Planning a birthday party is a two-sided mirror. On one side, it’s a lot of fun, and on the other, it’s a lot of work regardless of the celebrant’s age or your party planning qualifications. Many factors are involved in throwing a successful birthday party, and they have to be planned for.
What’s that saying? ‘Proper planning prevents poor performance?’ Yes, that applies to a birthday party. You’ll need to upgrade your party planner skills while double and triple-checking everything to ensure nothing is omitted and everything is in order. However, if you don’t have this birthday planning checklist, there’s no need to worry. We’re equipping you with the ultimate party planning guide for a memorable birthday party.
Birthday party planning guide
Although birthday parties bring people together to celebrate the celebrant, they involve lots of deliberate planning. Using a party planning guide or checklist gives you an itemised outline of foolproof protocol that one must observe for a successful birthday party.
Planning a birthday party doesn’t happen in a day. It involves a set of decisions and activities that are perfected over months. Hence, one should begin planning a birthday party at least three months before the intended date. This way, you give yourself ample time to ensure everything on the checklist is in order.
The birthday party planning checklist and guide take different forms. Still, we’ve designed a time-based birthday planning guide that compartmentalises diverse decisions and activities in the order of when they should be done. With this guide as a compass, you can throw multiple successful parties, events and soirees, regardless of the type.
Here’s our fail-safe birthday party planning checklist that’ll keep you organised and in control before, during and after this special day.
Chapter 1: Two months before the party
The ultimate birthday planning checklist is divided into decisions and activities. Here’s an itemised list of the decisions you must make and the activities you must execute no later than two months before the party.
|Decisions (to be made)
|Activities (to execute)
|Determine the budget
|Create a guest list
|Choose a time and date
|Book a photographer
|Choose a theme
|Book an event designer
|Choose a location (venue)
|Book entertainment (DJ, performers)
|Choose a menu plan
- Determine the budget
There are endless possibilities for how birthday parties can go. But a budget streamlines these possibilities into attainable goals. So, determining the maximum amount you’re willing to spend on this birthday party will influence everything from the theme to location, catering, entertainment and so forth. The budget determines how exotic the birthday party will be, and since it influences everything else, it’s the first decision to make.
- Choose a time and date
Not everyone throws a birthday party on their actual birth date. Some might shift it to the weekend, while others may have it days, weeks or months earlier – for instance, a surprise birthday party. Determining which date and time works best for the party will give you a timeframe to work with and get all the planning in order. However, this isn’t something the planner can figure out by themselves. You’ll need to consult with the celebrant and consider their preferences.
- Choose a theme
Most birthdays have a theme, regardless of the celebrant’s age. Themes aren’t just for kids; adults have countless fabulous birthday themes. At a birthday party, the theme is the spine of the event. It is that upon which everything is based, from the venue to the decor, activities, catering, etc., as they would all have to be matched to the chosen theme. A birthday theme has pros and cons. However, if you decide to have one, there are several formal and informal birthday themes you can choose from, like:
- Favourite era (Victorian, roaring twenties, 90s, etc.)
- Black and white
- Costume (Arabian nights, Coachella, casino, favourite film, favourite celebrity, etc.)
- Activity-based (Pool party, painting, amusement park, carnival, etc.)
- Choose a location
The venue or location you choose for the birthday party determines the activities that would be appropriate for the party. For instance, you can’t choose a beach house for the party and expect to go skiing. Depending on the celebrant’s preferences and the size of the party, you can rent out an event centre or rental property as the venue. But this typically applies to elaborate parties with droves of attendees. If it’s an intimate birthday party, a smaller event centre or one’s house should suffice. The chosen location determines the application of details like the availability of valet parking, minimum spend requirement, view, etc.
- Choose a menu plan
The menu is the heart of most events. It’s a conversation starter and fuel for the attendees. You may complete menu planning for a birthday party a few months before the set date. However, if this cannot be done, you should at least have a vision of what you want the menu to be.
Do you want a fine dining experience with waiting staff, wine pairing and exotic cuisines? Or would you prefer the more casual approach with relatable meals on the menu? Would you prefer local or intercontinental? Mexican, African, Pan Atlantic, English, Italian, Middle Eastern or a medley of cross-cultural cuisines?
Visualising the menu will facilitate your decision on a birthday caterer. However, it’s also important to consider the guests’ food allergies and dietary restrictions when planning a birthday menu.
- Create a guest list
Creating a guest list is one of the first things you should do when planning a birthday party. You need to figure out to whom you want to send invites. So, it’s always best to make a list so no one of importance is omitted. The guest list should match the budget, especially for catering, and the venue, so there’s no shortage of seats, food or drinks. The celebrant’s preferences should also streamline this guest list. You should respect their wishes if they don’t want someone at their party.
- Book a photographer
Your phone is great, but the memories from birthday parties are precious and deserve to be captured with professional cameras. You can then send a collage of these images to the guests in attendance for memorabilia. Depending on their reputation and skill, most photographers are booked months in advance. So, if you have a great photographer in mind, you should contact them before they’re fully booked.
- Book an event designer
Unless you plan to DIY, you’ll need an event designer to stage the event centre or location. Lights, balloons, streamers, blow-ups, photo booths, tablecloths and centrepieces are some items you’ll need for the decor. This decor should highlight the chosen theme and tie the party’s aesthetics together. Else, the guests might get confused. This is why it’s always best to outsource to professionals. However, if you must do this yourself, some YouTube videos should inform you on what to do.
- Book entertainment
What’s a birthday party without entertainment? That’s right, a meeting. From bouncy houses/castles to a petting zoo pop-up, karaoke machines, performers, DJ, games, etc., the type of entertainment you book should match the celebrant’s theme, age and interests. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a boring birthday party that no one enjoys.
Chapter 2: One month before the party
Since all the major decisions concerning the birthday party have been made in the previous chapter, the planner must complete the following activities at least a month before the party. They include:
|Book a caterer/catering service (finalise menu)
|Book a baker (birthday cake)
- Book a caterer/catering service
Booking a caterer or catering company for a birthday party absolves you of much work and responsibility. It also guarantees delicious meals, especially when you book a team of skilled caterers. You must book caterers in advance so they have ample time to work with your menu plans, dietary restrictions and preferences. It’s best to book a birthday caterer a month before the event. With so many available caterers, you must prioritise these qualities when seeking and hiring a birthday caterer or catering company.
- Customisable menu plans
- Robust services
- Culinary experience
- Quality reviews and ratings
Luckily, our network of birthday caterers at yhangry satisfies these criteria and many others. Browse chef and caterer profiles, view their specialities and request a free quote to begin.
- Book a baker
The birthday cake is the star of the show. It signifies the high point of a birthday party as it’s brought out in front of everyone for the celebrant to make their special birthday wish. Hence, no birthday party can afford an inexistent birthday cake, or worse, a bad one. So, depending on the cake size, you may need to book the bakery a month before the event and give them all the specifications to work with, whether nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.
- Send invitations
Whether you send printed invitations or e-vites, you must do this a month before the birthday party. This gives the receiver enough time to plan for it if they intend to come or offer their regrets.
Chapter 3: Two weeks before the party
There are a lot of follow-up activities that need to be completed two weeks before the birthday party, and they include:
|Follow up on RSVPs
|Book a confectionery baker
|Hire waiting staff
- Follow up on RSVPs
You need the exact number of guests coming to the birthday party to send to the caterers. If you didn’t use an online invitation service that tracks the guests’ RSVPs, you’d need to mail or call everyone invited to figure this out.
- Book a confectionery baker
Every party needs a table of cupcakes, sweets, treats and other confectioneries. While some bakeries can handle birthday cakes and confectioneries, it might be best to split the workload. So, you should hire a confectionery baker two weeks before the event date and follow up on their progress.
- Hire waiting staff
If you’re using a yhangry caterer or private chef for this event, they will likely come accompanied by wait staff and other additional service offerings, as included in your quote. Regardless, you’ll need waiting staff to attend to your guests during the glorious ceremony.
Chapter 4: The day before the party
There are always last-minute activities that need to be completed the day before the party, and they include:
|Double check decor
|Finalise tip envelopes
- Grocery shopping
You may need to grocery shop for ice or any other item you might need for the party. Scan the venue quickly to determine what you need and purchase them.
- Double check decor
The birthday party planner must double-check the decor, drinks and other items to ensure they follow the established plan.
- Finalise tip envelopes
This is optional, but finalising the tip envelopes is a great way to ensure you made provisions to appreciate the hired staff for their contribution to the event’s success.
Chapter 5: The day of
A few things need to be handled on the day of the birthday party, and they include:
|Pickup/receive food, cake and confectioneries
|Welcome guests with the event’s itinerary
|Have a great time
- Pickup/receive food, cake and confectioneries
Picking up and receiving the food, cake, baked goods and other confectioneries is the most important activity that needs to be handled today. This is your utmost priority as a party planner, and you’ll need to ensure everything arrives before the guests do.
- Welcome guests with an itinerary
You will need to usher the guests in as they arrive, or you can hire people for that as well. Ensure the guests receive a birthday itinerary so they don’t miss out on fun activities.
- Have a great time
You’ve done it! You’ve successfully planned a beautiful birthday party and must allow yourself to enjoy it. Take a break and mingle with the guests, have fun, enjoy the music and partake in the games.
Once the dust settles, then comes the after-party clean-up. If you hire a yhangry caterer, the clean-up is included in the service offerings, and our professionals will handle all of it. So you can relax and review the beautiful pictures taken at the party.
Birthday parties are fun and overwhelming to plan. But, with the right strategy and a time-based guide, you can knock this and future birthdays out of the park. However, with our robust service offerings, a yhangry caterer or private chef will make the party planning process much easier.
- How do you plan a good birthday party?
You can plan a great birthday party by following the detailed and itemised birthday planning guide that we’ve outlined. This guide reveals everything you need to plan a memorable birthday party for your friends, family, colleagues or loved ones.
- What makes an amazing birthday party?
The element of surprise. By surprising the celebrant and their guests, you’ve elevated the experience at the birthday party.
- What makes an excellent host?
All great hosts are friendly and personable. Sociability and an accommodating personality make guests feel welcome, prioritised and more likely to revisit.