What is your budget?
The first thing you should do is determine what type of a budget are you working with. Birthday party venue choices can range from cheap - like doing your party at home, to extravagant - think banquet halls. We have been in the party business for 2+ years now and we have seen it all! But, this would be the first place to start your planning.
Where are you having the party?
We often get parents booking characters, face painting or balloon twisting with us and they leave the location blank. Often times the struggle is there for those of us who have family and friends that live far away. For example, so many people during COVID moved to "the country," or what used to be cottage country. We leave our family and friends in the city and then wonder, do we expect them all to travel 1-3 hours away for our child's birthday or do we come to them?
Indoor or Outdoor Party?
Well for us Ontarians, we know we aren't having an outside party for at least 6-9 months out of the year due to the weather. The summer babies have the choice of indoor or outdoor, while the rest of us have to do it indoors - unless you're doing an ice skating party! You also need to consider, what will the main activities be at the party? Face Painting can be done indoors or outdoors, a Magician can be outside or inside, a bouncy castle will need to be outside, unless you get a smaller one and have the room for it indoors.
How many people will be attending?
If you have 50+ people, you will obviously need a larger venue. I am planning my almost 9 year old's party at the moment and many party venues give you a minimum number of children and adults and a maximum number. I am planning her birthday at a movie theater, with a surprise visit from one of her favourites characters in the party room. The venue has told me that the maximum number of children allowed is 15 and the minimum is 10. So, sometimes the number of people allowed is dictated to you depending on the venue and activity choice.
Planning a party at your local theatre entails entertaining your kids with a movie. What if you're doing a birthday at home? There are endless options to consider for entertainment. Hire an entertainer (inputting self promo here, wink, wink). Princesses, superheroes, mascots, face painters, balloon twisters, crafting parties, baking parties, magicians, animal visits, clowns,
the list can go on and on. There are more and more creative ways to entertain your kiddos, you just need to ask them what they want... albeit, if your kid is like any of mine, they could change their minds multiple times.... which leads me to my next point.
Sure, your kiddo finally made up their mind and they'd like to have their party at an indoor play centre. You have 3 weeks left for the party and you attempt to book a party room for your planned date and time only to find out, they are fully booked. Not just on the day you were requesting, but, for the next month! I highly suggest planning your party 4-8 weeks in advance. The earlier the better if you want to avoid slim pickings in terms of timing and options. The same goes for hiring entertainment for your party. I'm writing this article in early November and already booking events into spring! So, timing is key here, as they say.... the early bird catches the worm!
After you book
Decor, balloons, food, party theme - these are all things to consider once you book your venue. Some venues like indoor playgrounds offer add-ons that provide you with everything you need. If you're renting a studio or empty space then you need to look into bakers, catering, event planners for decor, etc. Once again, timing is key here, you will need to book well in advance if you're looking to get that Roblox cake or Ariel cupcakes. Many of the best bakers, caterers and event planners also book months in advance.
The biggest thing here is... have fun. Don't create too much work for yourself. Outsource where you can afford to. Every single time I've done a party at home, I tell myself afterwards that I should have outsourced things like the food - as opposed to cooking it myself. Consider hiring a cleaner to clean after the party, as that can be the biggest hassle of having a party at home. If you've decided to use an indoor playground, opt in
for the option of having them do it all for you - if you can afford to. At the end of the day, as long as your little one has a smile on their face and has an amazing time, that is all that matters as a parent!