Ultimate Birthday Party Planning Guide

Mom with Baby Birthday Party

Have a little one with a big birthday party on the horizon? Whether you’re getting ready to cut that first slice of cake or it’s your toddler’s 3rd trip around the sun, we’ve got you completely covered with these top birthday party planning tips. 


Theme Matters: 

Whether your little one loves animals, Disney characters, or trains, choosing a theme before planning a birthday party can help you account for a lot of the little details. 

Looking for an easy way to nail down everything you’ll need for your themed event? Etsy is one of the best secrets for party planning moms everywhere. This amazing platform has everything you’ll ever need for your themed party and it’s all completely customizable! 

From printables to handmade invitations, favors, balloons, and more, you can shop for your entire event right on Etsy; all while supporting small businesses around the globe. Win-Win!

Location, Location, Location 

Deciding where to have your little one’s birthday party means many different things. Home-based birthday parties are wonderfully intimate but also require extensive planning for mom. 

Destination birthdays are a bit easier for planning purposes and can take some of the stress off your plate, but also can get costly depending on where you choose to have the party. 

Here are a few things you won’t want to miss when planning the perfect party: 

For Parties At Home: 

  • Party decorations 
  • Party food menu
  • Chairs and Tables
  • Games and Activities for kids 

For Parties “On Location” 

  • Location ideas: 
    • Parks
    • Petting Zoos 
    • Children’s Museums 
  • Party decorations (you may not need any depending on the location) 
  • Party menu: ordering pizza or bringing a simple fruit platter might be all you need 
  • Party favors that go along with the location or that tie into your individual theme  

Timing it Right: 

When it comes to deciding on a date for your little one’s celebration, you can choose to have the party before or after their official big day. Some families decide on having two parties to celebrate the big day and others prefer to have an intimate celebration on the child’s actual birthday with just immediate family members.

Decide what feels best for you and your family when it comes down to the actual date of the party. Depending on your child (and on your guest list), you’ll want to avoid a few birthday party disasters (cue the over-tired guest of honor) and this checklist will help you to do just that: 

  • When does your child nap? Are they better in the morning or later afternoon?
  • Do you want to serve a meal or just snacks throughout the party?
  • How long will the party last? (think about your little one: 2 hours is probably the max for kids 3 and under). 
  • Are there other parents and little ones coming to the party? 

Whatever date and time you decide, make sure it’s the best fit for you and your family. Keep in mind who the celebration is really for and then everything will fall into place from there. 

Guestlist: Kids or No Kids? 

Deciding on whether you want to include your little one’s daycare or preschool friends at your party really depends on your preference and who you know.  If it’s just a few family members, then having a house filled with kids may not be something you’ll need to prep for.

 Depending on your child’s age, less is usually more. Little ones tend to get overwhelmed easily so it might be best to invite just a few kids that you know your child connects with or just stick with family. If you are inviting kids, be sure to prep for the ages of the children coming. Here are some ways you can prep for kids of all ages at your little one’s birthday party: 

  • Create baskets filled with a variety of activities such as bubbles and playdough
  • Create a painting station or other craft activity table such as coloring to help entertain kids of all ages 
  • Get a small bounce house or create a play area with balls and toys 
  • Hire a clown, magician, or a local petting zoo to throw in some additional entertainment

Baby Eating Cake

Food Options: 

Everyone loves party food and we bet your little one is no exception! Depending on the time and length of your party, you’ll need to have some guest of honor favorites as well as food for your guestlist planned ahead of time.  

From kid-friendly snacks to full course brunches and lunches, deciding on food will greatly depend on your guests and how long they stay. If your child is a little bit older, you might want to center the menu around your child’s favorite snacks. 

Baby with toys

Party Favor Favorites: Parting Gifts that Everyone Loves: 

Party favors are a great way to say “thank you” to guests and can compliment your entire theme. While traditional goodie bags include candy and plastic toys, there are now many other adorable favor options that won’t send the kids on a sugary spiral or break the bank. 

Below we’ve listed a few kid-friendly (and parent-approved) favors that will last long enough for everyone to enjoy (minus the sugar rush). 

Aside from these themed favorites, you can check out Etsy for more creative party favor ideas that cover kids of all ages! 

That’s A Wrap on Parties: 

Birthday parties are a wonderful way to celebrate your little one’s big milestone. Turning another year older means the beginning of new stages and new adventures for your little one and for you! Whether it’s a large affair or an intimate party, planning certain details will help you to focus on just celebrating.

While planning the perfect party, you’ll want to make sure that you’re mindful of a few details that can make or break the day.  From naptime to party guests, food details, and favors, you can easily put together the best birthday bash that’s both fun and stress-free for you and your family. 

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