Here are two things you should know about me. First, I think it’s incredibly important to celebrate the big moments with friends and family. We have so few instances where we get to gather and share joy with each other — so it’s really important to be intentional about the times we choose to celebrate.
The second thing is that I’ve never been a birthday person. In fact, my birthday tends to bring me more anxiety than it does joy. The perfect birthday celebration, to me, is a quiet day with my family and a wonderful dinner with just my husband.
That said, in the last few years, since I had my son, birthdays have taken a whole new meaning for me. For his first birthday, I got to put all of my passion for planning and creating personalised events into his big day. And it was more rewarding than I can say to be able to give that particular expression of love to him.
In his almost five years of being on this planet, I’ve awoken a new passion for crafting fun and dynamic birthday parties for people. Now that I have a few more under my belt, I wanted to share my five top tips for planning a great birthday party.
First things first: Budget. How much do you want to spend on the party? Do you want to host it at home or in a special venue?
2. CHOOSE YOUR GUEST LIST
Budget and Guest List go hand in hand. The budget typically dictates the size of the party. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of keeping the guest list small. That way I can use my budget on spoiling my guests as much as possible. For example, for my son’s fourth birthday, we hosted what he called a “Builder’s Birthday” with a construction site cake and activities where he and his two guests could build wooden toys. Each of the children got their own hard hat and personalised apron — something that I wouldn’t have been able to do from a budgetary standpoint if we had a big group in attendance.
Use your budget and what you want to do for each guest as a measure to help you choose how many people you want to attend.
3. SET THE THEME
I love a good theme. As a planner, having a theme can create the inspiration around the the food, decor, music, and more.
For my son’s first birthday, the theme was blueberries, in honour of his favourite fruit and obession. So, naturally, we had blueberries everywhere. There was a garland of blue balloons. The birthday cake was a blueberry pancake stack with blueberry syrup, and all of the food in the buffet had blueberries in some shape or form. It was so much fun!
Take your time to find a theme that reflects the personality of your star guest, and fold it into every detail. I find that guests really appreciate when they can connect the dots between the details of the event and the person they’re celebrating.
4. BUILD YOUR TIMELINE
Like any event, birthday parties are great when they have a good flow. As you build your timeline, think of how you’ll divide your time and keep people moving from one thing to the next.
For my husband’s fortieth birthday, which had the very personalised theme of “Backpacks and Beer,” we had a number of activities. We planned a whisky tasting, a piñata filled with some of his favourite snack food, as well as a “Guess what’s in the backpack” game. (He’s notorious for having everything in his backpack.)
This will also be a good time to think about food. Will you have different bites for each activity? A separate time for a sit-down meal? Or finger food throughout?
5. FIGURE OUT IF YOU NEED OR WANT HELP
One of the best things I did for my husband’s fortieth was to have it catered. This meant that I didn’t have to worry about the food being served and people having their glasses filled, and could enjoy the party. If it fits the budget, getting some help — whether it’s in the planning or in the execution — can be a great way to make sure you’re fully present throughout the festivities.
BONUS TIP: HAVE FUN
You’ve planned this wonderful event for a loved one — now the best thing you can do is immerse yourself in the day and enjoy it with them. Join in, eat some good food, and have a great time!
Did you know that we plan birthdays, too? If you’re thinking about throwing a great event for a loved one’s birthday and need some help, let’s chat.