The ultimate children’s birthday party planning checklist

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Whether it’s a get-together for your family or a backyard bash for all of your child’s friends, a party is the most fun way to celebrate a birthday. And with a bit of planning, you can create a birthday party that your kiddo is sure to remember forever.

Wondering where to start? We’ve got you covered. Here, you’ll find a step-by-step children’s party planning guide to help you throw the perfect birthday party for your little one. Follow these 8 simple steps to make sure your party goes off without a hitch.

  1. Create a guest list.
  2. Decide on a direction.
  3. Choose a date, time and location.
  4. Design and send birthday invitations.
  5. Plan activities and prepare refreshments.
  6. Organize your birthday party decor.
  7. Make time for setup.
  8. Get creative with DIY party favours.

1. Create a guest list.

Before you get too far into planning your child’s birthday party, you need to think about who you’d like to invite. Your guest list will give you another important piece of information, too -your guest count.

The first step to creating a guest list is deciding what kind of party you’re going to host. Is the celebration for family only? Are you going to let your little one invite all of their friends, or plan to have them pick just a few? Will it be a larger scale combination party of friends and family?

Once you know what kind of party you’re hosting, it’s time to make a list of the guests you’re going to invite. You can choose to handle this step on your own, or ask your child for input on who they’d like to invite to their birthday party.

2. Decide on a direction.

There are so many directions you can go with children’s party planning. And if you don’t choose one early in the planning process, it can make it hard to narrow down your options as the party gets closer.

Think about what direction you want to go with the party’s look, feel and theme. For example, do you want to have a theme based on something your child loves —like outer space or soccer? Do you want to go with a theme inspired by their favorite book or movie? Or do you want to keep it simple and just choose a color palette of your child’s favorite colors?

Choose a direction now to make the planning process easier later on. After all, your decorations, activities and refreshments will all be fueled by the theme you choose.

3. Choose a date, time and location.

The next step is to lock in the date, time (including a start *and* end time) and location of the birthday party. If you’re hosting the party at your home, you can choose whatever date and time work best for you. If you plan on hosting the party somewhere else (maybe a family member’s home, a local restaurant or a children’s party venue), you’ll have to see which dates are available. Reach out early so you have the widest selection of options to choose from.

4. Design and send birthday invitations.

Once you’ve set the date, time and location for the party, it’s time to send invitations to your guests —aim to get them in the mail about 3 weeks before the party.

Custom birthday invitations are a great way to create personalized invites that reflect the theme and look of your child’s birthday party. You can choose a template that matches the party theme, like a mermaid-inspired template for your underwater-themed birthday party, or start from scratch and design the invite yourself.

Once you’ve perfected your invitation design, make sure to include relevant details, including the name of the birthday boy or girl and the date, time and location of the party. If you want to collect RSVPs, include contact info for that, too.

VistaPrint Tip

Want to take your birthday invitations up a notch? Package your invites in custom envelopes and seal them with a sticker. This way, the party starts as soon as the invites hit your guests’ mailboxes.

5. Plan activities and prepare refreshments.

While there’s no need to plan every second of your child’s birthday party, you do want to have some activities planned for guests to enjoy. For example, you might plan an art project for the kids or have a performer come to entertain the little ones for a portion of the party.

You’ll also want to have a plan for food. While you don’t have to serve a full meal at a birthday party, you’ll definitely want to have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand —as well as plates, cups and serving utensils to go with them. Bonus points if you can find plates, cups and utensils that match the party’s theme. And don’t forget about the cake!

6. Organize your birthday party decor.

You can’t have a festive birthday party without some decor. Take a look at the space where you’re going to be hosting the party and then figure out what decorations you need. For example, if you’re hosting the party at your home, you may want to have more decorations, like streamers, balloons and tablecloths that reflect the party’s theme and that really make your house feel special and celebratory. If you have a lot of wall space to decorate at a restaurant, or are hosting the party in your backyard, consider ordering a custom banner or a few posters to hang.

Just give yourself plenty of time to get your decorations before the actual party date. If you’re planning on buying the decorations in a store, you want to give them time to order anything that’s out of stock —and if you’re ordering decorations online, you’ll want to give yourself time for shipping and delivery.

7. Set aside time for setup.

As you’re planning your kid’s birthday party, you’ll want to make sure that you set aside time on your calendar to prep for the party. If you’re hosting the party at your house, block off a few hours the night before the party to get everything set up and decorated. If you’re hosting at an off-site location, try to get there an hour or two before the party to get everything ready.

And if you think you’re going to need help with setting up, make sure to ask people ahead of time. Your friends and family members will likely be excited to help…just give them enough notice so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

8. Get creative with DIY party favors.

If you want your children’s birthday party guests to have a fun memento of the celebration, put together some goodie bags for them to bring home. Create custom paper bags (or even canvas tote bags!) with your child’s name and the date of the party. Then, fill the bag with fun, on-theme goodies for the kids to bring home, like snacks, a coloring book or a die cut sticker to match the party’s theme.

VistaPrint Tip

Goodie bags aren’t the only thing you’ll want to give guests after the party. Make sure to order personalized thank-you notes so your child can show appreciation for everyone who came to celebrate or brought a gift.