The complete birthday party timeline

We have the perfect birthday party planning timeline here to help you run your next party as smoothly as possible!

4-8 weeks out

  • Decide on the number of guests.  If the party will be held outside your home, select and reserve a location. If you choose an outdoor location, come up with a back-up plan for bad weather.
  • Let your child help choose the theme.
  • Make a guest list.
  • Book entertainment, if necessary.
  • Order personalised invitations or make your own.

2-3 weeks out

One week ahead

  • Decide on the order of activities.
  • Test new games, which you can find in our Birthday Parties section.
  • Make a grocery list.
  • Confirm reservations for entertainment or party location.

2-3 days ahead

One day ahead

  • Clean the party area. Put away items that may be dangerous or distracting.
  • Bake or pick up the cake.
  • Order takeout food (such as pizza), if necessary.
  • Discuss party expectations with your children.
  • Practice saying “thank you” with younger children.

4-5 hours before guests arrive

  • Set the table.
  • Lay out crafts.
  • Inflate balloons.
  • Decorate the house.
  • Charge your phone for taking photos.
  • Tie balloons to your mailbox or front porch so guests can locate the party easily.
  • Find matches for candles.
  • Make sure you have a pen and paper to record gifts.
  • Have a garbage bag/box available to dispose of wrapping paper.

1 hour before guests arrive

  • Take pets to a safe place until the party is over. Some kids may be frightened and others allergic.
  • Send the kids off to get dressed for the party and get yourself ready too.
  • Put the food on the table and candles in the cake.
  • Set up crafts and activities.

During the party

  • Greet your guests with the birthday party boy or girl.
  • Make sure younger children know where the toilet is.
  • If parents are dropping off children, confirm the pick-up time (and be sure you have a contact number in case of emergency).
  • Take photos (or ask another adult to do so).
  • Enjoy!

The day after

  • Help your child write thank-you notes to party guests.

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