Toddlers: 24 Months+

3 YR Birthday Party questions at the park

My DD's 3 year old birthday party is in 1 week at a Park with a rented pavillion. For the first time, I have invited daycare school friends and dance class friends this year and as I am fairly new to throwing kid parities for classmates etc, some things have come up that I am not sure how to handle with the schedule/party.

My inital plan was as everyone was arriving, we would have a t ball set and have the kids take turns batting and getting the ball unitl everyone gets there. Then when I think everyone has arrived, we would eat party food, do birthday cake, and then open presents. And after all of this, we will go to the playground area and play. Right now, there will be about 11 children including my daughter and about 24 or so adults.

First question is, what is your opinion on this schedule?
Should the order of things be eat party foods, cake, presents, play?
Should we open gifts there at the park? Or whisk these away to be opened at home? 

My only other expereince of a kids party of a school mate was at a gymnastics place, where they whisked away the presents to the car, the kids played, then they served cake and drinks to the kids, parents got no cake and only a drink if you went to their cooler and helped yourself.

I want to be a good hostess and make sure everyone has a nice time, especially and most importantly my DD.

I know there are so many ways people do things now a days but don't know what is best for this many people in this situation.
What are your thoughts?



Re: 3 YR Birthday Party questions at the park

  • wedseptwedsept
    Ninth Anniversary 500 Comments

    I have never opened presents.  Honestly, I think it will be overwhelming for a one year old to sit there, while you open all the presents. Also, I would not want to watch presents being opened.

    I personally would do cake last.  Usually, cake is the cue for people that the party is over. 

    Also, people can eat whenever they want.  But, since it is at a park, I think some people will eat at different times, so they can play at the playground. 

    You can make some sort of announcement that the food is ready once most people are there, if anyone is interested in eating at that point.  Also, inevitably, people will be late--so don't wait for everyone to start the party going. 


  • Don't open presents.  I have not yet been to a birthday party for a friend's kid where presents were opened at the party (in the last 3 years) whether the party was at a home or outside.  Especially in a park setting it is bad idea-you may not be able to get the kids to play in the playground if they are more interested in the new toys.

     I agree with pp-do cake last/let the kids play and have the food out (announce food is ready so most kids will eat at the same time).  And don't wait for everyone-wait 15 minutes tops to get the whole thing started.

  • I said this before on the other board, but definitely don't open presents with that many kids. It may take a LONG time to open 20 or more gifts. Who wants to watch some other kid open that many gifts for that long? If you MUST do it, have it at a time when the kids can do something else like play on the playground.

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  • I'm probably pretty rude, but if we were at a party at a park-- I'd take LO to the playgroup when he wanted to go to the playground. I wouldn't expect there to be scheduled "playground time" -- I'd put out t-ball or whatever. Then I'd just plan for everyone to do what they wanted to until I called them over for food and cake. Then, while everyone is gathered, if you wanted to do an organized game or something- do that. Then I'd let everyone go off to do their own thing again.

    The present issue is tricky. Will your daughter be happy to open gifts while everyone else is eating, before cake?

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  • I would scrap t-ball and just grab a bunch of balls and hula hoops and let the kids play.  I used to teach a pre-school sports program and t-ball is the worst.  They have to wait for a turn, don't understand that you have to be careful not to hit someone, and you have to have pretty good aim.  At the best of times, 2 kids are occupied one batter and someone who runs after the ball.
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  • I wouldn't do tball.  I would just throw out some toys and games for the kids and let them play on their own.  Some balls, bean bag toss, hula hoops, etc.  Party City has a bunch of this stuff.

    At my nephew's 3rd bday party, the play ground was across the road from the picnic tables so once the party was done (cake and coffee), then everyone moved over there.  I would do play- food- cake- playground.  I wouldnt do gift opening.  This is a hot topic over at the Bday Party board.

    I would find it odd to attend a party where my kid needed to be chaperoned and then not be offered any food or drinks. 

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