Birthday Party Planning 101: How Long Should the Party Last?

Jan Scott April 28, 2016
Girls Birthday Cupcakes Outside

This week I was working with a local mom’s group, teaching them the ropes of basic party planning, and one of the items that was up for discussion was the question of ‘how long should a birthday party last?’. There is not one perfect answer to this of course, but I provided a brief guideline based on personal experience.

Generally speaking, I think the younger the child the shorter the party, and I personally don’€™t feel that every friend from school needs to be invited to a birthday celebration, but I know that I may be in the minority with this viewpoint.

Here’€™s a quick look at the timing and guest count I suggested to these moms, based on the age of the birthday child:

Age: 1-2 years
Time of Day: After a nap
Duration: 1 hour
Number of Guests: Depends on the type of party. Parents are obviously invited and usually at this age it’€™s a family-focused celebration so use your best judgement for how many guests you think you can manage.

Age: 3-€“4
Time of Day: Mid-morning or late-afternoon
Duration: 1 ½ hours
Number of Guests: 4-6. Parties become more friend-focused at this age and I’€™ve always liked the idea of inviting the same number of kids as the age your child is turning.

Age: 5-6
Time of Day: Afternoon
Duration: 1 ½-€“2 hours
Number of Guests: 6-8

Age: 7-8
Time of Day: Early or late afternoon; early evening
Duration: 2 hours maximum
Number of Guests: 7-€“10

Age: 9-€“10
Time of Day: Late afternoon or early evening
Duration: 2-3 hours
Number of Guests: 10-12

What do you think? Do you agree with me? Do you approach parties differently? What is your favourite time of day to host a birthday party?

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