The Ultimate Birthday Party checklist

 In Kids Party Ideas, Party Planning

At Funtime, we understand that the average Mum and Dad would have little experience hosting a children’s party. While some may thrive at the organisation and planning, others may feel way out of their depth. So the next time one comes around, don’t go past our comprehensive party check-list to ensure your party goes ahead without a hitch.

1-2 months before:

  • Your budget – if you make one, you’re more likely to stick to it! Keep it specific.
  • The date and time – most of the time, you will have it on a weekend, but if it is a busy time of year, you may want to consider having an after school/pre-school party. As a general rule, for a child’s birthday party 2 hours is plenty of time.
  • The theme for the party – ask your child what interests them and go from there. You can make this as big or little as you want.
  • The venue – this can sometimes be the most difficult decision to make. A home is the most practical location, but if this is not an option, consider renting a hall, a venue with party rooms or a local park (ensure toilet facilities are available).
  • The guests – decide on a number, then whom. A good rule for children’s parties, is to invite one friend per year of their age, e.g. a 5 year old will have 5 friends come to their party. If you are only inviting a smaller group (as opposed to your childs entire class), then consider emailing the invitations around so that others won’t get offended.
  • Invitations – either handmade or purchased, this is a good place to start the theme of the party. Ensure that you clearly state your contact details and whether the expectation is for parents to stay.
  • Entertainment – it is a good idea to have one key point of entertainment such as a jumping castle, among other games and activities. Book this well in advance to avoid missing out.
  • Equipment – know how many tables and chairs you will need for the kids, parents, food, presents etc.
  • Food/Catering – If you are doing your own food, plan your menu to include fresh fruit and vegetables, otherwise the kids will quickly get overloaded with sugary treats. Check if any of your guests have allergies: nuts, gluten, fish, eggs etc. If you have it in your budget, getting catering will be a fraction of the effort.

2 weeks before:

  • Wet weather alternative if hosting a party outdoors.
  • Confirm your bookings (catering, entertainment, venues and equipment) and make sure you have paid all deposits.
  • Photographer – if you do not wish to pay for a professional, ask a friend or family member. Give them a list of shots you would like such as blowing out the candles, opening presents, in front of the jumping castle etc.

The week of the party:

  • Shopping – write down all the food that you will require so you can get it done in one hit. If parents are staying for the party, you may need to consider providing some refreshments for them. It does not need to be anything special, just something that is set apart for ‘older’ taste-buds. If you are having a larger party in a local park, you could contact a mobile coffee van and tell them where and when your party is. It’s a sure way to keep the adults happy!
  • Cake – If you are making the cake yourself, get on it early and freeze it uncut and undecorated.
  • Prepare goody bags – if you are going with traditional goody bags, you can pick up almost all you need from the supermarket. Alternatively, if you would like to try one of the alternatives we have suggested in our older post, you will need to make a trip to a specialty store in advance. If you have a theme to your party, you might wish to continue the theme by adding related items to the bag, e.g. fairy wand for a fairy party, Batman badge for a superhero party, green balloons for a Shrek party etc.
  • Decide on party games – even though you might have a major point of entertainment such as a jumping castle, it is a good idea to have a few games planned on the side just in case. Games can be quite inexpensive, they may just require a little bit of time to set up. Some games include Pass the Parcel, Pin the Tail on the Donkey (or the badge on Superman – make it whatever you like!), balloon decorating and Eat the Donut off the Washing Line.
  • Prepare a planner for the day of the party – between drop off, playtime, games, craft, food and cake, there is a lot to remember and get through. A planner will help ensure nothing is forgotten and that things run as smoothly as possible.

Night before/day of the party:

  • SUPER IMPORTANT – Make sure the birthday boy/girl gets a good night’s sleep. It is important they are not stressed or overtired in the lead up to the party as this generally ends in tears. Children might also feel anxious as they anticipate whether the party will be all that they had hoped and whether their guests will enjoy themselves.
  • Put up all decorations.
  • Decorate the cake.
  • Prepare a gift area generally around the entrance to the party.
  • Prepare tables and chairs for food, guests and activities. If you have arranged catering, this allows quick and easy set up.
  • If parents are not staying for the party, ensure that you have their contact details just in case of an emergency.

Week after the party:

  • Send out thank you cards. As a general rule, if the child opened the present in front of the guests, you do not need to send out cards, but if they are opened after the party, then a thank you card is a nice touch. Printing off a photo of your child with the present and writing a message on the back is a lovely way to personalise this card.
  • Ensure that you have paid all invoices for good and services hired (if any).

Congratulations, your party has been a success! Now it’s time to put your feet up and enjoy a well-deserved cuppa. Until next time!

Download the free checklist below, which can be printed off for your use.


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