The Ultimate Birthday Party Planner

Party Timeline

10. Party Organizer

Use this handy timeline to help you plan your bash.

4 Weeks Before

  • Mail out your invites. Include specifics such as when the party will start and end and a date to RSVP by (at least two weeks before the party day).
  • Arrange for an entertainer if you're going that route; save money by hiring your child's music teacher or dance instructor.
  • Shop for party goods, decorations, and goody bags. If you're ordering anything online, do it now.

1 Week Before

  • Follow up with any guests who have not RSVP'd.
  • Buy your food and drinks.
  • Bake your cake or cupcakes and freeze, or order a cake if you're not baking.
  • Plan out activities, and make sure you have all of your supplies.

1 Day Before

A birthday party setup

  • Assemble goody bags.
  • Review party manners with your child. Practice welcoming guests and thanking them for presents.
  • Defrost and decorate your cake or cupcakes.
  • Prepare any food you can ahead of time.
  • Set the table and arrange additional seating.
  • Make sure your camera or camcorder battery is charged.

Party Time!

Little boy biting into a cupcake

  • 15-20 minutes: Keep kids busy as they wait for other guests to arrive with a quiet activity such as an easy craft, or leave out a few age-appropriate toys like coloring books and puzzles.
  • 20 minutes: Kids will be ready to move on, so lead them to a high-energy game or the party's main activity.
  • 15-20 minutes: Help them wind down with a quieter activity such as a classic game of Bingo or trivia questions.
  • 20 minutes: Time for food, cake, and presents!
  • 10 minutes: As the party draws to an end, hand out goody bags and make sure your child thanks his guests for coming.

Copyright © 2007. Reprinted with permission from the May 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

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