Planning the perfect party


A birthday party planning checklist

For all the fun and games to be had at a birthday party, the planning process can be an entirely different experience.

When considering party venue, menus, activities, favors and any number of mishaps, it’s clear that throwing a shindig that looks effortlessly fun requires planning and preparation. So what should be considered for a party without a hitch?

One to three months before:

The average birthday party should be planned one to three months in advance. Discuss themes, a guest list and potential entertainment options such as clowns, petting zoos, live music or mascot appearances allowing plenty of time to weigh the options, set a date and send or deliver invites. Deciding on a time and place several weeks out allows guests the time to make the appropriate arrangements to attend – plus, delegating tasks early leaves less to do in the days leading up to the party.

Decide on a theme. Choosing a party theme should be one of the very first steps taken in party planning as it helps streamline the process; selecting a character, movie, color or pattern gives party planners a guide with which to purchase décor, entertainment, favors and food.

Send invitations. Will parents need time off? Will children be attending other events at that time?

Book the entertainment and venue. Any entertainment or venue option will need advanced notice of party dates, times and locations. Booking sooner rather than later is the best way to ensure the entertainer and event location will be available. Should planners have a change of heart, cancellation is always an option – but there’s no guaranteeing that will be available for booking a party at the last minute. This stage is also a good time to reach out to a photographer or videographer should one be hired.

Three to four weeks before:

At this stage, the ‘skeleton’ of the planning should flesh out. With a theme decided, entertainment booked and invitations sent, it’s time to begin purchasing party supplies and consider a schedule of events and a party menu.

Plan the meals. When choosing food, tie the menu back to the theme through colors, flavor and presentation and carefully consider the needs and whims of the guests. Guests with food allergies may not be able to eat snacks, cakes or candy that contain or have been in contact with certain ingredients. Common food allergies include nuts, soy, gluten and shellfish. As a precaution, consult with guests about potential allergens before finalizing a menu.

Gather supplies. Consider what supplies and décor will be needed and draw up a list. Items such as disposable tableware, balloons, streamers and confetti are most commonly needed, but don’t overlook smaller necessities – if there will be crafting activities, games, prizes or favors, this stage is also the time to purchase them.

One week before:

At crunch time, follow up with guests who haven’t RSVP’d to ensure that all guests have been accounted for.

Order cake, balloons and catering at this time.

Three days before:

Purchase any groceries needed for the party no more than three days before the event so that fresh ingredients say fresh.

Prepare prizes and goody bags to set aside.

The day of:

Decorate the venue.

Prepare meals or arrange ordered food.

Enjoy the big day!