Creating a Timeline for a Children’s Party

by Cat on November 15, 2011

Where was this when I needed it? Who better to glean tips on party planning for your little ones than from a top notch event planner? Designing Mom Ryan Larson creates beautiful weddings and events for her brides and clients at Savoir Flair and Tin Parade and lends some tried and true advice to all of us for a stress-free party…
by Designing Mom Ryan Larson of Tin Parade Vintage Party Goods
You have been so busy planning and buying, and cutting and gluing who knows what that you have forgotten one of the most important things for your child’s party…..flow.  (important for any party). I am an event planner and I do understand this comes much easier for me but you can also make your day MUCH simpler.
By making a timeline you will also take away a bunch of the stress you may be feeling in pulling it all off.  It’s like you always heard as a kid…the more you practice or study the easier it will be.  It’s the same with a  great party.  Take the time to sit…breathe…and think through the entire flow of the day from set up to tear down.  Once you are organized and have your to-do list organized…TRUST ME….you will actually enjoy your child’s party too.
Here is a sample timeline for a kids party:
_____ – fill in the blank lines with peoples names who will be helping you that day…oh yeah, say YES to help.
I want you to actually MAKE a timeline. I do it for each of my home parties. Here is one below and you can copy and switch out the info:
SITE: Our home.
MUSIC: Bob…Joe…whoever is good with tunes and knows how to work your system so its not YOU!
FOOD: Okay this may be your domain however, put a sticky note on each dish as to what it is for and set them all on a table or washer/dryer till the time to fill them, than your helpers (i.e. girlfriends who know how much work it is to do a kids party) know what to do even if you are talking to a guest) (and please ask someone to do this before that day so they are expecting it and you don’t have to feel weird asking that day…you just need help with the food set up time, not a lot to ask of someone)
PHOTOS: Ask someone to own this. SOOOO often Mom or main caregiver is not in any of the photos. I am known to pick up peoples cameras unasked and just start shooting photos at their own party of them interacting with their kids and guests….but you shouldn’t even have to worry about taking all the photos of the cake cutting etc, you want to be IN THE MOMENT watching your darling child’s face light up all day.
CHARACTER CO: Have their check and gratuity already done and in an envelope ready to go so you can quickly, easily hand it over at the end of their stint. (yes gratuity is customary, usually $20-40)
Chips, Guac, Salsa and Cheese ,crackers, grapes
Assorted gourmet Sausages, artisan breads/rolls, assorted gourmet mustards
Arugula Salad w/ shaved parmesan
Cous cous salad
Don’t worry I didn’t forget the kids, but I always speak to the adults as well
Hot dogs/buns
Baked beans
11:00 – ______ – goes to get ice (1 lb per person on cool day, 2 lbs per person on hot day)(first thing is ice down the bins of drinks. Layer your drinks so people don’t have to reach below ALL the ice to grab a drink…ice, then drinks, then ice, then drinks) You can also put a folded towel at the very bottom of the bin so you’ll have less water run off from condensation.
11:30 – IF you let your children watch TV this is a great time to cut yourself some slack and let them relax for a little bit in front of a good show. You will be able to think more clearly, get things done and they will need a little rest before all the hoopla. (If you limit TV as we do, save up your tv time for this moment, you won’t regret it)
12:00 – Put chips in bowls and out on buffet table. It will give people something to do when they first get there. (That way, the food can be brought out once everyone is there and not sit out for heat/flys.)
12:15 – Music on! (everyone forgets this important aspect of a party, music ties things together and softens awkward moments such as the quiet time for those who arrive first)
1:00  – NOW bring the food out. (make them get a bit hungry, and please don’t forget that now days most parents stay for parties of small children so please feed them too)
1:30 – Character starts (or games or whatever you have planned for the meat in the middle, but have it start 45-min to and hour after the invite time so everyone is there and have it last an hour….that’s a good amount of time for kids to focus, more than that and they go into crazy zone and none of us want that now do we?)
2:30 – Cut the cake! (It’s important to bring people back together at different points in your party and make people connect)
3:00 – Pinata or not this is a good wrap up time…(meaning hand out the gift bags so they get the picture.)
Have fun. Don’t be pre-occupied with things being perfect. The goal is the guests/kids and your child have fun….not that things were perfect. Some of my best parties have had the best mishaps. The main thing that’s hard for us parents is to host AND be present.

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