How to Plan a Kids’ Party *for non-party planners


A child’s birthday party should be a fun event, one that reflects their interests and caters to what makes them happy on their special day. But party planning can often be stressful, with topics from the guest list to the “theme” causing concern. So how do you keep the party – and the planning – fun?

You’re Invited!

Should you invite family members only? Friends from daycare or school? Everyone in your contacts list? The first consideration in making this decision should be your child. Is he reserved and anxious around large groups? Does she bloom when she’s the center of attention? Try to adjust the number of guests to match your child’s comfort level. If you can’t see where you can cut the numbers, you can also split it up. Have a cook-out with family one weekend and a small playdate with cupcakes and school friends another weekend.

Other ideas? Some experts suggest that the invitees match the child’s age. For example, a four year old would have four guests, ten for a ten year old and so on.

Sometimes it works to invite, well, nobody! You can celebrate the big day with a special family activity chosen by your child – a night at the beach or a trip to a theme park.  

Despite What Pinterest Says, You Don’t Need a Theme!

These days even the smallest parties seem to feature fully coordinated paper goods, elaborate favors, and custom made confections. While these parties are spectacular, and you should dive right in if that is your thing, you shouldn’t feel bad if it isn’t! Growing up, the closest our parties came to having a theme was a cartoon character on the cake. Invites came from the supermarket in plastic-wrapped packs of 8. Menu options were cake and ice cream. This is still a perfectly acceptable way to throw a party – and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it!

Other ideas? Use what you’ve got! If your son wants a superhero party, pull out his superhero toys to decorate – they can hang from light fixtures and decorate tables. Take a picture of him in his favorite superhero shirt, stick it to some card stock, and write the invite info on the back.

Let your child take the lead. Once they are about, oh, 2(?) the little ones know what they want. Let her choose the invites, the cake, the décor. You may end up with a Hello Kitty, dolphin, pirate, Iron Man party. If that’s what she wants, it’s the best party ever.

My Favorite Party Tip!

Blowing out the candles is the big moment. All the kids gather around the cake and the birthday boy or girl. There is a rousing half-sung, half-shouted version of Happy Birthday to You! Then the guest of honor blows/spits the candles out. And you’re left with a group of keyed-up children, pressing in to stick their fingers in the cake, begging to lick off the candles, and loudly declaring which piece they want. What now?

Announce to all your little guests, “Everyone needs to find a place to sit. If you’re sitting nicely, you’ll get a piece of cake!” Watch them scatter, scramble into seats, and peer expectantly at the adults. Now you can safely cut up the cake, avoid spills, and maintain some semblance of order. You’re welcome!

Please share your own favorite party tips and tricks! What have you done that made for a fabulous party?

Image via Sara McTigue

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How to Plan a Kids’ Party *for non-party planners

Sara McTigue is a secret agent, cupcake chef, award winning author, photographer, and PTA mom. At least, that is how things look in her mind. When she isn’t testing the bounds of her imagination, she is a mom to three amazing and hilariously funny children, wife to a charming and handsome man, and thoroughly addicted to reading. With a BS in English Education and an MA in English Literature, words – and their ability to shape our lives and thoughts – are an everyday fascination. Af ... More

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  1. Profile photo of Jesse Jesse says:

    My sons b-day was on on the 5th of jan (his first) and we only had a small get together with friends and family about 5 people, I thought it went well, but I know next year will be different.

  2. Profile photo of Paula Paula says:

    This is has actually helped me a lot because my daughters birthday is in a month. It is her second birthday but I am still stressful of how her birthday should be. I will keep some of these tips in mind

  3. Profile photo of jelinekh jelinekh says:

    very helpful since i am trying to plan my daughters 2nd birthday party and have no idea what to do for it. lol. thank you!


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