Manage the party circuit

Oct 12, 2009 at 4:46 a.m. ET

Survive the social whirlwind that rivals the concert schedules of most class act musicians with a few simple planning and organizing tips.

Woman writing letter

A parent planning around their children's social calendars, as opposed to their own, is not a new phenomenon. Birthday party invitations flood mailboxes, backpacks and take home bags as if the child held some political clout or superstardom.

Get a planner

Whether you prefer mobile electronic (such as those calendars available on most smartphones), stationary electronic (like the calendar in Microsoft Outlook) or traditional paper (you can purchase or print your own), invest in an organizing system that works best for you. Your child's schedule will undoubtedly fill the pages and time slots rather quickly.

RSVP immediately

Send your response as soon as you get the invitation. Not only will you avoid scheduling conflicts, but you will also make it easier on the hosts to plan their activities to the number of anticipated guests.

Examine the invite for clues

Many families choose generic invitations with balloons and leave no hint at what the birthday child likes. However, if there is a theme to the invitation, you can be sure to please by selecting a gift that goes along with the theme (e.g., Spiderman, Barbie, High School Musical, etc.) You can also ask what types of things they like when you RSVP, provided you don't get voice mail. Gift certificates and gift cards are a good choice for last minute gifts.

Shop with a watchful eye

Keep the party circuit in mind when shopping for your own child and pick up extra items that are on sale, take advantage of buy one-get one, and use coupons wherever possible. Be sure to check out the clearance shelves for filler items like stickers, temporary tattoos and character pencils. Think about ordering an extra book or two on the next book order at school as well. These items always make great additions to the main birthday party gift.

Stay for the party, or find something to do

Take advantage of the RSVP conversation to check whether or not parents are expected to stay. If you are not, agree ahead of time with your child whether or not you will be in attendance. If your child is under the age of five, you should always plan on staying since children at this age tend to be unpredictable.

Teach them party etiquette

Ensure your child knows what is expected of them at the party. Cover topics like behavior expectations, saying please and thank you, and being courteous to the birthday party child, as well as the other children in attendance. Keep the expectations simple for young children and explain in which situations they might apply, like when it's time to share or agree to play a game with the group.

With just a few basic planning strategies, your child's party circuit can be as organized as that of a celebrities, minus the paparazzi, of course.