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How to host a birthday party


Ben Taylor

Organising and hosting a birthday party can feel exhausting and stressful if you don’t have a solid plan in place, which can often take all the fun out of having the party in the first place. While it may seem silly and over the top to plan how you’re going to plan an event, it can be really helpful in terms of getting all of those ideas out of your head and down on paper. This means you can tackle one thing at a time without having to worry about forgetting anything important.

How to organise a birthday party

The first step to effective organisation is to make a list. In this case, it’ll be a list of everything you need to sort out prior to the party. If you like, you can separate it out into stages - for example, things that can be done on the day and things that need to be done in advance.

Depending on who the party is for, the specifics of what you need is likely to change. However, a general starting point could include:

  • Presents
  • Food and drink - either preparing it, buying it in or making reservations
  • Invites
  • Tables and chairs
  • Plates, cutlery and glasses
  • Entertainment
  • Location
  • Decorations
  • Whether it will be a surprise or not

Additionally, you might want to think about making an ‘optional’ list. This can include things that won't be the end of the world if you forget them, but they can make the party better or easier to manage. This could cover things like:

  • Party favours or goody bags
  • Making sure there are easily visible bins around
  • Ashtrays, if applicable
  • Bottle openers, spirit measures and ice buckets

Of course many of these things either will or won’t be applicable to your event, depending on whose birthday it is, so pick and choose what is right for you. And if you’re finding it difficult to fit in everything you need to organise before the day of the party, consider asking friends or family to help you with some of the tasks.

What to do for a birthday party

Having a plan for the activities that will be going on during the party is also a great way to ensure people aren’t bored or unsure what to do when they get there. If possible, communicate this information to invitees with plenty of notice - that way, if they need to wear appropriate clothing or bring specific items, they can be prepared.

● Sit down meal

A sit down meal is a common choice for adult birthday parties, especially if the person whose birthday it is doesn’t want people to make a big fuss about it. These meals can usually fit around work schedules and are often best for evening events. However, a lunchtime meal on a weekend is also an option.

Booking ahead of time is recommended if you’re organising a restaurant meal, particularly if there’s a large group of people involved. Alternatively, if you’re having a cosy dinner party at home, you might need to consider extra seating to accommodate all the invitees.

● Movie night

Movie nights are an excellent low stress way to celebrate someone’s birthday - whether this means a trip to the cinema or piling onto the sofa with homemade popcorn. For a movie night at home, you might consider preparing a buffet, or just setting out some snacks to eat during the film. This type of party is appropriate for all ages.

● Cake, drinks and games

Another option that’s good for partygoers of all ages is a less structured event involving cake, drinks and party games. With this type of party, all you really need is a table to hold food and drinks, although you might consider another table to hold presents if they aren’t going to be opened immediately.

Where to have a birthday party

If you’re not planning on using an actual venue such as a restaurant, the cinema or a theme park, for example, then you might think the only place you can hold a party is in your home. However, this isn’t always the case.

● At home

As the easiest option, this is a choice many party organisers go for, as it allows you to set up the night before the party (or in the daytime if it’s an evening event) and get everything in place with plenty of time to spare. It is also the most private option, which is good if you’re going to be playing music or watching a film.

● In the garden

Garden parties can be an excellent way to make the most of the outdoors and get some fresh air while having fun. If you don’t already have patio furniture, you might consider getting a folding table so you can serve food and drinks outside. This can then be folded up and put in storage until your next party.

● At the beach/park

If you’re lucky enough to live near the sea, why not mark the special occasion with a beach party? Pack up a picnic and spend a day in the sun and the sand with the opportunity to have a paddle as well. If you don’t live near the sea, you can take your picnic to the park instead!