Party messes and successes

Oct 12, 2009 at 4:33 a.m. ET

Here are seven easy strategies to turn a potential party mess into a success!

Girl opening gifts at a birthday party

Parents of children will inevitably be faced with birthday party quandaries such as how many kids to invite, how to keep the children entertained and especially how to ensure their child's birthday party celebration is memorable and not a debacle.

Be prepared

Kids can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the amount of activity that surrounds parties. Help your birthday child prepare for the party through conversation and role play certain scenes at the party such as present opening. Have your child act as the guest and practice being considerate while the gifts are being opened. If he is the birthday child, practice how to open gifts safely and to say thank you after each present is unwrapped.

Use place cards

Avoid the mess of kids fighting for a place next to the birthday honoree by making seating place cards. This will divert their attention to finding their own special spot as opposed to who gets to the chair first. Make sure to ask your birthday child who she wants seated next to her.

Consider allergies

Parents of children with allergies usually let party hosts know of the situation, but be sure to check with parents as they RSVP. Make alternate arrangements to be inclusive of children who may have allergies. Make sure to serve the kids with allergies at the same time as the entire group to avoid hurting the child's feelings.

Have an end time

The never-ending party is no fun for the host or the guests. Allow parents to prepare their party goers of the expected end time by writing it on your party invitations. This will also help to ensure that party guests will be picked up on time. However, don't have any pressing plans directly after your child's party in case there are parents late to pick up their kids.

Avoid illness

If you know that some of your guests have been sick immediately prior to your party, make sure to be honest with the parents and request that the kids not attend your party to circumvent the potential of infecting others. To help them feel better and not like they had been shunned, be sure to mention getting together after the party when the kids are completely better.

Plan for siblings

Most children have siblings so it's best to have a plan for them to attend as well. Make sure to know how many extra kids your budget can afford and to have a firm answer when the request comes your way. If you make one exception, you may need to be prepared for more.


Be prepared to call on RSVPs that have not come in by the requested date. Remember that they too are parents and probably forgot. Avoid the mess of not enough or too many party provisions by backing up your RSVP date by one week. Have a contact list available to call when the RSVP date passes so you can gather your RSVPs and know the headcount.

Talk to other parents about birthday party successes and adapt it to work for your party as well.