Kids Party Planning Tips – Mums Make Lists

Kids Party Planning Tips

Now my daughter is seven I’ve earned my stripes at planning and hosting kids birthday parties. So I thought I’d share some top tips for planning parties for children aged between two and seven years old (first birthday parties are a WHOLE different thing). 

The trick for planning and hosting a successful kids party, one that entertains the kids and doesn’t give you a nervous breakdown, is definitely to keep the party simple. 

This can be easier said than done. But I hope that with my simple tips, learnt from planning six parties over the last few, well six, years.

Kids Birthday Party Planning 101

Key things to do

Stick to a budget

I know this is obvious but it’s so easy for costs to get out of hand! Work out your maximum budget and stick to it. 

Get family to help 

Book up grandparents, aunties and uncles to help with food preparation, decorations, greeting people, sorting coats, running games, loo trips, clearing up etc.

Leave yourself as little time as possible!!!

arty planning brings out the worst in most of us … we end up spending hours fussing over details, incapable of making a decision.  Leaving it to the last minute so you’ve just got to decide can be less stressful.

Setting the date

Choosing the day 

Sunday parties give more time to prepare, Saturday parties give you more time to recover!

Morning parties can be great

Parties were always 3pm in my childhood but I am a big convert to 11am. The children are less likely to be frazzled and more likely to be hungry when the food comes out. 

Avoid public holidays

Lots of families will be away on public holidays or have other plans

Avoid special days 

Families may have other plans on e.g. Mother’s Day

Allow for naps 

When deciding on the time for the party allow for some two and three year olds who are still having naps

Choosing a venue

Choose a practical venue!

Check out parking, toilet facilities, space for buggies, safety, whether you can prepare food, how long in advance you can get in. 

Book venues early 

Both activity venues (soft play, swimming etc) and spare rooms in church halls & rooms in social clubs and pubs etc book up early.

Keep it small

Much, much easier said than done but do try and keep as small as possibly can.

Allow for parents in numbers

Most three and four year olds will want a parent to stay – allow for parents in working out if you have enough room and in the food and drink planning. 

Allow for babies in numbers

If mums are staying there is a good chance that small babies will stay as well and you need to allow for them in space, numbers and organisation.

Be realistic about space

You need space for: games and activities; food; parents to stand/sit and chatter where they aren’t in the way of the kids. 

Party Entertainment

Book entertainer early

Good entertainers book up incredibly early so unless you’ve got organised to get someone highly recommended may be better not to bother

Book equipment early

If you want to push out the boat have bubble machines, disco, bouncy castle etc you will need to book early DON’T promise anything until it’s confirmed!


Remember children have their own friends!

By three most children will start to make their own friends, particularly at nursery and playgroup. They may be playing a lot with children you don’t really know in addition to the usual suspects whose children you know well. 

Backup invites with emails and texts

Backup paper invites with emails, texts, Facebook posts to increase the chance that parents know the party is happening and get it in the diary / RSVP. 

Ask for phone numbers of parents who aren’t staying

If parents are not planning on staying make sure have emergency phone number for them. 

Check for allergies

On the invitations do ask people to let you know in advance about any allergies, special requirements or extreme fussiness!

Do chase RSVPs

Don’t be embarrassed about chasing RSVPs, everyone is so busy these days and invitations via nursery and school easily get lost in bags. 

Party Decorations and Space

Offer party theme options you can actually deliver on

Under no circumstances ask your child “what theme would you like?” They will come up with something totally outlandish you can’t possibly deliver on and then be disappointed.

Remember themed party decorations aren’t very reusable

Party themes may be incredibly popular but it means you’ll get almost no reuse out of any decorations you buy. However, if you go for coloured decorations with a themed cake and a few themed add ons, you can mix and match year after year!

Test your balloons

Do test out your balloons / gas / pump in advance so can do something about it if you have
somehow got duff supplies. 

Buy more gas than you think you need

Most helium gas canisters totally over estimate how many balloons you can get out of them

Don’t blow up balloons too far in advance

Balloons do deflate a bit erratically so only blow them up an hour or so in advance. Ideally do it at the venue, otherwise you have to work out how to get all the balloons there!

Running The Party

Create coat space

Clear a cupboard or big space somewhere where all the coasts can go, there’s nothing worse than coats taking up shed loads of partying space. 

Sign up someone for coat duty

Sign up a relation grandpa, elder siblings for doing coat duty so you’re not trying to put these away / find them whilst juggling everything else.

Create a quiet space

Create a quiet space e.g. a bedroom with some toys and books where children who are feeling frazzled can get away from the noise.

Create an “accident” station

Create a small area which has everything you need for sick, wee, poo, food, drink spillage accidents e.g. kitchen roll, anti-bacterial spray, bin bags, roll of cleaning cloths, baking soda / bicarb of soda

Have First Aid kit to hand

Make sure your First Aid Kit is up to date and is out and visibly to hand for all adults not just yourself.

Create a toilet station

Allow for children at different stages of potty training / toilet use and provide potty / loo seat /
wipes / nappy bags plus kitchen roll, cleaning cloths and antibac spray so accidents can be easily cleaned up. 

Have spare clothes available

Have a spare change of clothes for your child in case of a dire party accident, like spilling a whole drink over themselves. There’s nothing worse than a damp, miserable birthday boy or girl. 

Remove breakables

Move all breakables out of the room or onto a high shelf

Store toys away

If your having the party at home or at a space that has toys, clear them out of sight unless you plan on allowing free play. You don’t want to be dealing with lost / broken toys and toys can distract from game party games. 

Move furniture out of way

Create as much space as you possibly can for dancing, skipping, hopping and jumping by clearing as much furniture as you can out of the way.

Party Food

Cartons spill less than cups!

Cartons of juice will involve a lot less spillage than open cups

Cups are good for jelly & ice cream

Paper or plastic cups are great for small helpings of jelly & ice cream and seem to involve less
disaster than bowls

Avoid breakables

Avoid anything crockery or serving stuff of any kind that is breakable

Ditch cutlery

This is one of those eating times when using fingers is far better than cutlery!

Most children don’t like jelly and ice cream

So you don’t have to waste time responding to specific orders serve out 75% as just ice cream helpings and 25% as just jelly helpings and then top up with the other as necessary

Your freezer is your friend!

Buy or make as much as you can in advance and whack it in the freezer

Sandwiches are too much fiddle!

Sandwiches are too much fiddle to make and rarely get eaten. Pizza, sausages or sausage rolls or chicken fingers / sticks much bigger hits

Small serving bowls better

If you’ve got more than a few children better to have small serving bowls / plates that can be shared by 3 or 4 children so they are not all stretching across the table picnic cloth the whole time

You win points by serving vegetables and fruit but it’s a faff!

OK most of the children won’t touch but some will eat carrot or cucumber sticks and handfuls of blueberries & you’ll win points for trying 😉 But your sanity may not be up to the chopping!

Create an adult drink station

Create a drinks area so adults can make themselves coffee, tea, juice, water etc without you having to bother serving them

More children like apple than orange juice

More under fives seem to prefer apple juice than orange juice. 

Party Games

Planning is key

Use our Children’s Party Games For Under Fives post to plan a selection of games in advance.

Stickers rock!

Most small children will do almost anything for stickers so for lots of games e.g. musical bumps, statues, sleeping lions don’t need prizes

You don’t need prizes for everything

Really only need prizes for a few games e.g. Pass the Parcel stickers for doing well / being funny / being last a great alternative

Get Pass the Parcel right!

Although most of us were used to just one prize in pass the parcel. The current generation TOTALLY expect a little prize in each layer and that everyone gets one. Expect mutiny if you try to buck the trend!

If there’s more than eight children, you can split pass the parcel into two circles OR have two separate parcels going round one big circle, so the kids don’t get bored. 

Have rubbish bag for Pass the Parcel

Have a rubbish / trash bags handy for instantly clearing Pass the Parcel paper out of the way – and nominate a helper as the bin man / woman! 

Masks and puppets are fun

Children love masks & puppets & working them into games e.g. printed off wolf mask for What’s the time Mr Wolf can really capture children’s imagination and decorating their own can be a great party craft activity

Create a game box

Collect everything you need for all the games props, prizes etc and put them in a basket or box that is well out of reach of little hands!

Rope in big siblings as entertainment assistants

Big siblings are great at keeping games in order & doling out stickers

Keep balloons on the ceiling until end

Make the ribbons short enough that the children can’t reach them so that they don’t all get burst in advance of going home time

Have a backup games “Master”

Need someone else who can run the games if your child is in complete meltdown and really needs your attention a simple game sheet in the game box will help

Party Bags

Well, there’s two ways you can go with this one. 

Go with party bags… in which case, I suggest going with a theme and setting yourself a budget. 

A great tip is to look for things you can bulk buy in sets and then break up. Dollar stores are a treasure trove if you are happy to go with landfill!! 

Or, eschewing party bags in favour of a gift. We’ve put together a post on great alternatives to party bags. 

Birthday Gift Etiquette

Open gifts after party over

Better to open gifts after party as not much fun for anyone else. Need to make sure that your child understands this clearly

Create a gift box / bag or station

Have a big empty box or basket that all presents can be put in for opening later. 

I hope you’ve found this post useful – don’t forget to pin it if you want to come back to it – see the pin below. 

We’re also putting together a section on kids’ birthdays and parties. A growing list of posts on hacks to make the whole process a little easier – fun even! You can click here to find the series Kids’ Birthdays and Parties. Click the image to discover our kids party posts. 


Kids Party Planning Tips was last modified: November 30th, 2017 by Luci

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