The Ultimate Birthday Party Planning Checklist

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Planning your child’s next birthday party doesn’t have to be difficult. But there are a lot of moving parts to keep track off. To take the pressure off, and keep track of every invite, and every piece of cake, we’ve put together this party planning checklist.

Use this party planning checklist to make sure you don’t miss any details for the big day.

1 to 2 Months Before

Decide on a party theme (with your child if s/he is old enough). This is the fun part!
Decide on number of guests and whom to invite.
Decide on a venue. (Tip: If you’re planning on an outdoor party, be sure to have a backup plan for rain.)
Set a date and time. (Check with VIP guests like grandparents to confirm.)
Reserve the venue.
Book entertainers and photographer/videographer.
Order invitations, if applicable.
Rent equipment (tables, chairs, tent, etc.), inflatables, and party games.

1 Month Before

Send invitations. (Tip: Make it easy on yourself and send evites!)
Order food, if not making it yourself. Order cake, if you’re not baking your own.

2 to 3 Weeks Before

Create a party Itinerary: include food, games and activities (ask your child what s/he would like to do), entertainment, playtime, and gifts.
Plan and purchase favours, decorations, loot bags, game prizes, etc.
Plan menu and make a grocery list.
Take stock of the serving trays and utensils (e.g. cake stand) you’ll need, plus cutlery, napkins, plates, and cups, and make a shopping list.
Arrange for help with set-up, clean-up, keeping food stocked, supervising games and activities, and keeping track of who-gave-what for thank-you notes.
Do around-the-house fix-it projects.

1 to 2 Weeks Before

Follow up on RSVPs and firm up the guest list.
Order helium balloons.
Prep make-ahead food, including baking and freezing cake layers or cupcakes (if making your own).
Confirm rentals and reservations.

2 to 3 Days Before

Kid-proof the party area..
Go grocery shopping.
Prep loot bags, games and activities, and prizes.

The Day Before

Clean and organize the party area.
Set up food and cake display, gift area, activity stations, dining area, etc.
Clear space for guests’ shoes and jackets.
Buy last-minute items.
Decorate.
Cook and prep as much food as possible.
Defrost cake or cupcakes and other pre-made food.
Chill beverages.
Charge your camera battery.
Practice manners and thank-you etiquette wit your child.

Party Day!

Do last-minute food prep.
Pick up cake and balloons.
Decorate with balloons and other last-minute decorations; set out prizes and party favours.
Frost and decorate cake or cupcakes. (Tip: Put the candles in now so you’re ready to go.)
Set out food and serving utensils. (Cover food until just before guests arrive.).
Relax and have fun!

The Day After

Store items you’ll need for the next party (including your checklist).
Write or help your child write thank-you notes.

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  • Caity

    Great post! A good checklist on what to do and when to do it ! I like that you have planned months ahead of time! Thank you for sharing!

  • Tori Raddison

    I like how you said to clean and organize the party area the day before because that’ll get rid of the last-minute stress. You’ll be able to just set up in a clean area and not have to scramble to get it done. My daughter wants a carnival themed birthday party, so I’ll have to have a big area.