How to Plan a Child’s Birthday Party
For some people, planning a birthday party is the fun part. Making sure everything is perfect and organized for your child’s big day can be super exciting to plan. For other people, planning something as big as a birthday party can be a dauntless task that one must slog through, and when it’s all over, you breathe a sigh of relief.
No matter which one of these you are, we can help! We’re going to break down step-by-step how to plan your child’s birthday party. Not the one they’ll remember in ten years as a disaster, but that super fun one. You know that one? That one.
Read to the end for a handy dandy birthday party planning checklist, broken down week by week leading up to the big day!
Though it might be more efficient to plan everything yourself, allow your child to participate in the planning process. It’s a great way for them to feel involved and like they are being heard, which will make the end result all the better.
Planning the Party
You’ll want to start some of the preparations well in advance. With your child, come up with a theme, think of a preliminary guest list (you can add more or narrow down later), and reserve a space if you are going to be holding the party outside your home. These things should be done six weeks or so before the party.
You may want to write out paper invitations or send them digitally. Either way works. Just make sure you get responses so you can plan for how many guests you’ll be having. It would be awful to get caught without enough party favors. If people have not responded in a timely manner, you may need to call them to know if they will be coming to the party.
Think of some fun party favors and goodie bags to hand out to children at the party. You can investigate handmade or store-bought crafts you can give out. Consider looking online. Pinata District has some amazing products to make your party a smashing success!
Think of some fun activities guests can do at your party. Of course you will have cake and maybe some good old-fashioned pin the tail on the donkey, but there must be some other activities to keep the children engaged. Think of some fun crafts the kids can do or some games you can all play.
Make sure to buy all the necessary decorations and party favors, craft and game supplies, make an activity itinerary to keep things on track, and hunt down people who have not yet RSVPd. You’ll also want to plan a menu, order or bake the cake, make any foods that can be safely stored for a couple days, and make sure all the decorations are in place. If you’ve chosen an alternate location, they may even take care of some of these things for you.
If your child has close friends, make sure they’re all going to be available before you set the date in stone. It would break your child’s heart if their best friend couldn’t come. When planning the guest list, keep in mind what kind of activities you’ll be having. How many kids can you manage? Will you have help? You may need to rope in some parents or family members for extra backup.
If you’ll be inviting your child’s class, make sure to pick up a list of students from the teacher so no one gets left out. It may also be wise to get a list of phone numbers so you can track down anyone who doesn’t respond to the invitation. Try to get the invitations out three weeks before the party to give people enough time to respond.
Make sure you list anything that the child should bring, such as a swim suit if it’s a pool party. If you’re serving any meals, make a note of it on the invitation so the parents know. If you’re showing a movie or playing some type of media, note it so parents will be aware. Some parents may not want their kids to watch certain movies or play certain video games.
We all try to be super parents, but everyone needs help. When wrangling kids, you don’t want to get caught with your pants down. Make sure to enlist some helpers well in advance of the party. Ask on the invitations if any parents would like to help out with the party, or maybe a couple family members would be willing to volunteer their time. Make sure you don’t spring it on anyone or back them into a corner where they feel like they have to help.
Some parents may want to have a party at their own house, or at an outside location. The nice things about your own home are that you already know where everything is and you can clearly define boundaries. Close any doors you don’t want guests to go through, and clearly define the party area with decorations like streamers and balloons. You can also make up signs that say something like, “Please stay in the party area” or something similar. Make sure to keep it lighthearted and not accusatory.
Another option is holding the party in a park. This is a great idea if the weather is nice. A park has many opportunities for kids to burn off excess energy. Be sure you have a Plan B in case of inclement weather, and be sure to consult the weather man for the date of the party before finalizing the reservation. Decorating an outdoor area is easy and fun. Spread around streamers and weighted balloons, lay out fun table cloths for the picnic tables, lay out colorful sheets or blankets to decorate the ground, and hand fun things from trees. Just be sure to clearly define the party boundaries with streamers, balloon clusters, and signs so no child wanders off.
Other locales for the party could be a church, community center, YMCA, or a children’s play center. Make sure the price is in your budget and the location is large enough to accommodate all your guests and activities. Book at least six weeks in advance to secure the location. You may not have much time to decorate, so have everything ready as much as possible. Visit the location beforehand so you can have a mental visualization of how everything will be decorated.
Make sure any supplies you use to decorate won’t damage the walls or floor. You do not want to have to pay a repair fee if anything goes awry.
Choosing a Time
If you have an older child, the timing isn’t as much of a big deal. If you have a younger child, time the party to match when they tend to be in their best mood. Choose a time when they aren’t too sleepy or too hungry. After a nap is likely a good time.
Planning a party doesn’t have to be a hectic affair. A good checklist will help things run smoothly, and you can gather major party inspo from the Internet. Involve your child in the planning to make the party really feel like it’s theirs, and they’ll remember this party their whole lives (or at least most of their childhood).
Six weeks before the party:
- Plan out a budget
- Choose a theme
- Make a guest list
- Choose a date, time, and location
- Reserve your location
- Hire any entertainers or equipment
Four weeks before the party:
- Make out the invitations
- Ask for a class list
- Plan the games, activities, and menu
- Order the cake
Three weeks before the party:
- Make a list of needed supplies and purchase them
- Arrange for some helpers
- Mail the invitations
Two weeks before the party:
- Create a party itinerary
- Double-check you have all the supplies you need
- Call people who have not RSVPd
One week-three days before the party:
- Purchase ingredients for food you’ll make
- Confirm date and time with the location and any hired entertainers
- Assemble the party favors and goodie bags
One or two days before the party:
- Bake the cake or pick up the ordered cake
- Confirm time and date with your helpers
- Decorate your home, or gather decorations for the venue
- Prepare any food you can make ahead
One week after the party:
- Send out thank you notes to your guests and helpers