SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twelve Steps to Organizing Children’s Birthday Parties | Family Economics

By Trisha

I have decided to officially add professional party planner to my CEO mom resume. With five children and more than 50 birthday celebrations to list as my experience, it is only obvious why I can now claim this. You can also read the Birthday On a Dime post from Andrea Deckard for great party ideas.

These hands-on experiences have taught me what I will both do again never do again for future parties. Most important, I’ve learned how to host an organized event that creates lifelong memories.

When it’s time to plan your child’s next birthday, wouldn’t you like to enjoy a well organized party? Use these 12 steps to assist you when it comes to birthday party success:

1. Choose the Theme: Talk to your child and ask them what theme they would like to use to celebrate their special day. You might choose to take your child shopping with you to pick out their theme and party supplies or use an online party shopping site.

2. Choose the Location: There are two options: celebrate at home or host the party at an outside location. I prefer at home parties where we can add our own special creative touches. It often costs less to have to have the party at home. If you choose to use a location outside of your home, be sure to call and reserve your date well in advance.

3. Set the Date and Time: After you choose the date for the party that works best for your family’s schedule, determine if you will serve a meal. Then, choose the appropriate time for your party around that decision.

How long should your party last? Ninety minutes is a good amount of time for the under eight group and two to three hours for older kids, especially if you have more lengthy activities planned.

4. Plan the Day: Sit down and make lists: theme, guests, activities, menu, decorations, to-do, to obtain and places to shop. 

You might even choose to create a birthday binder to organize your party planning. Use a three- ring binder with dividers to keep all of your lists, ideas and inventory of birthday party supplies and past party ideas. This helps me see what I have on hand and what I have done in the past to begin my planning. I have used birthday planning templates I found online by searching “birthday templates” as well.

5. Invitations: Mail your invitations two weeks prior to the party. Be sure when sending out your invitations that you give important details to allow the parents and guests to know what to expect. Be sure to include both the start and finish time of the party, if a meal will be served, RSVP information, etc.

How many children should you invite? Many use the age rule: your child’s age plus one. So, a 6-year-old invites seven guests and a 9-year-old invites 10 guests.

Do what is comfortable for you. Be sure to have plenty of help! You might even consider hiring one of your babysitters to come and help you.

6. Menu: Plan what types of food and beverage you will serve. Will you make the cake or order it from your local bakery? If you choose to order a cake, be sure to place your order one week in advance. What additional foods will you serve – a meal or snacks? Take into consideration the preparation time, ages of the children you are serving and where they will be eating.

Choose foods that are simple to make and clean up. Individually packaged snacks and juice boxes don’t go to waste if unopened and are simple to serve.

7. Party Bags: Be sure they are all the same or that they are the same for each gender. Use ideas that go along with your chosen theme. If you plan ahead, you can buy items on sale and on clearance at end-of-season sales.

Be creative with your goodie bags by using items that correspond with your theme, such as sand pails, Chinese takeout containers, purses, small shipping boxes, decorated paper sacks or Ziploc® Brand bags with fun bag toppers.

8. Game Planning: Choose age appropriate games. I generally do not give prizes unless everyone wins one. Pair the games with the theme of your party. Having a superhero party? Then pick a game where the kids can dress up like their favorite superhero. Be creative and search online for ideas.

9. Craft or Activity Planning: Choose age appropriate crafts and activities, and don’t be disappointed if your child or another child does not want to participate. Allow them to observe or play quietly while the rest of the children do the activity. Providing a sit down activity is a great way to begin the party as children are arriving. It keeps them occupied while you’re greeting parents and getting kids settled into the party.

10. Supply Basket: I use a laundry basket for supplies such as candles, matches, a knife to cut cake, tape, game supplies, craft and activity supplies, goodie bags, extra plates napkins, etc. Everything you will need from the beginning to end of the party. This allows you to have everything in one place. Also, have a box of baby wipes on hand for quick clean ups.

11. Schedule: Write out the party time schedule, and plan to be flexible. This will give you a plan for the party – what will kids do when they arrive, when will they eat, when will they do activities, open gifts, be given goodie bags, eat cake. Having a written time schedule will also keep you from forgetting an activity.

12. Weather: If you are planning an outdoor party, be sure to have an alternate plan in case the weather does not cooperate. It’s no fun having a bunch of 7-year-olds eating cake in the rain.

Take the time to plan and organize your child’s birthday celebration and you, as the mom, will be less frazzled on party day.

Do you have a birthday organization idea?

3 Comments so far

Post a comment

On Saturday, November 1, 2014, karen from plain city ohio! wrote

I need a time line for a birthday. Party that includes entertainment and photo time with entertainers. How long should a 6 year old party last. How long for each activity?

On Friday, July 22, 2011, susan wrote

These are great steps for having an organized child's birthday. I appreciate the list! Thank you!

On Friday, May 27, 2011, Mia from GA/PGH wrote

GREAT IDEAS!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!! =)

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