by: Michael Kabel


The holiday season is packed with parties. But how about one more that's great for toddlers and their parents alike?


Throwing a toddler- or child-based holiday party is a great way to get everyone together without worrying about the reliability or expense of a sitter. It doesn't have to be a particularly fancy affair - children pretty much come as they are, regardless –-and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.


Connect the party's theme to the holidays


The holiday theme is always nice, but to entertain the kids you might include a central motif. This might include a particular story or fairy tale (think "A Cinderella Christmas") or it could be completely based on a particular favorite movie, book, or game.


Of course, you can buy pre-printed party supplies and favors from the store with dozens of themes and designs. Still, nothing's better for creating a memorable and thoroughly exciting party like creating your own decorations. The effort you put into creating them will engender more warmth from your guests, and they’re more likely to stimulate the children’s imagination.


Serve food everyone will love


The food at a toddler's holiday party should really be two meals: something fun for the kids, and something sumptuous for the parents. If you're planning to keep things simple, just making a pot of hot Irish stew or serving a delicious dessert to the parents will keep the meal flling without requiring a lot of maintenance or attention - or preparation on your part.


For the kids, the holidays are a time to eat what they like, and the party is a great time to let them "pig out" on kids-favorite food. Serving them hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and French fries will give them a filling meal without requiring you to buy or prepare a complicated dinner.


Setting a time and place


Ideally, the party should be held in a location easily accessible to everyone. You can have it at your house, in a family restaurant, or at a church or other communal meeting center.


Remember that the timing is tricky. Too early and parents can't come for work commitments. Too late and children can't come because of their early bedtimes. Therefore, early evening - say, between six and eight o clock - works best. The two hours is more than enough for the children to eat, have a relaxing playtime, and get ready to go home again.


Giving gifts and treats at the party


The gifts you give to the guests don't have to be anything fancy, and in fact they don't have to be elaborate at all. Any number of smaller party favors, like the kind given at wedding receptions and bridal showers, make an excellent finishing touch.


For the children, gourmet cookies and treats are the ultimate stocking stuff gift. Parents will appreciate cookies, candies, or even more elaborate favors and gifts such as candles, sachets, and photo albums. Some favors also feature personalization, and some come in a variety of designs and colors.