How to Throw a Kid’s Birthday Party on Short Notice

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Sometimes life’s circumstances get in the way of your best laid plans—even if those plans include something as important as a child’s birthday party. Whether that child is your own, or you have a visiting guest whose birthday coincides with their stay, or you’ve just learned of a little person who won’t have a birthday celebration unless you do something to make it happen, there is a way to throw a kid’s birthday party on short notice.

Last Minute Birthday Party Ideas

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When faced with the reality that the party needs to happen PRONTO, you might be tempted to hop in the car and start running errands. Don’t! Sit down and make a plan. A few minutes of organized thinking will help you come up with a strategy that will actually save you time.

Last Minute Birthday Party Ideas

Your to-do list is likely to include:

  • Household spiff-up; hit the high spots!  Do a quick pick-up tour around the house by using something like an empty laundry basket; don’t take time to empty it now. Wipe down the kitchen countertops and table. Speed clean the bathroom; don’t forget clean hand towels and extra toilet paper. Sweep/vacuum floors.
  • Decide on a theme. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to be a grand idea. A theme will help you make other decisions. With a last minute party you’re not likely to have time for ambitious decorating and that’s OK. Your mantra should be “simplify”! You might be able to use an arrangement of stuffed animals, cars, games or something you already have. Add balloons and ribbon—they say “party” like nothing else.
  • Take advantage of free birthday party printables. This is an easy way to get great decorations that you can print and cut at home, so you don’t have to go to the store.
  • Decide on a menu. On short notice you might only serve cake (put it on a pedestal!) and ice cream but if you choose to include more, make it easy on yourself. Grocery store deli trays offer a variety of fruits, veggies and more. Another idea is to set up a food bar: pizza, sandwich, soup, baked potato, or ice cream sundae, etc. Guests enjoy customizing offerings. For kids, even a nut butter and jelly bar is fun when they get to choose flavors. Let guests decorate their own cookies/cupcakes with pre-made frostings and embellishments. That counts as a party activity, too and extras can be a take-home favor.
  • Plan a few age appropriate activities. Think of classic childhood games like dropping clothespins in a canning jar, pin-the-tail-on whatever, do an obstacle course in the backyard, have a coloring station. Give the kids pool noodles and balloons and tell them the balloons can’t touch the ground.

Last Minute Birthday Party Ideas

Of course enlist the help of willing family members or a close friend to pull off this quick party! Relax and try not to obsess over every little detail. If you act happy about the party, the guests will, too. The most important thing is celebrating the birthday child and you’ll get miles of smiles for that.

Oh! Don’t forget to pick up a present or two!


  1. I sometimes say lists save lives, or at least my sanity. Thank you for the inspiration words and great ideas too.

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  3. All I know is that I would be SO stoked to get those adorable little cakes–even though I am 25! Haha

    ~Cathy Mini~

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  5. Love these tips! Especially asking family and friends to help. I don’t know how many times my mama has come to my rescue. 😉

    I love those pretty cupcakes too. Too pretty to eat!

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