I like to plan early when I'm trying to put an event together. In Manila where some kiddie parties are almost as big as weddings, a minimum of six months planning prior to the party is advised, if you want to book the best suppliers and venue. As for the budget, it will depend on the number of guests and how big (or small) you want the party to be. Some mums usually think of how much they will allot per guest, ex. amount/person x number of guests = total budget. And most mums just choose a maximum limit, again depends on how much they are willing to spend in total. I usually do the latter, and I always ask the hubby how much is our budget.
When I plan parties, I'd like to do as much DIY as I can. It not only saves us some money, but it gives me that feeling of pride when people see the effort that went into a certain party detail. Here are a list of what I do, in order, when planning an event:
Choose A Theme
For my son's 1st birthday, we had Kiddie Pirate as the theme, as I didn't want to have a common theme such as Mickey Mouse or Dora the Explorer. I wanted something different for our little guests. Themes should be age-appropriate and if your kids can choose, that would be better. Nowadays, themes are more varied, so your imagination (or your kids') is the limit.
In the Philippines where we have extended families, it's very important to have a written guest list so you can keep track of the people you wanna invite to the party. Make sure you prioritize to invite your child's friends, families with kids, then add other relatives and friends to the list. This is a kiddie party after all, not a wedding. If you have a strict headcount, make sure you inform everyone the seat allocation. From experience, I expect at least 20% of the guests not showing up, which can be a good thing coz there's always surprise (uninvited) guests. Once you know how many guests you're inviting, then it's time to look for a venue.
Find A Venue
When looking for a venue, factors to consider is availability, number of guests, accessibility and amenities. Nowadays, one important thing to consider is the venue should be airconditioned or indoor, with all the unpredictable rain, it's hard to risk ruining your kid's party. Check also if the venue has parking (free or paid). And if they have clean toilets with attendants on the day of the event. Venues shouldn't be too hard to find, and if it is, make sure you provide a map included in the invites.
Scout for Suppliers
Suppliers you choose can make or break your party. Remember, once you've paid, there's no turning back unless you are willing to let go of that non-refundable booking fee. Ask for recommendations from fellow mummies. Check forums where party planning is discussed, you will find a lot of great tips there. Once you've chosen a supplier, make sure to do a background check. What other mums say about them, check reviews or suppliers ratings. Ask them everything you need to know, check the service contract and ask for any restrictions. You are paying for their services, so it's better to be safe than sorry. Some people think that expensive is the best, but it's not always the case. Sometimes, you can find a good supplier who will charge you less. So make sure you do your homework!
This includes invitations, guest book, thank you cards, favor tags, etc. If you check online, there are a couple of blogs and websites who share free party printables. Take advantage of this so you don't have to pay for a designer's fee to create a custom design for your party. Think of the savings you can make when you only have to pay for printing and remember to print only what you need.
You should plan some kind of entertainment or activity to keep kids occupied. A magician, story teller, clowns or balloon artist are popular options for entertainment. While arts and crafts, mad science and nail art or face painting are good activities. Whatever you choose, it must be something everyone would enjoy.
One important part of planning a kiddie party is choosing favors or tokens. Ask your kid what he likes to receive when attending other kiddie parties. This will give you an idea what kids his/her age are into. Make sure all favors are age-appropriate and fun but useful.
Candy Bar/Dessert Buffet
Party Clothes or Costume for the birthday celebrant
Cake Smash (for 1st Birthdays)
Big or small, anyone can throw a great event, as long as you know the tips and tricks. Throwing parties may not be for everyone, but it's great to have them, as it's part of building all these memories for you and your kids.