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Top 10 Things to Consider When Planning a Great Birthday Party

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If you're serious about your party, it's a good idea to plan things ahead of time.

If you're serious about your party, it's a good idea to plan things ahead of time.

So You Want to Throw a Birthday Party

The perfect party requires perfect planning! There are several things to consider when planning your party. Before you make out your guest list or buy your party decorations, take a minute to put your plan on paper (or computer screen). Pre-planning will save time, money, and your composure on the day of the party. Most importantly, have fun! This isn't rocket science, and you won't be graded on the results!

1. Birthday Guest of Honor

The guest of honor should, of course, be an important consideration. After all, the party is for them! This concept can especially be lost on a young child where the party can turn into a party for the adults and not the child. Consider their age, likes and dislikes, personality, and attention span.

The type of party, as well as the length of the party, needs to be planned according to the guest of honor. A slumber party that lasts for several hours may be perfect for a teenager but highly inappropriate for a six-year-old. On the same note, an outgoing, social child may respond well to many guests and loud entertainment, while a shy child may prefer a small, intimate gathering.

2. Make a Party Budget

Don't spend a single penny until you have considered your budget. You still have to feed your family after the party, so plan accordingly. How much can you spend, how much do you want to spend, or in my case, how much will the hubby let you spend? When planning your budget, you will need to allocate for:

  • Invitations
  • Cake and other food
  • Drinks
  • Presents
  • Favors
  • Entertainment
  • Decorations
  • Rental or party space

3. Choose a Birthday Party Theme

When planning your party be sure to take into consideration what your theme is; strive to have every detail relate to your theme. This will include invitations, decorations, and food. Consider asking your guests to dress a certain way for the party. When considering your theme do some brainstorming. If the party isn't a surprise let the guest of honor choose a theme.

For a child, themes can come from a favorite cartoon character, toy, or game while a theme for a teenager can come from a sport, pastime, favorite color, or celebrity. A theme can even be adapted from a movie such as a pirate theme from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. The possibilities are endless, but to get your creativity started, consider these themes:

  • Tea Time for Little Girls
  • Luau
  • Treasure Island
  • Flashback to the '80s
  • Everything Pink (or Red, Blue, etc.)
  • Black and White
  • Formal
  • PJ Party
  • Private Eye

If you are having trouble thinking of a theme, visit one of the large party stores; each aisle is packed with theme ideas.

Be sure to remember your budget. The more elaborate the theme, the more you'll begin to see dollar signs. At the same time, with a little imagination, you can find ways to reduce the price of your party.

4. Available Venue

The availability of space for your party can dictate the number of guests, the theme of the party, entertainment, and the length of the party. If your budget permits, you have the option of renting space or holding your party at a restaurant or party venue.

If you are on a tight budget and want to save money by having your party at your home, look at the possibilities around your home. Do you have adequate space outside, or would you prefer to have an inside party? Do you have an area that will be safe for your guests as well as your furnishings; you don't want to spend your time at the party running for the prized vase that is about to fall over.

5. Consider Your Guests

While it is of utmost importance to consider the birthday girl or boy, it is also important to look at your guest list. If your guests are very young, it might benefit you as the hostess to also invite the parents, being sure to have elements of the party that appeal to both kids and parents.

Strive to make the environment safe and pleasant for your guests. If you know of a guest with a food allergy or special diet, be sure to have something available that they can eat. On the same note, it's always good to ask parents if their child has a known allergy.

With a little planning, you party will be fun and stress-free for everyone involved—including yourself.

With a little planning, you party will be fun and stress-free for everyone involved—including yourself.

6. Number of Guests

It goes without saying to consider the number of expected guests when planning your menu, but also remember the number when planning your schedule. Five guests can play a game in 15 minutes, while 20 guests would need much longer. If you have a large number of guests, how will you keep all of them entertained throughout the whole game?

Once again, remember attention span; a good rule of thumb is to invite the number of guests that equals the age of your child. Always go back to your budget; the more guests you have, the more expenses you will incur.

7. Preparation Time

If you are a busy parent, you may not have the time to make homemade invitations, prepare a gourmet meal and arrange for extravagant entertainment. Find shortcuts such as premade invitations and decorations, or consider hiring or persuading someone else to do the legwork.

Don't plan to make everything yourself if you don't enjoy crafting; by the time of the party, you will already be at the end of your rope! On the same note, don't leave all the decorating to the last minute; if your party is in the morning, you probably won't get up as early as you plan. In short, look at the time you have and plan accordingly.

8. Time Available

The amount of time you have allotted for your party will dictate the amount of games or other entertainment. Have a schedule but don't be a stickler for time; if the guests are enjoying a certain game, let them keep playing it even if it means not having time for another game.

Also, consider the age of the party-goers, you may have plenty of time to devote to a party, but the attention span of your child's age level needs to be taken into consideration when determining the length of the party.

9. Party Hostess Helpers

Try to enlist the help of a friend, older sibling, grandparent, etc. You may be the hostess with the mostess, but you can't be in five places doing five things at one time! While a sibling or grandparent is available, you may want to ask a friend who doesn't have as much of a stake in the guest of honor; grandma will not want to miss the birthday girl blowing out her candles in order to scoop ice cream! Find someone you are comfortable with and who is capable of supporting you throughout the party. Don't try to go it alone!

10. Always Have a Backup Plan

Finally, have a backup plan. There are many factors that can cause heartache on the day of the party. The guest of honor can be sick or grumpy, more or fewer guests than expected can show up, an outside party could be rained out, the hired entertainment could not show up, or the games you had planned can take less time to play, and you're left with 15 five-year-olds staring at you asking, "What next?" or saying, "I'm bored."

Think through the entire party and have a backup plan in place for every detail. If the party is outside, have an alternative venue. Have extra games in your arsenal to pull out if needed. Have more food than you expect to need; you can always send leftovers home with guests or give them to a homeless shelter.

Most importantly, remember to have fun with both the party and the planning!


Alyssia on December 17, 2017:

Hey, so my birthday is on January the 14th and i'm struggling to find activities that my guests can do at the party. It's a Hawaiian Themed Pool Party and i'm turning 14, any suggestions?

Will on October 04, 2017:

I like the sequence of preparing the birthday party. It helps in saving time or money.

Nitin Pillai from Mumbai, Maharastra, India on October 18, 2013:

I like the step by step instructions on how to plan a birthday party,. Great hub Meschill!

scarlet on October 03, 2012:

hi its my birthday in 30 days and im having a lot of truble with cake need ideas plz i want it to be on of the cakes that is like big at the bottom and small at the top so obbvesolly a two story cake

10years on May 23, 2012:

hi im turning 10 im having a sleepover im so using this guide!!!!!

unknown on January 31, 2012:

hello i am 11 and i thought this was so good. I think that no one really thinks about a backup plan but you might wanna say that it works with the backup plan is even the older kids get tired because i am going on 12 and i kno that we get bored fast and theen we start doing DUMB things. LOL but anyway good and awesome

u stink on December 27, 2010:

this is veryyyy good

Jumpness from Milford, MI on December 13, 2009:

Good points. One thing is missing... a bounce house!

Meschill (author) from Central Texas on September 23, 2009:

Good luck Smellen! I hope you have a great party!

Smellen from Florida on September 22, 2009:

Thank you Meschill. I am planning a party and can use this as a guide.

Meschill (author) from Central Texas on August 08, 2009:

Thanks, I enjoyed writing from a prompt!

KRC from Central Texas on August 08, 2009:

This is a great hub! Thanks for answering my request. I will add a link to this hub to several of my birthday hubs. I've also added you to my "Texas-Based Writers on HubPages" hub. :)