If your little one has a birthday coming up, consider throwing the big birthday bash at the park. You won't have to clean the house and you will have built-in activities when you choose a park with a playground area. Best of all, most picnic areas in public parks are free. Adding a few simple activities and ideas will make your toddler's birthday party an event to remember.
Relay games are fun and work well in a park setting. Mark off an area with two long sticks or ribbons tied to trees. Divide the guests into two teams. Some ideas for relays include having each child carry a cup of water to one end, pour it into a container and run back. The team that fills their container first wins the race. Another race involves instructing each child to hold a spoon with a ping pong ball on it. He must carry it to the end of the course and back; if he drops the ball he must start over. If the playground is not too crowded, create an obstacle course with the equipment already there. The team whose members complete the course first wins.
Make sure parents are informed when water related games are planned so they know to include a towel and a change of clothing for their child. Sponge tosses are better than water balloon tosses because they don't leave behind pieces of latex. Provide each child with a water gun or squirt bottle, with buckets of water for quick fill-ups. Bring a plastic wading pool, throw in several balloons filled with water, and allow children to jump in and pop as many as they can.
Egg hunts don't have to just be for Easter. Toddlers will love them anytime. Fill eggs ahead of time with candy, fruit snacks, stickers, and other small treats. Ask a helper to hide the eggs while the children are distracted by cake or another event. Remind your helper that they are hiding eggs for small children; they don't need to be too difficult to find. Give each child a gift bag or favor bag to fill with eggs. Allow the children to take home the eggs they find as part of their party favors. If you don't want the game to be too much like Easter, consider wrapping treats in brightly colored pieces of fabric and tying with ribbons.
This activity takes planning on your part, but is really fun. Arrive at the park before the guests are scheduled to arrive. Pick 7 to 10 locations that are easy to find and will be simple for the children to access. Take pictures with a digital camera of each location and develop them before the party or draw pictures on sticky notes. Tape each picture to a place ahead of each spot so that it will lead the children on a path from one location to another. In the last spot, place small treats or party favors for each child.