10 Steps to a Perfect Party

Throwing a great birthday party isn’t as simple as inviting a bunch of kids and providing cake. To make sure your bash is the best – with as little stress as possible – check out these party planning tips.

Best friends

If your child has a best friend make sure they can come on the date you are planning for the party before you go ahead with bookings and invitations. The day just won’t be the same without their partner in crime by their side.

Involve the birthday party boy or girl in the planning

If your child is old enough, sit down with him or her and offer a few suggestions for the theme and structure of the party, and let the birthday boy or girl choose from your list the one they want. Don’t ask your child to come up with the party plan because disappointment may follow when you say no to a petting zoo on your apartment’s balcony.


Plan what you are going to eat, play and give to each child when they leave. Start collecting party paraphernalia a couple of weeks prior to the big day and store it all in a plastic tub so it’s easy to access when party time arrives.

Guest list

• Create a checklist to keep track of the who’s who of your party.
• Big is not always best.
• The rule of thumb is that the number of guests should be the age of your child plus one once your child is aged three and over.
• If you are planning games make sure the amount of children invited fits with the type of games you have chosen.
• Older children handle bigger groups better than younger children.


• Order personalised invitations six weeks before the party. Send out invitations at least three weeks ahead of time. Many venues provide invitations so make sure to ask if you’re holding the party away from home.
• There are also free electronic invitations that you email to all invited children and then receive RSVPs electronically.


• Weekend parties are better for younger children and family can attend too, while older children will enjoy an after school party, if you can manage it. They love spending all day in anticipation of going home together, plus your party won’t clash with Saturday sport. If you are planning a Sunday party, keep in mind many people attend church in the morning.
• The time of day you choose to start your child’s party depends on whether you want to serve a meal or cut straight to cake.
• If serving a meal, start the party between 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
• If you plan to serve cake only, have your party two hours before or one hour after traditional meal times, for example, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


• Home parties are generally less expensive than hired venues and you are free to hold the party at whatever time suits your family and guests.
Venues, on the other hand, can be exciting and make your job a lot easier.


• If you want to serve a small meal, keep the offerings simple. Familiar snacks like pizza or sandwiches work well and can be turned into special party food by using cookie cutters to make star-shaped sandwiches or heart-shaped pizza.
• If parents are dropping off children at the party, be sure you know about any food allergies. It’s best to avoid anything with nuts (including peanut butter sandwiches) because so many children are allergic to them. Or order in to save time.


• Sometimes old-fashioned games work best for the youngest children. Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Simon Says are exciting for four-year olds because they may be discovering them for the first time.
• Six year olds may like a twist on an old favourite such as Pin the tiara on the princess or the Eye patch on the pirate. Older children will be ready for simple crafts like making pirate hats or treasure boxes.

Present opening

• Encourage your child to say thank-you when the present is given to them and to open the card first
• It is best to decide when the presents are to be opened (when the guest arrives, at a set time during the party or after the party) and explain that to your child before the party starts
• Send a thank you note to each guest

Find More
Browse our top picks for homemade birthday cakes
Find party ideas for under threes
Search the birthday party directory for supplies


  1. kymmage 01/09/2019 at 8:35 pm

    What a great article. If its your first time planning a party like this, it can be really overwhelming trying to think about what you need and what to plan. This definitely steps it out for you which takes the guess work out of things. Both of my kids birthdays are by school holidays and so we never have the party in the school holidays. We did it once and so many people didn’t come. Disaster!

  2. Alezandra 31/08/2019 at 9:58 pm

    A perfect party is so relative. But these steps for party planning will sure help – help resolve stress and gives you a chance to actually enjoy the party as well. I think a nice other extra step would be to assign tasks to family members or friends too during the party, like having someone to take photos — it will be good to have photos to remember the event.

  3. Loucyd3 31/08/2019 at 9:03 pm

    Great ideas listed, for my older sons birthdays we always made sure it was done after a school day as we knew his friends were always busy with sports on the weekends, but for my 2nd oldest the weekends worked out really well with his friends. We have always got the kids involved with ideas for the party games, goodie bag treats and the choice of food as they know what them and their friends like.

  4. candyjanenz 31/08/2019 at 5:51 pm

    Great tips here, especially with regards to days and timings and things to think about such as a lot of people have sport in the weekends so an after school party may be better for older children. Birthday parties are still a while away for us now but something to look forward to in the future.

  5. Bevik1971 30/08/2019 at 3:21 pm

    Our daughter wants a party this year for her seventh birthday – she hasn’t actually had one yet (we have them at home), so this year we will do an outside of the house party for her. The main reason is that her birthday is Boxing Day so really difficult as can’t have her birthday party on the day or too close as all her friends are away. So we will have to plan the date, maybe early December. She has decided where she wants it and who she wants to invite already haha, she’s pretty excited about it!! 🙂

  6. SarahBlair 30/08/2019 at 1:21 pm

    This is so useful! A lot of handy tips that I wouldnt have thought of! I get so overwhelemed at the thought of throwing parties for my kids they dont often get them, I feel bad but I get too stressed. This will really help having a guide to follow!

  7. MuddledUpMolly 27/08/2019 at 1:50 pm

    Next birthday our soon to be 10 year old son will be having his first big birthday party since his 6th birthday and he is so excited with so many potential ideas. Will be great to see what he comes up with. Our almost three year old is also more aware of what it means to have a birthday so we are having a small-ish family birthday that she can join in the planning for.

  8. Mands1980 27/08/2019 at 11:46 am

    I love all these ideas we always need to think hard when it comes to birthdays and this just takes a bit of the pressure off to ensure everything is organised properly and involving the child whose birthday it is also. The most important thing is that the birthday child has fun and isn’t disappointed.

  9. Jen_Wiig 23/08/2019 at 4:21 pm

    What great tips and tricks. I seriously don’t know how parents do it though… I just can’t… I’m too impatient, I freak out on mess and therefore am so so thankful for venues that do bdays, in saying that this year/next will be first ever time as my boys have never had nor asked for bday parties but we have been to a few in their lives and everytime a mumma or family have hosted one at their home I’ve told them that their saints.. And I truly mean it there is so much into planning a party and I just don’t ha e the patience. I also really worry that no one would trun up at least at a venue could still ha e a good time.
    I remember my mum hosted my 10th bday a disco theme and as a solo mum I now as a parent really admire what she did it was the coolest bday ever and I still remember it so clearly

  10. Micht 23/08/2019 at 4:05 am

    Great tips to keep in mind… i find the most important thing is to remind ourselves what the day is for and about… the birthday girl or boy should be hospitable and grateful. And this creates a great environment for fun, friendship and appreciation of what we have.

  11. Shorrty4life1 22/08/2019 at 1:19 pm

    I think these are great ideas. I loved the part when it says no petting zoo on the apartment balcony. That made me laugh. Imagine the things are children could think up if they were allowed whatever he or she wanted. I like the idea of wait and make sure your childs best friend can come before doing dates and time’s and booking venue’s I think that is main priority for a child’s birthday party.

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