Take a Deep Breath and Plan!
How to Organize a Birthday Party, Detail-by-Detail
by Katrina L. Cassel
Getting ready for a birthday party can unnerve even a normally well-organized parent. A surprising number of details need to be planned. Here are some tips that will smooth the way to your child’s birthday bash.
What Kind of Party?
The first step in planning your party is to decide on the basics.
- Will the party be at home or away? If you have a small house or it isn’t child- or teen-proof, you might want to have the party at a facility. If you have enough room or a yard where you can have a cookout or set up games, you might want to host the party yourself. If the party’s outside, have a back up plan in case of rain.
- Set the number of guests. Some parents use the rule of one child per candle on the cake.
- Determine how much you can spend. Parties at pizza places, skating rinks and other facilitiess run from $6-$15 per child. Parties at home usually cost less. (See accompanying article, Birthday Parties on 3 Budgets.)
- Decide on the theme. Let your child help you plan. For younger children, pick a theme and plan simple games around it. For example, if you choose a Blues Clues theme, make everything blue. Pin the tail on a blue dog. Play games with blue balloons. Older children might want a theme based on a reality show or a mystery to solve.
- Keep the party short. For preschool children, 90 minutes is long enough. Plan parties for the morning before nap time. School-age parties shouldn’t be more than three hours.
The Next Steps
Your next set of decisions includes what food, party favors and place settings you need. What do you need for games? What will go in the party bags? Make your first stop the dollar store. You can often find the same items for less than you might at a party shop.
- Line up entertainment or facility, if any. Meet the entertainer if possible. Don’t forget to ask for and check references. Book your party well in advance if you’re having it away from home. You might get a better deal if you have the party Monday-Thursday rather than on the weekend.
- Send invitations. Give the date, time, address, directions, your phone number for RSVPs, and if special dress or preparation is called for, the theme. It’s okay to follow up with phone calls.
- Arrange for help. Parents might volunteer to stay and help. Don’t be reluctant to ask. Consider hiring your babysitter for the party if it’s for younger children. She can help supervise games, serve refreshments and trouble shoot.
- Plan plenty of short games. Have more than you think you’ll need in case a game goes more quickly than you expect or flops. Have a favorite video ready for extra time.
- Have extra treats. Someone unexpected might show up. A parent might forget to RSVP or a sibling could tag along. A prize might get broken or a cupcake dropped.
- Check ahead for food allergies if you don’t know all the children personally. It can be disconcerting to have a four-year-old come to a party and not be able to eat the cake.
Now that the big day is here, there are a few tips that will make the day breeze by.
- Don’t worry about having a spotless house. Children don’t care if the bathroom is sparkling or the carpet freshly steam cleaned. Tidy up and save your energy for the party.
- Pick up the cake early. Check that you have enough treats, plastic silverware, plates and other items.
- Be flexible. Keep a sense of humor. The point of the party is to have fun, not to have everything perfect. Someone will spill a drink. A plastic prize will get stepped on and broken. Deal with it and move on.
- Guests might arrive early. Have a video playing or a craft set ready.
- Have the birthday child say thank you when the gifts are opened.
- Have a final fun send off. You might need an activity for the partygoers waiting to be picked up.
Katrina Cassel is a freelance writer and the author of five books.
ESSAY ON MY BIRTHDAY
BIRTHDAYS it is a favourite day of all the children. It comes only once in a whole year. Every year we celebrate our birthdays with great joy and happiness. Last year I celebrated my birthday the way I wanted to do it.
My parents were very gracious to ask me for anything on that day. I said them about my wish and plans to celebrate this birthday and asked them to arrange a grand party for my friends. My mom and dad love me so much that they were ready to fulfil all my wishes.
My mother is my best friend and when it comes to inviting my friends home. She helped me to make the invitation cards and fill them with names whom to invite to a birthday party. She made a list of all the friends. The contents and colours of each card were different according to the taste of my particular friend to whom it was sent.
After preparing cards, she took me to the market and brought balloons and streamers, masks and caps, other things to decorate the house. We ordered the cake and bought wrapping paper along with the return gifts. And we also purchased the new clothes for me then after so many shopping, we returned back to home. We reached home and started the preparation for the party.
We had decorated the hall with the streamers and balloons all over the walls and on the fans and doors and windows. We arranged the masks and caps in such a manner that each friend of mine would pick one of his choices. On that day my mother was very busy. She spent the whole day in the kitchen by cooking for all my friends.
At evening all my friends started coming and the cake also arrived in the evening. All my friends were having fun at my birthday party, as my father arranged the games for everyone and he became the referee for all the games. He arranged musical chairs, passing the parcel, follow the leader, dumb charades, etc. and all the children enjoyed themselves.
After the games, the party started the cake was arranged in the centre. I was well dressed and ready to cut the cake. Everybody started wishing happy birthday after candles were blown by me, then I cut the cake and I offered the cake first to my mom and dad and they also feed me. Then everyone was settled down and the cake and snacks were distributed to all. After that we all had tea. The cake was in a beautiful shape of Barbie doll it was my choice. I was drowned in gifts after everyone’s gifts I gave the return gifts to all my friends. Then they left for their homes. And I went to bed with the satisfaction of having enjoyed the best birthday party of my life.