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Party Planning Checklist

Use this step-by-step Planing Checklist to make planning your child's party fun & easy! Planning 4-6 weeks before the party enables you to pull the party together at a leisurely pace, allows time to reserve party facilities and entertainment, and ensures you'll get the invitations out well ahead of the party.

However, if you get in a pinch, you can pull together a nice party in as little as 2 weeks. Just make sure you get the invitations out right away or call your guest list. Less than two weeks is pretty stressful and you risk guests not being able to attend, because they've already made plans.

Schedule
 
Party Preparation Activity
4-6 weeks before party   Choose a theme with your child. Use our Theme Questionnaire to help identify themes that reflect your child's interests. Visit our Themes page for a list of ideas.
  Select date and time for party.
  Choose location for party and make reservations, if necessary.
  Develop the guest list (neighborhood friends, class mates, team mates, cousins, etc.).
  Develop party agenda (example: 1-1:30 arts & crafts, 1:30-2:15 games and entertainment, 2:15-2:30 refreshments, 2:30-3:00 present opening, favor distribution, and free play).
  Book entertainment, if any (magician, bounce gym, etc.).
3-4 weeks before   Make or purchase invitations.
  Mail invitations 2 1/2 weeks before party
  Plan games and activities
2 weeks before   Purchase party supplies (decorations, favors, games & activities). Purchase enough for siblings and a few other extra guests. See our Shopping List for help.
  Plan menu and make grocery shopping list. See our Fun Party Food and Shopping List for ideas.
  Arrange for help. Identify family members and friends who can help set-up/clean-up, prepare and serve food, and coordinate games and activities.
1 week before   Gather up tables, chairs, toys, coolers, serving dishes, and other supplies you'll be using at the party.
  Follow-up with the invited guests who have not yet RSVP'd to determine final guest count.
  Order cake & balloons.
  Prepare any foods that can be frozen for the following week.
2-3 days before   Charge video camera battery and make sure cameras are working.
  Do grocery shopping. See our Shopping List.
  Get cash or make out checks for any paid helpers.
  Prepare favor bags.
Day before   Prepare remaining food, including cake or cupcakes if making these.
  Clean and child proof party area.
Party Day!   Finish last minute food preparation.
  Pick up cake and balloons
  Set-up and decorate party area
  Set-up games
  Have fun!
  Do minimum level of clean-up.
1-3 days after   Finish cleanup/put-away.
  Have your child prepare thank you notes for gifts. Don't forget to send thank you notes to your helpers.
  Send party photos to distant relatives, put one on fridge, save some for scrap book.