Planning a Birthday Party for Your Child

Planning a Birthday Party for Your Child

How to plan and keep the stress to a minimum:

Tailoring the theme to your child’s interest can be the easiest part of the process. It can be as simple as your child’s favorite color or elaborate as pony rides – so long as it follows along their interests. If your child is old enough to tell you what they would like, this cuts the process in half. You will be tapping into what your child likes and making their day extra special by going off that.


  • Decide who to invite and set a limit of friends for your child to invite. Remember, you most likely have family coming and your close friends, and the parents of the children attending, as well. This party could grow to 50 people very easily. Plan out the list, stick to it, and send out invitations. You should be prepared for about 5% not come because something came up.

How to keep the kiddos busy:

  • This, you can start planning early. The earlier you decide on a theme, the less stress you will have with budget. If you are deciding on any entertainment or a special guest, you may have to start early. Once you have the theme down, shop early. So, if you are planning on Christmas in July, as soon as the holiday is over, start shopping the sales. When you start buying early and putting a plan into place, everything else will just follow. Plan to fill part of the day with activities, food, and plan that your outdoor party may have to be indoors if the weather changes.

What activities to do with children:

  • Once your theme has been picked, start planning out what you can do. For example, hoedown or cowgirls/cowboys: You can go simple or bigger depending on how much you want to spend. First, get bales of hay about 4-6. Use these for some seating for your guest. Use one for spreading out on a drop cloth and put little toys for children to find. If you want to get creative, build a cow from 2x4s for milking. You can see who in your area has ponies to come to your home for rides. Besides milking a fake cow and digging for a prize in the hay, you can also set up cans for children to either knock them down like bowling or toss a soft ball to knock down the tower of cans. Eat a donut on a string from a tree branch, hands behind their back. Kids love this activity! Kids just like to have fun, so have fun with different activities that are simple to do.

To give favors or not:

  • Most kids just like a small gift bag. You don’t have to go too big. For the cow girl/boy theme, you can hand out cowboy/girl hats, a bag for them to decorate and find the object in the hay or skip this and have a piñata. This is more than enough for children to be excited. It can be as simple as having them make a badge to be the sheriff or go on a scavenger hunt. Think outside the box!
    What to prepare for food: Again, make it simple and kid-friendly. So, sticking with the same theme make hotdogs, baked beans, corn on the cob, corn bread, salad, pizza, cake and ice cream. You will hit everyone’s palate at the party. You put beans in a crock pot, make a sheet pan of corn bread, buy salad in the ready-made bags, order pizza, cake and ice-cream, then just make the hotdogs on the grill. Planning your menu out makes this part very easy. Put out on the table and sit back.

Not into big parties but want your child to spend it with friends?

Check with your child’s school or child care. You can ask if you can bring in healthy treats (depending on allergies). See if you can bring in books as favors and do something with the class if you don’t want to do a big party at home or do not have space. This is a great alternative. Ask your local “mom groups” what they do or if your child is not enrolled in child care, come by and take a tour at one of our 19 locations.
Lastly, make a checklist of what you need, what you want to buy, decorations, and what you will need to order. Set up the party 2 hours before guests arrive. Make the food that can be made in advance, ahead of time. Have a place for presents to go and a place for favors. Enjoy the day instead of running around.

Some Ideas/Themes:

  • Princess party: have stations such as ice princess they can make ice cream or frozen slushies.
  • Sleeping beauty, they can paint wooden apples or apple prints. Have dress up clothes for a photo booth.
  • Alice in Wonderland: Have a giant chess game for your child’s guest to play. Set up croquet. Have signs this way or that way. Giant Cards to take photos.

The possibilities are endless. Just think outside the box, plan early and think ahead, look for sales and let the party begin!

This article was written by Tracy Martin-Turgeon, VP and Regional Director of Operations at The Children’s Workshop in Cumberland, Rhode Island.

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