When your child celebrates their birthday, it’s a sentimental time filled with gift shopping, viewing baby photos, and thinking about all they’ll be going through next year. But this period of time can quickly go from sweet to stressful if you try to understand how to organize a child’s birthday party! Luckily, we’re here to help you celebrate with the best tips and tricks for throwing a party.
Between creating a guest list, determining a theme, choosing the food and more, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to executing a plan. But it can be overwhelming to sit down and try to do it all at once, especially if you don’t know where to start or your to-do list keeps growing before you can cross anything off.
Don’t worry, though! We have all the party planning steps that will make the experience a breeze.
How to plan a birthday party
Planning a birthday party doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming if you stay organized. Creating a checklist and timeline to get things done will ensure that on the day of the party you can focus on making memories knowing that all the pieces have fallen into place.
Below, we’ve simplified the steps for you and included timeline suggestions that will surely help you have so much fun. Planning the party as you will have it during celebration!
Related: 125 Birthday Wishes For Your Son
Start things off with a checklist
- The amount of money you are comfortable spending.
- Localization needs
- Number of guests (kids only, family, friends)
- Date and location (indoor, outdoor, etc.)
- Event time and duration
- Activities (games/no games/pony rides, etc.)
- Food ordering and preparation
- Photographer (optional)
Create a budget
How much we spend when planning an event can definitely stress people out. If you start the birthday planning process with a set amount and, more importantly, stick to it, the risk of overspending is greatly reduced. Try not to change the theme halfway through, or let others persuade you into a “bigger is better” or “you should do this” mindset.
If your event is a milestone anniversary such as a first or 13th or an extravagant theme, you may need to start saving your money in advance, making sure you have enough by the time you need to start shopping or to make deposits for the event.
Since silver is at the top of the list of arguments among couples, planning an anniversary party to suit your budget will help reduce tension, make the planning process go smoothly, and dare I say, more delightfully. .
Pro tip for planning: Set a budget YOU are comfortable with and start saving up to three to six months in advance!
Related: 125 birthday wishes for your daughter
Think about a theme
Carnivals, dinosaurs, princesses and superheroes, the themes are incredibly fun! (Honestly, even adult birthdays can be exciting with choices like an 80s party, campfire cocktails, karaoke, or maybe a board game bargain.)
You can choose to decorate with a specific color palette, go with a book, TV or movie theme (think “Alice in One-derland”, “Two Infinity and Beyond”, have all the things paw patroletc.) or even focus on an activity theme (like having cowboy hat favors for each guest if you’re all going horseback riding).
Pro tip for planning: Think about what your child likes, and not necessarily fashionable.
Choose a location
There’s no limit to where your imagination can take you, but there is a limit to where your wallet can. Choose what’s right for you, your budget and the space you have available, and give yourself at least two months to order and purchase the items needed to complete your theme.
Parties can also be overkill and expensive – decorations, venue rentals, or whatever else you might need to purchase for a themed birthday party can add up quickly. Just know that it’s also acceptable to have a simple party with cake and ice cream!
One of the easiest ways to make sure your theme is exactly what you want is to host the party at your home. This way you can start decorating days (or even weeks) in advance!
Related: 150 Best Happy Birthday Quotes & Wishes
However, renting a venue is also appealing because it is an open interior space that gives you a clean slate to bring your theme to life. Having a place other than your home knocks cleaning before the party off your list, but you usually need cleaning afterward.
If your theme requires an outdoor location, choose one that’s flexible enough to accommodate changes due to unforeseen weather conditions.
Now that you’ve set a budget and decided on a theme (or no theme), let’s start planning the details!
Pro tip for planning: Make sure your theme fits your budget!
There are choices when it comes to invitations for planning the birthday party. If you go the more formal route with mailed paper invitations, be sure to send them out at least four weeks in advance, to give them plenty of time to respond.
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Email invitations are increasingly popular because they reach everyone immediately and allow them to respond quickly. However, people are busy these days, so be sure to always send them two to three weeks before the big event so people can adjust their schedules to be able to attend (and it might help to send a or two reminders). Whichever invitation you choose to send out, ask people to respond as soon as possible to keep the rest of the planning more accurate.
How many people are you inviting?
Birthday parties are special celebrations, and you can choose whether you want them to be intimate get-togethers with just your loved ones, or larger affairs with your child’s extended family and/or entire class.
It’s important to have an idea of how many people you’ll be inviting when you start planning a party. After all, this number has an impact on food, favors, cake and location.
What time are the festivities?
Birthday parties can be very special, but not always easy to do. Larger celebrations are easier to plan and execute for weekend dates. On the invitations, it’s a good idea to include the specific time frame during which you’re hosting the party. Unless you want an all-day event, be sure to be clear about start and end times. This gives you plenty of time to clean up after everyone leaves – a very important thing to remember if you’re at a specific location (or even home, TBH). You risk losing a deposit if you don’t clean up well enough after the party.
Planning pro tip: Send out invitations well in advance so you can get responses in time and have an accurate count for food planning.
Related: 33 Best Happy Birthday Songs
Order food and cakes
Once you have a number of guests, you can decide how you want to make the food.
Catering can make your job easier, but it can weigh on the budget. Having pizzas can be more economical, while also giving you a little break.
Another option is to cook all the food yourself or have family and friends help you bring dishes.
Decide if you’re only having snacks or a real meal and create a list of the items you need to prepare everything. If the items aren’t perishable, you can start shopping right away and save them for the big day. Fresh produce must be purchased the week of the party and can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance for optimal freshness. (You have enough to worry about on the day of the party, so anything you can eliminate ahead of time is a bonus!)
Not everyone cooks for birthdays, but there’s almost always a birthday cake! Do you make one yourself or have it made?
If you’re ordering one, call the baker as soon as you start planning the birthday festivities to get you on time (or fill out an online form). Check it off your list and be sure to pick it up on the morning of the big day.
If you choose to make one, you can bake it the day before and glaze it the same day. If you want one less thing to do, ask a family or friend to make it and bring it. Check in with them the week before to make sure they’re still able to bake the cake, giving you a stamp if anything should happen.
And no matter what route you take to feed your guests, it’s a good idea to find out in advance if there are any food allergies.
Planning pro tip: If in doubt, ask for help!
Related: Funniest Birthday Messages For Everyone In Your Life
It seems that with a little imagination (and a little pinterest), there’s no limit to the ideas you can come up with to keep your guests busy.
If your theme is “Wild Africa”, a small petting zoo may be in order. If the birthday is for a tween, maybe create something a little more low-key like s’mores by the campfire.
It’s a good idea to think of specific games you’ll want to set up and play during the event, whether it’s board games, lawn games, or classics like Pin the Tail on the Donkey .
Organize activities before guests arrive, ask friends and family to help you get ready that morning if necessary.
When smartphones just aren’t enough for your very special birthdays, you might want to hire a photographer. Check your budget and make it a priority to call in the early stages of planning your party. Great photographers are hard to find – their schedules fill up quickly – so book your appointment with them as soon as possible.
A lot of details can go into planning a birthday party. To make this the best ever, stay organized with a list, give yourself plenty of time in case you run into any hiccups, and never hesitate to delegate!
Next, 63 funny happy birthday memes!