TheUltimate Party Checklist for a Stress-Free Kid Party!
2 Months Before
Pick a Theme (and a Budget)
In the next 8 weeks worth of shopping trips you will invariably run into some perfect party items – for the theme you’ve decided on – especially items on sale, so it is crucial to decide on a theme really insanely early (all you have to do is decide on the theme).
Set a Tentative Date
Check your schedule carefully and make sure that your child’s favourite people can make it, before you set the date.
Start making the decorations
Handmade can be cheap/nearly free – but takes a lot of time – start early and do it a little each day – makes it stress- free. Even a very simple long paper chain can look very cool!
Consider making a piñata – but start now (!)
Kids love Pinatas – and they don’t take as much “hands on time” as you suspect – slap on some wet pasty newspaper strips, put aside for a day (or 2) and repeat the process a couple times.
Add some features in the last round of paste and paper wrangling. Then paint (not forgetting to add the rope ). The waiting time can add up to week or two and – trying to get a piñata to dry in a hurry is no fun!
Hire Help and /or Entertainment
A babysitter to help with smaller children, a high school student photo bug with a good camera to take pictures… book them early as the good ones get booked up first!
Book the Venue
If it isn’t to be a home party.
6 Weeks Before
Start to decide on Games and Activities
This is the most crucial component of the party – more than the décor and even the food. Some activities will have a lot of prep, while others can be put together on the spot.
Write them down and make sure there are lot of activities on the list so if some games don’t “fly” you can do other ones.
Please note that if you can’t explain the game in 30 seconds don’t do it!(unless you have a party for older children).
Decide whether Siblings are invited and if it is a “drop-the-kid-off” party.
It can be rather difficult to try to “fight a war on 2 fronts” – entertaining both kids and parents!
Order Party Supplies
Candles, Decorations, Favour Bags, Prizes, etc… Order early so that you don’t have to pay for express service.
1 Month Before
Send out Invites
Remember that less can be more (especially for younger children). Fewer children can mean a more enjoyable party.
When sending out the invites consider making a request for special attire.
Wear black for a spy party, clashing bold primary colours for a superhero party, a pretty dress for a princess party – nothing to difficult for the guests to find. This can add to the party ambiance – and makes for cute pictures!
Confirm with Helpers
A party guest’s mom, a friendly neighbour, a pal, a favourite aunt…
Confirm the Guest List
Can be tricky – if they don’t RSVP – call them, get on this early as when you know someone is definitely not going to be there you can invite an extra child. Set an RSVP deadline.
2 Weeks Before
First Round of Shopping
Especially for all those non-perishables like cake flour.
Finish up all those Craft Projects
Piñata and any Handmade items
1 Week Before
Don’t leave it all to the last minute.
Set up your Musical Play List
A cd disc is nice as you can move a boombox around the room with you.
Have a run through with your chosen Craft Activity
If you are going to have craft time as a warm-up, prep the craft stuff (such as pre-cutting items) so it will only take a child 15-20 minutes to complete
Prepare the Food
That can be prepped ahead of time You can save money and make all the ice for the party (one ice tray at a time).
Clean the House
Don’t bother with the areas that you will be “cordoned off”
You may want to double check with your helpers
Make sure that they will indeed be at the party (you don’t want to be blindsided by someone who cancels at the last minute).
Make the Cake and Freeze the un-iced cake
Homemade butter cream -already in the piping bags – freezes nicely too. The advantages to this are that you aren’t making the cake at the heart-pounding last minute and a frozen cake ices easily – especially if you do a thin “crumb coat” (loads of cake decorating advice in the Cake Decorating section of our Ultimate Party Guide Article).
A Day or Two Before
Do the second round of shopping
This is for more perishable items.
Recharge your camera batteries!
Make sure you have an empty memory card too. It’s always a good idea to hand the camera to someone at the party and let them snap a few pics (you will be too busy).
Day of Party
Cleaning Touch-up and Finish the decorating
Hopefully you’ll have gotten a jump on this a few days before – (have the Birthday child help). Don’t forget the clean towels and extra toilet paper and kleenex (for those runny noses/sticky fingers).
Also if you have time – try to do a quick tidy of the fridge (as you will need space for the cake/bottles of soda and it will be easier to move the food in and out if the fridge is tidy with extra room.)
A few extra things that are nice to do: taking out the trash; setting up a “cloakroom” area; bringing out the extra chairs and having the table all ready set.
Also set up a tripod (if you haven’t one – see if you can borrow one) near where the cake candles will be lit and blown out. (A much nicer photo if you turn off the flash and use the ambient light).
Take a Picture of the House looking so nice and clean with all the decorations (pat yourself on the back!) It is nice to have a shot of the “calm before the storm”.
Pick up the Cake
If it is store-bought and not homemade- storebought is just as good!
If you made and froze the cake – ice and let defrost
Set up the Activity Stations
More details in in the Party Activities Section of our Ultimate Party Guide Article
Dress in Costume
Especially if you are a big kid yourself!
Blow up the Balloons
Use a Pump and have someone help you if you can – as you can get dizzy and sick trying to blow up lots of balloons under duress. A pump is more hygienic too! If you want lots of Balloons you may want to consider investing in some “High Float”- a jelly that you squeeze into quality latex balloons that will keep balloons fresh for days and days! (so you can blow them up the night before).
During the Party
Insist on one group shot
Even though it can be a pain to set up – in later years you will want to remember who was there. Pick a good time ( maybe… pre-cake or pre-pinata).
Try to get one shot of each guest separately
To be emailed after – loads of Photo-op advice in the photo-op section of our Ultimate Party Guide article.
Party! and don’t forget to enjoy yourself…
Have a “Gate Keeper” (good pal) at the door
Have the “Gate Keeper” send the parents quickly on their way without delay
After the party
Don’t forget to send out the Thank-you’s!
Try setting the condition that the Birthday child can’t use gifts until thank you’s are sent. Write down the birthday child’s verbal thank you verbatim on a postcard and have the child simply sign their name.
It may seem excessive to start so early … but if you work at itslowly-but-surely the party will come off smoothly and with a minimum of stress.
Just a little every day… I find that when I watch tv in the evening for an hour or so I can do something with my hands, (a lot of TV shows don’t require your full attention to follow along!)
If running a kids’ party fills you with dread – enlist the help of a good pal.
Lots of women will enjoy “whooping it up” with the kids… especially when you’ve made the celebration room fun and have made the food and planned everything!
At the end of the day the kids just want to be together and play (no screens allowed!)
Focus on having fun with the kids, not trying to “keep up with the Joneses”!