Party Planning Timeline
You are planning a party and want it to be one-of-a-kind, but are unsure where to start. We want to help! The following is a general timeline to get you started. Feel free to follow it exactly, or tweak it to fit the unique personality of the guest of honor!
6 to 8 Weeks Before the Party
3 to 4 Weeks Before the Party
- Select a date, time and location for the party.
- Decide on the number of guests and develop a guest list.
- If desired, call to book an entertainer, such as a clown or magician, to occupy children at the party.
- Choose a theme for the party.
- If you want personalized invitations, place the order so that they arrive at least 3 weeks before the party.
2 to 3 Weeks Before the Party
- Prepare invitations and mail or hand-deliver them.
- Put your guest list near the phone so you can easily record responses as invitees call to RSVP.
- Shop for party supplies.
- Ask a favorite babysitter, friend or relative to help out at the party.
1 Week Ahead
- Select 3 - 6 activities to entertain children at the party.
- Purchase any supplies needed for the activities you selected.
- If serving a meal, decide on the menu.
- Order a cake (unless you plan to bake one).
2 to 3 Days Ahead
- Call any invitees who have not responded.
- Decide on the agenda for the party, including the order of your selected activities, what time you want to serve food and/or cake, and if it's a birthday party, when the birthday boy or girl will open presents.
- Try any games or activities with which you are unfamiliar.
The Day Before the Party
- Purchase groceries or any pre-prepared food you plan to serve.
- Put the favor bags together.
- Charge your video camera and/or put fresh batteries in your regular or digital camera.
- Prepare any crafts that can be set up ahead of time.
- Bake any cookies or treats that can be made ahead.
4 to 5 Hours Ahead
- Clean the party area. Put away items that may be dangerous or distracting.
- Bake or pick up the cake.
- If ordering food such as pizza, call to arrange a delivery time.
- If necessary, confirm with the entertainer and/or any helpers who you've asked to attend.
- Sit down with your child and discuss his or her expectations for the next day.
1 to 2 Hours Ahead
- Set the table and decorate.
- If you are planning a birthday party, put the candles on the cake and place matches nearby.
- Get balloons filled/pick up pre-filled latex or Mylar balloons.
- If you're having the party at home, tie some balloons to the mailbox or the front porch to help mark the party location.
- Place crafts and prizes near the activity location(s).
- Locate paper and a pencil for recording gifts (for thank-you notes).
Have a Great Party!
- Consider putting your pets in an area away from guests.
- Get the birthday boy or girl and all siblings dressed for the party.
- Set up the first activity.
- Set up the food.