddler Will Love Whatever You Do

I was impressed that Claire noticed the banners I hung up high for her birthday. I showed them to her and then about 5 minutes later I asked where her birthday signs were and she pointed at them. I was all look how smart you are! She kept looking up at them for the few days we had them up, which made me feel good that she knew they were special.

She LOVED the handful of balloons my husband inflated for her. She could have probably done without the cake and candles, but certainly not the buttercream frosting. And the few gifts that we had were more than enough. I honestly didn’t even bother wrapping them. It was just one more thing to do. I did put them in a gift bag and that was great for her! She loved carrying the gift bag around and taking out and putting the books back in.

It Will Still Be Special

We had a great second birthday. It was special for all of us. I did have a few pangs of mom guilt here and there leading up to our toddler birthday celebration, nagging me with their “maybe you should be doing more…” nudges.

But this simple birthday couldn’t have been more our speed. And when it was all said and done, I knew it was the right thing for us. I know this because we enjoyed the day and each other. We have the photos and our memories.

I will admit that I waffled on whether or not we should be having a party. But after this birthday, I’m convinced that we don’t need to. When they start getting old enough that they are asking for parties, then of course we will accommodate those requests. And if they don’t want big parties, we will be ok with that too.

We will undoubtedly attend other kids’ birthday parties over the years to come, and get cute ideas and I’m sure we’ll see how much fun they can be. I think the biggest metric of a successful birthday isn’t how many guests there were or how much money was spent or how many activities there were. It’s how did the person of the day feel. If they felt loved and special, then everything that was done was just right.

Are you in the big party or simple celebration camp?



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  1. I haven’t done a big birthday party for my daughter yet. My daughter is 3 and it’s always been just family. For her first birthday, I invited a few friends, but they ended up not coming. She has a December birthday, so people really aren’t that interested in showing up. Whether it’s the weather, holiday preparations or whatever the reason, winter birthday parties aren’t as big anyway. I decorated, got things with a matching theme and for what? Last year, I hardly did anything, but she enjoyed it just as much. She got cake and presents and that was enough for her. While I felt mom guilt, she didn’t care. Thanks for sharing. Glad I’m not the only one. I

    1. Well that makes two of us! It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one too <3 It's amazing how they really don't need as much as we think to be entertained and feel special and loved.

  2. We did a smaller one to, saves so much money!

  3. We opted to not celebrate our son’s 2nd birthday or 3rd with any big parties. The key reason was that inevitably one of us or our parents was sick. His birthday is at the end of February, so there are colds and ‘flus going around all the time. We ended up doing something simple at home with balloons and a little bit of cake, with a present. He’s too young to figure it out, so simple is best. But at age 4… that will be another story!

    1. Yes I’m sure as they get older it becomes much more about what they want 🙂 And that will be fine with us too 🙂

  4. I am so 100% in agreement with this. Also, even at the age of 2, some kids still won’t remember a birthday party anyways. I found my daughter liked being sung to with friends and family lovingly watching her blow out her candles. Kids are pretty simple. 🙂

    1. aw yes they are! I don’t remember my parties before at least Kindergarten. Even then it’s really just a picture that makes me think I remember it 🙂

  5. THIS! Yes, the children won’t remember this. My resolution is to save money during the times that they don’t know the difference in the day, make it special for the family but reasonable, and save the money for when they are older and have a request for a party or movie night with friends, etc. Consumerism is driving this craziness!

    1. Yes! I have been thinking a lot lately about how it makes sense to not overspend now. The day will come that they are asking for stuff and then it will matter more. But it so doesn’t matter now so now is the time to save the money.

    1. aw believe me I get it! I definitely wasn’t sure what we should be but was glad that it worked out for the best for us 🙂

      1. Definitely simple! And you’re right- they will love whatever you do and it will be special.
        I like smaller groups and numbers because there’s less pressure but great interaction too!

  6. Great post! I have a tendency to do too much and they aren’t going to remember those things. Just that you were there and made them feel special.

    1. oh me too! My husband stopped me on wrapping the gifts 😉 I felt bad about it at first, but it was so the right call!

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