8 Tips for Planning a Birthday Party

Written by: Christa Reed

Well, we did it. We threw an epic birthday party to celebrate our 35th Birthday and hosted nearly 600 of or closest friends. This event took us about nine months to plan, which seems insane but to be honest, it was a ton of fun. I’d say, throwing a party for this many people is not for the faint of heart. It’s labor intensive and detailed but we’re getting some really wonderful feedback already and people are asking how we did it, so I thought I’d take a moment to share my top 7 tips for throwing your own party in Chicago. Here goes:

Call for Reinforcements: There wasn’t a second where I thought I do décor on my own. I called NPN member/friend Maggi Steib of Imagine a Party to help me walk through the venue because I had a hard time visualizing any kind of theme. The ceiling were high, the space is expansive. I thought, how can I do this and make it affordable? Maggi hooked me up with Tiffany Sledge of Joyous Occasions and WHAT a lifesaver. They took care of all of the balloon creations (several hundred individual balloons to make it work, see pic below), swooped in, and set them all up in less than an hour. Maggi’s team took care of the adorable dessert room and created a gorgeous cupcake/cake ball station.

Find the BEST desserts: Speaking of cupcakes/cake balls…we couldn’t quite decide what kind of dessert we wanted. We knew it had to be cake of some kind but knew it had to be small and self-contained for little ones. Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique provided mini cupcakes in our NPN colors, GBD Cakes and Sweets provided the cake truffles, Believe Cakes provided the cake pops, and Cakes By Bee stepped it up a notch and provided a mini cupcake with the NPN logo. SO CUTE (see pic below)!

Have Some Quiet Space: Sometimes parties can get crazy and when your party is large, inevitably, there will be some smaller children that need a quiet place to play. We used Snapo and Melissa & Doug toys and Hoppity Balls from Building Block Toy Store and brought some cardboard blocks we borrowed from an NPN staffer.

Delegate Day-Of Jobs: This part is important! Grab your family or friends (in our case, the NPN team/board of directors) and ask them to help facilitate food, beverages, greeting the guests, and making sure all of your attendees are happy! Don’t forget to give yourself the opportunity to stop, pose for some photos and enjoy it too.

Hire a Photographer: Let’s face it. You’re going to be running around. The last thing you want is to miss capturing the moment. Hire a pro. We called long-time NPN member, Eva Ho because frankly, she’s a rock star and can handle any situation that’s thrown at her. 

Find a Great Venue: Think outside the box. There are a ton of excellent venues in town (search the NPN discussion forum for some amazing ideas), but we needed something a little out of the ordinary. Go into your search with an open mind. Try a park district building, a restaurant, or even a bar (like we did). The folks at Joe’s Bar on Weed St. could not have been more accommodating.

Find the Entertainment: We used the NPN discussion forum to hear what Chicago parents had to say about party entertainment. That’s where we found our friend, Mr. Bob (one of the best party magicians in town). We also read great things about Michelle from Chicago Balloon Twister. They act as a broker or sorts for face painters, balloon twisters and characters. Fabulous to work with. And those glitter tattoos? Call Laine Too in Northbrook. They have the best formula and custom templates available.

Create a GREAT goody bag: We included a few things for the parents, like a RefresH2Go Water Bottle, a notepad, and hand sani wipes. For the kids: a silly straw, silly putty, a beach ball, stickers, beanie babies, star crayons, a safety flasher, and a little bit of candy for good measure.

Some things I wish I would have done: Hired a Videographer. There was so much awesome, I want to watch it over and over. There’s always next year….Were you there? Tell us what you loved in comments below.




Posted on March 30, 2015 at 8:12 AM