Planning a birthday party can be stressful. Use our free birthday party checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything and stay organized and relaxed.
Our free printable party planning template will ensure that you don’t forget anything when planning the perfect birthday party for your child.
Event planning can be very stressful if you are not organized. This ultimate party planning checklist will ensure that you don’t forget to do anything! It will also ensure that you do whatever you can before the party so that you don’t have too much to do at the last minute.
Printable Party Planning Checklist
Click on a birthday party checklist below to open and print.
This party planner checklist is a little more colorful than the others.
Another birthday party planner. Please note that the actual checklist is the same on all planners and only the design changes.
Even though this is a kids birthday party checklist we are assuming that an adult is doing the planning so this checklist was designed for you and not for your child!
Chalkboard birthday party checklist
Feel free to change the party planner template to suit your needs. You can add additional bullet points before you print. If you want to start planning earlier or later then just adjust the dates.
If you need a birthday list then check out the coordinating designs!
Online Party Planner Checklist Maker
We also offer an online party planner checklist maker if you prefer it to a printable party checklist. The online party list maker shows you a list of the things you need to do to plan a party but only the items that you select will appear in your customized checklist.
How to plan a birthday party
Organizing a child’s birthday party can be a fun and memorable experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan and execute a successful birthday celebration:
Set a Date and Time:
Choose a date and time for the party that works for both you and the birthday child. Consider weekends or after-school hours for convenience.
Save the Date:
Before sending out formal invitations, it’s a great idea to send a “Save the Date” notice to your guests. This will give them advance notice of the party date, allowing them to mark it on their calendars and make necessary arrangements to attend the celebration. See our free save-the-date templates.
- Choose the Date Early: Select the birthday party date well in advance, preferably a few weeks or even a couple of months before the actual celebration. This will give guests enough time to clear their schedules.
- Inform Guests Clearly: In the “Save the Date” notice, include the date, time, and general location (if you have already decided on a venue). You can use digital invitations or a simple message to inform guests.
- Indicate that Invitations Will Follow: Let guests know that formal invitations with more details will be sent later. This will help them understand that this is just an initial notification.
- Request RSVP or Confirmation: If you are expecting an early headcount for planning purposes, you can ask for an RSVP or confirmation of attendance in the “Save the Date” notice.
Example of a “Save the Date” message:
Save the Date! You’re Invited to [Child’s Name]’s [Age]th Birthday Bash! 🎉
Date: [Party Date] Time: [Party Time] Location: [General Location/Venue – if available] Formal invitations with more details coming soon! We can’t wait to celebrate with you! 🎂🎈
By sending out a “Save the Date” message, you’ll help ensure that your child’s birthday party is on everyone’s radar, and it will build anticipation and excitement for the upcoming celebration!
Select a Theme:
Involve the birthday child in choosing a theme they love, such as superheroes, princesses, animals, or a favorite TV show or movie. The theme will guide the decorations, invitations, and activities. Here are some ideas for birthday themes but you can adapt the activities and ideas based on the age group of the guests and the preferences of the birthday child. These themes and ideas can make the birthday party exciting, engaging, and memorable for everyone involved!
- Ask guests to come dressed as their favorite superheroes.
- Set up an obstacle course for superhero training.
- Create DIY superhero masks and capes as party favors.
- Serve “Superhero Power Punch” (fruit punch) and “Hero Sandwiches” (sub sandwiches).
Princesses and Knights:
- Have a royal dress-up corner with princess dresses and knight costumes.
- Organize a “Knight’s Quest” scavenger hunt with hidden treasures.
- Decorate the party area with tiaras, crowns, and knight shields.
- Serve “Princess Potion” (pink lemonade) and “Dragon Snacks” (popcorn or fruit kabobs).
Under the Sea:
- Decorate with blue and green streamers, balloons, and sea creature cutouts.
- Create a “mermaid lagoon” with inflatable pools and beach toys.
- Have a treasure hunt for seashell or pirate treasure.
- Serve “Seaweed Salad” (green fruit salad) and “Ocean Water” (blue raspberry lemonade).
- Decorate with stars, planets, and astronaut cutouts.
- Have a “space exploration” area with telescopes and space-themed toys.
- Make “Rocketship Craft” with cardboard and craft supplies.
- Serve “Galactic Pizza” (mini pizzas) and “Rocket Fuel” (fruit juice or lemonade).
- Set up carnival games like ring toss, bean bag toss, and balloon darts.
- Have a face painting station with fun designs.
- Rent a popcorn machine or cotton candy machine for tasty treats.
- Serve “Circus Snacks” (hot dogs, popcorn, and cotton candy).
- Create a pirate ship with cardboard boxes for a fun play area.
- Organize a treasure hunt with a map leading to hidden treasure.
- Play “Walk the Plank” game (balancing on a wooden beam).
- Serve “Pirate’s Gold” (chocolate coins) and “Fish and Chips” (fish sticks and fries).
- Decorate with dinosaur posters, inflatable dinosaurs, and dino footprints.
- Have a “Dinosaur Dig” activity with hidden dinosaur bones in a sandbox.
- Make dinosaur masks or hats as a craft activity.
- Serve “Dino Nuggets” (chicken nuggets) and “Fossil Cookies” (sugar cookies with dinosaur imprints).
- Set up an art station with paints, markers, and various craft supplies.
- Have an art contest with prizes for the most creative artwork.
- Provide blank canvas or paper for guests to create their masterpieces.
- Serve “Artist’s Palette” (fruit platter with various colors) and “Rainbow Cupcakes.”
Create a Guest List:
Decide on the number of guests you want to invite and create a guest list with names and contact information. Consider the birthday child’s preferences and invite their friends, classmates, and family members. See our free guest list template.
Send out invitations well in advance, either through traditional mail, email, or digital invitations. Include the date, time, location, RSVP details, and any specific instructions (like wearing costumes for themed parties).
Choose a Venue:
Decide whether the party will be held at home, in your backyard, or at a rented venue (e.g., a party room, park, or activity center). The venue should align with the theme and the number of guests.
Plan Activities and Games:
Organize age-appropriate games and activities based on the theme. For example, if it’s a superhero-themed party, plan superhero training games. If it’s a princess party, have a dress-up corner and a royal tea party.
Arrange Decorations and Supplies:
Purchase or create decorations, tableware, and party favors that match the chosen theme. Balloons, banners, tablecloths, and themed plates, cups, and napkins can add to the party atmosphere.
Order or Bake a Birthday Cake:
Order a birthday cake or bake one yourself in line with the party theme. Consider any dietary restrictions or allergies of the guests.
Organize Food and Refreshments:
Plan a menu of snacks, finger foods, and refreshments suitable for the age group and the time of the party. Don’t forget to include some special treats and the birthday cake!
Prepare a Timeline:
Create a detailed schedule for the party, including when guests will arrive, activities, food, and cake cutting, and when the party will end.
Welcome and Entertain Guests:
Greet guests as they arrive and engage them in activities and games. Keep the party moving smoothly according to the timeline.
Capture the Moments:
Take photos or videos throughout the party to capture the special moments and memories.
Say Thank You:
After the party, send thank-you notes or messages to the guests for attending and for any gifts received.
The key to a successful children’s birthday party is to keep it fun, age-appropriate, and focused on the birthday child. Planning ahead and involving the birthday child in the process can make the celebration even more enjoyable and memorable.
One Month Before
- Choose party theme
- Set a budget
- Set date and time
- Choose a venue if not at home
- Book a venue if not at home
- Book entertainment
- Book photographer
- Make a guest list
- Prepare invitations
- Book a caterer if you are not going to be preparing the food
- Make a list of the vendors and their phone numbers
Three Weeks Before
- Send party invitations
- Plan games and activities
- Purchase or arrange equipment
- Purchase prizes
- Plan party menu
- Create a grocery list for food, snacks, and beverages
- Plan party decor
- Create a shopping list
Two Weeks Before
- Order a birthday cake or choose which cake to make and decide on a recipe for it
- Buy party favors and other party supplies
- Buy or make DIY photo props if you are going to have photo booths
- Launder and iron linens
One Week Before
- Buy balloons
- Buy disposable plates
- Buy disposable cups
- Buy disposable cutlery
- Buy napkins
- Buy straws
- Buy candles
- Buy table cloth
- Buy ice if you don’t have a cooler
- Buy party decorations (streamers, balloons, banners, etc)
- Select/buy an outfit for the birthday child
- Call guests who didn’t RSVP
- Purchase non-perishable food and candy
- Assemble party favors
- Prepare a playlist for party music
- Create a party timeline to ensure that you are on schedule
Three Days Before
- Purchase food
- Call the entertainer to confirm
- Call the venue to confirm
- Call the photographer to confirm
- Check the weather
Two Days Before
- Bake cake
- Make cupcakes
One Day Before
- Charge the camera’s battery
- Empty the camera’s memory card
- Decorate cake
- Decorate the cupcakes
- Collect pre-ordered cake
- Prepare decorations
- Prepare food that can be prepared a day before
- Put everything in one place
- Put trash cans wherever you can (this will save you a lot of time when you clean up)
Day of the Party
- Pick up cake
- Prepare food
- Set up the food table
- Set up a table with goody bags
- Hang all decorations
- Get the family ready for the party
- Set up music