Child’s Away-From-Home Birthday Party Checklist Have all the fun with a lot less work when the party is somewhere other than your house. Here’s a schedule to suit any outside venue. Save this checklist! Progress Saved Your progress has been saved **You've changed this checklist.** Remember to save your progress. See Your Saved Checklists | All Checklists One to Three Months Before done! Discuss with your child what kind of party he or she wants and whom to invite. done! Pick a date. You might check first with essential guests to make sure they’re available. Your child won’t be happy if his best friend isn’t there. done! Set a budget. done! Decide on the number of guests. done! Choose, visit, and book a venue. You are probably having a party at a venue because of the activity it provides (in other words, less balloon animal-making for you). Good options: a bowling alley, a museum, a pizza parlor, a zoo, a crafts shop, or a children’s play center. If the venue does not provide food, you can order pizzas and drinks to be delivered and bring a cake. Some fast-food restaurants with indoor playgrounds offer party packages including everything from cake to favors; other restaurants offer party rooms, better fare, hostesses, and entertainment. done! Find out the venue’s deadlines for final guest count, menu selection, and up-front and final payments. Mark these on your calendar or put them in your date book so you’ll be reminded. done! Decide on a theme, if you want one. done! Line up any entertainment (like magicians or clowns) you may want. You may get lucky with a last-minute reservation, but earlier is a safer bet. Ask for references of people who have used the entertainers recently, and check up. Be sure to ask if there are any setup requirements. Four Weeks Before done! Send invitations. Make written invitations creative and coordinated with the party theme. Include venue details, an RSVP date, and start and end times, and indicate whether parents are invited to stay (parents of toddlers should remain). If you’ve chosen an outdoor venue, give an alternate indoor location or date in case of a rainy day. done! Decide on activities if the venue does not arrange them. Even if you are having the party at a bowling alley, you may want some calmer, quieter activities lined up for downtime—or some alternatives to keep kids busy who aren’t interested in bowling. If the presents will be opened, save that for the end. You can skip it if you run out of time. done! Ask the venue coordinator what decorations can be provided or brought in. Then, make a list of supplies (balloons, hats, music) you may need to get on your own. Check online sites like plumparty.com and discountschoolsupply.com. done! Buy or order party favors that fit the theme (and goody bags to put them in) and prizes for the games. Three Weeks Before done! Plan the menu. If the venue provides food, or if you’re hiring a caterer, work out the menu with them. Otherwise plan to have something simple, like pizzas, delivered to the venue; find out from the provider how much notice they need. done! Line up any help you may need. Enlist friends, older children, other relatives, or parents of party guests to help supervise activities. Consider hiring a high school student, your baby-sitter, or a professional to help supervise games, replenish food, and generally take some weight off your shoulders. One Week Before done! Follow up on RSVP stragglers to get a final count. done! Confirm reservation for party venue. done! Confirm reservation for entertainment. done! Order or bake and freeze the cake. done! Check your list of needed supplies and purchase any missing pieces. Three Days Before done! Prepare the cameras. Charge video camera and digital camera. Stock extra film or memory cards. done! Prepare goody bags. One Day Before done! Order pizza or other takeout food. done! If opening presents is on the agenda, practice polite “thank you’s” with your child. Day of the Party done! Pick up cake and balloons if ordered. done! Do any setup needed at the venue. done! Give parents who are staying tasks to oversee. They can help with games or supervise a craft so you’re free to run the show and keep kids from running amok. done! Make a list of gifts and who gave them. done! Send everyone off with party favors. Your child can hand them out and say thank you at the same time. Two to Three Days Later done! Help your child send thank-you notes, and send your own to your helpers. Progress saved Progress SavedYour progress has been saved**You've changed this checklist.**Remember to save your progress.