Birthdays are a time for fun and celebration with family and friends. If you find yourself responsible for planning a birthday party, though, all of the factors that go into coordinating a great party may feel overwhelming.

Whether you’re planning a party for someone who is one or one hundred, here is a birthday party checklist that is sure to help you out. Just follow these guidelines so that your experience will be stress-free.

2 to 3 Months Before the Party

You’ll want to start working on your birthday list as far in advance as possible.  Starting your planning early on helps with getting all of the essential details figured out so that you can build off of them in the months ahead.

Decide on a Theme

First and foremost, you need to figure out what kind of party you will be planning. Are you throwing a surprise celebration? Has your eight-year-old daughter requested a princess-themed party? Or, are you designing a low-key event to celebrate a fiftieth birthday?

Create a Guest List

Figure out who is receiving an invitation to the party. Deciding on your guest list at the beginning of planning will help you accurately plan for space and resources you will need in order to accommodate all of the people that are going to be in attendance.

When and Where

Before you can send out invitations, you need to know when and where the birthday party will take place. If you plan on renting out space for your event, try to do this as at least a few months out because venues tend to fill up quickly. Try to hold the celebrations at a location that will neither be too big nor too small for the number of guests that are anticipated to attend.

Secure Entertainment

Will there be a magician at the birthday party? Do you have to look into the local policies for providing a bounce house?

Deciding on what entertainment to provide will be a top priority on your birthday party checklist because not only can many rentals and performers book-up quickly, but there may also be legal permits that you need to apply for as well.

birthday party

One Month Before

The time is rapidly approaching now. Here’s what you’ll need to do at this point.

Prepare Invitations

Since you have a theme, date, location, and guest list ready, prepare invitations with all of the essential party details. It’s a good idea to have invites match the party theme so that guests know what to expect. For example, if you’re throwing a birthday bash where you would like all guests to dress in white, make sure to put the dress code on the invitation.

Don’t forget to put details regarding what date RSVPs are due and how you would like guests to contact you. Having an accurate headcount is vital for proper birthday party planning.

Plan Activities

If you are hosting a birthday party that a lot of children will be attending, it’s important to think of some fun activities that will keep the kids entertained. Children like to switch gears frequently, so make a schedule of events that will last between fifteen to twenty minutes each.

For example, if you think your guests will be at your party for about two hours, create a schedule with at least six different activities that are engaging for kids. If you’re designing the birthday party to be outside, be sure to make a backup plan in case the weather is terrible on the day of your event.

Ideas include:

  • Party-themed crafts
  • Storytelling
  • Dancing
  • Eating birthday cake and ice cream
  • Opening presents
  • Relay races

2 to 3 Weeks Before

Create a List of Supplies

Once you have planned out a list of activities, it is a good idea to shop for non-perishable supplies. Doing this step well in advance creates less chaos for the few days right before the big event.

Some items you might put on your supply list are:

Make a Menu

Now is the time to decide if you’re going to be serving a meal, snacks, or dessert. While most birthday parties have dessert, whether you provide a meal or a snack usually depends on the time of day you are hosting the event. If the birthday party is scheduled during dinnertime, plan on providing at least a small dinner for guests.

If you’re you are having food catered or are ordering a custom birthday cake, try to place your order at least a couple weeks ahead of time.

2 Days Before

Down to the wire! What else is left?

Grocery Shop

Plan to head over to the grocery store to pick-up ingredients for any of the snacks or meals that you are serving at the birthday party.

Assemble Activities

If you have planned any activities for the party, prepare all of the materials that you will need. If you are doing a craft with kids, get bins of individual materials ready and decide how and where you would like everything to be displayed.

Prepare Party Favors

If you plan to give out premade party favors, such as bottle openers or mints, pick them up from the store a couple of days in advance. Alternatively, if you are preparing goody bags for kids, plan to pick up all of the necessary components needed to assemble the bags two days before the birthday party.

One Day Before

Tomorrow is the big day! A few remaining things to take care of.

Pick-Up the Cake

Save yourself the hassle of picking up the birthday cake the day of the party. Arrange to pick-up the cake a day before the party and just store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

Confirm Entertainment

If there is live entertainment scheduled for the party, be sure to confirm with the entertainer(s) a day ahead of time. Confirming will help ensure that there won’t be any last minute no-shows.

Day of the Party

The big day has arrived! Time to put the finishing touches on things.


Set up tables for food, presents, and any activities. Also, hang up any streamers or balloons that you are using.

Display Food

Set up the food tables no more than two hours ahead of time. If there is a cake, don’t forget to put the candles in it at this point.

Welcome Guests and Enjoy the Festivities

At this point, you’ve conquered your entire birthday party checklist and are ready to engage in all of the fun that you have planned for the day. The only job left that you have to do is to ensure that the schedule that you have drafted gets executed in a timely fashion. Don’t forget to mingle with guests!

Above all, make it a point to sit back and enjoy all of the effort and hard work you put into making this day perfect for your loved one!

Image Source: Adobe Stock

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