10 Last Minute Birthday Party Planning Tips

Let’s face it: life gets busy. You’ve had your kid’s birthday party planning on your to-do list for weeks, but other things have taken priority. Or maybe you have had everything planned out, and the invitations are all sent, but everyone waited until the last minute to RSVP. 

Suddenly, your party guest list has grown from five to fifteen, and you’re wondering how the heck you are going to feed and entertain everybody! Take a deep breath; you can do this. Just follow this list of last-minute birthday party planning tips, and I promise you’ll be fine.

1. Send Invitations Online

The first thing to remember is that this is a child’s birthday party, not a wedding. A formal paper invitation isn’t necessary. These days, it’s perfectly acceptable to send an invitation by email or create a Facebook event and invite friends.

 It saves you the time of printing, writing, and mailing out individual invitations. The more convenient you make it for people to RSVP, the shorter the response time, so you get a more accurate number faster, and you can plan accordingly. If you don’t get a response, you can also call or text people to see if they can attend.

2. Host the Party at Home

You don’t need to book a venue for your child’s birthday party. Having a birthday party at a gym, bowling alley, or other site has only grown in popularity in recent years. Host your child’s birthday at your home. 

Set up your child’s party right in your living room, or if it’s a nice day and you have a backyard set up the party outside. If the weather isn’t cooperating, turn off the lights, pop some popcorn, and put on a fun movie for your child and their friends to have an at-home movie party. 

3. Keep the Decorations Simple

If you’re planning a last-minute birthday party forgo the themed birthday and keep it simple. Decorate with brightly colored balloons, streamers, and general birthday-themed decor. 

To make it even simpler, use what you already have around the house. Cut some fresh cut flowers from your backyard and put them in simple vases. Hang a string of colored or white Christmas lights in the main party room, and voila you have instant party decorations!

4. Let Someone Else Do the Cooking or Prepare Simple Foods

You have enough to do without doing the cooking too. Ordering catering trays, or a few boxes of pizza, or a couple of submarine sandwiches will save you a lot of time and grief if you’re in a hurry. If your supermarket has a prepared food department, you can check out their offerings as well.

 If you’re bent on cooking, prepare a pasta night, or other easy to prepare food. If you have a slow cooker in your house, you can prepare something and let it cook while making your other party preparations.

 Have a little more time? You can plan to have a potluck style party where everyone brings a different dish. It will save you time cooking and cleaning up, and it means that you’ll most likely have a variety of foods for guests to pick from so everyone can be happy. This approach is especially helpful if you have picky eaters or a mixture of different dietary needs (vegetarian, low carb, etc.) because, presumably, most people will bring the food they like. 

5. Limit Your Drink Selections

Water, ice tea, and Coke or other simple drink options also help reduce prep time when you’re working within limited time frames. You don’t need to worry about taking time away from your other preparations to brew ice tea or make a pitcher of lemonade. There are plenty of store-bought tea and lemonade varieties that you can choose from, and many offer sweetened, unsweetened, and organic options. 

6. Don’t bake a cake

Repeat after me, “there is nothing wrong with giving my child a store-bought birthday cake.” Don’t stress yourself out or think you’re a terrible parent if you order a cake instead of bake one. Most of us have jobs and other responsibilities outside of the home, and sometimes you’re just too busy. 

Support a local business order a cake from a bakery in your town or pick one up at the grocery store. Most grocery stores also have in-store bakeries where you can order a cake while you’re doing the rest of your grocery shopping. Many stores even offer blank cakes that are pre-made, and you can take to the bakery counter and ask someone to personalize it for you.

 So far, we’ve been looking at ways of simplifying party preparations. Now we’ll look at some last-minute birthday party planning tips for entertaining your child and their guests.

7. Put on a Pre-Made Kid-Friendly Playlist

You don’t have to spend hours trying to download and create kid-friendly music playlists. Most online music services like Spotify and Pandora have pre-made kid-approved playlists that you can use instead. 

Music creates a party atmosphere, but you’d be surprised how quickly kids will turn a good playlist into a dance party on their own. A good playlist from an online music service can provide your child and their friends with free entertainment, and you can sit back and enjoy the show.

8. Go for Classic Party Games

Classic party games are fun and don’t require much preparation. Freeze Dance, musical chairs, egg-and-spoon races, tug-o-war, Pin the Tail On the Donkey are all games that are as fun for kids now as they were when you were a kid. 

You can create many of these games with things you already have around the house or purchased at the dollar store. A Prefilled Pinata might be a slightly more expensive option, but you’ll find your local party store most likely carries a variety of fun pinatas that your child will find appealing.

9. Have a craft party

If you go online or check out your local craft store, you can find easy, do-it-yourself craft kits for kids. Pick up a kit or two and let your child and their friends put their energy and creativity to use by creating a personalized craft project. Not only will it provide entertainment during the party, but your guests will be able to take home their creation as a fun and unique party favor.

10. Choose Simple Favors

Don’t drive yourself crazy buying a bunch of cheap plastic toys and candy and sitting there filling party favor bags. Keep your party favors simple. 

Individually wrapped sugar cookies with a thank you note, canisters of play dough, or individual dollar store beach balls with your guests’ names written on them, are just some ideas for quick and simple favors that show your guests your appreciation when you’re short on time. 

I hope this list of last-minute birthday party planning tips has inspired you and stopped the panic. Remember, your child’s birthday is supposed to be a celebration, not another source of stress. You don’t need to do something fancy to create lifelong happy memories for your child.

 At the end of the day, it’s not how the party looked, how much you spent, or how the cake and food tasted, but the fun time your child had with their family and friends that matters. 

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