Planning a party can become an overwhelming event, if everything is put off to the last minute. Therefore, we have come up with a surefire way to help you plan for your event, without adding any more stress to your everyday life!
Four to six weeks before the BIG DAY!
- Choose a theme.
- Make a guest list
- Pick a date and time.
- Decide if it will be indoors or outside.
- Decide if you will have it at home, go to a park, or pay for a hall.
- Decide on the day's activities; what time to eat, what games to play, what crafts to do, etc.
- Order your party supplies; including favors, decorations, wrapping paper, tape, plates, plasticware, cups, and piñatas.
- Order your entertainment; get written receipts and read those contracts. (i.e. music and dj, magician, clown, farm animals, balloon bouncer, etc.)
Three weeks before the BIG DAY!
- Send out invitations; asking for RSVP's by a certain date and time. Place a list of those you invited next to the phone to record RSVP's.
- Go over directions for the games and make sure you have everything.
- Go over directions for the crafts and make sure you have everything.
- Go out and purchase anything you may be missing for games and crafts.
- Solicit help from family members and friends. (i.e. clean up, games, taking pictures, answering phones and doors)
Two weeks before the BIG DAY!
- If you haven't received any RSVP's, call to make sure they are coming.
- Confirm your helpers can still attend and what their duties will be.
- Pick out prizes for games and wrap them.
- Order the cake.
- Confirm your entertainment. If this is an adult party, hire your babysitter.
One week before the BIG DAY!
- Call all confirmed guests and remind them of the big day, double checking directions.
- Purchase film, batteries, video tape and back up disposable film.
- Purchase food and candies.
- Make up the goodie bags based on confirmations.
- Prepare the crafts and games.
One day before the BIG DAY!
Prepare your foods ahead of time. If anything can be cooked and reheated, now is the time. In the evening, when everyone is in bed, clean the house and set up the party spot. (If you rented a hall, you can usually ask to get in the night before, provided they haven't a morning event. If you are going to a park, you'll just have to wait till the morning of the event, sorry.)
Day of the BIG DAY!
- Pick up the cake.
- Blow up and set out balloons four hours before the event.
- Shower, get dressed, ready the kids.
- HAVE FUN!
Week after the BIG DAY!
Send out thank you notes to all the helpers and those who gave gifts!
Take a Deep Breath and Plan!
How to Organize a Birthday Party, Detail-by-Detail
by Katrina L. Cassel
Getting ready for a birthday party can unnerve even a normally well-organized parent. A surprising number of details need to be planned. Here are some tips that will smooth the way to your child’s birthday bash.
What Kind of Party?
The first step in planning your party is to decide on the basics.
- Will the party be at home or away? If you have a small house or it isn’t child- or teen-proof, you might want to have the party at a facility. If you have enough room or a yard where you can have a cookout or set up games, you might want to host the party yourself. If the party’s outside, have a back up plan in case of rain.
- Set the number of guests. Some parents use the rule of one child per candle on the cake.
- Determine how much you can spend. Parties at pizza places, skating rinks and other facilitiess run from $6-$15 per child. Parties at home usually cost less. (See accompanying article, Birthday Parties on 3 Budgets.)
- Decide on the theme. Let your child help you plan. For younger children, pick a theme and plan simple games around it. For example, if you choose a Blues Clues theme, make everything blue. Pin the tail on a blue dog. Play games with blue balloons. Older children might want a theme based on a reality show or a mystery to solve.
- Keep the party short. For preschool children, 90 minutes is long enough. Plan parties for the morning before nap time. School-age parties shouldn’t be more than three hours.
The Next Steps
Your next set of decisions includes what food, party favors and place settings you need. What do you need for games? What will go in the party bags? Make your first stop the dollar store. You can often find the same items for less than you might at a party shop.
- Line up entertainment or facility, if any. Meet the entertainer if possible. Don’t forget to ask for and check references. Book your party well in advance if you’re having it away from home. You might get a better deal if you have the party Monday-Thursday rather than on the weekend.
- Send invitations. Give the date, time, address, directions, your phone number for RSVPs, and if special dress or preparation is called for, the theme. It’s okay to follow up with phone calls.
- Arrange for help. Parents might volunteer to stay and help. Don’t be reluctant to ask. Consider hiring your babysitter for the party if it’s for younger children. She can help supervise games, serve refreshments and trouble shoot.
- Plan plenty of short games. Have more than you think you’ll need in case a game goes more quickly than you expect or flops. Have a favorite video ready for extra time.
- Have extra treats. Someone unexpected might show up. A parent might forget to RSVP or a sibling could tag along. A prize might get broken or a cupcake dropped.
- Check ahead for food allergies if you don’t know all the children personally. It can be disconcerting to have a four-year-old come to a party and not be able to eat the cake.
Now that the big day is here, there are a few tips that will make the day breeze by.
- Don’t worry about having a spotless house. Children don’t care if the bathroom is sparkling or the carpet freshly steam cleaned. Tidy up and save your energy for the party.
- Pick up the cake early. Check that you have enough treats, plastic silverware, plates and other items.
- Be flexible. Keep a sense of humor. The point of the party is to have fun, not to have everything perfect. Someone will spill a drink. A plastic prize will get stepped on and broken. Deal with it and move on.
- Guests might arrive early. Have a video playing or a craft set ready.
- Have the birthday child say thank you when the gifts are opened.
- Have a final fun send off. You might need an activity for the partygoers waiting to be picked up.
Katrina Cassel is a freelance writer and the author of five books.