Birthday Dinner Party Planning Checklist


Whether you have four guests or 40, planning is the key to a successful birthday dinner party. Spreading out the necessary preparations over a week or longer gives you time to relax and enjoy yourself at the event without any last minute rushing to get everything done.


  • Decide on a location well in advance of the event, especially for larger parties that require location rentals. Reserve the restaurant or party hall as soon as you make your decision.

    An alternative is to host the party in your home. Plan to rent chairs and tables if you don't have enough seating for all your guests. Also plan for the after-party cleanup. Ask friends if they are willing to help, or hire a cleaning crew to handle the mess afterward.

Date and Time

  • Decide whether you want to host the party right on your birthday or on the weekend following or preceding it. People often find it easier to relax on the weekend when they don't have to worry about getting up in time for work the following morning. Don't schedule dinner parties for too late; aim for the average time people eat dinner--between 5 and 7 p.m.--so your guests don't arrive too hungry or decide to eat before they come. Consider a pre-dinner cocktail hour with hors d'oeuvres if dinner will be later.


  • Draw up your guest list. If you hold the dinner party in a cozy location, keep the guest list to the people closest to you. Include an RSVP date and phone number on the invitation, encouraging guests to let you know if they are coming or not. Once guests respond, you have the numbers you need to order food or finalize reservations. Send the invitations out at least two weeks before the party.


  • Restaurant dinner parties rarely require decorations, but halls and homes benefit from some festive décor. If you prefer a sophisticated party, centerpieces and place cards may be the only decorations required. Visit party stores for decoration ideas for themed or casual dinner parties. Prepare the decorations at least one week before the party. Purchase and make what decorations you can, and order any fresh flowers so they are ready for pickup the day before or morning of the party.


  • Restaurant parties require little food planning as guests choose from the menu. If you aren't hosting the party at a restaurant, you must decide whether you want homemade food or a catered event. Reserve your caterers as far in advance as possible to ensure they are available for the birthday. If you decide to make the food, keep it simple. Decide on a menu and make as many items as far in advance as possible so you aren't stuck in the kitchen on your birthday. Order the cake at least a week before the party and pick it up the day before. Getting the cake early allows the baker time to fix any possible mistakes in the order.

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  • Photo Credit Birthday cake image by Nikolay Okhitin from
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