9 Steps to Organize Kids’ Birthday Party
– Step 1: Follow our checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything
– Step 2: Choose a theme
– Step 3: Choose a Location
– Step 4: Make a guest list
– Step 5: Send Invitations
– Step 6: Organize activities for the kids
– Step 7: Set the birthday menu
– Step 8: Decorate to match the birthday party theme
– Step 9: Manage the gifts
Organizing a birthday party for kids can be a real headache for parents. However, a few tips are all it takes to create a party that’s just right: from invitation cards to the birthday cake, follow all our advice for a magical and well-organized moment!
1. Follow our checklist, so you don’t forget anything
As soon as possible
– Choose the date: depending on the age of the children and the time of year, choose a Wednesday or Saturday afternoon, close to the birthday date. Beware of school vacations when guests may be absent.
– Determine the length of the party: the average is two to three hours, depending on the age of the children. The younger they are, the faster they tire.
– Choose a theme.
– Choose a location.
– Make a guest list.
– Prepare and send invitations
– Set the menu and prepare shopping lists
– Plan the gifts.
Important: if you use outside services (room rental, entertainment, etc.), book them two or three months before the date.
One week before
– Order the cake and do the shopping.
– Plan the activities and the necessary equipment.
– Contact parents who have not confirmed their child’s presence.
The day before
– Cook, blow up the balloons, wrap the packages, prepare the decorations and anything else you need.
The day of
– Plan twenty minutes per activity and thirty minutes for the cake and gift opening. Schedule these in the middle of the tea party to calm the rising excitement of the children and provide a break between games.
2. Choose a theme
You don’t have to choose a theme for every birthday party. However, very few children don’t have a passion for the moment: a movie character, a job, an animal… Choosing a theme is a way to make them dream and simplify the party’s organization since the theme defines the choices of decoration, cake, or even activities.
– Prefer a simple theme to respect, unless you have a large budget and talents as a decorator and dressmaker.
Adapt the theme to your children’s passion and the age of the guests: the youngest prefers pirates and princesses rather than movies, for example.
– From nine years old, prefer more teenage atmospheres, like an afternoon party, a pyjama party or a pool day.
Some examples of themes for a birthday party:
– Colors: blue, pink, yellow and white, green and red, soccer team colours…
– Character: princess, knight, pirate, superhero, cowboy…
– Atmosphere: jungle, farm, ocean, zoo, circus, season, country…
– Themes: animals, cars, movies, cartoons, video games
3. Choose a place
If you are having a birthday party at home
– Define the rooms dedicated to the children and those forbidden to access.
– Remove all fragile objects from the former and declutter as much as possible to facilitate the passage. On the other hand, plan to block access to other rooms before the children arrive with a piece of furniture or a “No Entry” sign.
– Cover sofas and armchairs with washable plaids to avoid stains. Remove carpets.
– Define areas for play, areas for food, areas for sitting.
– Set aside a space for coats, scarves, hats, shoes or comforters. Set up baskets, paper bags or baskets with labels. Each child should put his belongings in a basket and write his name on it to be found when he leaves.
– If you have a garden, take advantage of it: the risk of material damage is more limited.
– If you live in an apartment, remember to warn the neighbours!
If you rent a room
– If you don’t have enough space at home, it is possible to rent a room. Restaurants, toy stores, town halls and parishes frequently rent a reception room for children’s parties.
– In this case, rent in advance and detail precisely the services provided by the venue: meal, cake, drinks?
– Ask about insurance and responsibilities in case of damage.
– Remember to reconfirm the rental, the rates and the schedule two weeks before the party.
4. Make a guest list
– Children up to age three don’t play with each other much. They’ll want to have family gatherings, but they won’t want to skip the cake and presents.
– Starting at age four, ask children about their ideal guest list. The younger the children, the more supervision and energy they require: limit the number of guests to about ten, less if you don’t have room.
– Preferably invite children of the same age.
Good to know: with little ones, plan on at least two adults: you must be able to take a child to the bathroom or settle arguments without stopping to watch the others.
5. Send out invitations
– Choose how to give the invitations: hand to hand, ideal for younger children, by mail or email, a favourite of young teens.
– Choose a design for the invitations: many invitations are available to download and print on the Internet.
– The invitation should indicate the address where the birthday party will take place (with the floor or access code for buildings, or even a map for isolated locations), a phone number and an email address, the start and end time.
– Consider adding a unique “Please Respond”) note or coupon for paper invitations, so you can get a response from parents and know how many guests are attending.
– Send out the invitations or let your child hand them out to friends. Talk to the guests’ parents again if you don’t get a response.
6. Organize activities for the children
Vary the activities
Little ones don’t play with each other. It’s best to have something to keep the kids busy! Change activities every 20 minutes on average, and alternate between quiet and hectic games.
– Adapt the activities to your theme: for example, a princess face painting or making pirate headbands.
– Set up a reading corner for the quiet ones, with a few cushions on a rug, blankets, a stack of books and comics.
Some examples of must-do games and activities
– Creative workshops: make-up, costumes, paper masks, hats, table decorations, drawings…
– Outdoor games: obstacle course, sack races, dodge ball, treasure hunt…
– Quiet games: angling, mimes, lottery, riddles, ball toss…
– Bring a piñata, a game that even teenagers enjoy! You can make it yourself or buy it ready-made in the game and party decoration stores.
7. Set the birthday menu
Start by choosing the birthday cake: homemade or made-to-order?
– In either case, adapt it to the theme of the party.
– If you order it, do so in advance with specific instructions on the decor. Please pick it up in the morning, or have an adult do it.
– If you’re baking it, prepare it the night before if possible to avoid surprises.
– For a memorable birthday cake, you should also focus on the decoration: play with the shapes of the moulds, the colours, the accessories or the decorations (in sugar paste, for example).
– Don’t forget the candles!
Be careful: ask about any food allergies or intolerance that the children invited might have. This will allow you to adapt the ingredients you use.
Complete the birthday table with a variety of sweets and drinks
– Again, adapt them to the theme.
– Fill self-serve bowls with candy or lollipops, popcorn or cereal.
– Avoid desserts that stain and melt.
– Have an assortment of bubbly and non-bubbly drinks in bottles or mini-bricks.
8. Decorate to match the birthday party theme
– Decorate the front door with a sign or balloons to help draw parents’ attention.
If you have chosen a popular theme, such as a movie character, you can usually find tableware that reflects that character.- Choose two dominant colours to match your theme.
– Provide appropriate cardboard or plastic dishes: plates, cups, cutlery, napkins in these colours.
– Put paper tablecloths on the tables, place the dishes and paper napkins on them.
– Hang garlands, posters, lanterns and any other decorative items that fit the theme.
9. Manage gifts
– Personalize your gift packages according to the theme.
– Gather all gifts in a large basket when guests arrive. Remember to check that the gift giver’s name is written on the package.
Have the children sit down before handing out the gifts at cake time.
– Let everyone give their gift, but have them sit back down to avoid jostling.
– Once the gifts are opened, let your child say thank you, then collect all the papers and clear the space before starting the games again.