A Party Planning Timeline for Busy Party Planners

For our family, the last five months have been extraordinarily busy. We traveled, came home and had a surgery for Elvie ten days later, then adjusted to life with Elvie in a body brace through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and into the New Year. By the time her birthday rolled around, we had another surgery scheduled and were still working hard on physical therapy. Despite the pace of life, I wanted to throw Elvie a party that would be magical and memorable, and I knew it would be worth it to make it happen. And we did! What really made it work for me was having a timeline. It allowed me to spread out tasks and get everything done, without a whole lot of extra stress. If you’re in a busy season of life, it is still possible to throw a party for your little one without making it the most stressful item on your to do list. Below is my timeline; I hope it helps.

One Month to Six Weeks Before the Party Decide on a party theme and date. Begin to look for decor and party favors, and start to plan the menu.

Three Weeks Before the Party Make the guest list. Choose or design invites and send them. Finalize menu plans.

Two Weeks Before Party Time Purchase decor items, paper goods, party favors, and tableware.


One Week Before Party Time If invites were sent digitally, send a reminder. Purchase non perishable food and drink items. If the cake is being made elsewhere, order it.

The Week of the Party Clean the house, pick up last minute items that were forgotten, and make sure that everything ordered online has arrived. Make room in the refrigerator for party food and drinks. Order balloons if using them for decor or party favors.

Two Days Before the Party If making the cake, make the cake portion and refrigerate. Buy perishable food and drink items.

One Day Before the Party  If making the cake, frost/decorate it. Assemble any decorations that are not yet assembled and prepare any food or drinks that can be made ahead.

The Day of the Party Do a quick re-clean of the bathroom and any problem areas in the kitchen. (Confession: I use baby wipes for a quick bathroom refresh, as well as to quickly wipe up underneath Elvie’s high chair.) Pick up the cake and balloons if ordered elsewhere. Put up decorations. Put food and drinks out on the table. Dress the guest of honor in something celebratory.

That’s it! It’s party time! I find that I always run a little behind on party day, and now I just accept this. No one has rushed to judgment yet, and in fact, we’ve gotten messages after the party telling us what a good time our guests had. By following this timeline, I was mostly ready for the first guests who arrived, and no one complained that they had to wait a few moments for all the drinks to be out.

If you’re planning a party, there are more tips for keeping it simple on this post. The most important part is that your little one feels special and has fun. I know that in our case, Elvie had a blast. Mission accomplished.

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