5 Tips For Last Minute Party Planning

My boy just turned 8 last week. His little sister and I went to his school to surprise him with a birthday cake I had customised from Cupcakes by Sonja’s, a tall chocolate cake with his favorite marshmallow frosting. The cake inside was done just right: soft, moist, delicious and very chocolatey, no wonder the kids from his class wiped it out in no time!

Emilio's Sonja cake

That night, we celebrated at home with a simple dinner with close family and friends (just 10 of us) and he got to blow out another candle. There’s no such thing as too much cake, right? Especially when it’s your birthday!! This one is Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake by  Roshan—luxuriously rich if I may say, so if you like your cakes sweet and decadent, this is it!

Emilio's Roshan cake

I thought that was the end of it. Since he had told me that all he wanted on his birthday was a cake at school to share with his friends. No fuss. Thank goodness, I thought; I was off the hook!

Or so I thought… because he changed his mind soon thereafter! My boy, a sweet charmer, asked me if he could have a “real party” with his friends at home. And so there goes my few free hours out the window! I had a few days to prepare for his Saturday birthday bash!

Saturday came and it was fun. But not without a few hitches! There were more kids than what was expected (he said he invited only 8 and a total of 18 came!) and I had a packed schedule that day.

Emilio's Birthday 009

How did I manage it??? With lots of willpower and help! And mostly, keeping things in perspective: to stay true to the purpose of the celebration (which is to let the birthday boy enjoy and have fun) and not go over the top with party planning.

Party planning for me needs to be practical and not just festive. Trust me, I like things to look nice and pretty of course, but I also work with a sensible budget! 🙂 The key is finding the right balance in preparations. And having a few tricks to make an event a success, even if you are given only a moment’s notice.

So what are my tips for last-minute party planning?

1. DIY according to your capabilities.

I’m no beginner to birthday parties, having three kids and so many birthdays in the last twelve years. But let me the first to tell you that I’m not the master crafter or the best home baker out there. I am, at best, an event organizer—which means I know who to tap to gather my party essentials.

Besides the time crunch, there were a few extra hurdles. My boy’s current obsession is a game I am not familiar with. I don’t play video games AT ALL, so I had no idea what he was talking about. He wanted a “Clash of Clans” party. What was that??  Of course, Mummy here had zero clue what that meant!

I called my ever reliable friend, Maan of Party Starters and explained to her the situation. Not only did she understand what the theme was, she had something ready for me quickly! She had exactly the materials we needed to make this Clash of Clans party come to life.

Emilio's Birthday 056

Emilio Clash 1

Party Starters has always helped me in my previous parties.  Their DIY Kits have been my secret lifesaver for my past birthday parties too.

Birthday cake and cake pops on a stick from Coco Cakes, Piñata and Masks, Swords from Party Starters. 

2. Have a theme to ground your planning.

I’m a very visual person, so I like to imagine how things will look like. A theme guides me to the details I need to work on to make the party a special one.

The details need to be thoughtful and not complicated. Take a look at this simple hot air balloon centrepiece, which is, I am told, an important part of the game:

Emilio's Birthday 002

And the kids were thrilled too to see familiar Clash of Clans icons such as these gold coins and arrowheads matched to their favorite candies:

Emilio's Birthday 024

In short : use your theme to tie up all the party essentials in an easy but cohesive way. And just keep it simple!

Emilio's Birthday 004

Emilio's Birthday 019

3. Stick to tried-and-tested food favorites.

For children’s birthday parties, the simpler the food, the better.

Kids’ food is fairly basic, but it doesn’t need to be boring. They also don’t need much to be impressed. My go-to menu for kids’ party is one with wholesome, tasty, and easy-to-eat choices.

I chose my childhood favorites : spaghetti with meatballs, chicken lollipops, beef nachos from Gourmet Garage Catering and made sandwiches with homemade cheese pimiento and rainbow bread from Nicole Ortega.

Emilio Food

And of course, this is also the best occasion to include treats too like chips and donuts!

Emilio food2

4. Have a party plan.

It doesn’t matter how formal or casual your party is, you need a plan.  I didn’t hire an actual entertainer or magician or mascot, but I made sure I had a party host, someone who can lead the kids’ games, give away of prizes and to just keep the party rollin’! (Admittedly, Mummy here can’t do it all!)

Emilio Host

Talking about having a party plan, one must also be ready for things not going according to plan! Eight expected guests felt manageable when this party was being talked about. Eighteen kids arriving? Now that was a little surprising and overwhelming!

Emilio's Birthday 236

5. Allocate your budget wisely.

As I said, I choose to be practical with parties. This means, I will save where I can and splurge on a few special items. I didn’t bother with the venue decor anymore (notice there are no flying balloons, big pompoms, loud banners etc?) since I knew that’s not really what matters most to the children.

What I had were a lot of printables and giveaways which had the theme Clash of Clans all over it.

Emilio Clash 2

And, really, just lots of fun games and activities as these are the things that excite the kids more!

Emilio Clash 3

Emilio Clash 4

And if you still have a few extra left to spare, I will also say: hire a good photographer. This allows you, the host, to enjoy the party as it happens and, after that, to have beautiful photos to commemorate it with—and you get to be in the photos too! We know it’s not easy to be in the picture when you’re the one in charge of everything, so might as well leave this duty to an expert (or ask a friend who has good enough photography skills to do it for you). This is one less thing for you to micromanage.

Do you have your own party planning tips? Share with me in the comments!

Party Directory:

Party Starters
Email: partystartersmail@gmail.com

Gourmet Garage Catering
Mobile: +63 918 495 2999

Nicole Ortega
Mobile: +63 927 485 3399

Cupcakes by Sonja
Mobile: +63 917 535 3451 

Coco Cakes
Mobile: +63 917 532 7472

Homemade by Roshan
Mobile: +63 917 833 6286

Windsor Crystal Chairs — Picnic Chairs and Tables
Mobile: +63 917 673 8442

RR Barretto Photography
Mobile: +63 917 724 0627


  1. Hello! May I ask where you got your Green and Orange cups? I am having a dino party soon and need those exact same colors! S&R only has those big red cups! Thanks!

    1. Hi Reicelle, I got those cups a long time ago from S&R too! Maybe you can call them and request for your colors? Or you can order from Party Starters – they have all the colors available!

  2. AAaah I love this post — even if I’m stumbling upon it a year late. I’m a DIY party mom myself and now planning my soon-to-be 4 year old.

    What’s your take on hosting parties with kids + family? I have the biggest immediate family I know & want to invite just kids this time. What’s the best, most economical way to do this? With friends and family, our guest list easily runs to 70 pax.

    1. Hi Tina! The number of guests should vary depending on the type of party you plan to host. In my case, for the 1st and 7th year birthday parties, my guests can number from 40 PAX TO 100 PAX (or even more!) But for those other “in between birthdays”, I really just try to limit the guests and invite only close friends or classmates – 20PAX to a max of 35PAX (and that includes the parents / yayas already). I like to keep my parties small and intimate, because I find that in that way the child gets to enjoy his / her friends more and the party too! Good luck in your party planning! xxx

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