The complete birthday party timeline planner
Party day is only one day for having fun. But party planning is a whole lot of days for having fun. Get the party started early from the moment you decide on your party date and enjoy the ride. We've prepared a fail-safe guide to ensure you don't end up racing around looking for matches while those naughty little guests sneak finger-scoops of icing off the cake.
Let the countdown begin.
4-8 weeks out
- Decide on the number of guests. If the party will be held outside your home, select and reserve a venue. If you choose an outdoor location, come up with a plan for bad weather.
- Let your child help choose the theme.
- Make a guest list
- Book entertainment, if necessary.
- Order personalised invitations or print your own invitations.
2-3 weeks out
- Fill out and mail invitations. Make sure you write your child's last name on the invitation so there is no confusion over which Emma it is. Also, add a note with the guest list so mums can organise car pooling easily.
- Keep a list of invitees near the phone to track RSVPs.
- Enlist your child's help to select activities and games for the party.
- Assemble prizes.
- Decide on party favours.
- Plan the party food menu.
- Order your cake if you aren't baking it yourself.
- Ask a relative or babysitter to help out during the festivities.
One week ahead
- Decide on the order of activities.
- Road test new games and activities.
- Make a shopping list.
- Buy paper plates, napkins, decorations, balloons, party hats, and other supplies.
- Confirm reservations for entertainment or party location.
2-3 days ahead
- Call guests who haven't RSVPd.
- Shop for food, candles for the cake, lollies for lolly bags or the piñata.
- Make sure you have new batteries and film for the camera or have charged the digital camera.
- Assemble lolly bags.
One day ahead
- Clean the party area. Put away items that may be dangerous or distracting.
- Bake or pick up the cake.
- Order takeout food (such as pizza), if necessary.
- Discuss party expectations with your children.
- Practice saying "thank you" with younger children.
4-5 hours before guests arrive
- Set the table.
- Lay out crafts.
- Inflate balloons.
- Decorate the house.
- Tie balloons to your mailbox or front porch so guests can locate the party easily.
- Find matches for candles.
- Make sure you have a pen and paper to record gifts.
- Have a large garbage bag available to dispose of wrapping paper.
1 hour before guests arrive
- Take pets to a safe place until the party is over. Some kids may be frightened and others allergic.
- Dress your children and yourself.
- Put the food on the table and candles in the cake.
- Set up crafts and activities.
During the party
- Greet your guests with the birthday party boy or girl.
- If parents are dropping off children, confirm the pick-up time (and be sure you have a contact number in case of emergency).
- Take photos (or ask another adult to do so).
The day after the party
- Help your child write thank-you notes to party guests.