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Tips for Planning a Birthday Party

Hosting a birthday party soon for yourself or a loved one? Discover some of the best tips for throwing an unforgettable birthday bash.

By Hannah Purvis

Whether you're planning for a young child or are throwing an adult birthday party to celebrate a milestone birthday, I think we can all agree that party planning is a lot of work! To make the prep work easier, we've put together a simple birthday party checklist to work through as you’re gathering all the goodies for the occasion. We want to help ensure that everything is thought out before the special day!

Throwing a Birthday Party: First Things First

1. Set a Budget, Time & Location

The first step in planning any party is figuring out the logistical aspects of the event, such as the date, time, and location! If you’re planning on renting a venue for the birthday party, make sure the deposit is paid in advance and that you’ve coordinated the timing. It’s helpful to know when you can arrive to set up beforehand, so you’re prepared on the day of the event.

If you're planning to throw a larger or more involved birthday party, it's also a good idea to set a budget that you plan on sticking to. Depending on how elaborate the event will be, costs can quickly add up! With a budget, you can allot how much to spend in each category, so that you’re not out of funds when it comes time to decide on snacks.

Chocolate Happy Birthday cake
Photo by Stephen Wheeler on Unsplash

2. Choose a Theme/Pick Decorations

This step is by far the most fun in my opinion! Choosing decorations and picking a party theme can set the tone of the event. When planning parties, I love to start by logging on to Pinterest to source inspiration. On this incredible social site, you’ll find countless themes perfect for any age group or interest!

After deciding on a theme, list out any party supplies you'll need to source. Don't forget the following important items:

  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Napkins
  • Utensils
  • Balloons & Streamers
  • Tables & Chairs
  • Table Cloth
  • Signage/Banner
  • Themed Decor
  • Supplies for favors

pink birthday ballons
Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash

3. Create a Guest List & Invites

Are you planning an intimate gathering with your closest loved ones or is this party going to be an all-night rager? Consider the atmosphere you want at the birthday party and use that to plan out your guest list.

Once you've decided on who to invite, it's time to get crafty and design your party invitation. If you want to make it yourself, visit Canva and create a free account to test your design skills in a user-friendly setting with drag-and-drop templates. If you'd prefer to leave it to the professionals, visit Shutterfly and choose from a variety of styled invites!

Gather the addresses of your guests and either hand deliver or mail your invites at least a month ahead, so they have enough notice. Encourage everyone to send you an RSVP through text or email, so you can accurately account for how much food and drink to supply!

Photo by Valkyrie Pierce on Unsplash

4. Create a Gift Registry

Set up an online gift registry for the birthday celebration with gift ideas for guests to choose from. This is a great idea for a child's birthday, as you'll likely have a good sense of things they may want.
If you're planning an adult birthday party, consider setting up a registry where everyone helps contribute to a weekend getaway or a larger gift!

birthday present
Photo by Ekaterina Shevchenko on Unsplash

5. Hire Catering/Build a Menu

Party food is incredibly important because no matter the celebration, age group, or theme, you can guarantee that your guests will come hungry! Start off by checking for any allergies or dietary restrictions with your attendees.

With that information, you can decide if you'd prefer to prepare food yourself in a more informal way, order pizzas, or even hire a caterer for a larger event.

Next, dessert! If you're getting a cake, make sure you order well in advance. If you want to make it yourself, check stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby for themed cake decorations, stands, and toppers.

Lastly, for adult parties, plan out drink options. A fun idea could be creating a custom cocktail based on the person you're celebrating and their favorite drink! In case any of your guests prefer a non-alcoholic beverage, check out this list of delicious mocktails that are sure to be a crowd pleaser!

cake pops
Photo by American Heritage Chocolate on Unsplash

6. Plan Games & Activities

If you're planning a kids’ party, it's especially important to plan games and activities to keep them entertained and to keep the event structured from start to finish. But no matter the age group, having activities based on the theme or hiring a party entertainer can be a fun idea!

If you're having a garden party, order a croquet set to play on the lawn. For a spa-style gathering, get nail polish and makeup kits to give the guests a makeover. For a more sophisticated soirée, hire a band to serenade your guests while they enjoy custom cocktails. No matter the style of birthday party you're hosting, there is always a need for entertainment.

Photo by santiago filio on Unsplash

7. Put Together Party Favors

Create party favors for your guests to take home after the day comes to a close. For younger children, visit Five Below or look through the Target dollar section to source items for a goodie bag. My current favorite party favors for teens or adults are custom sugar cookies themed toward the party! This will give you a chance to support a small business or local bakery, plus cookies are a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

party favors
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Let's Get This Party Started!

We're wishing you a smooth birthday party planning process and hope you've found this checklist helpful. For more party ideas and celebration inspiration, visit our blog today! To learn more about online registries and to set up your own, visit our homepage to get started.

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