Party Planning 101

I’m often asked how to throw a party. It seems like a daunting task—assembling a guest list, figuring out what to serve, and then there is deciding on the theme. For some, it seems like a lot of work for an event that your child may or may not remember. But, it doesn’t have to be. With just a bit of planning, a birthday party can go smoothly and create so many wonderful memories you can enjoy in the years to come.

Birthday parties are celebrations for everyone, not just the special birthday boy or girl. It is a time to acknowledge a major milestone for the whole family—another year of love and joy spent with a special person. And, for many of us mothers, it is a day that makes us giddy and misty-eyed all at the same time. Birthdays are special celebrations and are so much more than paper plates and birthday cake. 

Here are a few tips to make your next celebration less stressful.

  1. Start Planning Early! It is never too early to start planning. Grab a notebook and start jotting things down. You don’t need to get into specifics like the theme or what appetizers to serve just yet, but start thinking about your budget, will it be a family-only party or will you invite friends, etc. Knowing these things now will make things go more smoothly later.
  2. Pick Your Theme. Start thinking about what you want the theme to be. Themes can be anything—the color purple, a child’s favorite book or nursery rhyme, rainbows or a cartoon character. The sky is the limit. The key is to have fun with it and incorporate things that are unique to your child. If your child is old enough, you may want to allow some input here, although if your child is younger than 5, do it with caution. My daughter is notorious for changing her mind every two weeks. :)
  3. The Details. Figure out when, where and what time. Knowing this will help you figure out what food to serve. If you are having your party at 2:00 p.m., cake and beverages or a dessert bar are all you need. Having it around lunch or dinner? You will need to provide something more substantial. Also, finalize your guest list. People often use “one child for each year” as the standard, so if your child is going to be 5, invite five of his or her friends.
  4. Make a List of all the things you need to do and a timeline in which you want to complete them. It is helpful to use a calendar with this step. If you know you need to order something online, then you need to allow yourself some time for shipping. I find it helpful to sort tasks that are one month out, two weeks out, one week out, two days out, one day out and the day of. This will help you stay on track and not lose your momentum or inspiration.
  5. Be Handy! Make things yourself. There are so many fun craft blogs that will teach you how to make your own party decorations and favors. Two of my favorites are tatertots & jello and Our Best Bites (a food blog, but they have great crafts and ideas for party food). Check out their friends too. Lots of inspiration abounds! 
  6. Use three little monkeys studio. My custom party packages have everything you need, from the invitations to the decorations, all of which you can print and put together yourself. Since they are customized with your special guy or gal’s name, age, etc., you get a unique party that is as easy as something you pick up at a party supply store, but it has that special designer touch and is one of a kind.
  7. Make it Uniquely Yours. By including the little things, like hanging a custom birthday banner or wrapping water bottles with custom labels, you create a festive atmosphere for the birthday boy or gal and let your guests know how much you appreciate them celebrating with you.
  8. Ask for Help! It is OK to enlist the help of your friends and family. If people ask you, “Can I bring anything?” take them up on it! Ice, cupcakes or even having the help of a friend to make sure your birthday banner isn’t crooked can make the big day easier on you! 
  9. Don’t Forget The Camera! Make sure your battery is charged, the disc is clear and your camera is functioning BEFORE that party. Take photos of the food table, your decorations and everything before guests arrive. So often we are so busy at the party that we forget to take those “before” shots to remember all of our hard work. Then, once the guests arrive, snap away. And, don’t forget to hand the camera off now and then so you can take some time to enjoy your awesome party! 
  10. Finally, Have Fun! Make the most of your party by enjoying it and not focusing on the imperfections. Be flexible, be happy and allow yourself to relax. Make a point to remember the joy, laughter and surprise, and to not focus on the little things.

Have a great party!

~ Gretchen

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