Planning Children’s Theme Birthday Parties at Home

Planning a children’s birthday party? Relax! The key to successful parties is really in the preparations you make before your child’s special day. Taking the time to get things organized ahead of time can make for a smoother and more enjoyable party for all! So, consider these basic party planning tips before you send out those invitations…

Know Thyself: Be realistic about what you can handle. Planning children’s parties takes time and effort, but running children’s parties takes a certain degree of patience and tolerance for the overall noise and mess. Each age group presents a particular challenge. Limit the size and scope of the party according to your comfort level.

Call in Reinforcements: Ask a best friend or a few mothers to stay and help during the party. You can always use another set of hands to help serve, clean up or assist with activities and crafts. Extra supervision is always a plus, especially when you are entertaining a younger group of children. Encourage parents of young children to stay. Sometimes little children experience separation anxiety even at parties.  Make these arrangement ahead of time and offer to reciprocate by helping out at the next party if possible.

Guest Count: When you are unsure of how many children to invite to a home party, use the guideline in which the birthday child’s age determines the approximate number of party guests, ie: an 8 year old’s party translates into approximately 8 guests.  Little children (2,3,4) however, can have more guests as long as adults are also staying for the festivities. Parties which are too large can be harder to manage and control.  Keep in mind your space limitations (indoor and outdoor), budget and comfort level. 

Set a Time Limit: Set a time limit ahead of time. Indicate the party times on your invitation so parents know exactly when to drop off and pick up their child. Open ended parties for children can be difficult since kids "run out of steam"  quickly when they are excited and can get cranky as the party wears on. As a rule, keep it short and sweet!

Try a Theme Party: Theme parties are a lot of fun! Themes are great icebreakers and encourage children to participate. Even if children are shy, they can have conversations about the party theme. Make sure to choose an interesting theme that works well for your age group and have fun with it! Children can get involved ahead of time, for example, being asked to wear their favorite sports team shirt if your are planning a sports theme party. Themes really add to the fun and creativity of the party. 

Write Down a Schedule: Write down a schedule of the planned party events including time estimates. Use this schedule as a guide to keep things on track and moving along. Be flexible! If the pizza doesn’t show up at 3pm as planned, switch to another activity while you wait. Sometimes activities take longer or finish faster than expected, so be ready to juggle the schedule. If the children seem to be having a great time with one activity, consider sticking with it a little longer than originally planned. Also, plan your schedule to alternate high energy and cool down activities. You may wish to follow a very physical activity ( obstacle course, freeze dance etc) with a calmer one ( arts & crafts, quieter game) so children don’t get worn out.

Overplan: The trick is to overplan activities to eliminate too much unstructured time which can lead to boredom or even worse, "wild" play. Children tend to be very excited at parties. Unfortunately, they can get hurt if they are running around the house or looking for other "creative" things to do.

Keep It Moving: Likewise, keep the activities moving at a comfortable pace. Stick to your party schedule as much as possbile so you can fit in everything that you plan to do. A brisk pace will keep children interested and having fun.

Make Alternate Plans Outdoor parties can suddenly become indoor parties after the rumble of thunder so be prepared. Have an alternate list of activities should weather conditions change. This also helps if the long range forecast changes the day before your event.

Test It Out: A big mistake of inexperienced party planners is not testing out crafts and activities ahead of time. Sit down and have you or your child actual assemble one of the crafts. Not only will you determine approximately how long it will take to complete, but you will be able to troubleshoot any problems or difficulties with the craft. This technique also makes it easier for children since there is a "sample"  product for children to look at and follow. Take the time to also test out games and other activities that are planned. You may be surprised that some tasks are much harder for children than they seem.

Prep Ahead: Be Prepared! Have everything completely set up and ready to go before the party begins. Set up a separate table with all of the things you need to run the party, ie: arts & crafts or props for activities. This will avoid forgetting any important items. Children can get very "fidgety" while waiting for you to search for missing supplies. Organize children’s individual supplies in empty plastic containers (used jello cups) or sandwich baggies. This way their supplies stay together and won’t roll off the table or get mixed in with their neighbor’s (jewelry beads, arts & crafts pieces etc.)

Label It: Write the children’s names on arts & crafts, goodie bags etc. ahead of time to avoid mix-ups later on. This trick also works well for party cups so children don’t drink from other people’s cups by mistake.

Buy Extras: Make sure that you have one or two extras on hand for unexpected mishaps. For example a craft that has had a major mess up (paint spill, broken or missing piece, you name it) can be replaced if necessary. In addition, sometimes those little inexpensive party trinkets can break easily. You may also wish to be prepared for any unexpected guests, like siblings.

 Most of all, have fun, take lots of photos and enjoy your child’s special day!!!!


For creative children’s party themes, please see the Little Ones Awesome & Affordable Theme Birthday Party Guide.

Also see  Best Presents for Children’s Birthday Parties for reasonably priced gift ideas for children of all ages.



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