How to Plan a Birthday Party Your Kids Will Never Forget
If you’ve been around for a while, you probably know that I love planning birthday parties. The food, the decor, the games–I live for it! And by now, I’ve planned so many that I consider myself something of an expert. If you’re wondering how to plan a birthday party your kids will love and remember forever, look no further!
How to Plan a Birthday Party From Start to Finish
STEP 1: Choose your theme.
In my opinion, all the best birthday parties have themes because it helps keep everything cohesive! Here are a few tips to help you choose one!
Get your kiddo involved.
The birthday kiddo should always get a say in their theme! I know it’s tempting to pick something you think would be cute, but remember who you’re celebrating. For younger kids, provide a few suggestions. But for the most part, let your child decide and work with whatever they choose.
Don’t limit yourself to characters.
Your theme doesn’t have to be a movie or tv show. When my son asked for water activities at his August birthday party, we chose a beach theme. And when my daughter asked for a “camping and spa theme”, I whipped up the cutest glamping birthday party! The options are endless!
If you choose a character, get creative!
If your kiddo does insist on a character-themed party, don’t panic! You can host a fun, aesthetically pleasing party without buying out the tv show section of Party City. Incorporate character-themed snacks and decor with more timeless elements like solid-colored balloons and fun photo backdrops.
STEP 2: Prep your decor.
Nothing ruins the party mood like staying up until 2am the night before working on a balloon arch. Before anything else, make a plan for your decor. Write a shopping list, buy your supplies, and prep as much as you can ahead of time. This is a great time to call in reinforcements from grandparents, aunts, and uncles who live nearby! While it might seem like a lot of trouble to go through for a kid’s party, these details are how you plan a birthday party the whole family will remember!
Also, don’t be afraid to rent the more expensive pieces. I rent letter lights for pretty much every party we throw, and they’re always a hit. You can rent arbors, lighting, tables, and even concession machines (like popcorn or snow cone makers). Find a local rental company for the best rates.
For my last few parties, I’ve tried to hire out as much of the decor as I can since. I’ve listed out all of the vendors I’ve used in each blog post!
STEP 3: Create your menu.
Themed snacks take a birthday party from good to great. Think about your color scheme and theme, and choose snacks that can coordinate. Sometimes, it’s as simple as choosing the right Gatorade colors or macarons. If you want to get more complex, you can decorate cookies, bake a cake, or make your own snack mix to fit the theme. (And if you’re not a baker, there’s no shame in ordering a cake! That’s what I do!)
Another quick and easy way to up your snack game is creating custom labels for pre-packed snacks. For our Frozen party, I rewrapped water bottles in labels that read “melted snowflakes”. It was a small touch, but the kids got a kick out of it! You can do the same thing with candy bars, chips, you name it! These small swaps make it much easier to plan a birthday party that looks amazing but doesn’t take a ton of time.
STEP 4: Don’t forget activities.
For the most part, kids can entertain themselves, but it’s a good idea to plan a few activities to keep things moving. Here are a few of my tried and true favorites:
- Make a craft station. A themed craft is an activity and a party favor all in one! Keep it simple and as mess-free as possible by prepping the pieces beforehand. And if your craft is inherently messy (like my daughter’s slime bar), put down a drop cloth and a tablecloth beforehand.
- Hire a character. Call it cheesy, but my kids love their movie characters! I hired Anna and Elsa to paint faces and make balloon animals for our Frozen party, and I hired Mirabel to paint faces for our Encanto party. They were a huge hit!
- Throw an at-home spa day. Every kid loves feeling like a grown up. For my daughter’s glamping party, I got all the girls a mini spa kit with nail polish, face masks, and robes. They spent the evening pampering themselves between trips to the snack bar.
STEP 5: Throw the best party ever!
The decor is set up, the food is ready, and the birthday kiddo is ready to party. Take a load off! If you’ve planned your party well, you should be able to relax, mingle with the other parents, and enjoy watching your kids experience their day. Grab a snack and a drink. You’ve earned it!
Not sure how to plan a birthday party for your kiddo? Start here!
Check out some of our past birthday party themes for inspiration!
- Frozen Birthday Party
- Beach Birthday Party
- Encanto Birthday Party
- Slime Birthday Party
- Disneyland Birthday Party
- Lilo & Stitch Birthday Party
Planning a birthday party is a lot of work, but it’s always worthwhile when I get to see my kid enjoy their special day. Here’s hoping they keep letting me plan their parties until they’re 18 (and beyond!).