The Ultimate Birthday Party Planning Checklist for Busy Parents

birthday party planning checklist

The Ultimate Birthday Party Planning Checklist for Busy Parents

Birthday party planning checklist

As a parent, giving your child, an unforgettable birthday party is important. There’s no greater joy than creating memories that last a lifetime. From choosing a theme, to planning the event, a lot of pressure and stress can come about when planning an unforgettable surprise for your little one. Today, we are going to give you the ultimate checklist that you can print, markup, and reuse party after party – year after year – and child after child… I think you get the picture :)

First Things First

Ideally starting to plan your kid’s birthday party 4-6 weeks before the big day will help avoid any unforeseen, or unpleasant surprises along the way. However, we know most mom’s throw something together in the spare of the moment, or possibly a couple weeks before the big day. Regardless here are the steps you need to take:

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Pick a date for your child's birthday party

This is probably the easiest part of the list, but it can also be the most complicated if your kids share a birthday date with another holiday or school event. If your kid’s birthday lands on a weekday it’s recommended to choose either the weekend before or after the actual birthday if you have guests arriving to celebrate. Ultimately, getting out your calendar and choosing the best day for your guests and family to arrive is the #1 task to accomplish before moving on. Once you’ve established your birthday party event date, move onto item #2 listed below.

Decide on your birthday party budget

To some mom’s this may seem like a natural thing but to many, it’s foreign language. If you want to celebrate with a large party, that’s ok but it’s important you don’t need to take out a loan to pay for it. Establishing a budget for the overall event is imperative to its success. Don’t deviate away from your budget once its set. After all, you set it because this is what makes the most sense for your family. After you’ve chosen your budget, now it’s time to choose an event theme.

Choose a birthday party theme

This starts the fun stuff! Picking out a theme for your kid’s party is essential to its memories. For smaller children choosing their favorite television show, the latest toy, or newly released movie is always a fun theme to use. For teenagers, their school colors/mascot, favorite professional or college sports team, favorite vacation spot, and even choosing a theme around their soon-to-be professional field of study. Try not to put too much stress on planning the perfect theme. No matter how young your child is, they’ll have lasting memories with anything you choose!


birthday party planning

Decide on your birthday party's location

Are you going to have the party at your house, a grandparent’s house, or a venue? These are all things to think about and the choice is up to you and the venue holder. If you choose to use a venue, we’ve included a simple checklist of questions to use as your conversation guideline. Many venue’s will include chairs, tables, tablecloths, and a few decorations so make sure you try to get the most included with the price you pay. If your negotiating skills haven’t come into play, this is the checkpoint to put them to good use!

During your conversation, make sure you ask the venue these questions

1. If event date is available

2. Is there a deposit to hold date

3. When is the deposit due

4. What is the venue cost for the event

5. What is included in the price

6. How many guests can the venue hold

7. What time will they open the doors for you and when do you need to return the keys/leave

8. Can you come the day before to set up

9. If chairs and tables are not included, do they have a discount with a party rental company

10. Are they partnered with any other companies for discounts

11. Are you allowed to bring adult beverages onto the facility

birthday party planning

Create a guest list for the party

Now that you’ve decided on a venue, your budget, and a theme, it’s time to create a list of who should be invited. From your child’s friends to favorite teachers, coaches, and family, the choice is sure to be memorable. After you’ve narrowed down the list, you should ask your child if they’d like to invite anyone you didn’t include.

Having a party on a small budget? No worries. Get creative with your guest list. Ask neighbors, family members or your child’s friends parents to help set up the party, cook food, or even for the tear down process. If you choose the theme and a few decorations, why not have your guests bring food dishes to complement instead of buying toys for your little one. Think outside the box


Contact Party Rental Companies

You’ve got the guest list picked out so it’s time to create invitations to send. Did you know that a cost-effective way to send invitations is to make them yourself? No, we aren’t talking about handwritten or handmade invitations done online and printed, we’re talking about the coolest new app that savvy moms are using called Wish Me. Wish Me allows mom’s and birthday party kids to create a video invitation and text it directly to their contacts saving time, postage, and the chance for someone’s invitation to get lost in the mail.

With the Wish Me app you’re able to get an RSVP and have guests let you know via video if they aren’t able to make it by a pre-recorded “I’m sorry” from the guest. Knowing who can and can’t make it is imperative to the overall costs, amount of food needed, and memories your child will have.

Birthday party menu

How to choose a birthday party menu

Depending on the theme you picked you might be able to save big by going to Sam’s Club, Costco, or other large item stores and cooking it yourself. Above we mentioned doing a potluck style where party guests bring food instead of gifts. Not only does this save you on food costs but it ensures your guests show up!

For those who want something a bit more lavish, try to keep the menu around the theme. If you’re doing a sports theme for example, use tailgating or finger foods as your menu items. For those who have princess or Disney themed parties, keep it simple with fruit bowls, veggie plates, and sampler platters with sandwiches. This ensures all princesses keep their princess dresses clean and use princess manners. If you’re not going to handle the food, contact catering companies and ask their party planner what they’d suggest. Catering companies typically charge a per person fee (aka: plate fee).

Did you know that pizza is the #1 kid’s birthday party choice? If you have coupons or a Little Caesar’s, you can get pizza in bulk for a fair price.

Lastly, part of the menu should be the desert and birthday cake or cupcakes. More kids birthday parties are going the cupcake route as they are easy to make from home and you can have your children help you decorate adding another special touch to their day. Get creative to add more memories and stay budget friendly.


A week away from the party

birthday party planning

WOW, those 8 to-do items were a lot and the party hasn’t even started! While you may feel like you’ve already spent so much time completing the 8 checklist items above, it’s important that a week before the party you square away any loose ends. Here is everything you should double confirm 7 days before a kids birthday party.

1. How many guests have RSVP’d

2. How much food you need to make/who is making the food

3. If you choose a catering company, call them to make sure you’re still on their radar. You don’t want it to be the day of your party and food isn’t showing up because of a miscommunication.

4. Purchase any decorations + party supplies such as plates, silverware and cups

5. Make sure venue deposits are taken care of

6. Make sure the cake is ordered

7. Find out how who is going to help you with set up and tear down

8. Check the local weather station to see the projected forecast and plan accordingly

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The night before your kid's party

If you’ve rented a venue or are going to have the party at a friend or family member’s home, setting up the day before will decrease stress for the day of the party. Try to get as much complete the day/night before as possible so any last-minute cancellations or changes that happen on the day of, are able to be taken care promptly.

It’s also a good idea to get all your decorations set up. This will help ensure you have enough and you like how everything is looking. Take some practice pictures of the place to double confirm the lighting is great.


The day of the birthday party - time to relax and enjoy!

Alright, it’s finally here!! The day of your child’s birthday party relax and enjoy. Any last-minute edits to the decor, party list, or menu are small in comparison to the overall turnout and smile your child will have on their face when their guests arrive and they can mingle with friends and family.

birthday party planning checklist

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