How To Plan A Birthday Party: Party Planning Checklist.

By Posted in - Events on September 30th, 2021 party planning checklist

Planning a birthday party and ticking things off the party planning checklist can be incredibly fun activities. They allow you to immerse yourself in the spirit of getting people together and use your skills to create a truly fun, magical event for all involved. However, especially when you are planning for a large group, things can quickly build up, and it’s difficult to make sure everything goes exactly right without a proper plan in place.

At Marquee Monkeys, we have helped thousands of families, businesses and individuals put on truly magnificent events, from birthday parties to weddings and music festivals. So, whether you’re a birthday party veteran or someone hosting for the first time, let’s take a look at how to plan a birthday party, and what to put on your party planning checklist!

The Guest List Guide

For many, this can be one of the most difficult parts of the party planning checklist. After all, you don’t want anyone to feel left out, but birthday parties are often held in small venues, and there are only so many people you can fit into a small space before it starts to take away from the festivities. So, before you start working out how to plan your birthday party celebrations, it’s important that you set a limit on the number of people you can realistically have. This will give you a framework for figuring out who can come.

It’s also important to keep in mind partners and +1 guests. Often, it’s assumed that people can bring their partners to events, and that’s a fantastic way to meet new people and get a diverse group together, but only if you plan for it. If you’re working with very limited numbers and can’t have guests bringing people with them, you need to let people know that and explain the circumstances beforehand to avoid any confusion on the day.

Once you’ve got your guest list sorted, it’s time to move on to the birthday party itself.

Setting the Scene: What’s Your Theme?

Themes aren’t always necessary, but when working out how to plan a birthday party for the first time, they can be a brilliant way to keep everything feeling cohesive. A theme can be as simple as a BYO party or as complex as a “Dress As Your Favourite Superhero” event with prizes and accompanying decor. Whatever the style of party you’re planning to host, laying it out at the start of your party planning checklist will help you answer logistical questions later down the line.

Location, Location, Location

Now that you’ve got your guest list and theme, you can start looking for a place to host it. If you’re planning a house party, fantastic! Just remember that your house may not be the only option or the best option depending on what your plans are. For larger events, you can hire a marquee and head out into nature for an open-air event. Alternatively, you could hire out a venue/party space, which will also often mean you don’t have to worry about cleaning up quite as much after people have headed home for the night.

If you’re having your party at home, make sure that your neighbours are aware beforehand if you believe that it may affect them, as you don’t want someone calling the police or coming to complain midway through the night. It’s also important to check with any event space you may be using that they can accommodate your preferences and requests, as some will be more hesitant than others depending on what you need for the night. There also may be age requirements on some spaces, so check all of this to avoid any unfortunate surprises after you’ve already started sending out invitations.

Speaking of invitations…

Invitation Insights

Once you have a space, a guest list, and a loose plan of what’s going to be involved, it’s time to start sending out the invitations. For some added fun, a great idea to add to your party planning checklist is themed cards that are matched to the theme of your event. This isn’t necessary, but it can get people into the spirit of things when preparing for your birthday celebrations.

If you’re going to be sending physical invitations, you’ll need to know the addresses of all your guests, which can be a tricky process to navigate. This is why many people have turned to online invitations as cheaper, easier-to-distribute ways to provide your party info. If it’s a large party, remember to set a confirmation date for those that will be attending. Some people will likely be unable to make it on the day, and knowing beforehand will allow you to bring someone else in their place, as well as giving you a real number to work with in terms of who you’re catering for.

Your invitation should provide any relevant information, and also give people a chance to tell you about any dietary needs they may have if the event is going to be catered. You don’t want to find out on the day that a bunch of your guests are going hungry because they can’t eat any of your offerings.

Catering, Furniture, Gear; Oh My!

Now that you’ve finally worked out the who, where, and what, it’s time to deal with the how. Birthdays will often need some extra gear, furniture, and a lot of culinary delights to keep people happy and comfortable, and so working out what you need and how to get it will be a big step.

Catering

For catering, you generally have two options:

Prepare the Food Yourself

This can be a great way to show off your skills and put a little extra personal touch on your festivities if you have the time. Baked goods, nibbles and such, coupled with some store-bought extras to keep people satiated and satisfied will go a long way, if you have the time to do so. If you choose to go down this route, be sure to have enough serving ware – dinnerware can indeed be rented! Just remember that the day or days leading up to your party can be quite hectic as-is, so only do this if you know you’ll have the time, or help, to do so.

Hire a Catering Service

While it’s going to cost more than taking it on yourself, a caterer will be able to handle all of the work that goes into keeping your guests well-fed without you having to stress over it. Plus, you’ll be getting an experienced professional making your food, likely leading to an excellent spread.

No matter which option you end up going for, you’ll have to choose early on. Caterers need time to prepare, and you want to be sure you can get someone who will be free the day of your party.

Gear

Will you be wanting to play music? Will you be wanting a photo booth? Do you need a bar to serve drinks from? A dance floor to boogie the night away? Well, unless you happen to have these things laying around, you’ll need to either buy or hire them from somewhere. There are likely to be dozens of options for party gear hire wherever you happen to be, so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

If you can’t afford to buy or hire equipment, try to see if there is anyone you know that would potentially be open to lending you things. Keep in mind that, no matter what you end up getting, any gear is likely going to be a bonus, rather than making or breaking the party. People are there to celebrate the birthday of a person they care about, so don’t worry if you can’t get everything on your list.

Furniture

Finally, we have furniture. As with the point above, chairs, tables and other essentials can easily be bought or rented. Just make sure you have a few extra chairs here and there in case something happens and people get stuck standing awkwardly during any seated festivities.

Learning how to plan a birthday party doesn’t come naturally for everyone, and it can be a little overwhelming the first few times you do it. However, if you have your party planning checklist, it will provide you with the information you need to stay on top of your responsibilities. Good luck, and happy birthday to the lucky person!