Target audience: 2- to 4-year-olds
Simple shapes are something toddlers clearly understand (in addition to “candy,” “toy,” and “That’s mine”). A circle party is all-around fun for them and a no-brainer for you. Think Cheerios, polka dots, bubbles, balloons—anything to keep the party rolling. Activities should be short and sweet, as kids this age would rather run free than sit still in circle time. Word invitations “From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the dot.” (By then, you’ll be ready to send those sugar-crazed four-year-olds home.)
Round fare can be a square(ish) meal. Start with open-faced jelly sandwiches on bread circles (cut with different-size cookie cutters) and clementines. Grown-ups can snack on Froot Loops or cherry tomatoes. For the main course, serve pizza bagels or turkey sliders. Round out the menu with jelly beans and retro satellite wafers (from $2, oldtimecandy.com). And it’s a safe bet that the parents will appreciate a little bubbly.
Think outside the box with a tiered doughnut cake (no baking required!). To build it, stack doughnuts and doughnut holes to form a pyramid-shaped tower, then sprinkle the whole thing with candy confetti. At serving time, if you want to sweeten the deal even more, fill the hole in each doughnut with a ball of ice cream (scooped in advance and kept in the freezer).