Saturday, June 15, 2024

Kids Birthday Party Planning Tips from The Party Animal

December 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Party Planning Tips

I would like to share with you some Simple and Easy tips to follow when planning your Kid’s Birthday Party.

Please take the time to read through and Save some Money.


Tip #1:

“K.I.S.S.” which means Keeping it Simple Saves – Keeping this in mind when doing your party planning will help you keep control over your spending.  So when you are about to spend large amounts of cash on 50 Balloons – Give your self a “K.I.S.S.” Check – and ask yourself  “Is this really necessary to have so many Balloons?” the answer is usually No.  And maybe just a few would be just fine.  We all get excited – it is our babies Birthday and we have every right to be, BUT you can plan a party that looks like a million bucks without spending it. How many times can you think of that you have over spent on planning a party for your child? I bet you answered more than one. I am not saying Balloons are a bad thing, but I am saying sometimes we get carried away with spending on party supplies and we have to stop and step back and really think – Hmmm – Maybe Less is More and it usually is. It is just my example. I use the “K.I.S.S.” Rule all the time for everything and it really works.


Tip #2:

Plan Ahead – Being a party planner I have seen time and time again parents spending large amounts of money when it comes to their Children’s Birthday Parties. The main reason I see this happen is because most wait until the last minute and have to rush to put it all together. We have all done this – I am guilty too.  The thing is our lives get busy and we may be working and time just slips by us and next thing we know we have a Birthday Party to plan. Here is the thing – we all know when our kid’s birthday’s are they do come once a year right? So to save money it is so important to start your planning at least 3 months prior to the party date.  Especially if you are booking a Party Place to insure you can reserve the date you want. Or if you are doing online ordering of Party Supplies you do not want to pay inflated shipping charges or find out the pattern you want is not in stock.  I also find by planning ahead you can shop sales and clearance sections in your local stores to get great deals on Party Supplies, Favors and Prizes.  So again Trust Me – planning ahead can be a real money saver.


Tip #3:

Choose a Party Theme – This to me is also a great way to save money and help with your planning. By choosing a Party Theme it helps you focus in on what you will need for your party.  Ask your child what he or she may want their theme to be or base it around their current interests like a Favorite Character, Animal or Movie and go from there.  Use the computer to your advantage and search party ideas for inspiration and see what others have done for that theme and a great place to start is right here on my blog. I share lots of great Budget Friendly Party Ideas to help with planning the perfect party.  When I plan a party for my own kids I do the same thing and I combine the ones that I really like and go from there.  Having a Party Theme keeps you focused instead of all over the place and over spending for no reason.



Tip #4:

Set a Budget This is one thing you need to do before starting your shopping for the party. It starts with How many Children you will invite to the party, which is another area many parents have trouble with. I get this question all the time from parents. Yes it is a tough one too. No one wants to hurt a child’s feelings if they do not get invited, but we also have to understand we need to set limits and there may be no way to avoid it all the time. Unfortunately in this day and age money is tight for all of us and most other parents will understand that, but kids not so much. You can only do your best to avoid it and that is all you can do. So lets say you want to invite some kids from your child’s school class, but not all of them – then make  sure the invites are mailed to their homes verses handed out at school. If you invite just the girls or the boys – I think it is ok to hand them out at school. Just do your best to avoid hurting anyone and again remember it is not always possible and you cannot invite everyone.

When it comes to setting the budget and figuring out what you want spend it is easiest to break it down per child.

So here is an example:

For a Party of  12 Kids Invited plus your Child = 13 Kids

Decide how much you want to spend for each child and know this will include the Party Favors, Food, Games, Crafts, Supplies etc…

To make it easy lets say $10.00 Each x 13 Kids = $130.00

So $130.00 would be your budget for the entire party. Does not sound like a lot, but it is doable as long as you plan ahead and use the tips I have provided. So once you decide on the dollar amount you are willing to spend for each child take that amount and stick it in an envelope and work from that so you will not go above your Budget.

If you are planning a party at a Party Place outside your home make sure to factor in all of these things – What is the cost per child?  Do they include the Birthday Cake? Do they provide Party Favors?  Is the Food Extra? Who supplies the Paper Goods? Do they include Party Invitations? It all depends on where you have the party and the price changes per child when some of these items are not included so Think Ahead and ask.pawbar

Tip #5:

Party Favors – Here is another area where parents tend to over spend.  I see it all the time. But now that you have set your budget you will also need to set your budget for favors as well within that amount you have set aside.  First you must remember that a Party Favor is just a small token to say “Thank You” for coming to my party and at some point in time this has turned into parents sending home party guests with expensive gifts. You need to bring it back to what it should be – a small token.  So what should Party Favors cost per child? No more than $5- $7 or less at max.

Keep in mind – If you have a Party Activity or Craft that the kids get to take home like lets say a Stuff a Plush which you can find on my website – then that also doubles as your party favor. So it becomes a Double Purpose party supply – which happens to be my favorite kind. So with that you can spend a little more. Same goes for a Pinata – the prizes and treats that they gather during pinata time are also Double Purpose party favors – you see what I mean?

Also when shopping for party favors always look for items that come packed in multiples which will also save you money.  Be creative and think of favors that are not always bags of candy and useless toys, but something that you would not mind your kids coming home with from a party. Nothing is wrong with some Homemade Cookies and a Juice Box for a favor or a FREE Coloring Book you printed and made off the internet with a box of crayons.  This is one of the areas you want to keep “K.I.S.S.” in mind.

One of my favorite Party Favor tips that also helps in clean up is having your guests each take home a balloon from the party decorations on their way out. Kids love balloons and they will feel as though they are getting something extra and you will also be getting some clean up done by not having to pop and toss them out after they leave.


Tip #6:

Paper Goods – Theme Paper goods are great and there are party supplies out there for almost any theme you may be looking for, but they can take up a lot of your budget.  A great way to save some money on these is by either ordering the party packs which are discounted for buying in bulk. Or do what I do – I will buy maybe the theme pattern’s large plates or dessert plates and fill in the rest with solid colors I buy at my local grocery store using coupons or buying them when they are on sale.  So you still get the look you want, but you save money. Honestly the kids will not notice and sometimes I think it  is more for us then them. I have never heard a child say – “Why is this cup solid blue and not a theme cup?” and I am sure you have never heard that either. So touches of your theme pattern in your paper goods will be just fine.



Tip #7:

Decorations – Again just like Paper Goods – Decorations can get out of hand as well. If you are creative enough and most people are whether they believe it or not you can save a lot of money here too. A lot of the times you have them already in your home. For instance – when my daughter had her Penguin Theme Birthday Party we went in her room and found everything that was Penguin related and that became part of our party decorations.  She had tons of Stuffed Penguins and Toys that was more than enough to hang around the house and place on the tables for decor. I also find fun FREE Coloring Pages on the internet for my kids to color or we draw and make our own signs to hang up.  Poster board and construction paper do not cost a lot and it is not hard to create your own decorations and just fill in with some store bought where needed.  Be a little creative really pays off – just use your imagination and items you already have on hand. And get the kids involved – they love that.


Tip #8:

Party Food – I know that everyone who has had a party for their children has dealt with many leftovers when the party was over. Why is this? because again we over spend.  I have had and been to many parties and time and time again I see too much party food get wasted. Kids do not each much usually and are normally to busy playing to pay attention.  There is no need to get fancy with your food at a party because the kids will most likely not eat it. Again my “K.I.S.S.” rule of Keeping it Simple Saves comes into play again.  Give them things they will like – Typical Party Food.  Snacks I always have are things like Chips, Dip, Pretzels, Cheese, Fruit and some Veggies – all finger foods. If I decide to serve a meal – then it is Chicken Nuggets, Hot Dogs, Hamburgers or Pizza. That is your Typical Party Food and what the kids like and I have never had any complaints.

To save more  money on food then avoid planning your party during meal time like Lunch or Dinner and only provide small snacks and finger foods.  The safe zone for that is between the hours of 1:00pm – 5:00pm and make sure on your invitation it says Snacks and Cake will be served. This way parents know to feed their kids a meal before the party. Or if you do plan to serve Lunch or Dinner then specify that on the invitation so parents know they will have that meal at the party.

If your party guests are young you may also want to factor in the parents sticking around and even though they never usually eat – just have some extra just in case so you can make the offer.

Fill your bowls with 1/2 the bags of chips and re-fill when needed to avoid having to toss it all out if it is not finished. Using bottles of juice vs. juice boxes will also save money, although I prefer the boxes only because it saves you from having to do re-fills and spillage. Just make sure to have a marker out and write names on the boxes so they know which one is theirs and save from having to open more.


Tip #9:

Party Games – When it comes to your Party Games you want to be very organized.  Have everything planned out ahead of time. Make a list of what games you have planned to play. If you have games pieces needed for a particular game then keep them all in one box or separate them so you can grab and go.  Make sure your party games are age appropriate and easy to understand. Most important – make sure you understand how they are played as well.  One big tip I tell all my parents is to have a couple extra games available on hand just in case the games you planned go quickly. You do not want to be left with nothing to do and kids running all over your home.

Let me also add that kids seem to really like some of the Traditional Party Games so do not leave them out. Games like Hot Potato which can be called anything to fit your party theme. For instance my daughter’s Penguin Party – How about Pass the Penguin or Pass the Ice Cap. Musical Chairs – we played Musical Ice Bergs and at a Luau we played Musical Towels. Freeze Dance is also a party favorite. So along those lines games like that do not cost anything and can be renamed and changed a bit to match almost any party theme.

Be creative and make your own games. I happen to be able to draw, but it is not always necessary to be an artist to draw up a game your self. I love to make my own games for our parties.  For instance for my nephew who was having a Spongebob Theme I made a Pin the Tie on Spongebob Game just by drawing Spongebob on poster board and cutting out some ties to stick on. The Pin the Tail on the Donkey Game can be changed into what ever you want it to be. You can see some of my work HERE.  You can also find lots of FREE Printable Party games on the internet as well.  Just Google what you are looking for and I am sure you will find it or do a search right here on my blog.

If you have any child for any reason not wanting to play a game that is ok – some kids are just shy – so let them sit out and watch.


birthday cake

Tip #10:

Birthday Party Cakes & Cupcakes – When it comes to Birthday Cake time how often have you heard “I want the piece with the Purple Frosting?”  You know what I mean when all the kids hover over the cake and yell out the specific piece they want. I usually avoid this by having cupcakes when possible. Not only does it avoid that whole scene, but there is no cutting involved and it is so much easier on us parents.  You can also turn it into an activity and let the kids decorate and frost their own to their liking. YES a Double Purpose Party Activity – I love those too. If you do decide to have a Birthday Cake just let the kids know that there are no special pieces. You can also have some candies on the table and let them know they can add some extra treats to the top if they like and that usually distracts them as well.


Tip #11:

Gift Opening – Some parents ask if they should open the gifts at the party – I say YES. Guests love to watch their Birthday Gift being opened by the birthday child. Here is a way to help organize the gift opening.  Have the birthday child sit in an area or on a couch with enough room on their side to have another child sit with them. Have all the children get the gifts they brought and sit nicely. Give the birthday child  a hat with all the guests names written on paper. Pull a name out and that child gets to sit next to the birthday child and give their gift. This moment is also a good opportunity to get a photo of the birthday child and friend/relative and you can use this for your thank you cards too. Or you can simply choose the party guests in alphabetical order by their first names.


Tip #12:

Arrival Activity – Have an activity for when the kids arrive being they all arrive at different times. Have them decorate their own gift bags which they will use at the party and to take home their favors. Use plain colored craft bags with handles – have their names written on them ahead of time. Lay out a blanket on the floor let them sit and chat while they decorate. Foam stickers work best – easy to peel and no worry about markers.


Tip #13:

Name Tags This is one thing I always do and I will tell you why.  It is so much nicer to call a child by name, instead of   “Hey You” if you need to get their attention.  Also there are a lot of times you may not even know who is who or you may have family members and kids from school that do not know each other – so it really helps everyone.  Have them by the door and it will also help  you know what child you may still be waiting for to arrive.


door_poster_parties_hereTip #14:

Designated AreaBe sure to have a designated party area and let the kids know if they are not allowed to have free run of the house. Point this out at the beginning of the party so everyone is aware.  So many times when the kids come over they want to go in my daughter or son’s room and I have to put that off limits at parties. So set limits from the start to avoid any mayhem, unless you are Ok with that.


Tip #15:

RSVP SheetOne thing I have found so useful is an RSVP Sheet. What I do after we decide who is invited to the party is create one.  I make a sheet with all the guests names down the side. I add a column titled Yes and one NO. I add a column that is for Phone Numbers and one for Gift. I hang this on my refrigerator so when the parents call to RSVP I can check them off Yes or No and anyone who answers the phone can do the same easily. If they say Yes I make sure to get their contact phone number if I do not have it just in case for any reason we need to postpone the party. I have this sheet at the door as the guests are dropped off for the party and confirm I have the correct phone number in case of an emergency. Then I use this sheet for the gift opening and fill in what was given next to their name for my Thank You cards. It works out great and saves so much writing. I usually make my RSVP Sheet by creating a table using Word on the computer.


Tip #16:

Enlist HelpDo not be afraid to ask for help – enlist family, friends and parents who may be hanging around. Everyone is always willing to help out and sometimes parents who stick around may not know what to do and they will like to get involved to. So don’t be shy.


Another Important  Tip: camera

  • Always have your Camera handy – if you are too busy to take photos ask someone to do it for you. You will not get these moments back and you want to make sure you do not miss any photo opportunities you cannot recreate.

I would also like to address another question I get asked all the time and that is: How long is a Typical Birthday Party?

My answer would be 2 – 2 1/2 hours long. That should be more than enough time to have a great party.

A Typical 2 hour Party may look like this:

20 Minutes – Arrival Activity (Plan an activity as the kids arrive being they arrive at different times)

60 Minutes – Organized Games and Crafts

20 Minutes – Cake

20 Minutes – Gift opening

Add in 15 – 30 minutes if you are serving a meal.


I think I touched base on all the Tips I use when I plan a party and I hope I helped you in your planning.  I would love to hear about any Tips I may have missed or ones that have worked for you. So please share them in the comments below. Also remember that you will lots of great ideas right here on my Blog to help with Birthday Party Planning Supplies, Ideas, Crafts, Games and more – so be sure to bookmark and browse around.


12 Responses to “Kids Birthday Party Planning Tips from The Party Animal”
  1. san jose party entertainer says:

    good resources, thank for share

  2. Party Planners Austin says:

    Wow, that was a very thorough posting of party planning tips. lol, I need to start sending my clients here prior to meeting with them…this could save me a lot of time. Thanks for sharing this, great tips and advice. Very nice article. Thanks so much

  3. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment – I appreciate that very much. Feel free to send them if it saves you some time – lol.

  4. Party planning says:

    Really great post! It is a nice experience from you and want to thank you for your great tips regarding party planning , You’ve made some good points there.

  5. Thanks for sharing such a nice post with us.It is a nice experience from you and want to thank you for your great tips regarding animal party planning.

  6. desesperate mom!! says:

    thank sooooo much for all this useful ideas you have provided in your website i know the’ll reallly help me out, is my first time planning my son’s 5th bday party and i was needing these tips…. THANK YOU Happy holidays!!! Karina(Nicaragua)

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