Everything You Need for Planning a Children’s Party
It’s certainly worth putting in a little time into planning the party and making sure you have all your ducks in a row. If you are anything like me, all planning must start with a list, so I love a party planning checklist! Once I have a list (usually in the notes section on my phone), I can then keep adding to it as other ideas come to mind. Then by the time I get to actioning the list, I know I have everything covered. I usually start the planning process a good couple of months before the big day.
The first thing I’d suggest you do is check with the birthday child that they definitely want a party and agree the format and the theme with them, otherwise all your efforts may be in vain.
Two Months Before The Big Day
- DATE AND TIMINGS: Decide on a date and the timings for the party, consider the age of the children and when their parents will be free to bring them.
- BUDGET: Determine a budget that you feel comfortable with. Will this cover hiring a venue and getting in suppliers and how many children will this mean you will be able to invite?
- VENUE: It’s a good idea to check with the venue what else they may be able to provide – Eg tables, chairs, lights, sound system/speakers, cups, plates, cutlery, serving dishes and utensils, waiting staff, a fridge, catering, a cake table and knife, entertainment? It’s also wise to book a little extra time before and after, so you have time to set up and then tidy up afterwards.
- PARKING: Will there be parking at the venue or near by for the parents?
- THEME; Are you going to have a theme for the party?
A Month Before the Big Day
- GUEST LIST: Confirm who you are going to invite. Are you hosting something small and intimate, are you limited on numbers due to the venue capacity or your budget, or are you inviting the whole class?
- INVITATIONS: Send out the invites. Here are some details that are useful to include in the invite:
- Name of the child being invited
- Name of the child whose party it is and how old they will be
- The date of the party
- Start and end time
- Venue address
- Date for RSVP (with your contact details)
- Dress code – will it be fancy dress?
- Are siblings also welcome?
- Are the parents meant to stay for the duration of the party (parents are usually expected to stay for the party until the children are about 6 or 7 years old).
- If you are providing food and drink it might be a good idea to ask parents to let you know if their child has any food allergies or dietary requirements that need to be catered for – they can let you know when they RSVP.
- If you are hosting a joint party (for your child and a friend/sibling), it might be helpful to the other parents to set out expectations in terms of gifts, eg. If you invite a friend who doesn’t know the other child co-hosting the party, are they expected to buy a gift for this child also?
- If it’s a drop off party, it’s good to get the parents’ contact details in case one of them is late for pick up or they need to come and fetch their child early.
- CATERING: Are you going to organise the food yourself, perhaps order in with Deliveroo, get a caterer, or may be the venue provides food? If the parents are going to stay for the duration of the party, you may want to offer them something to eat and drink too? Remeber to take into consideration any allergies or dietary requirements your guests may have? If you are going to hire a caterer, you will want to book them now and also let them know about any dietary requirements and allergies. If you are going to do the food yourself, take a look at my blog on Fun and Nutritious Party Food For All Ages.
BIRTHDAY CAKE: Are you going to bake one yourself? Or if baking isn’t your thing, you can buy one from the supermarket (they have some really great ones these days), or order one through one of the many lovely local ladies that make fabulous cakes? If you are going to ask someone to make a personalised cake, you should order this now.
PARTY GAMES AND ENTERTAINMENT: If you are going to organise these yourself there are lots of game ideas in my blogs: Children’s Party Games, Oldies but Goodies, More Children’s Party Games, Outdoor Party Games for Children. It may be that your venue will sort all this out for you, or if you are going to hire an entertainer, i would do that now.
PARTY SUPPLIERS: Now is a good time to organise any other suppliers – eg hiring a soft play set up, a bouncy castle, a DJ etc
Three Weeks Before the Big Day
- DECORATIONS – you may want to make them, in which case you had better get started! Consider who will be responsible for putting them up and taking them down and make sure you allocate some time for this. See my blog on Eco Friendly Party Decorations for some creative ideas.
- TABLEWARE: are you going to buy these or perhaps consider renting them from your local Party Kit rental.
PARTY BAGS AND FILLERS: are you going to create these or buy them ready made? Take a look at my blogs on; Children’s Party Bag Fillers, Eco Friendly Party Bag Fillers, Handmade Party Bag Fillers, Ready Made Party Bags for Children’s Parties and Children’s Party Bags – The Bag Itself.
Two Weeks Before the Big Day
- PHOTOGRAPHER: If you have the budget to hire a photographer, then you can sit back and relax knowing you will get some fabulous shots of the party! Otherwise, it is a great idea if there is someone in your ‘party team’ that would like to volunteer for this job, as you will likely be running around keeping track of the party and you will forget to take any photos!(Please make sure you have the parents permission before posting any photos of them on social media.
- HELPING HANDS: Recruit some helpers for the day; siblings, aunts, grandparents!
- COSTUMES: If it is going to be a themed party, dont forget to set aside some time to make or buy a costume for the birthday child. Check out my blog posts Where to Buy Fancy Dress Costumes for Children and Handmade Fancy Dress Costumes for Children.
- YOU: Factor in some time to choose an outfit for yourself!
- RSVPs: If you have not heard back from everyone, it’s totally fine to give people a little nudge!
One Week Before the Big Day
- THE BIG CLEAN: Organise someone to clean up after the party (even if that’s you, make sure you allow some time for it)
- MUSIC – if you want to play music, plan ahead on how you will play it, eg do you need to take a portable speaker with you? It’s also a good idea to make or find a playlist in advance; You will find lots of playlists for kids parties on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon music.
- CLOAKROOM: If it’s winter and everyone is going to arrive in big coats and boots, make sure you have a clothes rail or a cloakroom big enough to store it all. Will you also need to find somewhere for lots of prams too?
- PARTY DAY CHECKLIST: Write a checklist of everything you will need to take on the day eg cake, candles, decorations, cake knife, Party day tool box etc. Check out my blogs on the Party Day Tool Box and the Party Day Checklist.
- SUPPLIERS: Check in with all the suppliers that everything is still on track.
The Big Day
- Use your Party Day Checklist to pack up everything that you need
- Connect with all the suppliers to confirm they are on track and have the correct address for the venue
- Arrive at the venue ahead of time to decorate, set up the food table, lay the party table, organise the games and activities, set up a ‘present table’ and organise the party bags.
- While running around to make sure everything goes to plan, don’t forget to make sure the birthday child is having a good time!
- Remember to hand out the party bags at the end of the party.
After The Big Day
- When your child opens their gifts, make a list of who has given them what, to help with the thank yous!
- Help your child write thank you cards/texts/emails.
- Thank the suppliers and perhaps write them a thank you email or online review if they did a good job.
I hope this party planning checklist gets your planning off to a good start. There are heaps more ideas and inspiration in my other blog posts too. Why not check out my blog on Planning Children’s Party Games.