How to Organize a Birthday Party

How do you organize a Birthday party? Birthdays come around each year, especially when you have kids. On this page we go through a real life example; a clown party and align it with the suggestions made on how to organize a party page.

Pretty much every year, I hope this birthday would slip by without too much of a fuss. However, normally my kids have different ideas. This page is aligned with my son’s 3rd Birthday Party to show how some of the theory worked in practice. My son had before he turned three very elaborate ideas; he wanted a party, it was going to be themed – a clown party. He wanted a bike as a present, a clown cake, clown outfits and invites (and, yes it is frightening to think how he will be when he celebrates his 30th Birthday).

He also gave me more than enough time six weeks before the day, so we started the process of organizing for one big Birthday Bash. (In the meantime he saved all the coins he could lay his hands on for his bike)

The overall steps to organizing any party are found on its specific page.

On this webpage I will talk about how this process was used and altered for this particular birthday party. No matter how organized you are, you will always tweak and change a bit for big occasions or just generally for life. Things will always be different on paper then when putting them in place in real life (as we and the people around us are continuously changing).

How to organize a birthday party – the initial steps

This was fairly easy for this particular birthday party.

  • Who is coming? – All of my son’s friends (both young and old) as well as relatives – around 21 people plus his immediate family. That amounted to twenty-five people (a reasonable size to cater for in terms of dinner parties).
  • Where will it be? – At home
  • When? – Simply pick a date that would works for you; you can never please all of your guests.
  • Why? – It was a big 3rd Birthday party
  • What do I need? – Invites, food decisions and ordering, costumes, cake, research for cake.
  • Is it a themed event? – Yes; clowns

Start the invites

I created an invite in word with a clown and all details. Then I made a screenshot so it was easy to send via email. This is an easy way to create an invite and you can also print it if you like. Next year you can change a few details and the picture but most of the invite will be already done in your Word document.

Outfits for the birthday party

As this was a themed event and outfits are non-perishables I decided on our outfits. I would make them using old clothes and tweaking them with bows and ribbons to give it the clown look.  This was done in the days and weeks before the birthday so I could spend most time on food closer to the day.

We also ducked down to the shops early to get some face paint and have this part of the party covered.

Think about the menu

The making of Aussie meat pie’s is pretty easy for us (thanks to a wonderful stint in hospitality industry) so that was our choice of food, a few salads and different flavors for the pies, as well as a vegetarian option were added to the menu, meaning that overall everyone was happy.

For the cake I did my research on how to make a clown from Marzipan. The cake was created with icing and star marzipan shapes. The icing is a skill learned from earlier birthday parties so every time you can extend your skills a little further if you want. For the actual cake I ordered a plain sponge as it is a skill I hadn’t mastered yet (- making good sponge cake, it is also a great shortcut).

Short cuts are allowed when you want to organize things, you do not want to do everything yourself. 

Also if you don’t like making the food or decorating the food; order it in or ask a friend who likes it for help. When organizing it is okay to ask for help and because you are organized you know which areas are harder for you to do. I would do the cake, the salads and prepare the pie mix. Someone else, would make the pies and bake them on the day.

When do you need to order and buy the groceries for your party food?

I went over all the ingredients twice several items had to be ordered at specialist stores. We ordered the food via phone and locked in the time to pick it up. This also goes hand in hand with the plan I had in terms of when I would do which food preparation.

Decide when you start cooking what

In this instance, the marzipan clown was made several days prior as it can last for weeks, the icing of the cake was done the day before, whilst the salads and pies can only be made on the day.

This scheduling of the food preparation allowed time for error, if something goes wrong for example with the clown I still had several days to try again or fix up the mistakes.  This slow preparation of the different food items, actually made that I enjoyed the whole process much more. When becoming organized we want to prevent ourselves ending up stressed out, slow and steady progress is the key with any organized process.

On the day of the Birthday Party

I did wake up early, did a quick tidy up, made sure our costumes were in place and after a good breakfast set out to do the last minute food preparation. Things did take longer than expected but because the guests came later (as tend to happen in Australia – see my European timeliness coming through ;-) I had time for a relaxed cup of coffee before the party was in full swing.

Enjoy the Birthday party

I once read in a great cook book, that one of the most important parts of a successful dinner party is a smiling and relaxed host. Something to ponder isn’t it?

I think it is one of the great gifts that organizing can give you; a sense of relaxation and peacefulness. This as you have done all you could to organize yourself.

For a children’s birthday party you can if you want to plan some simple games, but children (at least my little ones) seem quite happy to just run after each other and have a good look at new toys coming in. When they get a bit older some structure to the actual party might be required.

After the party - Clean up

On the ‘how to clean up after a party page’ I mention that you can go two ways here; keep going you or relax and slowly get back into the final phase of any party the; clean up. This time I decided to relax and watch an hour of my favorite series. And yes you read it correctly, that is while my whole house was still a mess. I did however put one load of dishes on prior to sitting down.

After I recharged I got back into it and picked one task or area at the time and I did an hour of focused cleaning both the house and the dishes.

By that time I was very tired and stopped, all food items were done the floor would be done tomorrow. This is another overall organizing rule; we don’t want to burn ourselves out. So what if my floors were messy for a night?

Organizing is having your house and belongings in a state that you feel comfortable with. We are not after perfection or being very strict on ourselves.  You need to congratulate yourself on what you have achieved rather than look at what did not get done - yet! (because you will get there).

Overall the party was great fun for young and old as well as for me hosting it which is the whole aim of the game.

The ideas combined with the steps on the page covering ‘How to organize a Party’ and 'Cleaning up after a Party' will make you and organized party pro, no matter what party it is.

Let me know how successful your next Birthday party went.

Insight note: This article was written in 2012 and revised in 2016 as the children are now older I have tweaked a few things during the years. 

To make things easier I like to have the kid’s birthday parties at a café now when possible. It gives me a space, some nice simple food and no clean up. This all is pretty much at the same cost as having a party at home (which is still a good option for young kids as you need to confine them). 

As the kids gotten older, I also introduced some activities we ended up making fairy wings (prior to the party) and decorating them for one of my daughter’s Birthday parties. These “older” parties allow me to spend more time on the cake and other creative endeavors (not to mention producing umpteen “surprises” for their Birthday celebration at school).


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