I have now planned and thrown over 50 birthday party celebrations for my children and have plenty more to plan and throw. With each party I have learned what I will do again and what I will never do again for future parties.
Being the organized freak that I am, I know that to survive each party, I need to have it organized from beginning to end. So, I have created a list of 12 helpful party planning steps that you might also find helpful as you plan birthday party celebrations for your children.
Enjoy celebrating your child’s birthday with an organized party by using these 12 steps to birthday party success:
1. Choose the theme. Plan the theme. Take your child shopping to pick out their theme and party supplies or use an online party site.Once your child is old enough, sit down with them and allow them to help you in the planning.
2. Choose the party location. You have two options: celebrate at home or host at an outside location. I prefer the at home parties where we can add our own special creative touches to them, and I enjoy inviting other children into my home. It often costs less to have an at-home party. If you choose to use a location outside of your home, be sure to call and reserve your date.
3. Set the date and time. After you choose the date for the party that works best for your family schedule, determine if you will or will not serve a meal, then choose the appropriate time for your party around that decision.How long should your party last? 90 minutes is a good amount of time for the under 8 crowd. 2 to 3 hours for the over 8 crowd – if you have more lengthy activities planned.
4. Plan the day. Sit down and make lists: Theme, Guests, Activities, Menu, Decorations, To Do, To Obtain, and Places To Go.2 ideas I’ve used to organize my planning are: – I created a Birthday Binder where I keep all my lists, ideas and inventory of birthday party supplies and ideas from past parties. This helps me see what I have on hand and what I have done in the past to begin my planning of the next party.- I have used birthday templates from websites I found online by Googling “birthday templates”.
5. Invitations. Be sure when sending out your invitations that you give important details, such as both the start and finish times of the party, if a meal will be served, etc. This allows the parents and guests to know what to expect.I always request the invited guest to RSVP so that I know who got the invitation in case one is lost in the mail.How many should you invite invite? Many use this rule: your child’s age plus one. So, a 6 year old invites 7 guests, a 9 year old invites 10 guests. Do what is comfortable for you. Be sure to have plenty of help. Hire one of your babysitters to come and help you.
6. Menu. Plan what types of food and beverage you will serve. Will you make the cake or order it from your local bakery? If you choose to order a cake, be sure to place your order one week in advance. What additional foods will you serve – a meal or snacks? Take into consideration the preparation time, ages of children you are serving, and where they will eat it. Choose foods that are simple to make and clean-up.Individual packaged snacks and juice boxes don’t go to waste if un-opened and are simple to serve. One idea I have used over the years is to prepare, ahead of time, paper sack lunches in fun colored bags.To avoid spills I use plastic cups with lids and straws.
7. Party Bags. Be sure they are all the same or that they are the same for each gender. Use ideas that go along with your chosen theme. If you plan ahead you can buy items on sale and clearance at end of season sales. Be creative with your goodie bags by using: sand pails, Chinese take out boxes, purses, theme cups, small shipping boxes, decorated paper sacks, etc.
8. Game Planning. Choose age-appropriate games. I generally do not give prizes unless everyone gets a prize. Theme the games with your party. Having a Spiderman party? Then do a spider web treasure hunt by stringing yarn throughout your house. Be creative and search online for ideas.
9. Craft/activity planning. Choose age-appropriate crafts and activities, and don’t be disappointed if your child or another child does not want to participate. Allow them to observe or play quietly while the rest of the kids do the activity. Providing a sit-down activity is a great way to begin the party as children are arriving. It keeps them occupied while you’re greeting parents and getting kids settled into the party.
10. Organize all supplies into a basket. I use a laundry basket for supplies such as: candles, matches, knife to cut cake, tape, game supplies, craft/activity supplies, goodie bags, extra plates napkins etc. Everything you will need from the beginning to end of the party, so it’s all in one place, and you’re not running around your house looking for it. Also, have a box of baby wipes on hand for quick clean ups.
11. Schedule. Write out the party time schedule, and plan to be flexible. This will give you a plan for the party – what will kids do when they arrive, when will they eat, when will they do activities, open gifts, be given goodie bags, eat cake. Having a written time schedule will also keep you from forgetting an activity.
12. Weather. If you are planning an outdoor party, be sure to have an alternate plan in case the weather does not cooperate. It’s no fun having ten 7 year olds eating cake in the rain.Take the time to plan and organize your child’s birthday celebration and you, as the Mom, will be less frazzled on party day