Running a Party Planner Business: Equipment and Inventory


Helpful Party Supplies

Think twice before you go out on a limb for party supplies. Get an idea of what you need, by planning a few parties first, and get your business off the ground. If you're doing a birthday party, for example, you may want to keep games on hand. It's pretty hard to rent children's games, but you can purchase them and pass them off to your client as a rental fee to offset the cost.

If you generally offer to supply party favors, buy them in bulk or on sale. Always include the cost (itemized) as part of your fee.

You can pin the nose on the birthday girl or boy by blowing up a photo of the child and giving each blindfolded child a nose to pin on the photo. If children have to sit or concentrate too long, you'll find they lose interest. Keep your games simple and fast moving. If the party is indoors, use indoor games; outdoors, use outdoor games.

The party is for the birthday child. Your primary goal, as a party planner, is to make the child feel special. A second goal is to assure the birthday guests have a good time.

A child's birthday party can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. Consider the party a success if no one bursts out crying. Here are some examples of party emergencies you may be required to deal with:

  • Two children brought the identical gift -- You can always re-gift, but be careful you don't give it back to a child who was aware of the slip-up. Rather, smooth it over, "Hey Johnny, now we can all play both games at the same time."
  • A child wet their pants -- Guide them discretely from the room and ask the hostess for a clean change of clothes. Bag the child's soiled clothes to return to the mother, or return them on their way out the door. Discretion is greatly appreciated.
  • A mother reprimands someone else's child -- Ask the mother if she would please speak to the child's mother about the issue when she arrives, out of hearing range from the children.
  • Children arguing over take-home-party-bags -- Put the names on the outside of the bags in bold and firmly, but nicely say, "Only the bag with your name on it is yours."

Event Tool Kit

All party planners have a special "tool kit" for those unexpected emergencies that crop up. This doesn't mean you should show up looking like "Rosie the Riveter." Place your "stuff" in a carry-on with wheels, a good-sized brief case, or a professional-looking gym bag. Here are suggestions for items you might include.

  • Aspirin or Tylenol
  • Handi-Wipes or hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • First-aid kit
  • Extension cords
  • Batteries - all sizes
  • Scissors
  • Grommet-maker
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Twist ties
  • Cellophane tape
  • White and black ribbon
  • Hammer, Nails, and Tacks
  • Screwdriver

When it comes to larger inventory and props, it may pay to just rent what you need rather than purchase. You might keep fabric for draping, special vases, and centerpieces, difficult-to-rent table drapes and skirts, and even a dais.

Things get worn and tired looking, and themes change like the weather. You don't need to keep a huge inventory, but no doubt, you will keep handy those special supplies you wouldn't want to be without.
Children's Birthday Parties and Venues
Children's Birthday Parties ? Plan, Plan, Plan
First things first. Decide on the number of kids to invite and prepare the invitations. Sending out birthday party invitations for your child's next celebration doesn't have to cost a fortune (although postage can dent your party budget). Whether you are planning the party yourself, or have decided to use the services of a professional birthday party planner, you already know there will be an expense for food, decorations, beverages, and perhaps entertainment. It's a good idea to give thought to how much of these items you can make.

You and your child can have fun making birthday invitations together. It builds a little suspense and anticipation in any child to prepare the invitations and send them out. There are many ideas for fun and easy party invitations you can make. Below is an example from a website you can check out should you decide to look into crafting your party invitations:

Cake and Gift Design Birthday Party Card

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Party Planning course?

Print out and make this free birthday party invitation featuring a birthday cake and gift.

In most instances, you can right-click on the card image below and choose to save it or print it! Print it onto a full sheet of paper, fold on the dotted lines, and then trim the edges so they are even. Don't forget to print out the envelope!

Keep in mind, some schools have a rule that if you invite more than half a class, you must invite the remainder to avoid the children feeling left out. Even if this isn't a hard rule, you may want to follow this guideline to avoid hurt feelings. It's best to not pass out party invitations at school.
The birthday party is always for the benefit of the birthday child and his or her friends. The children will remember only whether they had fun, not how many dust bunnies are hiding in the corners. A successful birthday party is one in which no tears are shed.

Sit down with your child and find out what type of birthday party he or she wants. This will set the theme and determine if your budget, creativity, and your energy can provide that type of party. If not, it's no big deal to scale down. Just don't put the idea for the costly stuff out there. If you don't mention clowns and pony rides, think about some other themes such as:

  • Pool parties
  • Country Western
  • Circus with clown entertainment
  • Pirate party
  • Slumber party
  • Bowling
  • Back-to-school Barbecue
  • Zoo
  • Princess
  • Fiesta

A word of advice: Try not to overdo. A Harry Potter party with Harry Potter decorations, Harry Potter games, Harry Potter toys, and -- you guessed it -- Harry Potter birthday cake served on Harry Potter plates. Way too much HP.

Some old party themes never die. If a few of your child's friends have already had pool parties or dinosaur parties, go ahead and have either one if that's your child's thing. Use your imagination and make it unique!

Keep in mind, if your child is fortunate enough to have a pool, it may be the color of weak tea by the end of the festivities. Call your pool maintenance person or hazardous waste experts to sanitize it for you.

In-house and Outside Party Venues

Whether you are planning an outside or in-door birthday party, don't go it alone. In birthday party terms, you can't judge a potato sack race, cut the cake, and pour the punch all at the same time. Enlist one or more grown-ups or older kids to help you. If the parents ask if they should stay for the duration of the party, don't be afraid to say, "Yes." There will be minor boo-boos and you cannot, CANNOT have too much supervision at pool parties. If you can't find anyone to volunteer their time, hire your babysitter, or in the case of the pool party, advise the parents up front you need help supervising the children in the pool.

Safety is a priority at a child's party. While you may not think of children's parties being dangerous, here are some tips to bump the safety factor up a notch:

1. If you plan to decorate with balloons, remember they are a major choking hazard for children. Keep the balloons beyond reach or use Mylar balloons.

2. Keep party favors age-appropriate. A small jar of Play-Doh, non-toxic bubble blowing solution, tennis balls or a deck of cards are in keeping with appropriate favors. Stay away from breakable toys.

3. If the party is being held at Chuck E. Cheese's, or somewhere other than the child's home, again, have more than one adult to help supervise children when they go to the bathroom, and to keep an eye on things. Ask each parent to tell you who will be picking up the child at the end of the birthday party.

4. Childproof your yard if games will be played outdoors. Any sharp object sticking up from the ground, or something that could cause a child to trip and fall, should be removed or safety-proofed.

Embedded somewhere deeply in all preschoolers and schoolchildren are manners. Remind your child to thank the child whose gift he or she has opened. It's a chance for a party planner or parent to write down the gift and the child's name. Until your child reaches the age where he or she can write out their own thank you cards, print out thank you cards on your computer and have the child sign their name.
Keep the food simple. If outdoors, hot dogs and burgers always go over well. Pizza, ice cream, chips, fruit, and juice are all favorites. Many parents and planners keep candy out of the food supply. Small bags of 100 calorie crackers or cookies are well-received. Keep a jug of water and a gallon of milk handy. Nowadays, many children prefer milk or water. Allot enough time for eating and playing games. Again, two hours should be sufficient.
When picking a location for the party, whether at home, the park, a family fun center, or a pottery painting shop, make sure the environment is appropriate for the children's age and energy level. Bring along a first aid kit, sanitary hand wash, and a package of facial wipes.
Most important, make sure the children enjoy themselves, and be sure to have a great time yourself.

Timing Children's Parties and Keeping Them Busy
Just like any other event, children's parties should also have timing built into the schedule. A seasoned birthday party mom once said, "The primary objective of a children's party is to ensure the overseeing adults stay alive and maintain an acceptable level of sanity, and that the house, after the party, remains an insurable piece of real estate." There is some truth in that; however, if properly planned and timed, the party can be much less wear and tear on the parents.
Think of all the parents who have spent hours baking delicacies, only to have the children wearing and throwing, rather than "eating." Stiff upper lip. Even though the fathers have gone fishing or golfing, or are at the local pub watching football, there exists damage control ideas to help smooth things over and keep the "little darlings" busy.

One of the secrets is to keep the children busy at all times without any calm in the proceedings. Unoccupied children cause problems ;-) When one activity winds down or ends, another must start. Mustn't give the little darlings time to think of what they would rather be doing, because heaven help us all if boredom sets in. Make a timetable. For example:

Sack race - 3:00 start/3:10 finish, Pin the nose on Johnny - 3:15 start/3:35 finish, Apple bobbing - 3:45 start/4:00 to 4:10 finish. Gift unwrapping - 4:15 to 4:35, cake and ice-cream 4:45 to 5:00. This merely gives you an idea of how a schedule can work to everyone's benefit. You can fill in with little gifts for the winners and gift bags for everyone to take home after the cake and ice-cream or on their way out the door.

Here are some ideas for gift bag fillings:

  • Pens that write different colors
  • If you're lucky enough to have Chinatown nearby, the little shops hold treasures for children's gift bags.
  • An inexpensive calculator
  • Clear lip gloss for children
  • Highlighter pen
  • Silly string
  • Elastic hair ties
  • A great key chain

Bottom line, keep children's parties flowing like race car grade lubricating oil.

Children's Party Tips and Ideas

Request that an adult accompany a child under five. Provide needs for the adults as well. For older children being dropped off, let the parents know when they can expect to pick up their children. Get back-up phone numbers when the parent RSVPs.

Portion control eliminates, "You got more than me," and soft foods eliminates the need for sharp objects at the table.Children should know the boundaries. It's good for future neighbor relations. Remember, children will most likely eat their recommended calorie intake at one party. You can't watch them every second. Always use that wonderful plastic on the table. Of course, paper plates and napkins save clean-up.There are always the exceptions. Be realistic and keep a few coloring books or videos handy.

Very Valuable Tips

FRIENDS - Make sure your child has plenty of friends at their party. Children need their best friends at this important time.
PRESENTS - It's as exciting for the little ones who gave their gifts, as for the child receiving the gifts. Train your child to be as enthusiastic about an inexpensive gift as the "in" and expensive gift. Even if it's a 50-cent piece wrapped in tissue.
GIFT BAGS - Journey to your local dollar store; buy up those small gift bags and fill them with inexpensive, brightly colored items.
NOISE - Can't live with it, can't live without it. Children love noisemakers -- an added surprise while you're cutting the cake. What can fare better than paper hats and noisemakers?
There you have it. Enjoy planning the birthday party. Take time to stand back and enjoy the rewards of your creative planning, and hard work.