Party timeline for kids’ parties

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Birdie turned four this weekend, and the party was a success! I’ve learned many lessons in the four short years we’ve been fete-ing the bird, and I’d love to share some tips with you to keep your kids’ parties sane and relatively stress-free.

It’s probably obvious, given my profession, that I find sanity in organization, and I think you will too! Going into a party with a written plan will make your life so. much. better. Promise.

Merriment Events | Kids birthday party timelineMost kids’ parties fall into a standard two-hour rental period, which gives you thirty minutes to set up and an hour-and-a-half to party.

10:00 AM – set up, 30 minutes: Since you have such a short amount of time to set up, as much prep work as possible should be finished before the party. For instance, if you’re serving lunch, boxed lunch is best. Bonus points if the lunch can also double as decor (e.g. gable boxes tied with balloons). The idea is to arrive and put things in place.

The two essential components necessary for setting up a party in a limited time frame are 1) many helping hands and  2) simple, easy decor.

10:30 AM – Invitation time*: The invitation says 10:30 to noon, but most guests won’t arrive until 10:40. Turn on some background music, offer parents a bottle of water or something to drink, and mingle until all of your littles have arrived.

10:40 AM – Party Activities begin: Start party activities about ten minutes after your invitation time or when all of your guests have arrived. At Birdie’s fourth birthday party, we scheduled a thirty-minute dance lesson. It’s always nice to give kids an activity that will burn energy first before you move to a seated activity or lunch.

10:45 AM – The photographer arrived. After putting so much work into a party, I really love to have someone there to capture it because, let’s be honest, I don’t have the time or expertise to do it myself. Ali Williamson was AMAZING. Cannot recommend her enough. We’ve also worked with Nikki Sawulski in the past, whom I also adore.

11:10 AM – lunch**: I found sweet kraft paper gable boxes at If It’s Paper. They doubled as decoration (see here) and also served a practical purpose: the boxes held juice, a clementine with a celery stalk (like this) and a small bag of grapes. We also ordered pizza. In total, we dedicated twenty minutes to lunch and that timed out to be just enough on the big day!

11:30 AM – Rapunzel arrived: Near the end of lunch, Rapunzel, much anticipated and widely adored, arrived. After crowning the birthday girl, Rapunzel read a story, then, we moved along to cake.

11:40/11:45 – Sing, cut cake and take pictures with Rapunzel

12:00 PM – Party concludes

Who should get a copy of the party timeline? All those helping to set up the party; anyone making deliveries; anyone who is providing services (e.g. the costumed character making an appearance); the venue that is hosting the party.

*In my four short years of experience giving my daughter parties, I have found that 10:30 AM is a really wonderful time of day for parties. Some four-year-olds still nap, while others may not. A morning party accommodates nappers and non-nappers alike.

**We chose to serve lunch before serving cake. I just never feel right about serving cake to children at a party if I haven’t given them something nutritious first. They may not eat it, but at least I tried! If you are not offering lunch, it’s kind to give parents a head’s up on the invitation so they can be prepared. It’s also nice to let parents know (via the invitation) if the party is a drop off/drop off optional party.

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