Toddler birthday parties

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At what age do you start doing something really fun and out there for your little one’s birthday celebration? Is two too young? We’re coming up fast on birthday number two and I am so ready to plan a dream birthday party for Zoe and her little friends.

For Zoe’s first birthday, we had a family-only affair at home. It was awesome, but pretty low-key – a cute invitation, some decorations, presents and a cake. The highlight (aside from having family members there who had traveled a long way to celebrate with us) was the Balloon Time party pack which filled our home with helium balloons. Zoe loved the balloons, I loved how easy they were to blow up and decorate with, and all our party guests loved playing with them. In fact, I swore I’d never have a party at home again without a balloon kit. (Disclaimer – Balloon Time is a client at my agency and I did receive a voucher to try the party pack. That said, my love for these balloon kits is real and true, and I’ll be buying the party packs on my own from here on out!)

I’d really love to do a fairytale pony party in our back yard (the ponies are magic and come to your house. Then you can ride them, pet them, and decorate them with stickers and glitter. GLITTER!). Unfortunately, Zoe’s birthday is at the tail end of winter and the weather’s usually pretty reliably unreliable in Ohio. We definitely have to do something indoors, and the idea of opening my house up to a bunch of two year olds for pizza and cake sounds like a serious mess in the making. So what to do? I have a few ideas.

This past weekend, our family attended a friend’s 2nd birthday party at Gymboree Play & Music in Gahanna and absolutely loved it. Zoe had a blast for two hours and played so hard that she crashed early that evening and then slept straight through for 12 hours. Needless to say, Mama liked that. So, Gymboree is a definite contender. The price isn’t bad for what you get and the kids all had a thoroughly awesome time wearing themselves out. There was a great mix of free play, music (including singing and dancing) and some super-fun planned activities as well. Everyone had a fantastic time and it was easy on the parents – a serious bonus.

There are several of these fun bounce house places around Columbus. Anyone have experience with these? They look like a lot of fun but I wonder if the novelty wears off after a while and the kids get bored?

COSI is another good option for kids parties. Zoe absolutely loves their little kidspace and we’ve had a blast at their infant and toddler workshops. I know they would do a great job.

I’m definitely open to other ideas, but I need to move fast. What are some other fun options for toddler birthday parties? I’d love your ideas in the comments!

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.


  1. It seems like every invite we get for our 5yo is for Pump It Up (a party-only bounce house near 161/Perimeter Loop in Dublin), but as a parent, I haven’t been that impressed and I think the structures would be WAAAY too big and overwhelming for the toddler crowd. I also have gotten the feeling that the whole thing is all very routine for them. The party leads were friendly, but seemed entirely bored.

    Personally, I decided that aside from their 1st birthdays we weren’t going to do “friend” parties until they started Kindergarten. We hosted a 1st birthday at Little Gym (probably a lot like Gymboree) and that seemed to be a great place. I think anywhere that they have the freedom to move sounds like a good idea. I’m skeptical of places that try to put too much structure around activities for an already hyped-up bunch of toddlers.

  2. Lara, just saying. Make sure your party can say “No animals were harmed in the making of this toddelr party.” LOL Glitter and stickers on ponies.

  3. Thanks, Jessica and Trisha! I think we’ve decided to go the Gymboree route. Zoe had so much fun at her first party there, she is still talking about it. Can’t wait to surprise her iwth one of her own there!

  4. Hi. We have Studio J party place in Powell right on Sawmill Road. We have been in business for 5 years and started as an Art & Music Studio. We offer themed parties like Princess parties, Rock Star, Train Parties, Super Heros, a Hawaiin Luah, Art Party, etc. Al of our parties include everything but the cake; decorations, paper goods, adorable goodie bags & kids shop for their own prizes, an Art project (simple enough for the little ones.) We have a sand table they stand at and play, a sea of foam blocks they jump in. Some structure like; lets’ all sit at the table and decorate our goodie bags with stickers but some open play. We have costumed characters, face painters, balloon twisters, etc. you can add on but it’s not necessary. Our server just changed so our website doesn’t have everything back on it yet.
    Check us out, we also do play/art nights once a week, special events like American Girl Fashion Shows. **I will offer Lara Mom readers $50.00 off our full parties and $25.00 off our mini parties! I’m Jan, the J in Studio J and have 4 children and lots of degrees, Child Development, Teaching and Psychology. I love celebrations and the arts!! 🙂

    1. Hi Jan, this sounds great! I will definitely check out your website and would love to stop by and see the space sometime. Maybe I can do a blog post about your special offer to my readers. Are you on Facebook? Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. The picture of the ponies is ours… I am wondering where you obtained it from. If you would like to use it please inquire with the owner of our company, it is covered under our copyright.

    1. Hi Laura, I sent you an email offering to take the picture down or give your company credit. Please let me know what you’d like me to do. Thanks for reaching out!

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