QUICK TIPS: Birthday Party Planning Age-by-Age

Whether you hosting your kid's birthday party at your home or at the local party venue, planning a great birthday party takes time. To help you with your birthday party planning mission, here are simple useful tips to help you make decisions based on your child's age. 

Age 1  |  Ages 2-5  |  Ages 6-8  |  Ages 9-12  | Ages 13-15  | Ages 16+
Photo by Gina Risso Photography

Photo by Gina Risso Photography


The venue: The best location for your baby’s first Birthday Party is home.

Party time: Mid-morning or mid-afternoon works well. Very important to avoid nap times.

Party theme: Make sure the decorations are safe for small children.

Party guest list: Avoid inviting to many people. Family and close friends would be great company to share this event with.

Party food: Should include some simple party snacks for adults and small children.

Great party tips: Charge your camera and video camera batteries. Rearrange your furniture to make space for kids to crawl around safely.

AGES 2-5

The venue: Your home or small party place that offers party organization and help of party coordinators.

Recommendations: Bay Area Discovery Museum, Playland Sausalito, Tutu SchoolArk Row in TiburonRecess Urban Recreation, Pump It Up and Peekadoodle Kids Club.

Party time: The best time to host a party is when your toddler is most happy and active in mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Party theme: For home celebration choosing a party theme is the first step in planning your event. Many venues offer party themes that will make the birthday party even more special.

Party guest list: Invite close family and friends of the child with their parents.

Party food: Include traditional finger foods with fruits and veggies trays.

Great party tips: Chose venue that is spacious to accommodate parents. Bring food and refreshments for kids and for adults.

AGES 6-8

The venue: At home or local party venues with play areas and fun activities.

Recommendations: I Made It! Glass Creations, Poekie Nook, MVCode, Play-WellThe Cyber GarageMEGA GymnasticsMorning Star Farm, Art MonsterSan Francisco ZooFarallones Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center and Studio 4 Art Novato.

Party time: Weekends daytime would work best.

The party ideas: Art party, gymnastics, trampoline park, indoor play structures.

Party guest list: Avoid inviting too many people so you will be able to organize a great event with limited or no help.

Party food: Many venues offer party menu with various choices for your convenience.

Great party tips: Advise guests dress accordingly for active or art parties (sometimes little artists are a little messy). When hosting birthday party at home hiring party entertainers will keep your guests happy.

Photo by Ronnie Sharpe

Photo by Ronnie Sharpe

AGES 9-12

The venue: Fun activities followed by a sleepover party at home. 

Recommendations: San Rafael GymnasticsThe Cave, Andrew's CampsCountry Club BowlITK CulinaryMarin TreksMcInnis Park Golf CenterCalifornia Academy of Science, Exploratorium and Marin Humane Society.

Party time: Friday evening, weekends

The party activities: Movies, bowling, dance or sports activities.

Party guest list: Invite as many guests as your house will comfortably accommodate.

Party food: Pizza, popcorn, ice cream would be a total hit for pre-teens.

Great party tips: When inviting for sleepover, provide a list with necessary items to bring (sleeping bag, flashlight, pillow, toothbrush). State clearly drop off time in the evening and pick up time in the morning.

AGES 13-15

The venue: Entertainment venue or cool party rental.

Recommendations: Circus CenterHouse of AirProof LabJapantownAquarium of the Bay, Alcatraz Island, Planet Granite and Angel Island State Park.

Party time: Teenegers are more flexible but would prefer late afternoon or evening time.

The party: The best party would be something a little bit competitive, like go cart racing, laser tag, trucks with popular game consoles.

Party guest list: For this age group inviting between 10 and 12 friends is perfect.

Party food: Pizza, burgers, sandwiches

Great party tips: To select the best party time slot for your upcoming event it is recommended to reserve your party 4-6 weeks in advance.

AGES 16+

The venue: Party venue that would accommodate desired number of guests. The best party would be a surprise party if hosting at home.

Recommendations: Driven RacewaySea Trek KayakingMidway PaintballCal Skate and Beyond Escape.

Party time: Evenings

The party: Dance party, luau theme pool party, backyard movie night with clips of favorite home videos and pictures.

Party guest list: Inviting family and friends. Ask family to help with party preparation as well as keeping it a secret.

Party food: The food served should be chosen based on party venue and time. Might include only traditional finger food and snacks or full course dinner for big birthday bash.

Great party tips: To make a party more special ask guests to participate in the party theme and dress accordingly with the party theme.