Okay, so you're going to have a birthday party? Fantastic, right? Well, Yes and No...
Sometimes it may seem a little overwhelming when planning a party, but follow this checklist and you'll be smooth sailing.
(Oh, and don't forget to hire us! --Sorry, I just had to throw that in there too)
Alright, without further adieu:
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY CHECKLIST:
One to Three Months Before:
- Discuss with your child what kind of party he or she wants. (For instance - Do they want a magician, a DJ, a bounce house, All 3, etc.)
- Decide whom to invite. (Is this going to be a large party or a small gathering?)
Do you need to ask the entire class? Or does your child just want his 10 best friends? (Remember, nowadays, if you bring an invitations to school, most schools require you to invite the entire class or they won't even let you pass them out! --If you only want a small party, I'd suggest phoning the parents directly if possible)
- Line up and reserve any entertainment & rentals you may want. (At Fun Filled Entertainment, we perform at more than 500 events each year and work first come first serve for reservations, rentals, and time on our calendars --In other words, if entertainment is what you want, call early and before renting your party location)
- If you are planning on renting a location, call to check date and time availability. --with your entertainer(s) as well.
The earlier the better too - it's no fun telling your child that the magician or DJ she has her heart set on is already booked. Some customers reserve our entertainment services months and even years in advance.
And BEFORE choosing the date, don't forget to check with the essential guests to make sure they're available. Your child won't be happy if his best friend is going to be out of town.
Four Weeks Before:
- Send invitations. Make written invitations creative and coordinated with the party theme. Indicate whether parents are invited to stay (parents of toddlers should remain), and include an RSVP date and start and end times.
- Make a schedule of activities for the party. (it doesn't need to be perfect, just a basic outline...)
- 2:00pm Party Starts
- 2:30pm Magic Show Starts
- 3:00pm Balloon Animals
- 3:30pm Cake Time
- 3:45pm Presents
- 4:00pm End Party
Plan to fill two to three hours with a mix of energetic games and calmer activities (like crafts or storytelling). You also need to factor in time for entertainment, snacks, and general freewheeling ruckus. If the presents will be opened, save that for the end; if you start running out of time, you can skip it. Keep in mind that an outdoor party may become an indoor party in case of rain, so plan alternate, rainy-day activities, just in case.
- Make a master list of supplies you'll need.
Make sure you have the following covered, and note if you need to buy or borrow anything.
-decorations like streamers, balloons, party hats, or signs
-game and craft essentials
-music (or Hire a DJ)
-portable tables to hold food or presents
-coolers and serving dishes
-tablecloths, plates, cups, and utensils
Buy or order party favors that fit the theme (and goody bags to put them in) and prizes for the games.
Three Weeks Before:
- Plan the menu.(Keep it simple-finger foods, pizza, things kids actually like are super easy and sure to please. If you like, plan a few special treats (like a cocktail) for parents. Make a list of how far in advance each dish can be made or freeze what you can. Cakes are typically fine frozen, just be sure to take them out in time to thaw)
- Make a grocery list. (Don't go shopping just yet, this is just a list... you'll add to it and even remove some items as the party gets closer... the list will help you avoid overspend on extras at the last minute)
- Line up any help you may need.(Enlist friends, older children, other relatives, or parents of party guests to help supervise activities and with the food. Consider hiring a high school student, your baby-sitter, or a professional to help with pre- or post-party cleaning as well as to help supervise games, replenish food, and generally take some weight off your shoulders. It will almost always be worth looking into.)
One Week Before:
- Clean the house thoroughly. For an outdoor party, do any major yard cleanup or planting. (It's never recommended to mow the day right before your party, otherwise you'll have grass pieces tracked through you house and all over your bounce house rental(s). Some companies even charge a cleaning fee.)
- Follow up on RSVP stragglers to get a final count. (Nobody seems to RSVP anymore... And here you are doing all this work to make an awesome party for them to enjoy! -Personally, I find this to be rude! But sorry, it does happen often.)
- For an outdoor party, mow the lawn and tidy the yard. (This way the loose grass should be blown away before your party and shouldn't end up in your house.)
- Develop a detailed meal schedule and make any foods that can be frozen.
- Order the cake. If you are making it from scratch, bake the layers and freeze them (You can ice the cake the day before the party).
- Order balloons. (I wouldn't inflate them just yet though.)
- Check your list of needed supplies and procure any missing pieces. (Do you have everything?)
Three Days Before:
- Find a place for coats and/or shoes if you plan to have the children remove them. (Dozens of tripping hazards right at your front door it probably not a great idea... Try to have a designated shoe area and coat area if needed.)
- Go grocery shopping. (Stick to your list. You've got this!)
- Do a safety run-through of the house and yard. (Make sure there's not a giant ant hill right next to where you want the bounce house to be and be sure to check for dangerous wires, outlet covers, and sharp and/or small objects laying around.)
- Make sure danger areas like stairs and upper-floor windows (and pools) are safeguarded, double check that any chemicals are locked away, and check for sharp-edged corners on furniture that might be dangerous.
- Prepare the cameras. Be sure to charge video and digital cameras and stock up on extra film or memory cards if needed.
- Prepare goody bags, if needed.
One Day Before:
- For an outdoor party, double check for hazards and tidy the yard.
- Organize the furniture and set up dining and gift tables and activity stations. (If you find you're missing anything (pencils for games, etc.), you'll still have time to run out and get them.)
- Decorate! Yes, the day before, if possible. (Do everything that doesn't involve helium.)
- Finish as much of the cooking as you can.(This includes defrosting and icing the cake if you froze one. Also, for any foods that require cooking on party day, do as much prep (dicing, marinating, rinsing lettuce) as possible.)
- Do a touch-up cleaning sweep through the house.
- If opening presents is on the agenda, practice polite "Thank you's" with your child.
Day of the Party:
- Finish any last-minute cooking.
- Pick up cake and balloons, if ordered.
- One to two hours at the most, before guests arrive, set out foods that won't spoil. Wrap them tightly to ensure freshness; tear off the wrap when the first doorbell rings.
- Lower the temperature inside by as much as ten degrees prior to the party. (Trust Us Here!! When you get a bunch of children running around it can raise the normal temperature quite a bit. You don't want your guests or entertainers being uncomfortable.)
- Give the parents who are staying for the party specific tasks to oversee or responsibilities. (Don't push it all off on them, but don't be afraid to ask for help if needed.)--Oftentimes, They can help with games or supervise a craft, so you're free to run the party and keep kids from running amok.
- Serve the cake and ice cream. (Be sure that the birthday child gets the first slice of cake! It is their party you know... sure they can help pass out the rest of the pieces before they eat anything, but make it a big deal. They will certainly appreciate it.)
- Make a list of gifts and who gave them. (Keep track of it and ask questions if needed... a thank you card goes a VERY long way. Why? Simple, because most people never do it.)
- Send everyone off with party favors. (Even a balloon animal can be a party favor.) --If you have gift bags, your child can hand them out and say thank you at the same time.
Two to Three Days Later:
- Help your child send thank-you notes, and send your own to your helpers.
Well, there is is. A highly extensive Birthday Party Checklist. Don't feel overwhelmed though. Parties are supposed to be fun! Just use this checklist as a basic outline and feel free modify any part so that it works for you and your requirements.
And please comment below if you have a special trick or any ideas you use that's not listed.
Also, if you really just don't know what to do, give Fun Filled Entertainment a call. We have been a part of hundreds of parties and might be able to help you make your party the best ever!
Hope your party is a HUGE success!!
For more information on having us at your event, please also see:
"F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions"
Blog Post: "Additional Hints and Questions Answered When Having Us at Your Party"