1. Plan ahead
About 8 weeks before the planned Birthday, select a date for the party. Involve your child, if they are old enough, and make them feel a part of the planning exercise.
Once the date has been chosen, create a planning calendar. Include every aspect of the party on your calendar. Highlight dates for things that must be prepared ahead of the big day, such as ordering a cake; hiring balloons, shopping lists, party food preparations etc.
2. Your Budget
Birthday parties can be geared toward your budget, whatever that is, if you are well prepared ahead of time.
Your budget should include all of the essential ingredients, such as the cake, party food, activities, balloons, party hats and lolly bags etc.
3. The Venue
Will the party be home based, a party in a park or another outdoor space, or will you be hiring a venue?
If you are going to hire a venue, then do your research and find out which venues will fit within your budget limits, and will be available on your selected date.
If you are having the party at home, make sure you clean and clear your home for the big day and be prepared for the clean up afterwards.
If you are planning to have the party in a public space, such as a park or playground, check if you require any special permits, or bookings – you don’t want your party to clash with someone else’s!
4. Party Theme
Decide on a theme for the party. This will, most likely, be age and gender appropriate, so tap into general interests of the group.
There are so many variations for Party Themes, however some basics don’t change; cake, balloons, party food and treat bags. These should reflect the theme using colour and/or shape. Other aspects of the party can be tailored directly toward the theme, for example a Pirate party may include dress-ups or costume, pirate party hats and pirate activities such as a treasure hunt or tug of war. This is where you can use your imagination!
5. Guest List and Invitations
You have decided upon the date and the venue, so now it’s time to make the guest list. Younger children may want to include everyone in their class at school, while older children may have a more established group of friends.
Once the guest list is finalized, consider the invitations. You may want to include your child in the invitation writing and preparation. Themed invitations give a start to the party atmosphere plus a hint for the guests of what to expect.
Include an RSVP to the invitation with a date, so that you know exactly how many children will be attending.
The guests should receive their invitations 4 weeks before the date of the party with the RSVP date for 2 weeks before the party, so that you have some adjustment time if necessary.
6. Three to Four weeks ahead
Start preparations for the big day. Make a shopping list of what is required and be sure to place orders well ahead of time for items that may be in short supply.
For instance, if you have particular colours selected as part of the theme, then things like balloons, party plates, hats and cups, streamers, treat bags etc. can either be purchased, or ordered, well ahead of the date so that you are not disappointed at the last minute.
7. The Birthday Cake and Party food
If you are ordering the birthday cake, then make sure you have placed the order well ahead of time.
If you are going to make the cake yourself, it may be a good idea to have a practice run before the big day.
Keep the food simple. Party foods for children can be healthy, bite sized and interesting. Some children may have food allergies, so it is worth checking this so they can be catered for. Easy handling of food will be more manageable for smaller hands and easier to clean up!
If parents are going to be attending the party, keep a simple selection of nibbles and drinks for the adults, which doesn’t require extra effort from the hosts!
Foods or treats that can be made ahead and frozen, can be done while there is more time and not at the last minute. This will make the preparations more relaxed and less stressful.
8. Games and Entertainment
Games and entertainment should reflect the theme of the party.
Depending upon your child’s age, a number of regular favourite games such as pass the parcel, treasure hunt, dress-ups and musical chairs are easy to organize and don’t add to the costs. The colour and content of these can reflect the party’s theme.
If your budget will allow, you can incorporate a number of activities such as jumping castles, balloon twisting, or balloon punching, dancing, entertainers or a petting zoo!
9. One to two days before the party
Check your Planning Calendar so that you don’t forget anything at the last minute. Buy the fresh food and drinks for the party. Collect the ordered items such as the cake, balloons and decorations.
Prepare the treat bags and wrap the birthday gift.
Prepare the house or venue for the party. Clean and clear up any clutter, remove items you don’t want damaged or tampered with during the party. Make space for any entertainment that may be coming on the day, and set up the decorations, the balloons, and the party table.
10. The Big day
Either the night before or early on the day, thaw out any foods that have been made ahead and frozen.
Make sure the table is set, and the food is laid out, and any last minute decorating is finished. Check that your games/entertainment list is placed somewhere that won’t be lost and is easily available.
Have your selected music playing as the guests start arriving.
Greet the guests with your child, and make a record of gifts, and who they are from, as they are presented. This will make it easier for post-party ‘thank yous’, and will save confusion as gifts and cards can become separated when the present opening begins.