Raising My Three And Me

The unfiltered thoughts and happenings of a married SAHM


How To Plan A (Last Minute) Birthday Party For Your Kids

Did you decide last minute to throw a birthday party for your child or are you normal? Here are a certified event planner’s tips on how to plan one with limited time!

I’m sitting at my desk, it’s a little after six in the morning, and I’m suddenly faced with the realization that our baby is turning one on Wednesday. I knew that her birthday was around the corner, but I have been putting off getting prepared for her special day.

If you’re anything like me, you would have had this planned weeks, or months in advance. As a certified event and wedding planner, I know how to plan an event. Although, I have not pursued this as a career, yet, I have planned a lot of the events in our lives. I have planned every birthday party that I ever had, the parties for my kids, and even my own wedding.

So, I don’t know what happened, but we are a few days away from Mia’s first birthday and I haven’t gotten it planned. I figured that there would be other parents in the same predicament as me. If you’re a last-minute planner or decided on a whim to throw something for your kids, here are the steps to plan a birthday party last minute.

Or, hey, maybe you have plenty of time to plan your kids’ birthday party! So, unlike me, you have plenty of time to do this.

Photo by Shayna Douglas on Unsplash

Raising My Three and Me presents… how to plan a (last minute) birthday party for your kids!

Before I get started on the post, I just wanted to give a warm welcome to any new readers and acknowledge my supporters! Thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to read my blog post. If this is your first time here, I write about parenting, personal growth, and productivity! If this sounds interesting, or you like my blog, you should subscribe, follow, or bookmark this page for later! If you’ve been here before, thank you for returning!

Okay, time to go back to the content!

Step 1: Be realistic

Depending on how much time you have left until the special day, you really have to be realistic with your expectations. Things could be out of stock, delivery times could be delayed, potential guests could be busy, so on and so forth! When it comes to party planning, especially last-minute planning, you have to set the bar a lot lower than normal. This also means to be realistic about what you can afford with your finances, time, and energy with how much time is left until the day. If you go into this journey with realistic expectations, it leaves less room for stress and disappointment.

Step 2: Figure out the basics:

This is the most obvious step to planning a party. You need to know the following details for whatever event you have.

  • What is the event celebrating? – is it a milestone party?
  • Who is the guest of honor?
  • When is the party (date, day of the week, and time are all helpful)? Saturdays are usually best for parties.
  • How long is the party going to last? – two hours is a good amount.
  • Where is the party going to be located? – make sure you consider your guests, guest of honor, weather, temperature, and availability when figuring out where you’re hosting the party.
Christina via Raising My Three and Me (YOU MAY NOT USE THIS PHOTO)

Here is an example of our daughter’s birthday party.

  1. What is the event celebrating? – First Birthday Party
  2. Who is the guest of honor? – Mia
  3. When is the party (date, day of the week, and time are all helpful)? – Saturday February 26th from 10 AM – 12 PM.
  4. How long is the party going to last? – 2 hours.
  5. Where is the party going to be located? – Our apartment.

Step 3: Choose a theme and/or color scheme:

This is one of my favorite parts when it comes to party planning! I love figuring out themes and color schemes! Themes are fun (and helpful) with figuring out the rest of the birthday party. You would be surprised how many unique (and obvious) themes there are out there! You can even mix and match! If you don’t want to choose a theme, you could pick a color scheme!

Here are some ten fun themes for kids!

  • Rainbows and/or Unicorns
  • Food Inspired
  • Dinosaurs
  • Pirates and/or Princesses
  • Happy Bee-Day
  • Outer Space
  • Under The Sea
  • Favorite Characters
  • Circus/Carnival
  • Sweet Treats

When choosing a theme consider the following:

  1. Consider the child’s age and interests.
  2. Choose themes that are cohesive with the season that you’re currently in. This will make shopping much easier.
  3. Less is more, especially if planning doesn’t make you happy, keep things simple in order to make it work.
  4. Use Pinterest for ideas! There are examples of full-blown parties on there and can really help those who struggle with the planning portion.
  5. If themes are too particular, color schemes are nice, too! Perhaps your child’s favorite color is yellow, you can choose a minor theme with colors. Think “Little Sunshine” for yellow. “Pretty In Pink” with pink. It’s pretty simple! Or, you can do pastels, bolds, metalics, neutrals – whichever sounds best for you.

Example: For our daughter’s first birthday, the theme we chose is “Donut Grow Too Fast” and we are incorporating the pastel color palette. She was born in the morning, so donuts sounded like a cute idea in honor of the time she was born. As for pastels, pastels are stunning, and I’m a huge sucker of it.

Step 4: Contemplate guests:

Remember to be realistic with this one because a lot of people like a huge heads up to put it in their budget, schedule, or be able to figure out what gift to get your child. If this is a baby’s birthday, I would suggest not overwhelming your baby with strangers that she doesn’t know yet. However, you know your baby’s anxiety levels and temperament best.

Consider who you would like to invite to your child’s birthday and that they are aware that you understand if they cannot make it. Of course, there is no shame in having a party at home with just your household! That’s what we are doing, but we opened the invitation to our parents. The only one who will make it is my mother-in-law.

Once you have your guest list figured out, you can consider how to incorporate your theme to thank your guests! Again, consider the age range, interests, and keep the party in mind! For example, for a rainbow party, you can get a set of watercolor paints for kids, or maybe a rainbow suncatcher kit! You could also give cake pops (careful about dietary restrictions) or even candy in cute treat bags! Again, check Pinterest for ideas!

Step 5: Choose the menu:

If I’m being honest, this has always been the hardest to plan. The menu can really take up the majority of your budget if you’re not careful. With your event being last minute, you could run into a lot of roadblocks with putting together a menu. If you’re someone who really likes to go for caterers, then they could already be booked for your event.

Feeling overwhelmed? It’s okay! Here are some tips on helping with the menu to minimize your stress.

  • Keep your theme (or color scheme) in mind!
  • Consider the time of your party and choose food items around that.
  • Remember any dietary restrictions of your guests.
  • If you’re on a tight budget – bagels, pizza, donuts, finger sandwiches, tacos, and pasta are all affordable options.
  • If you’re really strapped for cash, you can have light refreshments (think tea and treats), or ask friends to bring a small dish in potluck style.
  • Remember to consider how to properly keep your food. This may be obvious, but sometimes we overlook keeping our food warm, cool, or fresh for the party! You can purchase chaffing dishes, coolers, or just use what you have at home.
  • Figure out what you are going to do for a cake. Are you going to order one from the store? Are you going to make it from a box mix? Are you going to make it from scratch? Are you going to use a different treat instead of a cake?
  • If your party favors consist of food, don’t forget to plan it!
  • Create a list of all supplies you need for food.

For example, I’m going to be making (or ordering) some donuts to decorate, making a cake for Mia to smash, and probably making a small fruit salad to snack on. Wherever you can cut corners or make ahead of time will help you out! I’m going to purchase some glazed donuts from the store, put frosting on it, and decorate it how I envision.

Step 6: Set the scene with decorations:

Photo by Omer Mohammed on Unsplash

I love planning decorations!

In fact, decorations, even when done minimally, can really improve the feel of a party. As I mentioned a thousand times before, the importance of picking a theme helps you with the planning process, and decorations are no exception to this tip.

You can choose decorations as simple as a tablecloth with flowers, to as elaborate as balloon arches, signs, and a lot more creative ideas! Again, I cannot recommend Pinterest enough! You can purchase or go for a DIY approach to setting the scene for your kid’s birthday party.

Take a moment and figure out how you are going to decorate:

  • Are you going to be more minimal or elaborate?
  • Are you going to purchase, DIY, or utilize what you already have?
  • What is the most important aspect of decorating to you, and what can you eliminate?

I personally love using balloons and I’m going to be creating a pastel balloon arch, a decorated table, and setting up a backdrop for photos. I’m also hanging some crepe paper to look like a rainbow!

Step 7: Brainstorm activities:

To be honest with you, I hate party games. I don’t know if it’s the social anxiety with it, or what, but I absolutely detested going to a party, only to be thrown into games. In fact, it’s probably why I never like going to parties because I can’t anticipate it. This is why I never want to be “the home” where people feel uncomfortable.

However, parties, especially for children, need something to do. I usually try to have 1-3 activities, depending on the ages. Remember to consider eating and gifts in your time frame. Whether you’re someone who likes games, or activity stations, something for your guests to enjoy is important.

Some favorite activities from the past are:

  • Water races
  • Pinata
  • Tie-Dye
  • Photobooth
  • Snow Cones
  • Art
  • Board Games
  • Kareoke
  • Dancing
  • Cupcake Decorating
  • Ice Cream bar
  • Jewelry Making
  • Scavenger Hunt

Step 8: Remember what is the most important:

Remember that a birthday party is supposed to be a celebration: not a time to fluff your parental ego, not a time to be overwhelmed with stress. Above all: the birthday party is meant to celebrate the milestone of your child being born. It’s a big deal and even though this is probably the simplest step on this list, it’s often the one that is overlooked. Try to take a deep breath and know that you are not failing your child by not throwing them the “perfect” party. Look at your child and remember that it’s about them and the start of your beautiful relationship.

Conclusion:

I hope these tips helped you with the stress of planning a last-minute birthday party for your child! Planning a birthday party, no matter how much time is left, can be challenging but it’s not impossible! I wish you the best of luck and a happy birthday to your little ones!

Thank you for reading and see you next time.

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