Holidays & Celebrations


Birthday Party Planning Checklist

Birthday Party Planning Checklist

Planning a birthday party can be quite the undertaking! Having a checklist can help you keep everything organized and ensure that you don't forget about anything important. We've got a checklist here that you can use for your party, or perhaps it will inspire your own!

Key Points

  • One of the first things you'll want to do is pick a theme. Consider what sort of interests your guest of honor has.
  • Pick a party date and time far enough in advance to give guests ample notice. It's unlikely people will be able to come on only a few days' notice!
  • Think about what sort of activities you may want to have. If your party involves an activity away from your home, such as skating, make sure you make any necessary reservations far enough in advance.

Three to Four Weeks Before Your Birthday Party

1. Choose a party theme. What sort of interests does your child have? Do they have a favorite movie, T.V. show, or book series? Maybe they really love ninjas or wizards.

2. Create the guest list. It's a good idea to ask your child who they do and don't want to invite.

3. Pick the party date and time. Parties are generally 11/2 to 21/2 hours long. You'll want to give all the guests enough notice so they can plan ahead.

4. If your party will be taking place at a venue other than your house, be sure to make the necessary reservation. Ensure that you are familiar with this venue's rules for attendees, such as how many adults need to be present and the maximum number of guests.

5. Order or buy party supplies, decorations, party favors, activities, and prizes for games. Be sure to order enough tableware for the attendees, as well.

Two to Three Weeks Before Your Party

1. Send the invitations with an RSVP.

2. Decide on activities and games to play. Plan more games than you expect to use in case you run out of activities before the party is over. Ask your child what sort of activities they'd want, and try to plan accordingly. If your activities involve leaving your house, make sure you make any necessary travel arrangements and reservations.

3. Plan your menu. Make sure you account for any potential allergies or other sensitivities your guests may have.

4. Arrange for extra help on the party day from friends or relatives. Aim for one adult for every five young children (five years old and younger) and one adult for every eight older kids.

One Week Before the Party

1. Order cake from a bakery if you are not baking your own. Bake cake and freeze it, if you want to make your own in advance.

2. Make any other foods that you want to make way ahead of time and store them in the freezer.

3. Write out a final schedule of activities for the party. Double check to make sure you have all necessary supplies.

4. If you have other children, figure out where they're going to be for the party. If they want to attend, make sure you establish that with them. If they want to go elsewhere, make the necessary arrangements for them now. Make sure they understand that you can't make last-minute adjustments to what they'll be doing on that day.

Two to Three Days Before the Party

1. Buy remaining food for the party. If you want to avoid freezing any food or the cake, set aside a day to prepare all of the food. Make sure it's as close to the party as possible.

2. If you plan on recording the event, make sure you have the camera that you want and that it's charged. If you plan on posting the video to social media, make sure you have the consent of the other guests' parents and any other attendees. Some people don't want to be posted on social media!

3. Get an exact guest count. For guests who haven't RSVP'd, consider reaching out to inquire whether they'll be coming or not. If you don't receive a response, assume they aren't coming.

One Day Before the Party

1. Finish decorating the cake, or pick up the cake from the bakery.

2. Make sure you have plenty of candles and matches. If not, you can pick some up at a party store.

3. Child-proof the party area if needed. Make sure that any objects your guests could injure themselves on are out of reach. If you have any fragile items, consider placing them in a room that will be off-limits to guests.

4. Decorate any indoor areas (save outdoor decorating for the day of the party). Make sure any decorations are kept out of reach of pets and young children.

5. Prepare food that can be made ahead of time, if you haven't already.

Party Day!

1. Prepare foods and beverages that could not be made ahead of time.

2. Set up any decorations that you weren't able to the previous day.

3. When your guests arrive, make sure that you go over the itinerary and inform them of any rules they need to follow. For example, if you want to keep a certain part of the house off-limits to them, let them know.

4. Take plenty of pictures and videos to commemorate this special day! Remember to get everyone's consent before posting any pictures or videos online. It's also reasonable to ask your child if they're okay with you posting their birthday party online.

After the Party

1. Get everything cleaned up sooner rather than later. If you had to move anything to child-proof your house, move it back to its original location.

2. If your party was held at an external location, make sure you leave everything as you found it and that everyone departs by the scheduled time.

3. Make sure you have your child write and send out thank you notes in a timely manner.

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