1. Keep the Guest List Small
How many kids do you invite? Here's the good news: you do not need to invite your child's entire class. Despite what seems to be the case with every birthday party, especially with the younger set, you are not obligated to invite everyone. It can add to stress having up to 22 (or more) kids in attendance possibly with their parents. Determining the number of kids to invite first lays the groundwork for the rest of your planning including location.
2. Pick a Date Ideally a Month in Advance
Younger kids tend to have less activities going on, but once you're in elementary school, their weekends can become jam-packed with sports, classes, competitions, and more. Be mindful if your child's birthday falls during the summer months or around a major holiday. If you're having a smaller number of kids, it's a good idea to check in with the parents first to see which date works best for most and then pin it down. Giving three weeks to a month's notice is as far out as you want to go as you don't want people to forget but two weeks' notice tends to be too short for families to plan.
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3. Choose Your Venue: Home or Not?
Here's an easy question to answer: Are you willing to have the mess of an at-home party? An outside venue usually handles set up and clean-up which may be worth it to you. However, some people think hosting at home is cheaper (which it is if you keep it simple) but if you're planning on renting a bounce house, entertainer, etc. it can end up being the same or even more costly than an outside venue. Set a budget for what you want to spend and where you want the party to be and if the dates you desire are available at an outside venue.
4. Use a Digital Planner
There are several sites online that provide free party invitations with an easy way of tracking RSVP's and even seeing whether the invitation has even been viewed. You can include details like maps along with directions and information about allergies, etc. Additionally, you'll be alerted when people reply or have a question, and it can be checked anytime day or night on your smartphone.
5. Base Every Decision on the Theme
Now that you've gotten some of the bigger things out of the way, ask your child what they'd like as a theme for their party. Maybe it's princesses or pirates or a sports theme. When you've decided on a theme, everything else is an easy decision including the birthday cake, decorations, and goodie bags.
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6. Think "Easy Clean-up"
Immediately purchase the decorations, plates, cups, games, a piñata, candies — everything that isn't perishable. It's highly recommended if you're hosting a home party that you use disposable items including plastic or paper table cloths so when the kids are done eating cake, you can wrap up the remnants in the cloth and toss it for easy clean up. Make sure to put all of your party purchases in one single place like a plastic tub or in a closet so there's no last minute rushing around searching for birthday candles. Fill goody bags or have party favors ready too so there's no running around the day of the party.
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7. Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don't forget: You planned it so you deserve to enjoy it as much as your child! It helps to have at least one helper (a spouse, friend, or other family member) who can supervise a game or cut the cake while you greet the guests or prepare sandwiches. It's time to savor all of your efforts and enjoy the party!
Want more ideas? Watch this video on how to make your own party decorations using household items: