Well, it’s almost here: your child’s birthday. And (lucky you) that means the rite-of-passage whines about the long-anticipated birthday party.

To the average parent, this can seem like a HUGE undertaking! But have no fear: with this tried-and-true checklist, a few deep breaths and an occasional Aspirin, your child’s party will be a wonderful experience for everyone privileged enough to attend! ;)

Choosing a Birthday Party Theme

A general theme really ties everything together and helps to make an event more memorable. Remember to keep as many aspects of the party aligned with the theme as possible; from invitations, food and games to favors, decorations and location!

To choose an appropriate theme, take into consideration your child’s age and general interests, your budget and time, and the age and number of guests.

How Much to Spend

This is a question that a lot of parents worry over, but there is no real answer. However, I’d say that $100 is a good starting point for a party thrown at your home with about 10 guests. Really, though, it all depends on the following three factors.

Food is a large factor in your budget. Decide whether or not you will have an actual meal (pizza, burgers, pasta, etc…) or just munchies (fruits, veggies, potato chips, pretzels, etc…)

Also, think about decorations, game supplies, and goodies. Streamers, balloons, confetti, limbo poles, piñatas, bulk candy, cheap knickknack favors, etc… can typically be purchased at party or discount stores for pretty low prices.

Finally, take into consideration whether or not you will have to pay for your venue. There is NOTHING wrong with a good party right at your house or backyard. But a celebration at Chuck E Cheese’s or a local skating rink are also tons of fun, for a few extra bucks.

Birthday Party Invitations

Invitations are your first chance to raise excitement about your child’s party! You can whip together your own with construction paper and markers, or you can purchase them at a party store. Whatever you do, try to keep them tied in with the theme!

Send the invitations out two weeks in advance. Remember to include your child’s name, the date, time and location of the party, an RSVP number and a date by which you’d like to hear back. Also inform guests of any special items they should bring, such as tennis shoes or a bathing suit.

Where to Have the Birthday Party

For a reasonable amount of money, you can transform your own home and/or backyard into a party paradise! The option of throwing the party at home is probably the cheapest, but it also requires the most amount of time and effort. Also, you need to have enough space to accommodate the number of guests that will be attending.

Of course, an alternative is to have the party at a place like Chuck E Cheese’s or your local skating rink, as mentioned above. Do some research on what kind of “party packages” different venues offer. Keep in mind that the number of guests will directly affect the cost of the party!

Entertainment at the Party

As for entertainment, a handful of jolly games will usually suffice. Here is my all-time favorite list of fabulous party games: http://www.queen-of-theme-party-games.com/birthday-party-games-for-kids.html Games are organized by theme, age, messiness, etc… It is a great starting point!

Hiring a clown or ventriloquist is also an option. Try having a friend or family member dress up as a character that corresponds with the party’s theme (e.g. for a princess-themed party, someone could dress up as Sleeping Beauty or Snow White).

However, if the party is being held at a place like Chuck E Cheese’s, the entertainment will be taken care of for you.

Order of Events

Before the celebration, make sure to decorate the party area and mentally prepare yourself. (Ha ha).

When guests first arrive, take their presents and put them in a special corner or separate room. Hand out nametags and provide them with coloring sheets or simple games to keep them entertained while everyone trickles in.

Once all the guests have arrived, it’s time for the excitement to begin! If you’re having the party at your house, begin with a fun “icebreaker” game such as tag to get everyone warmed up and giggling! If the party is being held at a venue such as Chuck E Cheese’s, the provided helpers will get the party started and guide it along.

Remember to have snacks and drinks available throughout the party. If you plan to serve a meal, do it about halfway through the party. Follow it up with cake and ice cream.

Then, it’s time for your child’s crowning moment: the opening of presents! Make sure that someone is there with a sheet of paper keeping track of who each gift is from. This makes writing thank-you notes a whole heckuva lot easier!

After your child opens presents, round the day out with a few more games. Then, send each guest off with a bursting goodie bag!

Well, I hope that this list has given you the basic idea of how to begin planning your child’s birthday party. Remember that these are just recommendations, and you are free to customize and improvise! Good luck!

Alex is a happy vegan and self-proclaimed earth freak who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with two cats, one dog and three hermit crabs. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, being silly, dancing and playing with her fabulous pets. Check out her work on www.fiverr.com (her screen name is veggiemama). You can also send her an e-mail at veggiemama101@live.com.