Follow these guidelines and it will be a piece of cake.

birthday_cardKeep the party short! Two hours is plenty for children 4-years old and up. An even shorter party is suggested for the 2nd. and 3rd. year toddlers. The typical birthday party lasts two hours. The beginning fifteen to thirty minutes of the party is used up on greetings and waiting for late arrivals. Then count on 40-45 minutes for birthday cake and opening presents. That leaves a full hour for entertainment and/or game activities. If your party is three hours long, you will need to fill two hours.

Keep the guest list short as well. A dozen or so of your child’s best friends and playmates are plenty (even fewer for the very little ones). You do not need to invite your child’s entire class from school. (The school may tell you that you must. Remember it is your party). It is also best if all the children are in roughly the same age group. This makes it easier to plan entertainment and activities that will appeal to all of the children. Note: What entertains a 3-year-old will not entertain a 9-year-old.

The first thing you need to decide on is a date and time. Most people want to have their birthday party on a weekend afternoon. This is a good time for a party, but many times, it interferes with other events such as soccer games, family outings, other birthday parties, etc. In addition, the best entertainers usually fill their weekend schedules first. If you wish to have the party on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, plan as far in advance as you can. Saturday mornings are becoming more popular because that time interferes with fewer excursions, and when the party is over, the rest of the day is free. Weekdays are also becoming more popular party days. Weekday parties are not only a great way to break up the week, but also leave your weekends free for other recreation. Plan a few dates that you would like to have the party. Check your child’s activity schedule to be sure it does not interfere with the party. Also make sure most of your child’s friends can make it to the party. Call the entertainer you want at the party, check their schedule, and decide on a date and time.

You don’t need a theme, but it will often help make planning easier. If your daughter’s favorite things at the moment are Dalmatians, theme the party around them. If your son’s passion is Star Wars, you have your theme. Others use baseball, soccer, football, ballet, dinosaurs, Cinderella, etc. Many people will theme their parties around the entertainment they have planned. For example, a magician will be performing so the theme is MAGIC, a clown is coming to the party so a CLOWN theme is planned, etc. As far as themes go, do not worry that absolutely everything at the party must fit the theme. A few decorations are fine, a cake is great, but there is no need to stress-out because you can’t find an entertainer that does a Star Wars show to fit your theme. Remember that a party should be fun for everyone, including the planner.