I think toddler groups are great. They are usually run by a church (a great example of active practical modernday Christianity) are staffed by volunteers (seem to be many retired ladies among the numbers) and cost a pittance to enter. They provide a social network for (often) isolated young Mums and give their kids a great place to play and find new friends. I used to plan my week round them when my kids were little and had a complicated schedule involving many toddler groups in different locations When they got older I decided I would do something back and ran my own toddler group for two and half years with the help of a friend.
We used a church hall and got the use of their Playgroup equipment but also bought our own things with the proceeds. I thought a Wendy House as a focal point for the group, and we got a very good one from somebody's garden which I spent a long time cleaning in readiness. The little girls liked chatting through the shutters and the little boys like climbing on the roof, I seem to remember. We also got a toddler garden with bendy flowers to go with it. What with tots rushing about in cars, buggies pulling carts, our rocking horse and slides it was like a mini-village with little Munchkin inhabitants. We got some carpets from the local carpet shop for the tiny toddlers to play on, and as something soft to land on at the end of a toddler slide, and to keep their behinds clean as the floor was very mucky, due to various other church activities.
I didn't mind doing this (there was a bit of self interest involved here, unlike the selflessness of the older ladies) as I got there very early and it gave my kids lots of time to play on the equipment and work off their energy and whizz up and down on a trike in a church hall (a lot more room than a house, also the sounds are diffused somewhat)useful if it was raining. We used to arrange all the toys on the carpets artistically so it was welcoming.
I used to make the tea and as a result can estimate how many tea bags to put in an industrial teapot , according to to numbers. I also know scientifically what people's favourite biscuits seem to be, and they are Chocolate Hobnobs.
At Christmas we did a party and I had to talk people into being Father Xmas. One year it was somebody's Grandad, and one year everybody chickened out and it was Mark, though at least he was in disguise when he did it so didn't dent his street cred too much. At Easter we did a Treasure Hunt with eggs and bunnies bought from Lidl, and at the Golden Jubilee we did a party with red, white and blue bunting and bouncy castles, and me doing face painting of the Union Jack on the kid's faces. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with being a little patriotic, especially when you consider the often unsung and unfashionable work done by people in the Methodist Church and Church of England in this country.