How to Organize a Birthday Party for Kids

Two Methods:Planning Party BasicsOrganizing Activities & What to Eat

Kids' parties can be more fun than adult parties -- you don't have to be so serious and you can let your inner child out with them. Plus, by the end of the day when all the kids' energy has come to a halt, and they fall asleep, you're right there, laying next to them, taking a little nap yourself!

Method 1
Planning Party Basics

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    Pick a theme with your child. Though it may seem unnecessary, having a theme will help you know what decorations to buy, what food to prepare, and what games to plan. Character parties are popular (think Sponge Bob or Scooby-Doo), but general themes work, too (pirates, fairies, princesses, cowboys, etc.). Unless they want something that just isn't appropriate, allow them creative freedom. Sit down with your child at the table with a pen and paper and write down all the ideas you both like.
    • Some themes will obviously be more difficult than others. Go with your child to a couple of party stores and see what's available or go online to stores like or It'll be easiest to pick a theme based on what you have at your disposal. Most parents aren't Martha Stewart; you certainly don't have to be.
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    Nail down the specifics. There are a few questions you'll have to address: When is the party going to be? How long will it last? Where is it going to be? Is there anything going on communally or culturally that would prevent other children from coming? What time of day works into your schedule?
    • Take your child's age into account. Generally, the younger the child, the earlier the party. You do not have to entertain all day--a few hours is more than sufficient. If you're not having it at home, consult the desired venue to see what times are available.
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    Get invitations (that match the theme!). Once you have them picked out, it's time to finalize the details. Check your schedule to make sure there are no girl scouts or work meetings during the time you're thinking. On the invitation, put the start and end times, address, what each child should bring (swimsuit, etc.) and if there will be a meal so parents can plan accordingly.
    • As for guests, a good rule of thumb is the child's age plus 1.[1] And if parents can come along, great! It's best to have a couple others to help with monitoring and clean up.
    • Have your invitations in the theme of your party. The other children will probably get excited, too. Your child can hand them out at school (if possible to do it discreetly) or you can give them to the parents if your child is too young (or forgetful!).
      • Your child shouldn't hand them out in front of those not invited -- it might make the others feel bad. Give them to the teacher to put in the take home folder or have your child put them in desks or lockers.
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    Buy decorations. For everything from table cloths to pinatas, a party store is your best bet -- or else you'll end up bouncing around town for days looking to piece it all together. And if they don't have a specific something, ask! They may be able to order it for you.
    • It's always an option to make your own if you're DIY handy. And your child can always help if you want someone to blame the poor penmanship on! As an alternative idea, a few children can come over a bit earlier to make decorations themselves, if they'd like.

Method 2
Organizing Activities & What to Eat

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    Plan some games. These are the building blocks of a good child's party, so start thinking up craft projects, look into renting an entertainer, or utilize the facilities at an outside venue. Look in your phone book or online for party rentals or places near you. For younger kids, have a loose schedule to keep things running.
    • Don't be afraid to go super theme-oriented. If you're having a Wild West party, have them pan for gold in the sandbox. Conduct a scavenger hunt with theme-related clues and a final prize.
    • Don't be afraid to go super simple. Nowadays, kids aren't playing the old school games they could be. Instead of having them all plop down in front of the Wii, have them Capture the Flag, play Red Rover, Blind Man's Bluff, or have relay races.
    • For older children, have more free time. The older the child, the less structured the party should be. Kids will likely want to do their own thing at one point or another. If they express this, don't stress. More free time for you and the other parents!
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    Make party favors interactive. Instead of giving them a bag of small toys that will get played with for three minutes and then shoved in a drawer, have them make the party favors themselves! The kids will feel more involved and like they were a part of the party.
    • They could make potato print t-shirts, simple masks, jewelry, fishing rods, badges -- the list goes on and on and on. This requires a bit more forethought, but will pay off in the long run.
      • You could have this be the first activity -- so children that come earlier have something to busy themselves with while the others slowly file in. Any late arriving child can take the necessary materials home with them if they'd like.
    • Let the kids take home the decorations. This is an easy and quick idea if you have something with a general theme, like princesses or baseball. And it allows for minimal clean up!
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    Plan the party food. When it comes to parties, one thing is timeless: cake. Will you bake one or buy one? Or two?! Cupcakes are easy and super trendy as well. Whatever you choose, either get the order in early or go grocery shopping for the ingredients ahead of time. Make the food theme oriented, too!
    • Despite what logic dictates, cake isn't enough. You'll need food food too -- make it easy on yourself and get some pizzas delivered or get a fast food restaurant or catering company to take care of everything. Finger sandwiches and lunch bags with sandwiches and fruit or cookies are great choices, too.
    • If it's a nice day outside and you have a grill, kids love hot dogs and hamburgers. Don't forget the buns, mustard, and ketchup!
    • If there will be other parents or adults attending and watching over the kids, have food for them, too. They may not be so keen on chicken nuggets and Sprite.
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    Plan the party drinks. Soda pop, lemonade, and juice are all pretty standard. And if you'll be outside a lot, a cooler filled with bottles of water or cans of soda will surely be appreciated, especially if it's hot outside. And, of course, milk goes great with cake. If it's autumn or winter, have the kids play outside and come in for cider to warm them up.
    • Have glasses (and cutlery in general) that are safe for the kids to use. Things may get broken -- so don't break out your fine china. Be prepared for a mess.
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    Plan the goodbye. Give the other parents your cell phone number on the off chance they're running late, early, or sending someone else to pick up their child. Establish protocol for the safety of every child.
    • As the child leaves, take note. Have them say goodbye to everyone, gather their things, their party favor, and mentally check them off their list. Never let the child leave on their own or with an adult you don't recognize.


  • Plan for more games than you think you'll have time for. Younger kids tend to get bored easily and take less time with games than you think.
  • You can hang painted styrofoam balls from a ceiling or tree for a space party (use acrylic paints or spray paint), spray paint pebbles gold for a pirate party (and have the kids find the gold throughout your yard) or you can purchase silk butterflies, and adhere them to walls, trees, and fences for a girl party. Just think of all the things that you can do for the theme, and go with it.
  • Set up an activity at the beginning that can be joined as the children arrive. Doing a craft works well. They can make masks for themselves, decorate hats, or just coloring.
  • If you have a theme party then make it into a plot. For example: if it's a car themed party, have a car break down so in every game they play they can get a "tool" to fix the car. It's an easy way to have a goal but no competition.
  • If you are planning outdoor games, have one or two simple indoor games prepared too, in case it rains.
  • Scatter some beach balls around your yard. Little kids and babies will keep themselves busy and entertained.
  • If you want to, you can have different games set up at once, and the kids won't be bored. It will be like a mini carnival, and they can pick which game they want to play.
  • You can set games up the night before the party, that way they are ready to go on the day of the party.
  • You can also contact a painter and set him for the day of the part do that he can paint tattoos on the child.


  • Make sure beforehand if anyone attending the party has food allergies.
  • If you're having a party for young children, and babies will be present, make sure the prizes and games in the goody bags are safe and they cannot choke on them.
  • Competitive games may upset younger children. Allow everyone to be a winner at some point.

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Categories: Birthdays | Parties for Children