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3-4 weeks before your party

Cuddle up with your child and choose a party theme from the Web site or from the 1-800-PartyShop catalog.

Create the guest list. Guests generally range from friends at daycare, school or the neighborhood, then add close relatives.

Pick the party date and time. Parties are generally 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours long.

Order party supplies, decorations, party favors, activities and prizes for games. Be sure to order enough tableware for the adults that will attend, as well. Don't forget to contact me and let me know what product you ordered so that you can receive your Theme Party Plan customized for your personal party!!!!

2-3 weeks before your party

Send the invitations. It is best to ask guests to RSVP to get an estimate of how many children to expect.

Decide on activities and games to play. I will have provided you with a Theme Party Plan by this time. If you need further advise or ideas on the games, please let me know.

Consider the age of the children and plan games and activities accordingly. Plan more games than you expect to use in case you run out of activities before the party is over.

Plan your menu.

Arrange for extra help on the party day from friends or relatives. (It is always a good idea to have help from adults who are not related to any of the party guests!!)

1 week before the party

Order cake from a bakery if you are not baking your own. Bake cake and freeze it, if making your own.

Make any other foods that can be made ahead of time and store foods in the freezer.

Write out a final schedule of activities for the party. Parties Made Simple provides a Free Theme-related Party Planning Guide with each Theme Party In A Box, filled with great activities, decorating tips and recipes.

Confirm any orders placed for the cake and/or party supplies.

Let siblings invite a special friend over for the day so they won't feel left out. They can either play apart from the party or they can be helpers.

2-3 days before the party

Buy remaining food for the party. Buy film and/or videotape.

Check batteries for the camera and/or camcorder.

Get an exact guest count. Call those who haven't responded.

Arrange to have balloons filled with helium to pick up the day of the party. It is fun to have each guest go home with a balloon.

1 day before the party

Finish decorating the cake, or pick up the cake from the bakery.

Make sure you have plenty of candles and matches.

Pick up helium-filled balloons.

Child-proof the party area.

Decorate any indoor areas (save outdoor decorating for the day of the party).

Prepare food that can be made ahead of time.

Party day

Prepare foods and beverages that could not be made ahead of time.

Take plenty of pictures and videos to commemorate this special day.

Plan a Nap for Yourself After the party!