So I made a joke at the end of my original ball themed birthday party post, that it was so successful I might just do it again for Ellis’ second birthday. I really was joking. I swear. But then Ellis showed the same obsession with all things playing ball. Even MORE than Miles did, so the ball themed party had to be done again.
Reusing a theme is freakin’ fantastic. Not only have you done it before so you have a lot of the stuff already, but you can make it even bigger and better. Or you already know what worked well and what didn’t. We had just moved into our house a couple months before so I was excited to see how I could expand the games to include a bigger yard than we previously had in our condo. So absolutely yes, I highly recommend this theme for a toddler birthday party. It didn’t disappoint the second time around AT ALL!
10am has still proven to be our ideal time for birthday parties. We did Ellis’ Wild One party at 10am, but changed it up for Miles’ 3rd rockstar birthday. It was at 4pm and lots of people came a lot later because all the kids’ naps end at different times. Mimosas and brunch food are the perfect backdrop for this time as well.
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What You Need:
- Inflatable pool
- Packs of plastic pit balls -at least 2 and up to 6 for a more full pool.
- Beach balls -pack of 12
- Jumbo inflatable ball -1-3 depending on size of space. These are authentically jumbo. 🙂
- Bubble machine
- Soccer goals
- 12 Huge bubble wands -1-3 packs depending on number of kids in attendance.
- Bubble guns
- Sidewalk chalk
This is a super colorful party and it all starts with the games. We had one structured game that I forgot a key piece for so it wasn’t set up properly for half the party. But it was so cheap and easy to make that I’ll talk about it here, and of course what not to forget. Other than that, there weren’t many structured games, just various toys to play with.
The first main set up was just like our last party, a ball pit in a kiddie pool. I had two bags of plastic balls, and I bought one more for this year because I’m really not sure how many have made it around the house for almost two years. We’ve set it up at random times for the boys to play with or for a playdate. You could buy 5-6 bags to fill it up even more.
We kept the same pool from Miles’ party, as the bright colors fit perfectly. Also used the same beach balls and got a couple more since some wouldn’t stay inflated the same. Granted, we’ve had them for almost 2 years since the first time I threw this party so they help up pretty well. They add great size depth and another fun toy to play with outside the pit.
One of the biggest hits is the jumbo inflatable ball. We had one at the first party and I just had to order another one since we had a little more space. Glad I did! They are great to throw, roll around, play catch, and bump it with their heads like a soccer ball. My boys love to run and jump on top of them as well.
The bubble machine was out of reach this time. 🙂 I got smart from the last party where various kids fought over the one bubble machine I had. Never have only one of something desirable at a toddler party. Lol. This time, I added huge bubble wands as party favors and a couple bubble guns the kids could play with. This could tie as the best entertainment after the jumbo inflatable balls and ball pit.
We also brought out sports balls, portable soccer goals, sidewalk chalk and made this pool noodle game. I got them at Dollar Tree and used tape I already had at the house. You need two stakes to stand it up! My husband saved the day and got his friends to help him tie it to the fence to stand it up. Grabbed a few footballs at Dollar Tree to throw through the rings.
Inflate everything ahead of time and get an electric pump! Last time I said it was a nice bonus to have an electric pump, but truly it’s just necessary with the amount of inflatables this party needs. Another important tip for parties in general is make sure to get help! My husband, sister in law and her husband helped inflate the night before and a little the morning of while I finished prepping the food. There is no way I could have done it all alone.
Also, if you want to reuse the inflatables- make sure to keep them on soft grass or carpet so they don’t get holes.
- Circle garland
- Hole punch (optional)
- Paper dinnerware
- Birthday shirt
- Balloons (optional)
The games made up the majority of the decorations. We blew up some balloons but you really don’t need to with the games that are all over the yard. There were two tables set up inside for food and mimosas. I got the tablecloths, plates, napkins, cups etc. at Walmart but bought this pack when I did the party last time. The colorful circle garland I used on the front of the table last time, I put on the side of our garage. I tried to create a photo backdrop but it wasn’t really used that much. Haha. Not everything is a success!
Ball shaped food is still a super easy way to decorate for your theme! We’ll get into that soon. I bought the banner at Walmart but this banner is even better and includes a garland and pom pom balls for extra decor. And I made the garland with a hole punch I already owned (used it for the nursery mobile) and cardstock.
Ellis’ shirt was from an Etsy shop. It was super cute to have the basketball on the front and his name on the back. At first, I didn’t think we could compete with Miles’ “Two Cool” tank but they are both pretty adroable!
- Glass jars
- Gum balls
- Cheese balls
- Chalkboard labels
- Shatter proof glasses
- Donut holes
- Watermelon and scooper if wanted
- Granola ball ingredients
- Any other food you decide to serve
Let’s talk ball shaped food first. These glass jars were filled with gum balls in one, donut holes in another and cheese balls in the last one. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were cut into circles with a cookie cutter. And I made these no bake granola balls. Can’t believe I haven’t done it before! They were easy and delicious and perfect for a morning party food.
For dessert we had cupcakes and I topped each one with a gum ball. It was the first time I actually made the cupcakes myself- from a box mix with some tweaks. It wasn’t too hard and it felt good to save a little extra budget wise!
Croissant sandwiches, mini bagels and cream cheese and a fruit platter rounded out our food items. And also this little snack station kind of got thrown together at the end.
I used the same carafes that I use at every 10am birthday party we throw, because it’s just too perfect to not have mimosas. 🙂 The carafes were filled with three different juices- cranberry, orange, and orange/peach/mango. The type of juice was written on chalkboard labels with a chalk marker. Behind the carafes were the champagne bottles in a bowl of ice. Shatter proof glasses and leftover champagne flutes from an 80s NYE party completed the little mimosa bar.
Things to Consider
Think about where you are in your life and what is most important right now. The last time I did this theme, I also had a two month baby and was working full time. So we had some of the food catered and that is a huuugge stress reliever. But if the budget is the most important (like it was for us this time), there are still lots of cute ways to keep the food simple. The only I thing I actually cooked were the cupcakes.
Now that I’ve thrown two 2-year old parties, there seems to be a theme in behavior. They get overwhelmed at first. This time my son played in the yard for a while before people showed up. This got him used to the yard being different before guests came. That helped a little, but there were still times when he didn’t want to play and just wanted to be held. And that’s perfectly okay!
He eventually warmed up and probably had the best time after the majority of guests had left. Ha! So just always remember with this age- they have really big emotions and don’t handle change well. Don’t expect them to act a certain way or chalk it up as a failure if they aren’t having the most fun ever right away. They are just being two. 🙂 If you start with that realization, you’ll enjoy this crazy year ahead. Check out my two year old schedule for support!
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Love your tip about letting 2 year olds be 2 year olds! Such a good thing to keep in mind.