Here are a few that have worked for me in the past:
1. Stash the best stuff. Before the party starts, put away anything that is precious and may break. This includes special toys. We also take ride-on-toys out of the apartment. In my experience, multiple 3-year-olds plus ride-on-toys equals maniacs!
2. Choose an appropriate time of day. Most toddlers have nap-times in the afternoon, some babies or younger toddlers will also have morning naps. Choosing a party time that suits your particular guests is key. Before 1pm usually works. If in doubt, survey your friends.
3. Don't make the party too long. Specify an end time on the invitation. 2 hours for games, food and cake is more than enough. Any longer and the the littlest ones will start to get tired.
4. Plan the flow of your party. We usually go with free play as people arrive, followed by food, some organized games and then the cake. Keeping the party moving will help prevent bored kids turning into naughty kids.
5. Make sure there's something for everyone. Think ahead about activities for any older siblings that are invited - maybe set up a LEGO or craft station to keep them busy. If you have babies coming to the party, make sure you have appropriate seating or ask the parents to bring something for them to sit in.
Have some of your own low-stress party tips? Share them below!
(Image: Kristy's Tropical Tudor)