A birthday gives you and others the opportunity to celebrate a person’s life, their pursuit of dreams or a purpose and their extraordinary impact on loved ones and the world. Whether it’s a milestone event or not, every birthday is a special one that deserves your full attention during the planning stage. You can make any birthday a fun, momentous occassion by simply guaranteeing that you have at least the following five “must haves” for the event:

A Suitable Location

Believe it or not, you must plan the location of the party months in advance. You need to make certain that the location can accommodate the number of expected guests, the age range of the guests, potential party activities and any local or long-distance travel considerations. You may need to rent a venue, which is difficult if the birthday falls on or near a national holiday or during a peak party month.

It doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about your own backyard, a public park, a community building, an entertainment center or party venue. When picking a suitable location, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re going to need a lot of space for parties that involve large groups of young children or adults or complex activities. If you want a party to include raucous party games, for example, then it’s best to choose a venue that has a lot of space or included entertainment options. Additionally, milestone parties for adults, such as the big 50 or 100, usually involve special extra plans. For example, if you want the party to coincide with a vacation, you must usually take into account traveling guests who need hotel accommodations or arrange for a meal, DJ and alcoholic beverages at a resort.

Party-Appropriate Decorations

Birthday parties typically have some sort of theme that the party planner can use to guide their other must have selections. The theme usually aligns with either the birthday celebrant’s interests or a milestone. It not only adds a personal touch to the party for the recipient, but it also helps you organize when trying to select fun and related decorations. Pick the wrong theme, and partygoers won’t be as engaged or entertained by the party.

What are some great decorations to think about for the upcoming party? Traditionally, a birthday party features at least a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” sign and colorful, theme-oriented balloons and streamers. Modern party balloon and streamer arrangements have become an art form in recent years. For example, you might create a complex, twisted balloon archway for people to walk through as they enter the party venue. Other decorations you might consider include name tags and placemats for young children, party hats, party poppers and a bubble machine.

Tasty Birthday Eats

Most birthday parties include at least beverages and dessert. For example, some party hosts only provide traditional drinks, cake and ice cream. Large venue parties typically include a pre-party meal and a variety of beverages and desserts. Guests often expect the presence of at least a large birthday cake. That said, you should never feel restricted when designing the party.

If the party recipient loathes cake and loves pies, for example, then create a birthday pie with enough extra pies for guests to enjoy a slice. Over the years, many party hosts have picked giant cookies, large pizzas and even massive fruit flower arrangements as alternatives to cake and ice cream. No matter what you choose, always find out beforehand if any guest has allergies or sensitivities that could ruin their fun and make alternative options available.

Gifts for Guests

People typically attend birthday parties because of their affection or love for the celebrant or out of a sense of obligation. Yet, they often expect to receive some sort of door prize or party favor as a form of appreciation from the host for their showing up and giving a gift.

Options vary based on guest ages and the party theme. For example, you might give a generic humorous toy or an educational gift like a book or craft kit. At a milestone party, you might give attendees personalized collectible or functional keepsakes that feature the event date or their names. At some parties, hosts even give out tickets at the door and spend a few minutes pulling ticket stubs and awarding raffle-style prizes near the end of the party.

Professional Photography Services

You can make any birthday more memorable with high-quality professional photographs. Some hosts give disposable cameras to guests to take casual shots, but they then lose a lot of time and money retrieving the cameras and printing and distributing the images. Some guests have no idea that they shouldn’t keep the cameras, which means you then lose all the associated pictures.

Instead, think about hiring a professional who can capture the important moments in the best light possible with several cameras and assistants or, best yet, a 3d photo booth that allows for fun casual shots by guests who can use custom options and props. Some photo booth vendors even ask guests to affix a copy of their photo strips to a keepsake guest book that you can then give to the celebrant that same day after the party ends.

As you can see, you don’t need a lot of “must have” elements to make a birthday party a success unless you’re planning an extravaganza. A relevant, enjoyable theme, a few decorations, some favorite treats, a bit of appreciation for each guest and professional photography can turn a party of any size into a joyful, memorable celebration!