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Planning a Party Without Losing Your Mind

Parties are meant to be happy – so why stress yourself out when planning your child’s next birthday bash. These few tips will have you planning your kid’s party like a pro!

Staying stress-free during the party planning process starts with a long hard look in the mirror:

  • Are you a craft queen or a DIY-did-I-bother?
  • More botch than boss when it comes to cake making?
  • What’s your budget (don’t just think about money here – how much time do you have available?).

Playing to your strengths and budget is half the battle. Stick to what you’re good at and get some help with the rest!

  1. Create guest lists for your kid’s party. How many kids? For a kid’s party aged four and under, anything from five to nine guests is enough to make it feel like a party – but not a circus. For a kid’s party aged five and older, seven to 14 kids is ideal for keeping the atmosphere (and yourself!) alive. 

If a smaller party seems like a better time for you and your child, that’s perfectly okay, too. 

Make sure to send invitations early (give people at least a month’s notice) and follow-up with the people you’ve invited to get final numbers as soon as possible.

  1. Activities. If you’d like to have some birthday party activities, start the planning at least four weeks in advance; this gives you plenty of time to plan and source any materials.

When it comes to entertaining kids at a birthday party, there’s no shortage of choice. A quick Pinterest search and you’ll find a ton of ideas – crafts, cooking, cupcake decorating, and, of course, games!

For kids aged four and under especially, if you’re doing a craft, remember at this age it’s about the process more than the product. Don’t be crushed if the littles aren’t producing the works of art you’d dreamt up in your birthday party plan. Also, be ready for a few non-crafty types and have a plan to keep them out of trouble.

For party games, generally the less explanation you need to give the better, so think musical chairs, red light green light, etc. Twister, scavenger hunts, Marco Polo, and egg on spoon obstacle courses are some other great activities for the five and overs.

Don’t forget the music! Keep everyone bopping along by including a mix of kids songs and some upbeat kid-friendly stuff that the adults can enjoy. 

  1. Decor. Try to think about this three weeks ahead. There are so many options and choices when it comes to birthday party decorations these days. Take inspiration from your child’s favorite toy/character/show (they’ll probably give some input here when you decide on your theme) then pull it together with stylish decor from the same color palette.

Don’t feel too much pressure! There isn’t a right or wrong with this. A birthday party that you’ve poured love into is a birthday party that your child will love and remember.

If you’re going to pull out some DIY Pinterest mastery, decide on those projects as early as you can and get started! Or call on your favorite crafty person and delegate a few projects their way.

4. Treats and other yummy eats. Give yourself at least three weeks before the birthday party to plan or order the cake – whether you’re ordering it or baking it yourself, you will want time to shop around.

Here’s a great cake trick. For my son’s very first birthday party I got so excited planning this two-tiered alien cake that I didn’t have time to bake the cake and still have enough time to decorate it! My inner problem solver hightailed it off to the grocery store and bought a couple pre-made cakes. I came home, scraped all the icing off, and went on to decorate as planned!

The cake tasted delicious, I got loads of compliments, and I managed to just about look like I knew what I was doing (until now). 

Whether you do the food yourself or get outside help, think easy. Birthday party food should include stuff that can be picked up with fingers and eaten in a bite or two. It’s the perfect way to keep tummies from growling as the kids play and adults mingle. 

I usually keep it simple and make sandwiches cut out into shapes with cookie cutters, a veggie platter with a couple of different dips and a few different bowls of chips. A few other ideas from things I’ve done in the past include apple slices with single serve caramel cups for dipping, mini pizzas, nuts and bolts, samosas, meat and cheese platters and little quiches.

Ask your guests to inform you of allergies and dietary restrictions when they RSVP! 

  1. Favors. I’ve seen a few questions about whether favor or party bags are still a ‘thing.’ Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I can’t help thinking a kid’s birthday party isn’t complete without a little goodie bag!

Give yourself time to think about what you’d like to put in your goodie bags, if you’d like them to match your party theme, how you’ll package them and (of course) time to shop around for any supplies and all the goodies! I’d recommend not going too sugar-heavy – parents won’t thank you if they have to police candy consumption for the next several days. There are lots of little toys and games available at your local dollar store! 

If your guests are very young, consider a party favor that is nice for the little one and that the parents might find useful – a novelty silicone teether, some skin-friendly baby bath or a mini soother/security blanket to name a few.

Marija is the co-founder of Sprog & Sprocket. They make celebrations easy with their unique and immersive kids play space rentals.


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