I am a planner by nature; it’s just part of my DNA. And in the 10 years that I have been working in this industry, I have interacted with different types of clients:

* The laid back client who gives you full reign to do whatever you think best.

* The involved client who is also a planner and plans on participating in their child’s party.

* The nervous client who is overwhelmed at the idea of having to entertain their child and his or her friends and needs much guidance is the planning process.

As an event planner, the greatest advice I can give for planning your child’s party is to have a game plan and to be well organized. Please plan ahead and don’t procrastinate. One of the first thing you will need to decide is on a theme.   This can be easy or not if your child is indecisive. Next will be to choose a location and date. If your children have winter birthdays like mine, it’s safe to say that you will most likely be indoors depending upon geographic location of course. As for dates, remember to check school activity schedules as well as holidays. I can’t tell you how many times I have to remind parents of certain holidays or a party needs to be rescheduled because of a soccer game.

castle1When planning a birthday party, there are different types of parties.

1. The Venue Party: This is one of the most easiest birthdays you can go throw your child. This takes place at a specific theme location and is designed to make things easy for you. Ex. Jump house locations, bowling alleys, ice rinks, etc. All you really need to do is show up and write a check.

2. Event planner party: This type of party can require a little bit of effort on your part. Depending on the company’s package and pricing, you can hire someone to do as much or as little as needed. A full service event planner can do everything from printing out invitations, making favors, bringing costumes, tables, chairs, crafts, provide catering ,you name it.

mary poppins_snow white3. Hiring a costume performer: This is what The Cinderella Co and similar companies do. Hiring a performer is a very simple, economical and creative way of having a party for your child without a large expense. It’s designed to alleviate a parent’s stress of not having to come up with planned activities to host their child’s friends.

4. Throw your own party: This is for the client who loves to plan and involves the most effort; it can be the least affordable as well as the most affordable depending on the level the parent takes it to.

No matter what route you take, early planning is the best. After selecting a theme and location, figure out how large or small you want the party to be. As both a parent and event planner, my ideal guest count is 12 or less. The reason being is that you and your children will get so much more out of a smaller party. A lot of times parents feel obligated in having to invite their child’s entire class. I am here to say that you do not have to and no one should make you feel like you need to. With class sizes today, that’s at least 20 kids and often times does not include neighbors or relatives. I don’t know about you, but that is a lot of children to have to entertain. One of the politically correct ways around this, is by having a gender party.

Photos: I had to learn the hard way with this one. When my oldest was four, I had invited her class of 25 and although I had lots of friends to help me the day of, I was still running around making sure that everyone was happy that I really had no time to enjoy watching her. Don’t miss out on your child’s party because you’re worrying about guests and their parents.   Depending on what your budget is, you can either hire a photographer or have a friend take photos for you. Just don’t miss out on the moment.

Time limit: This is dependent on what type of party you are having. For family parties, time limits usually run longer. When inviting friends, my advice is to stick with a 2-3 hour max.

Back up Plan: Unless you are hosting a party at theme location, it’s wise to have an emergency back up plan. The reason being is because life happens and we are thrown unexpected curve balls all the time. For ex. outdoor parties and weather. Here in California, parents need to be aware of the heat index and sun exposure during the summer. During winter, parents are faced with cold temperature and rain. There is nothing worse than planning an outdoor party for 20 plus children, to learn that it’s going to rain the day of or be really hot out. This is why I always recommend keeping numbers to a manageable amount. If hiring a character company, be aware that performers do get sick or unexpected events can occur. If this happens, a back up plan will save you (next week’s blog).

Lunch: It is important to figure out if you want to serve lunch or not. If you are, keep in mind that young children don’t eat a whole lot, and it’s best to keep things simple by offering kid friendly foods. You also need to figure out if you plan on serving the parents as well. Most parents will stay for younger aged kids.

Siblings: Can you accommodate the siblings of your party guests.

Invitations, Products & Decor: I buy almost everything online. One of my favorite invitation companies is Itty Bitty. With favors, you can purchase some fabulous hand-made items off of Etsy and for decor ideas there is Pinterest.

I hope that this will help your party planning a bit more stress free. Just remember to keep a checklist and stay organized.

Written by Terri / Published by Jennifer