There are countless playspaces and children’s centers where you can book your child’s birthday party! But let’s say you’re looking to plan your big day outdoors at the park, or at your local pizza spot or even in your own home. The DIY version can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming…so let’s break it down and make it easy!
For the sake of this post, we are specifically targeting a party scenario consisting of the birthday child and up to about 20 friends from school and activities (rather than an adult party with zero to very few kids) with ages ranging from infant to about 6 years old. A birthday party for early childhood years should run about 2 hours long if you are planning to have your child’s friends in attendance. I’ve created an itinerary template at the end of this post.
1) First thing’s first, create your guest list so you have an idea of what space you should book to accommodate everyone. Choose your space based on 50-80% of your guest list to be in attendance.
2) Secure a time and location to accommodate the amount of people you expect to attend. For the little ones, make sure to take nap time into account. Birthday parties can be super overwhelming for kids. Even if they are being hyped up for weeks about it! Once the day arrives, it’s a completely different story, so make sure they’re well rested!
3) Now that you have your guest list and your location secured, you’re good to send out those invites!
4) BOOK YOUR ENTERTAINMENT! This will all depend on what the birthday child loves. Many children’s activities provide birthday party services. If there is a teacher your child loves, see if birthday party entertainment is something they do. For example, Fiddle Foxes provides birthday party concerts in addition to music classes and public concerts. You could also visit www.gigsalad.com for more ideas and to book local entertainers such as characters, balloon artists, and face painters.
**Your entertainment start time should be about 30 minutes after your party start time to allow a grace period for your guests to arrive.
5) Food and Drink - It can be a nice idea to have refreshments for your party guests. This can be anything from a bag of chips and a cooler of sodas, to a fold out table with veggies and a full bar! You decide what is best for your party and your budget.
6) Cake - There are so many options for that special moment when your child gets to blow out the candle and make their birthday wish! A traditional cake is always a wonderful idea. You can either make and decorate your own or hire your local bakery to create something special. You could also have cupcakes or even donuts! Get creative! Just make sure you have enough for all your guests.
7) Decorations - You don’t need to go overboard with this one (but easy to get carried away, I know!). Choose a theme or color palette and purchase the following items:
Plates, napkins and utensils
Table cloth (optional but great for easy clean up)
8) Welcome activities - As your guests are arriving, you’ll want to have something for everyone to do as they’re settling in. Beverages for the adults and activities for the kids. Coloring sheets are always a great option. Maybe you’ll have some toys on the floor to play with. Playdough, Floam, and Moonsand are always tons of fun. Make sure you have music playing during this time. Here is a PLAYLIST to get you started.
You’re ready to party! Here is your itinerary…
00:00-00:25 - Greetings and welcome activities. Your entertainment will also be setting up at this time.
00:25-00:30 - Clean up time! Make sure to clear away any distractions from the entertainment as the kids may want to color or play with toys instead of enjoying the awesome entertainment you’ve booked. Sing the clean up time song with them and it’ll be done in a jiffy!
00:30-01:15 - ENTERTAINMENT!
01:15-02:00 - Food, cake and birthday wish!
2:00 - Goodbyes!
What about birthday gifts?? This part is completely up to you and can be done a number of ways. If you want to open gifts during the party, this is a great thing to do at the very end after everyone has enjoyed their cake. Some families opt to save gift openings for when they get home to ease the flow of the party (it can be a lot of work!). If you choose to open the gifts at home, make sure you write down who gave which gifts so that you can write a cute thank you letter to your guest.