“Remember I.F.T.” and Other Easy Tips for Planning Kids’ Parties


I love entertaining, whether it be for my little family of three or a holiday celebration. I love the planning, the decor, and the food possibilities. What’s more fun that bringing together people and food for a good time, especially when it’s to celebrate my daughter birthday?  

We recently celebrated Ilse’s second birthday in San Francisco. She and her eight guests had a blast tumbling, running, and snacking on small treats.  It was a grand time had by all – fuss-free and lots of fun – and I’m already thinking about the next one.  

Here are my tips for throwing your first or your next kids’ party:

Remember: I.F.T. (Interests, Food, and Time)

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the party possibilities, but if you focus on these three elements, it will be less daunting. I centered her party around Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and bright colors (interests), served fruit, chocolate, goldfish crackers (favorite foods), and, most importantly, scheduled the party for when she’s usually best behaved (time). I highly recommend apps like Evernote to jot down ideas and stay organized. The party planned  itself once I locked down these three elements.


Like any party, it’s easy to spend hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on food, decor, and gifts with reckless abandon. Spend money on the elements that matter to you. For me, it was the food and venue. I put most of budget towards catering and custom cupcakes and the venue, so I wouldn’t have to stress or spend all night cleaning. Keep receipts for any unused, unopened party items, as most retailers will permit returns.

I scoured party stores and dollar stores for deals on party giveaways and decor. Though, I admit, I wanted to buy everything in a Mickey Mouse theme. Rather than hire a photographer or take all the photos ourselves,  I asked guests to take photos and send them to us, so we could put them together in an album afterwards.

Determine the party location

I wanted something interactive with lots of space, but fuss-free for my husband and I to set-up. We looked at museums like the Bay Area Discovery Museum and the Academy of Sciences, but they were too big for our needs.  We considered a picnic at Lafayette Park in our neighborhood. Eventually, we settled on the indoor My Gym, which met our budget and provided the perfect mix of fuss-free fun  for all of us.

Plan for the unexpected

Whenever I entertain, I plan ahead and try to plan for the unexpected.  Some of the pre-planning I did included asking about food allergies from all our potential guests ahead of time, so I could design a menu accordingly. With toddlers in mind, I ordered foods that were handheld or precut, so foods would be easy to eat with minimal silverware. I also ordered a little extra food, so everyone would have plenty to eat and drink. Additionally, I brought my own serveware, and I put together a  “party tool box (first aid kit, tape, scissors, permanent markers, garbage bags, candles, lighter and matches), so I had it easily accessible the day of the party, and also so I’d have it on hand for future parties.

Throwing a children’s party can be daunting for any parent, but with these simple tips, party planning can be a little easier, less stressful, and more fun. Happy party planning!


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