I am so excited to share some children’s party planning advice and trend information from the best of the best. Kate Landers is a professional children’s party planner who believes every child deserves to be celebrated. And celebrated in style. Her talent and vision are inspiring and the results are simply stunning.

TSM: How did you start in the party planning business?

Kate: I began planning parties at the age of 10, when I would style birthday parties for my younger sister Julia. Whether it was an “Oscar Night” party or a something more simple, I always enjoyed it. My passion for party planning continued as I began to plan bridal showers, baby showers, graduation parties, and eventually my own dream wedding to my dear husband Ryan! It has only grown stronger with time, and children’s parties always remained a personal favorite. Finally, after my 30th birthday brunch, I was encouraged to take the leap and launch my own business doing what I am so passionate about–and I did–designing parties for children. Thus Kate Landers Events, LLC, was born!

I believe in creating experiences for children at their birthday celebrations, allowing them to feel as if they are living off the pages of their favorite storybook for a couple of hours, and planning the party to every last detail allows me to enhance this experience.

From my “Madeline”-inspired party (photos below) to to my “Marie Antoinette” party, my “Woodland Fairy” party (pictured above) to my “Ice Cream” party, you can see samples of the details I enjoy creating.

TSM: What are the unique challenges of planning parties for kids as opposed to adults?

Kate: Children’s parties can offer unique challenges when trying to create activities and games that are age-appropriate, especially when you have a wide age range. Therefore, it sometimes makes the most sense to have separate activities set up for the different age groups. (I see this a lot today when families are hosting joint birthday parties for two siblings of different ages with birth dates close together).

Another challenge is keeping a calm environment that is fun, celebratory, but not over-stimulating. Therefore it is best to keep a simple menu, don’t overbook too many activities or entertainment, and keep a smaller guest list to allow for everyone to enjoy the party and not feel overwhelmed by too much activity.

Because I believe every child deserves to be celebrated, and that each celebration can be custom tailored to the individual child and family (in terms of budget, age group, size of party, time and location of event, any allergies, likes and dislikes), I cater to the individual needs and desires of my clients. I also offer custom DIY manuals with my most elaborate, creative, custom suggestions that you can implement on your own–great for those who want a professionally styled party, but without paying for a full service party planner! (See my party planning services).

TSM: What themes are “hot” or “in” right now for children’s parties?

Kate: I definitely think that personalized cupcake toppers, coordinating labels (to stick on everything from napkin rings to paper cups or ice cream dishes), paper pennant flags and matching party favor tags are very popular. (There are a lot of DIY imprintable lines out there, perfect for those on a tight budget or timeline. And I am launching my own line very soon in The Shoppe.)

Another trend that continues to be seen at many parties for children are sweet table displays, usually with all sorts of candy, cookies, cupcakes and treats in the color-scheme of the party, displayed in clear-glass apothecary-style jars, often decorated with ribbon or custom printed signs identifying each type of treat.

I locally offer custom sweet displays, and nationally help with the design of sweet tables, even offering the custom ribbons and signs to add a personalized touch!

TSM: How are birthday parties “going green”? What are some tips to make a party more eco-friendly?

Kate: There are more lines of eco-friendly tableware that are out there, which is fabulous. People are trying to use those traditional plastic favor bags and replace them with an eco-friendly tote that is more practical and less wasteful, too. For that exact reason, I decided to offer a line of personalized party favor pouches in my shoppe, which can be customized with your choice of fabric, ink, font and ribbon (even custom artwork)!

To make your party a bit “greener,” I recommend using re-usable dishes (such as bpa-free melamine for the little ones, and even simple inexpensive china for older children) which you can wash and re-use on a daily basis. I also recommend re-purposing party decorations (like those infamous hanging tissue poms or bunting) by moving them to a child’s nursery or bedroom after the party, to enjoy for months (if not years) to come! I absolutely LOVE the bpa-free line of melamine tumblers and plates from Rice.

TSM: Can you give us a general timeline for planning? Like, when to send invitations, order cake, etc?

Kate: I always recommend allowing 2-3 weeks for ordering invitations (from the day you order until the day they arrive!) and sending them out 4 weeks before the party. If the party takes place during busy holidays, I recommend sending out a couple weeks sooner than that, or else e-mailing a save the date for people to mark their calenders.

In terms of when to order things, the earlier you order, the less frantic you will feel when the party comes closer. My greatest piece of advice is in terms of setting up. I recommend to start setting up the night BEFORE the party, because all too often people discover there is too much to do in the few short hours before the party begins. I believe it is important for the party hosts to enjoy the party as well, and this can help minimize their stress and increase their enjoyment!

TSM: My kids birthdays are only a month apart so I know we’ll do some joint parties. What are some cute boy and girl theme party ideas?

Kate: There are many joint parties these days! Often people will select a theme that is age appropriate for both children’s sets of friends, and then something that they will both enjoy. An ice cream party is great for both boys and girls. For a summer birthday, a pool party works well for brother & sister, and I have seen superhero & princess party combinations often, as well as an art party (like painting pottery).

I really appreciate Kate taking the time to answer our questions and share her tips and insight on planning children’s birthday parties. Keep up with Kate on the Kate Landers Events, LLC blog, shop at the Kate Landers Events website and follow Kate on Twitter.

Shop! Check out the Kate Landers Events Shoppe for supplies, party goods and planning services for classic children’s parties. Shop now and SAVE: Use the code TSM2010 for 15% off any purchase on the website. Code expires July 16.



Kate started The Shopping Mama™ in January 2009 when, after graduating law school, she traded in online legal research and writing for locating the best products for children. She shops for three kids ages 8, 6 and 3 from their home in Japan. Her military family is making the most of back-to-back overseas assignments by traveling every chance they get.

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  1. 1.

    I like the favor pouches.

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    I love the idea of using re-usable dishes and all these parties look amazing! Thanks for the ideas and inspiration!

  3. 3.

    Oh boy! Those sweet displays are to die for! Thanks to Kate for sharing!

  4. 4.

    Kate, thank you so much for sharing these tips! I’ve always been big on doing birthday parties huge with my kids and really love these ideas.

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    I love the classy and creative way you bring old world charm to todays children’s birthday party ideas.

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