12 Steps to Planning a Fun and Successful Kids’ Party

I just survived hosting 20 girls in my apartment for my 10-year-old daughter’s party. Hopefully the few things I learned from it can help other aspiring party-planning moms like me!

  1. Find a fun theme. Who says parties only need to be for birthdays? My daughter is obsessed with polar bears and needed a mid-winter pick-me-up. (Frankly, so did I.) I heard about the upcoming International Polar Bear Day on February 27th and figured if anyone was going to celebrate that holiday, it was going to be us.
  2. Send a Paperless Post invite. Tie the design in with the theme and make it a little funny or different. Make sure you include the RSVP option. (I learned this the hard way.)
  3. Make a guest list. Invite the whole class if you can. Try not to exclude anyone. Also invite a few old friends your daughter hasn’t seen in a while. Include a few family members at your own risk. My mom came and truly helped out! My daughter and I were so glad she was there.
  4. Plan ahead. This is the key to the whole event. The more you think through what everyone will be doing during the party, the better it will run. For this polar bear party, I did several stations: a polar bear claw cupcake decorating station in the kitchen when the girls first arrived (good ice breaker, no pun intended), then a Model Magic station and a coloring activity in the dining room. We moved on to freeze dance for a minute (which was a big mistake) and then settled in to watch a short documentary on climate change. (This was a clutch move, actually. Things got a little crazy and I typed in “polar” in Apple TV and luckily found something educational to show them.) The girls were involved and always had options for what to do.
  5. Rope in a ringer. I invited my daughter’s old science teacher to come and help out. Having someone with that level of authority in the room really helped.
  6. Shop early for supplies. I ordered in bulk from Amazon Prime Now and went to the local party store to make sure I had everything I needed for all the crafts projects. Of course an hour before the party, I realized I’d only bought black Model Magic when, of course, polar bears are white (what was I thinking!?), so I had to do a quick last minute jaunt to get everything right.

7. Bake ahead, too. If you’re doing a baking project as a craft (which I highly recommend because who doesn’t love to eat sugar?!), do the bulk of the work before the party. The kids and I spent five hours baking cupcakes (12 dozen!) the day before. Don’t try to do this the morning of. Too messy, crazy and tiring. To be honest, I never want to see a cupcake again. Make more than you think you’ll need. Buy extra frosting too. It all goes fast.

8. Get fun party favors. I ordered custom polar bear cookies from Penny Cakes NYC run by Allison Kenny (#pennycakesnyc on Instagram). She is an amazing cake and cookie baker and can do anything you want! She individually wraps the cookies so they’re ready to be given out as favors. I always like to have guests walk out with something when they leave an event at my home.

9. Drink coffee. Have a cup before the party. You’ll need it. Some water too wouldn’t hurt.

10. Add an unexpected element. My son dressed up in a polar bear costume and greeeted guests in the lobby. It set the tone for the event.

11. Clean as you go. Instead of having a huge clean up job looming after the party, use the different stations to clean up previous ones. A friend of my daughter’s was so sweet and offered to help me straighten up after the Model Magic activity. After a few minutes of tidying, she looked up at me, concerned, and said, “I think we’re going to need a vacuum cleaner.”

12. Give the event a higher calling. My daughter started a fundraising page on the World Wildlife Fund site (by the way, super easy to customize and use) and encouraged guests (and family members) to give back to polar bears. Feel free to add to her efforts!

Hopefully, this little party did a little good for the world in addition to entertaining all the girls on a Sunday afternoon. At least it got us through the weekend!