So, you want to give your child the best birthday party ever, but aren't sure where to start! Well, here's BabyZone's official party planning guide!
Six to 10 Weeks Before the Big Day!
- Determine your budget and then based on that amount, decide on the theme, style, and location of your party. For party ideas click here.
- Write a preliminary guest list to get an approximate number.
- Contact any out-of-town guests you'd like to attend so they have ample time to make travel arrangements.
- Begin researching locations or entertainment depending on your chosen theme.
- If you plan to order custom invitations, select and order them. (You can make or buy printed invitations later.)
Five Weeks Before
- Decide on the duration of your party.
- You may want to purchase any theme-related supplies to ensure you have them well in advance, especially specialty items that may rent or sell out quickly.
- Reserve the entertainment, location, or any special equipment you will need.
One Month Before
- If you're feeling creative, why not make your own decorations? It is a great project to share with your child, but you'll need to get cracking.
- If you plan on using in-house music, compile a collection of your child's favorite music. Ideally, you will create a mix tape or organize your discs so you won't have to stop in the middle of the party to change the music.
- Create or buy invitations.
- Write out invitations and either mail or hand deliver them.
Three Weeks Before
- Create a timeline or schedule for your party. Remember, young kids move quickly (and can have short attention spans); a game may only last 10 minutes.
- Plan your menu. If you are going to order any food, confirm with the supplier.
- Enlist helpers (family and friends).
Two Weeks Before
- If you're not baking one yourself, choose and order a cake.
- Order a helium tank and balloons, if desired. (You can also order inflated balloons from many party and grocery stores.)
- If you haven't already done so, buy your paper and plastic goods.
- Buy nonperishable foods and supplies.
- Arrange for any babysitting you may need for younger siblings during the party.
- Decide on your child's and other family members' party clothes. (Don't forget about yourself!)
One Week Before
- Call guests who have not responded to the invitation for a final guest count.
- Confirm entertainment and/or location.
- After confirming your guest count, buy goodie-bag items and party favors.
- If you haven't already, order any food you need.
- Pick up helium tank and any other rentals you need.
- Confirm food delivery and/or shop for and prepare homemade food.
- Bake cake or confirm bakery order.
- If your party is at home, clear your walkway and yard (if there will be activities outdoors). If your party is elsewhere, call and confirm reservations and any other details you arranged with them.
- Set up decorations.
- Gather game and activity props.
- Prepare everyone's party outfits.
- If traveling to a party site, remember to pack everything.
- Clean your house if the party is at home or if guests are meeting there.
- Set tables.
- Set up snacks and drinks station for adult helpers.
- Prepare tape, writing pad, pen, and trash bags near the gift-opening spot.
Day of Party
- Blow up balloons or have them picked up/delivered.
- Have cake delivered or finish decorating your own.
- Set out snacks and drinks.
- Take your time getting yourself and your child (children) ready.
During the Party
- Turn on the music and wait for guests to arrive.
- Lead children to a location where a helper can entertain them so that you can greet all your guests.
- Follow your party schedule, but be flexible.
- If you're at a party place, check periodically with host or hostess to make sure the food and activities are running on time.
- Appoint someone to take pictures and/or record on video.
- Hand out goodie bags as guests leave the party.
After the Party
- Talk to your child about the party events. If the party was for a baby, you may want to take a moment to record the day for your baby. (This makes a great addition to your online baby book.)
- Develop your film.
- Send thank-you notes to your guests and helpers.
- If you have one, watch the video of your party.
- Preserve party memories in a photo album, scrapbook, or memory box.
- Send relatives that could not attend pictures and/or videos.