I have a recurring dream (nightmare, really) that it’s the morning of some event I’m hosting and I suddenly realize I never sent out any invitations. Ridiculous, right? How would that even happen? But let’s be honest — when you’re hosting a kids’ birthday party, there are a lot of details to remember and even crucial ones can be forgotten. You don’t want to be two hours into the party when you realize A) there hasn’t been any toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom and B) the piñata your kid begged you to order is still waiting at Target curbside pickup.
To help avoid the nightmare scenario, we’ve prepared a party checklist so you can make sure the festivities don’t trigger a full-on panic attack.
- Pick a date for the party! Text your child’s core besties to make sure they’re available.
- Talk to your kid about a party theme, even if their only idea so far is “pink.”
- Make a guest list. Panic wondering if you really have to invite all 27 classmates, even though your kid only really knows four of them.
- Then panic about every kid bringing a parent and having nearly 70 people you don’t know at your house.
- Book any vendors.
- Pick an invitation. (Give your kid three options related to their theme or things they just like.)
- Mail or email invites. Ask for RSVPs!
- Start obsessing over the potential weather.
- Buy party supplies. Make a plan for any DIY decor you want to do.
- Talk cake with your child. Chocolate? Vanilla? Are you sure you want it in the shape of a unicorn? Place their final order.
- Order all of the fun Etsy one-offs like special party hats or customized shirts.
- Wonder out loud to your partner if you should paint the inside of the entire house before the party.
- Remember those pretty invitations you paid a bunch of money for, along with matching envelopes? Joke’s on you: They’re all still in your kid’s bag. Send all the parents a frantic text.
- Confirm cake choices with your child. Grit your teeth when they decide they’d like an entirely new party theme now.
- Get excited watching your kid get excited.
- Confirm all of the details with your vendors.
- Check in with RSVPs for a head count.
- Reach out to parents/other adults who are willing to help. Ask if you can borrow their teenagers to facilitate party activities.
- Panic that your “no gifts please” on the invitation actually gave the opposite vibe you wanted and now you just look smug and joyless. Consider sending a text to all the parents that says, “gifts ARE welcome of course, if you’d like to send one!” Decide against that becuase then you’ll look greedy and unhinged.
- Show your child the cake you have ordered/planned to make one more time. ARE YOU SURE? THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE.
- Place order for backup cupcakes.
- Figure out what *you* are going to wear (so you don’t run out of time and throw on something you regret five minutes before the guest arrive).
- Make sure you have plates and napkins and cutlery. All of the little things.
- Create balloon garland. Use extra tape. Watch it flutter to the floor several times. Set your alarm to wake up early enough to hang it back up again before the party starts.
- Hang banners and other decor.
- Assemble the goody bags and put them in a big basket or bin for guests to grab.
- Text your helpers and ask them to pick up any last-minute things like ice or napkins.
- Vacuum, make sure every bathroom has an extra roll of toilet paper, run out and buy a new Magic Eraser because HOW DIRTY CAN WALLS ACTUALLY GET, MY GOD.
- Get dressed in the outfit you chose a week ago. Suddenly hate it.
- Change outfits.
- Order the pizza. Go pick up the chicken nuggets.
- Set up the activity tables about two hours before the party starts.
- Display the cake and all of the food about 30 minutes before the party starts.
- Light a candle. Spray some Lemon Pledge. Throw the unfolded laundry in a closet THERE IS NO TIME, EVERYONE WILL BE HERE IN AN HOUR.
- Get in a fight with your partner about something.
- Have an absolute blast watching your kid get loved on by so many people. They’re a whole year older! What a gift.