When creating the Party Kits, my goal was to make it easier on parents and hosts who are throwing parties for their children and loved ones. That meant providing décor in addition to the party basics, like plates, napkins, cups and cutlery. But I also wanted to take things a step further and share some fun DIY projects that you could potentially do. Some hosts love doing DIY projects and crafts, while others would rather not bother. No matter your preference, the Party Kits have you covered! See our Pinterest for more DIY projects and inspiration.
Throwing a party doesn't have to be overwhelming! I know, I know. It's easy for me to say that when I have 6 years of event planning experience under my belt. But I want to share my knowledge with you so that you can have all the tools you need to throw a great party - and actually enjoy it. Here are some tips and tricks to make your party planning experience more manageable, as well as some common etiquette questions answered.
Now that you have your Party Kit, how do you execute it? Well, here is your party planning blueprint! Keep in mind, there is no one size fits all timeline for party planning - but this is a helpful outline. Key word: outline! Don't let this timeline bring any stress - there's always room for flexibility.
4 to 6 Weeks Out
- Order your Party Kit. If you need/want additional party decor also order at this time, keep delivery times in mind to ensure everything arrives on time.
- Place your order for food, as well as birthday cake and/or desserts for the party. More tips on menu planning below.
- Send out invitations or e-vites. More on invitations below.
1 Week Out
- Assemble anything that can be done ahead of time, like a banner. Don't attempt balloon projects until the last minute because you don't want to risk them deflating (if you're using helium).
- Update guest headcount with your caterer and baker.
2 Days Out
- Make any final food and beverage purchases for the party.
- If you are providing your own food, begin the menu prep.
- Confirm delivery times, if applicable, or pick-up times with vendors.
1 Day Out
- Assemble simple projects and finalize your party layout. Set-up tables if you're able, to eliminate any extra work for the next day as well as to help you maximize any help you might have on party day.
- Map out how you'll set-up food stations, dessert tables, drink stations, paper supplies, etc. so all you have to do is place and go the next day.
- Drop off balloons to be filled with helium, if needed. Foil balloons have a longer shelf life, but latex balloons will only live about 8 hours max.
Day of the Party
- Set up the decor.
- Plan to set out the food 30 minutes before the guests arrive. If food safety is an issue for any of the items on the menu due to ingredients or weather, keep that in mind.
- Make any necessary pick-ups ... this is a great thing to outsource to family and friends who offer to help!
Electronic invitations can be appropriate for parties. If it’s easier for you, or your budget, to send an online invitation or email invitation, then go for it! Paper invitations are more traditional. Plus, they’ll allow your child to be a part of the planning process by helping to choose the invitation design, and provide you with a keepsake, if that’s important to you.
Whether you choose an electronic invitation or paper invitation, you should include an RSVP by date along with either an email address or phone number. I recommend RSVPs to be returned one week before the party so that you can confirm head count with catering and/or dessert vendors, and know how many guests to expect. If a guest does not RSVP by the date you requested, then feel free to call, text, or email them to follow-up to get their reply.
I recommend sending invitations out between 4 and 6 weeks in advance. If you have a lot of out of town guests, you’ll want to give more advance notice so that they can make travel arrangements. If you are planning a party around a popular holiday, you’ll want to give more advance notice so that your event lands on their calendar first.
Deciding on a start time for your party can be difficult. There’s a lot to consider, such as the best time of day for your child. Ultimately that should be the #1 thing that matters when choosing a party start time. Don’t let outside suggestions from family and friends deter you.
Feel like morning is better for your family? Set a 10am start time. Feel things run more smoothly after nap time? Go for a 4pm start time. Of course, weather might play a role, as well. If you’re planning an outdoor celebration and live in a place that gets very hot during the summer and fall months, for example, consider a morning start time so that it’s more pleasant for everyone attending. Also think about your set-up needs! An afternoon start time might be better if you have a larger set-up and need the morning to run last minute errands.
Planning a party menu can be overwhelming. Let your theme and setting guide you in your choices. I recommend you think about how you would fill your plate when choosing what to add to the menu. Include 1 to 2 main course(s), which will be your protein and heartier dish. Then, include 2 or 3 sides like your starch and vegetable to ensure your menu is well rounded. I also recommend including 1 or 2 appetizers that guests can enjoy. Keep these appetizers in central locations, where you want guests to gather. Guests will follow the food!
Remember that the time of day will also help dictate the menu. If your party is around any major meal times, you’ll want to serve more filling items. If your party is around an off time of day, you should still provide food, but you don’t need to necessarily create an entire meal.
Party Planning Tip: Party planning is never a one person task – it takes a village! So don’t be afraid to seek help from others, or outsource. Don’t discount the value of hiring a caterer or restaurant to provide some or all of the food and desserts. The host shouldn’t need to be working during the party! You should get to enjoy everyone who’s gathered to celebrate.
Do you need to do party favors? Nope. The tradition of party favors has gone to the wayside. Focus on giving your guests a great party experience rather than something to take home. You can also consider sending guests home with items from the party, such as balloons, or leftovers, or flowers.
Opening gifts during the party is a personal decision. If you feel like it would be a good teaching moment to show your child how to open and receive gifts graciously, then make time to open them during the party. If you feel like your little guests would get bored easily or it would create chaos because everyone will want to play with the new toy, then skip it. Regardless, thank you notes should be sent following the party. And it is okay to say "no gifts, please" on the invitation. Be prepared for guests to ignore your request, though. They're not trying to be rude - some people just love to give gifts and like showing up to parties bearing gifts!
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