Tips for Planning a Birthday Party
The #1 and most important tip is to start planning a birthday party at least four to six weeks before the date.
Pick a Theme
Consider the recipient of the party. If your friend is turning 30, would a casual get together be appropriate? Or are they outgoing and would not mind wearing a grass skirt at a Luau themed party? For a child, princess or prince theme, Batman or Cinderella? Take some time to think about the birthday person and what they would enjoy doing on their special day.
Date and Time
Decide on Your Budget
What can you afford to spend on the party? Take into consideration all the elements, the venue, food, entertainment, decorations, party favors, etc. You can also ask friends and family to contribute if needed. It's always nice to go all out for the birthday party, but you do not want to go into debt.
Create the Guest List
Consult the party recipient on the guest list or ask them to give you a list of everyone they would like to celebrate their birthday with. You can also ask family and friends to suggest attendees and to help make sure you have not missed anyone. If the party is a surprise, consulting others on the guest list is helpful in making sure you invite everyone the recipient would like to see.
In choosing the venue think about how many guests you will need to accommodate and the theme of the party. Also, think about venues you have attended in the past and ask others for suggestions.
The invitations should be in the theme of the party and should contain the Birthday person's name, the date, location and time, RSVP information and the gifting preferences. Also, include directions or the complete address for the location of the party. It is also possible to send invitations online. There are party/invitation websites that allow you to send invitations online and help with tracking the RSVP's from the guests.
Favors & Decorations
Following the theme of the party and depending on the venue, decorate for a festive and fun atmosphere. Banners, streamers, and balloons in the theme and/or color preferences will help to get the guests in a party mood. Keep in mind the birthday person's personality and choose decorations suitable for the type of party. For a child's party use disposable plates, cups and cutlery. You can also get disposable items that look "high class" for a more formal setting, but want to save on the clean up time. Make sure to check with the venue to see if they have any restrictions on decorating the space.
The party favors for a birthday party should be small mementos for your guests to take home to remember the birthday party. For children, candy, pencils, and small toys make good favors. The favors can also be in the same theme as the party. For adults, sweet treats such as cookies, or chocolates, personalized trinkets, or tea/coffee related items would make appropriate birthday party favors.
When choosing your decorations and party favors keep your budget in mind. It is easy to overspend on these items.
Decide if you will be hiring a caterer, have a restaurant cater the birthday party, or make the menu items yourself. Also, enlist the help of friends and family if you choose to make the food items. The type of party will help in determine what type of food to serve, but make sure that you offer a variety so you can please the palate of a diverse group of guests. This is also an area to watch your budget and do not get carried away on the menu.
Do not forget about the birthday cake.
Will you be hiring a DJ or a band? Karaoke is also another favorite form of entertainment for birthday bashes. The theme of the party can also help in the decision on what type of birthday party entertainment to have. For example, for a child's cowboy themed party, hire a cowboy to come entertain the kids. Games and other fun activities will also keep your guests entertained. The birthday person should be consulted on what type of entertainment they would like. Or, if you are having a surprise party ask friends and family for their suggestions. No matter what the entertainment will be, if you will be hiring a company or individual, always check references, review any contracts carefully, and try to see them in action before making a decision.
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