The Definitive Guide to Party Planning

The key to a successful party is organisation… buckets of it! Following a pre-planned timeline of tasks will keep you stress free and minimize any last minute disasters, to make this as easy as possible, we got together with a few seasoned party organizers and came up with…


The DEFINITIVE GUIDE to party planning

The Important First Few Decisions

Guests – how many children are you going to invite? This will have an impact on the venue you choose for the party. The obvious choice would be at home, but the number of children you invite could mean that it would be better to choose a local village hall, or park. Inviting 12 to 16 children into your home may sound daunting, but as long as you have other adults there to help out, and your home allows, this is a good size party. It would be a good idea to work on the ratio of at least one adult to every six children. Get other parents involved if you can! Narrow it down by agreeing on a rough number with your child and then decide on the best friends and must invites! Choose a local venue and try to minimize transport there and back – see if parents can car share or you could even organize a bike ride to collect all the children on the way!

It is important to consider the ages of the children you will be inviting – younger children are best in smaller groups and will need more entertaining than older children.

Times – three hours is an acceptable amount of time for a party. If you can hold it on a weekend, we think the best time would be three hours between 12pm and 6pm – this gives you time to tidy up afterwards, and allows the excitement to dissipate slightly before bedtime! After school parties are great from 3.30pm to 6pm. Arranging a party during term time seems to be easier than one during the holidays as you are more likely to see parents of the guests at school to make arrangements, and half term parties could mean children are away on holiday.

Activities – Planning activities for the party will keep the children entertained and happy, which will create a wonderful atmosphere on the day! Keep the activities right for the ages of the children – younger children up to the age of around five years will normally be happy with a few simple games, party food and the cake; with fairly short attention spans, activities should be kept simple and short (try our games for under 5's). For the ages of six to nine children will be more familiar with parties but will relish more energetic games and activities to run around and let off some steam! Children aged between ten to fourteen still love parties but will enjoy more complicated games, dress up themes and sleepovers, see our party games section for some ideas.

Hiring an entertainer and equipment means all you have to worry about is the food and perhaps a few short games – it costs, but for some it's worth every penny. Try to work on recommendations and use local business if you choose this route.

Themes – choosing a theme for your party not only brings the party alive but also provides a great focus for the event and helps with your decisions about decorations, games and food. Children love this aspect of the planning process so get them involved with thinking creatively and come up with an imaginative theme. Themes are very adaptable and could be based on the environment, a favorite toy, colour or film. Once you have decided, try to teach your child about how to choose the most eco-friendly options possible – the mantra of the three R's can be brought in really well here!

Themes are never too ambitious so don't worry if a really wacky idea is decided upon – you can simplify it and adapt it to your preference, whilst concentrating your efforts on tying in all the aspects of the party.  Here are some ideas for you:

  • Farm
  • Jungle
  • Fairies
  • Pink
  • Space
  • Recycling
  • Nature
  • Hobbies
  • Action Hero
  • Bugs
  • Circus
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • Craft
  • Trains
  • Pirates
  • Sports
  • Princess.

Decorations – Your chosen theme will give you some really great ideas about how to decorate your party space. Make sure your balloons are natural latex, your ribbon is compostable and any decorations you use are either recycled or recyclable. Many party supplies do actually contain a percentage of recycled stock, so don't be afraid to ask the manufacturer the question.

Running the party – being very organised can keep surprises to a minimum but the biggest challenge can be taking charge of a group of excited young children, you will want to ensure they have lots of fun whilst being safe and not being upset. It's important to use names – if you re unsure, hand out name badges, which tie in with your theme at the start and make sure you and the other party helpers have one too!

Start with introducing yourself and the other helpers in a gentle voice and then explain any rules, so the children know what is expected of them. Tell everyone where they can find the toilets and make sure you keep smiling! Remember that sometimes children find it difficult to behave nicely if they are excited and in unfamiliar surroundings, take a deep breath and if you do need to deal with a difficult child, speak to them quietly and calmly, explain that everyone is here to have a nice time and tell the child how they can help this to happen.

Your Party Timeline

(Print me off!)




Six Weeks to go…

Choose your date



Choose your time



Choose your location



Create a guest list with your child



Choose a Theme



Four Weeks to go…

Send out invitations



Put your guest list near the phone



Enlist the help of friends and relatives to help at the party



Organise any costumes required for you and/or your child



Two Weeks to go…

Chose your games and activities



Decide on your menu



Buy eco-friendly party supplies and party bags from Little Cherry



One Week to go…

Call any invitees who have not responded



Create an agenda for the party including ideas on timings for activities, presents, food and cake



Get your party music



Put your party bags together and check you have enough for every child



Check you have enough plates, cups, cutlery and serving dishes



Two to Three days to go…

Buy your organic party food and ingredients



Charge the battery of your camera



Prepare any craft activities, and games items such as prizes



The day before the party…

Do any cleaning and put away any breakables or dangerous items



Bake your Birthday Cake



Bake any cookies or cup-cakes



Chop up your carrot and celery sticks, and check the food items you have previously bought



Put a pencil and paper in easy reach for recording gifts (for thank you notes!)



Put all decorations apart from your balloons up



Wrap your pass the parcel



The Party Day

Set up the food and drinks, and prepare the room



Get music ready



Have FUN!