Planning a kid’s birthday party? Here are our 13 essentials steps and planning tips for the perfect big day

Birthday parties are great, and getting invited to them is one of the most exciting things about being a kid. But as we adults know, hosting a party can get stressful fast – but it doesn’t have to; if you get your planning down early, it’s pretty easy to ensure your party runs smoothly, without a hitch.

There’s a lot more to throwing a fantastic kid’s party than cake and balloons – it takes a significant amount of thought and planning to ensure that you gift your child and all their little party guests an awesome, fun-packed day.

While it can be daunting at first – don’t despair, as we’re here to help! This article sets out what we feel are the most important things to consider in your pre-party prep, giving you an easy to follow outline for pulling off the perfect party for your little one’s birthday.

13 steps and tips to hosting the perfect kid’s party

There are many moving parts to hosting a kid’s party, giving you plenty to consider as you plan and prep for the big day.

Here are our 13 easy-to-follow steps and planning tips to help make putting your party together a little easier.

1. Before you do anything else, determine and set a party budget

It’s pretty easy to overspend when throwing a kid’s party. And while we all want the very best for our children, sometimes our finances don’t allow for it – making it essential to determine and set a strict party budget that you’ll adhere to.

How much money you’re able to spend will go a long way to determining many of your birthday party decisions for you. The biggest of these is the number of guests you can invite – so setting it early on will make organizing the rest of your party a breeze.

That set – you can still have a pretty awesome kids birthday party, even on a shoestring budget – you may just have to get a little more creative to drive down the cost of some of its elements. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it can, in fact, make the planning process more fun, as all the family much in to help in the days and weeks in the run-up to the big day.

2. Start putting together a guest list for your party

Knowing well in advance just how many people are coming will make every subsequent planning step easier. This is because you’ll know just how many chairs, party hats, disposable party wear, and party activities you’ll need to stock up on for the big day. It’s vital to start putting your guest list together long before the big day, as this will help minimize any stress that may come with putting together a fantastic kid’s party.

Who you invite to your little one’s party will very much depend on their age, and specifically, whether or not they’re in daycare or big school yet. If your child is in the latter group – and provided you’ve got the budget – the usual thing to do is invite the whole class to avoid any hurt feelings for any kids who didn’t get an invite.

For younger children, kid’s parties are likely going to be full of close friends and family, often with more grown-ups than children. Of course, this will make your job as a host a lot easier, keeping the headcount low and avoiding the usual temper tantrums that kids of this age frequently have.

3. Decide whether you’ll host at home or a venue, and book early to avoid disappointment!

Perhaps the most significant step to planning a birthday party is deciding where you will hold it. There are plenty of options for venues, from children’s restaurants to cinemas, playrooms, swimming pools, and even at the zoo. If you want to host the event away from home, you better get your skates on – as it’s critical to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

While it will likely be more expensive to opt for a venue, the main benefit is that it makes the actual day a lot easier, as catering and post-party clean up are all taken care of by someone else. Ultimately, the choice for many will come down to the number of guests, as a venue can get pretty expensive when you’ve got a large headcount – making it better to host at home if your party is running on the larger side.

If you’re on a tight budget, chances are you’ll be hosting at home – but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to prep your own venue. Depending on the time of year, you’ll also need to decide whether your party will be indoors or in the backyard. As well as this, you’ll want to prepare your party space to make it as kid-friendly as possible – removing breakable items and child-proofing furniture. You’ll also need to think about things like seating, what to do about your pets, and a host of other things to ensure your party goes off without a hitch.

4. Pick a theme for your party that reflects your little one’s interests

Picking a theme for your kid’s birthday party is essential – and the earlier you can decide on this, the better – as the theme you choose can impact everything from party invitations, the cake, and how you choose to decorate your home or venue for the big day.

If you’ve made it to our website, it’s likely safe to assume that that theme will be dinosaurs – hands-down our favorite party theme! Thankfully, you’re not alone – dinosaurs are incredibly popular, which means it’s pretty easy to organize a dino-themed party, as there are plenty of incredible decorations and other party items available to match.

A theme will also add to the atmosphere of the party and help make deciding games, entertainment, and activities – as these should all fit as closely as possible around your party’s theme. So, pick a theme and stick to it – then you can move on to prepping for the big day.

5. Create and send out party invitations with plenty of time before the party

By this point, you should have set your budget, guest list, venue, and theme – so now it’s time to start planning the big day. The first step is to put together your party invitations so that you can get these to the parents of your little party guests as soon as possible, giving them plenty of time to clear their schedules to attend.

You can either buy ready-made invitations or, if you’re feeling creative, why not make your own? Remember to include your party’s theme in the design of your invitations and all the info parents will need to organize and get to the party. Party date, location, start and end times, parking information, and dress-code – if it’s a dinosaur costume or swimming party – and lastly, include a phone number and email address so that they can RSVP.

It’s essential to send out your party invites well ahead of time – as while you’re obviously free on your child’s big day, not everyone will be, so make sure to inform them with an invitation that gives them plenty of time to make arrangements to attend.

6. It’s time to start picking out party decorations

Up next is arguably the most fun party of organizing a kid’s party – the decorations. Dinosaur balloons, birthday banners, bunting, tissue pom poms, paper lanterns – however you choose to decide to decorate, there are a near-infinite list of choices, with the only limitation being your own creativity and imagination.

And you don’t just have to limit yourself to what’s available online – you can always make some decorations yourself, doubling up as a fun activity for you and all the family in the run-up to your little one’s special day. While sure, it takes a bit of effort; it can be incredibly rewarding to do, showing off your creativity and talents to all your little party guests and their parents.

Remember that while adults might light, clean, minimalist design with beautiful earthy tones and colors – kid’s sure don’t! They love bright colors, cartoon characters, and multi-colored, sparkle-filled streamers and balloons – so keep this in mind when picking out decorations for your party.

7. Plan out and start putting together enough party bags for all your guests

Party bags are an essential part of any kid’s party, and your little guests will expect to have something to take home with them after the day’s festivities are done. The first step is picking up some bags – these days, with so many people being environmentally conscious – avoid traditional plastic ones, instead option for bio-degradable alternatives, and pick out a design and style that reflects the party’s theme.

It can be tempting to overdo it, spending a fortune on party bags, overfilling them with expensive dinosaur toys and treats – but resist the urge! You don’t need to spend a lot of money; 2-3 items, a fist full of candy, and a piece of cake is more than enough to send your party guests home with.

One thing to remember is to avoid anything that makes too much noise or likely to cause a mess and stain furniture and carpets. This means things like dinosaur slime, instruments, and musical bubble wands are all out – instead, stick with art supplies, like dinosaur coloring books, dinosaur sticker sheets, dinosaur coloring pages, and pencils, or things like dinosaur keychains, dinosaur monster trucks, and yo-yo’s – these are all safe picks to stick to.

8. Party food and beverage prep and planning

Every great birthday party is accompanied by great food – you can’t invite a load of people over, just to let them go hungry! So, be prepared to invest most of your party budget here, providing guests with a wide variety of party foods to chomp down on the big day. You obviously need to pick age-appropriate foods – you won’t find too many toddlers keen on caviar – and try your best to avoid foods that are problematic for those with common allergies, specifically nuts, where possible.

For anyone handy in the kitchen – especially any keen bakers – this is an excellent time to get your dino cookie cutters and other tools of the trade out! You can save a ton by baking your own party sugary treats and goodies – and you could also use some of this as party activities; letting kids decorate their own dino cookies or cupcakes is one such activity idea you could use.

Suppose you’re having a party in the summer. In that case, you could always consider holding a barbeque in the backyard – this could take away much of the pre-party prep that is necessary for most other food options, leaving it until the day itself to get cooking. You won’t be able to get rid of all the other snacks and treats, of course, but you’ll likely need less if you’re going for this option.

9. Birthday parties aren’t birthday parties without cake

What kid’s birthday party would be complete without a cake? And although it may sound simple enough, there are plenty of options to consider. Do you want a layered cake, a small cake, or even a cupcake tower? And will you opt for a store-bought cake or try your hand at baking one yourself?

If you’re going to bake your own cake – make sure you do plenty of planning beforehand, as there’s plenty that goes into it, such as ingredients, recipes, dinosaur cake pan, dinosaur cake topper, and other essential bakeware. You’ll also need to decide between traditional cake and a more modern cupcake tower, decorated with all sorts of fabulous dinosaur cupcake toppers.

It doesn’t hurt to have a few practice runs ahead of time if you’re a novice baker to make sure you’re fully prepared to impress with your sugary creation on the big day. And also, make sure that you’ve got a cake big enough so you can send your little guests home with a slice in their party bags.

10. Hosting the party at home? Order in plenty of disposable party plates, cups, and cutlery

Unless you play host regularly and have enough tableware on hand for 20, 30, or 40+ guests, then you’re going to need to pick up some throw-away sets for the party. Even if you have – you’ll still probably need to stock up on things like napkins and straws, which don’t tend to be everyday items for most people.

The good news is there are a ton of options, perfect to match your party whatever theme you’ve decided on. They’re also pretty inexpensive, with plenty of choices to fit any budget, however limited it might be.

When picking out disposable party ware, be sure to choose plates, cups, and cutlery that are recyclable, avoiding single-use plastic wherever possible. And make sure to get spares – you’ll likely need more than you think, so it’s better to be safe than sorry, as you don’t want to run out on the big day.

11. Plan plenty of activities, games, and entertainment to last the day

Above all else, kid’s parties should be fun! So, pack them full of fun games and activities to last the day, as the last thing you want them to remember about your party is how boring it was. Dinosaur pinatas, dinosaur board games, dino egg hunts, and fossil digs – there are a wide range of amazing activities for you to consider when hosting a dino-themed party.

Remember to pick age-appropriate activities for your party. For example, if you’re going to hold a dino dig – dinosaur egg toys are great for younger children but not so great for older ones, where a more extensive dinosaur dig kit is a better choice. You could even skip these products altogether, picking up a few dinosaur skeleton toys and using a sandpit for your dig.

You’ll also want to make sure to pick up a load of little prizes for any games and activities you host. They don’t need to be expensive – cheap dinosaur plush toys, keychains, toy cars – these all make great, affordable prizes, with these products available for no more than a buck or two.

12. Put off opening gifts until your guests have gone home

While receiving and opening gifts is a big part of the day’s festivities, for younger kids especially, it can be a pretty bad idea to do this in front of all your little guests, who don’t have any gifts of their own to open.

For older kids, this isn’t as much of a problem – as they have a better understanding of what’s going on and are also far better at sharing than younger children. However, you might still want to put it off, as it’s generally considered good etiquette.

The last thing you want is little kids leaving your party with hurt feelings or fighting and arguing over misplaced toys – just put it off until the end, making it easier on all the other kids and parents at the party.

13. Make an effort and send thank you cards

Sending thank you cards or notes is something people don’t do enough of, and we, for one, wish that they would. It really doesn’t take much effort to create thank you cards for your guests, thanking them for coming and making your little one’s big day special.

Having good manners is essential, and anything that you can do to instill these sorts of values into your little one is certainly worthwhile doing. So, get your little one involved in the process, turning putting these together and sending them out an activity for you to do together.

You don’t have to overdo it – either purchase a bundle of ready-made cards, or if you’re on a budget or just feeling creative, you could always make and print them at home. 

Final thoughts

If you’re playing party host, the single biggest favor you can do yourself is to make sure you put in the planning and prep work ahead of time – as the more well-planned a party is, the easier it will be on you when the big day comes around.

While it isn’t exactly rocket science – a birthday party has a lot more moving parts than you might first think – which can quickly turn it into a nightmare if you don’t put in the ground-work, laying the foundations for a successful party, well in advance.

Don’t be discouraged or daunted by the prospect of throwing a party – just follow our tips and steps, and you’ll be fine. Just remember that above all else, parties are about having a good time – some most of all, make sure you and your guests have an absolute blast!

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