The cake: Cupcakes are a great simplifier because they're so easy to serve: no cutting or forks required. Create animal faces on iced cupcakes by using shredded coconut, mini M&Ms, cereal, wafers, chocolate chips, licorice, or whatever else you can think of. Improvise with whatever you like, but remember, small hard candies are a choking danger for the under-4 set.
Party favor ideas: Give each child a new Beanie Baby or inexpensive set of plastic animals, plus a box of animal crackers.
Extra touch: Serve sandwiches cut in the shapes of different animals with cookie cutters.
Great advice: There are two schools of thought when deciding how long the party should be. One is to limit it to an hour or two, the maximum amount of time a child can go without getting seriously overstimulated or needing a nap. The other is to have an open house, where guests can come and go throughout an afternoon, with no set time for cake cutting or presents. This allows other parents to arrive when their kids are fresh and stay as long as they can, though your birthday child will have to drop in and out.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.