Taking the pain out of birthday party planning


We live in the era of Instagram, and inadvertently find ourselves trying to keep up with the Carters.

Despite our best intentions though, spending $80 000 (roughly more than R1 million) on a diamond-coated Barbie à la Beyoncé and Jay Z, is just not feasible.

Still, we all want the very best for our little ones, and special occasions are no exception. 

Regardless of whether you’re planning a tot or tween party, we’ve put together a parent friendly, timeline guide to coordinating a memorable birthday bash. 

Three months prior is the best time to start



Fundamentals like settling on a theme, determining a guest list, and booking entertainment or venue (if required), are best done now.

Outer Space or Under the Sea? Use your child’s interests to decide on a theme, this will determine what you’ll need to plan the décor, menu and party game options. 

One month away

 Taking the pain out of birthday party planning


It’s time to send out the invitations, devise a party schedule, and lock down a list of party provisions. 

Whether hand-crafted or purchased make sure your invitations stay on theme, and apart from the essential details, your invites should include party duration and if parents’ attendance will be required.

For tots parental presence is a definite. 

A schedule may seem like the antithesis to a party, but a predetermined structure provides you with control of an unpredictable bunch. 

At the one month point, stocking up on basic essentials like tables, chairs and utensils is best. Ordering themed goody bags and party favours should also be arranged now. 

Three weeks to B-day, and it’s time to call in the troops



Recruit chaperones from amongst friends, relatives, and party attending parents to assist with managing party activities.

Creating a shopping list for your party menu is now necessary.  

One week to go 



Clean up, paint over and spruce up all party areas. It’s time to crunch down final attendee numbers, and get cracking on a cooking schedule; noting preparation time per dish is advised.

Consult your party provisions list for any missing items, and order the cake. 

It's birthday week! 



To ensure that none of your planning goes to waste, here’s a list of to-do’s to stay the course: 

Week of: 

  • Go shopping, purchasing all grocery and party materials  
  • Safety check all party areas
  • Collect goody bags 

Day Before:  

  • Rearrange furniture
  • Add party décor 
  • Complete as much cooking as possible, excluding dishes to be made on the day 
  • Complete final cleaning touch ups 

Day of: 

  • Complete last minute cooking
  • Collect cake and all ordered party goods 
  • Set up 
  • Enjoy!

To make things even easier, click, save and share the handy birthday party planning timeline printable below: 

party planner timeline checklist 

party planner timeline checklist

Read more: 

What has your experience been with planning birthday parties for your children? Nightmare but totally worth it? Epic fail and never doing it again? Let us know by emailing to chatback@parent.com and we could publish your letter.

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