It’s coming around to that special time of year again, your child’s birthday. Does the thought fill you with excitement or dread at the inevitable upcoming party planning? Well, worry not, we’re here to help you banish any festive fears and become an event expert as we share some tips on how to plan a birthday party.

One of the best things about planning a birthday party for your child is that the date never moves. You know the day your nearest and dearest were born on, and that will never change, so it gives you plenty of time to make the necessary preparations to make sure you avoid the dreaded unhappy birthday.

Planning is a key feature in making sure you’re a party pro and not a party pooper. Who knew that planning a birthday party could be so complicated? In fact, throwing the perfect children’s party is such a minefield there are even Wikihow articles on how to do it. As every flustered parent can tell you – children can sometimes be harder to please than royalty.

Birthday Party Timeline

A birthday planning timeline is one of the most important tools in birthday planning. When you look at the party as a whole it may seem overwhelming, but breaking the event down into small manageable chunks will help you stay organised and calm.

A well-planned timeline can also act as a kid’s party planning checklist, allowing you to take the time to make sure each step is fulfilled before moving onto the next one.

A timeline can also keep your birthday party on a budget, by ensuring you allow enough time to book the perfect vendors for your event. You don’t run the risk of having to make do and pay extortionate fees later down the line for last-minute additions.

Planary offer a free and easy to use, ready-made CHECKLIST that will allow you to customise based on your chosen event date. Conveniently track and manage your progress against key party planning milestones – for example when to book venues, entertainers, cakes, catering and party supplies –  to prevent last-minute stress.

Three months before the party

Discuss a theme with your child
One of the first steps you should take when planning a party for a child is to ask them what sort of theme they would like. Whether it’s a dinosaur dance, a princess party or some space shenanigans – your child knows best of all what they want, and asking them will help you to narrow down your choices and also avoid unnecessary tears and tantrums.

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Set a date
While your child’s actual birthday would be the ideal date to throw a party, sometimes this is just inconvenient or impossible. School days, seasonal holidays and weather can all play a part in making your decision. Weekends are the ideal time for a birthday party, but this means that they have a high demand – so if you’re planning on securing a weekend date it’s best to book well in advance to make sure you secure your space.

It’s also worth consulting with important guests, such as best friends and grandparents to make sure everyone can make your desired date. Sometimes it’s worth making a compromise on the date – you want to make sure your kid’s closest chum can make the event.

Book the event space and entertainment
When it comes to booking a venue and entertainment – the earlier the better. Popular acts and spaces can get booked up quickly, so if your child has their heart set on a bouncy birthday party at your local trampoline park or settling down to watch Elsa the Ice Queen add some snowy sparkle then it’s key that you secure your booking in good time. It can be time-consuming sourcing for venues and entertainers that are local to you but it’s a practical consideration for party guests who do not want to travel too far especially when they have small children. Here is where we come in!

Planary’s marketplace takes the hard work out of searching for quality VENUES and ENTERTAINERS, who are available on your chosen dates, LOCAL to you and backed by customer reviews.

Set a budget
When it comes to pleasing your child, we all know parents would do anything in their power. When you’re planning a party, adding on little extras here and there can quickly mount up meaning you blow your budget in no time flat. So whether you’re looking to throw a kids’ birthday party on a budget or go all out with a birthday extravaganza – a budget planner will be your best friend.

Write a guest list
It’s time to decide whether you will just be inviting your child’s closest friends and family or if you will be bringing the whole class along for the fun. This could depend on your child’s personality but also the type of event you want to hold. Just a few friends would be great for a cinema trip or a computer game competition but if you want to fill a venue and make the most of your entertainment then the more, the merrier!
Use Planary’s GUESTLIST tool to conveniently store guests’ contact details and track guest invitations, so you won’t risk uninviting your child’s best friends!

Two months before the party

Order or purchase the invitations

If you’re going for a bespoke invitation design, you should contact the artist of your choice immediately to ensure you have enough time to create the invitations. While having a personalised, individual invitation for your child’s party is an amazing addition, it can be time-consuming and expensive, so you may prefer to order or purchase your invitations. Or, if you’re a crafty sort you may want to ensure you have all the glitter, cardboard and PVA glue you need to make those one of a kind invites.

Shop for party supplies

Now is the time to begin your hunt for the perfect supplies to fit your theme. Are you looking for a tyrannosaurus rex piñata? Or perhaps fairy wings for all of your guests. The wilder and wackier your request, the more time you’ll want to give yourself to prepare. By allowing yourself two months you have the grace to order online anything you can’t pick up locally.

Whether you have a theme in mind or not, it’s a great idea to make a masterlist of what supplies you will need before you start shopping, consider games or craft activities, portable tables for food or presents, balloons, paper plates, decorations and party favours.

Visit Planary’s one-stop marketplace filled with vendors selling a wide range of PARTY SUPPLIES including balloons, venue decorations, tableware, children’s costumes, party games and more.

One Month before the party

Send out the invitations

Sending out invitations for your party with good time for people to RSVP will make sure you maximise the chances of having everyone you want at the party. It will also help you keep your cool if you know how many people you need to cater and care for on the day well in advance.

Once again Planary’s innovative GUESTLIST feature can help you cut out the paperwork, and reduce waiting times for RSVPs. Partygoers on the guestlist will automatically be sent out a save the date reminder, as well as being able to RSVP via the website – meaning you won’t be chasing your postie for paper replies!

Make a schedule of events for the party

While it’s impossible to plan everything that will happen at your event, it’s a good idea to plan out some of the basics, such as when your entertainment will be happening and if/when you are going to feed people. Let’s face it, no-one wants to be met by a group of hungry children because you threw a party over lunchtime and forgot to cater it! So preparation will be your saviour and keep any hunger hooliganism at a minimum.

Order the cake

Having a baking ace in the family will buy you a few more weeks. However, if you’re having a cake specially made from a bakery, now is the time to get your order in.

Planary’s marketplace is bursting with bakeries who can help you create the perfect cake or cupcakes for your child’s big day. You can search our approved suppliers to find a local baker to you who can prepare and customise delicious sweet treats to suit your party theme.

Three weeks before the party

Plan the menu

If you are having your party at a venue that doesn’t provide food, it’s time to do some planning. Will you order in pizza? Or perhaps have simple food like finger sandwiches and sausage rolls. Children are usually easy to please with simple foods, so it’s best to stick to food that can be picked up and eaten easily. Once you have your menu planned you can begin shopping for any food that needs to be prepared in advance.

Looking for an approved and local caterer? Check Planary’s marketplace, it’s stuffed to the seams with culinary crafters who can supply freshly-cooked children’s food platters for your party and save you a trip to the supermarket!

Organise any help you may need

Whether this just means roping in relatives to help take some of the pressure from the day for you or whether you would like to hire a babysitter or childminder to help with children herding on the day.

One to two weeks before the party

Chase up RSVP stragglers

Make sure there are no surprises on the day by chasing up anyone who is still to RSVP. Extra people turning up on the day may be disappointed if you have booked an event for a certain number of people, or you may end up paying for a space that is never used.

Want to avoid awkward conversations over the school gates? Have no worries, Planary’s innovative guestlist feature will send out save the date reminders initially, and then will send helpful reminders to anyone who hasn’t yet sent an RSVP.

Confirm the venue and/or entertainment

To avoid any last minute headaches or panics, give anyone involved in your party a call to confirm. It will only take a few minutes and will eliminate hours of future stress.
Even better? By using the Planary marketplace to book your entertainers and venue you can cut out communication worries, every message you have sent to approved marketplace vendors will be viewable from your Planary account, meaning you won’t have any last minute worries that your balloon artist will bail or your clown won’t communicate.
Check your supplies

If you have ordered online, has everything arrived? Is there anything you forgot to pick up or arrange? Consult your masterlist again and deal with anything that is missing. Your family will thank you for catching that you ordered 100 balloons and forgot the balloon pump, or you ordered 100 paper plates but no cups!

Three days before the party

Make sure any camera or recording equipment is working and charged

What could be worse than putting all of this planning into your child’s birthday party and then finding out last minute that your camera battery is as flat as a pancake! Make sure you check and charge anything that needs it so that you don’t miss one second of precious time.

Prepare goody bags

Make sure you have a good supply of party bags for your guests, stuffed full of sweets, toys and games. We recommend not adding noisy toys if you want to avoid the wrath of your fellow parents at the school gates!

Looking for quirky and individual party favours to make a splash? Planary marketplace vendors sell a wide range of pocket money toys and mini confectionery packs, just perfect for sprucing up your party goody bags.

One or two days before the party

Prep any food that won’t spoil

Save yourself last minute hassle by preparing and storing any foods that won’t spoil ahead of time. If you are planning on ordering food in, such as pizza then now is the time to place your order.

Make the cake

If you’re whizzing something up in your kitchen then it’s time to get to work! Prepping a few days in advance means if you accidentally burn the edges or your icing is too gloopy then you have time to repair any mistakes.

Decorate and prepare furniture

If you can access the venue ahead of the party, then it’s time to start decorating. Leave any helium balloons for now, but you can hang any streamers, piñatas or normal balloons you have.

If you are using  fold-up tables for presents or food, setting them up a day or two early means you can avoid last minute stress and ensure you have a seat for every child that sent an RSVP.

On the day of the party

Finish any last minute cooking

Anything fresh will need to be prepared on the day to make sure it’s as delicious as possible. No-one wants soggy sandwiches or brown carrot sticks!

Once the food is all prepared then set it out along with paper plates, cups and cutlery. We also recommend napkins, party food can be surprisingly sticky.

Pick up the cake and balloons

If you ordered a cake from a bakery, go and pick it up, and remember to store it safely away from prying eyes and fingers! Also it’s time to collect any balloon art or helium balloons you have ordered.

Set-up any games or activities

If you’re playing computer games, make sure they are switched on and with controllers, make sure board games have all of their pieces and any craft activities are ready to go.

Play music

There are some great family-friendly playlists available if you don’t want to make your own, and what’s a party without music?

Keep important things to hand

Make sure your camera, matches and candles and a pen and paper to jot down who gave presents are close at hand. Having a handy list will make thank you cards much easier in the future!

Enjoy your hard work!

It’s time to enjoy the party. No matter what the theme, event or style we’re sure your child will be having a whale of a time and it’s time to document those memories and bask in the knowledge that you are a party pro and have thrown a party that will be talked about at the school gates for years to come.

As you can see there are a lot of different considerations, depending on your time and budget. While it might be more wallet-friendly and personal to bake your own cake and get crafty with your own invitations it will be more time-consuming.

Thankfully good planning will help to eliminate wasted time and will whip you into shape to plan a seriously superb shindig! Throughout this process Planary will be your best friend and partner-in-planning. The marketplace is full to the brim of approved vendors, allowing you to source anything from balloon benders and cake crafters to the quirkiest good bag gifts. We can help you pick the perfect venue, entertainment, cake, catering and party supplies.  You can also make the most of the planning tools available free of charge to help you keep track of your day. Leave the planning to us, and enjoy your child’s big day!

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