Best Order of Events at a Kid’s Birthday Party

kid's party

There’s a lot that goes into planning a children’s party before the big day. From themes and venues to decorations and catering, it’s a big task to get everything ready.So you’re getting close to your child’s birthday and everything’s bought and prepared, but what do you actually do on the day of the party? We think the ideal order of events at a kid’s birthday party is…

  • 15 minute arrival window
  • 30 minutes for party food
  • 45 minutes for games and entertainment
  • 20 minutes to open presents and serve the birthday cake
  • 10 minutes for goodbyes and party bags 
We’ve created this guide to outline a great example of the order of events at a kid’s birthday party. We’ll go through how long the party should be, what time to start it and everything that should happen during the party. 
If you need some more help planning the party, check out our party planning timeline to make sure you’ve got everything covered. It even includes a printable party planning checklist to help you stay on track

Kid's Party Duration and Timing

Most children’s parties should last around 1.5-2 hours. This gives the kid’s plenty of time to have fun, but doesn’t create too much work for you to organise. 
The best time slots for a kid’s party are either 11am-1pm or 2pm-4pm. 
If you want to have the party at the start of the day so you have plenty of your afternoon left, go for the first option. The only disadvantage is that it crosses over a mealtime, meaning you may need to provide more substantial party food. If you want to serve just some light snacks and have plenty of time to get ready in the morning, go for the afternoon slot. 
If you need more help, take a look at our guide on the best time for a children’s party for each age group.

0:00-0:15 Let the Guests Arrive

Give your guests an exact start time for your party, but make sure you’re ready early. Aim to be prepared for your guests to arrive around 15 minutes before the start time just in case. 
Wait around 15 minutes after the scheduled start time before beginning any activities. 
This will give any late arrivals a chance to get there. But don’t delay too much or you won’t have enough time for the rest of the activities and food. This 15 minute provides some time for unorganised but supervised play time. But if you’re guests have all arrived before the 15 minutes is up, get the party started properly! If you finish ahead of schedule, you can always have some more unorganised play time at the end of the party. 

0:15-0:45 Party Food and Drinks

Leave around 30 minutes for the kid’s to enjoy some party food and drinks. We think serving party food is the first thing you should do after the children arrive. Usually everyone arrives to the party hungry so getting the food out of the way first means the kid’s can enjoy the party games and entertainment a bit more. 

But if you think it’s too early to serve food, you can swap this time slot with the games and eat afterwards. This is just a guide after all, do what works for your party and decide what order of events fits your child’s party best!

Kid's Party Food Tips

There are plenty of choices to make regarding the party food for your child’s birthday. 

Decide first if you’re going to hire a caterer or make the party food yourself. You can even order party food from your local supermarket that can be collected on the day of the party for a cost-effective but convenient option. Check out our ultimate party food guide to decide which option is best for you. It’ll give you an idea of how much food you need per child, where to get it and give you some more ideas!

What about the adults? Some parents think you should offer food to the adults helping out at the party. But what kind of food, how much and what if you’re on a tight budget? Take a look at our answers to these questions to help you decide if you should serve party food for adults at a kid’s birthday party

Children's Party Drink Ideas

If you’re planning a children’s birthday party, fizzy drinks are always popular, but not so healthy. Fruit juice is a better option, but a tad boring. So why not try this healthy strawberry and banana smoothie recipe? It’s easy to make in batches, tastes great and isn’t too unhealthy either! 

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie Recipe (makes 10 drinks)


  • Peeled banana
  • Strawberries 400g
  • Natural yogurt 3 tablespoons
  • Runny honey 1 tablespoon 

Blend 400g of ice with the rest of the ingredients and then garnish with some strawberries. 

order of events kid's birthday

0:45-1:30 Party Games and Entertainment

There are plenty of times of entertainment for kid’s birthday parties. You’ll need to allocate a set amount of time for the entertainment depending on which type you choose. But 45 minutes is usually a good rule of thumb for how long this should take at the party.

But what entertainment should you go for? If you’re looking to hire someone, you can go for a classic magician of DJ, hire a character appearance. If you want to keep things cheap then you can sort the party music yourself. Check out our guide to making the perfect party playlist.

You can also think about throwing some party games in too. These are great to keep the cost low, and give you more flexibility with the timings. We think these are the best party games for a children’s birthday:

  • Musical statues
  • Pin the tail on the donkey
  • Pass the parcel
  • Treasure hunt
  • Musical chairs
  • Hot potato

1:30-1:50 Birthday Cake and Presents

Now’s the best time to sing Happy Birthday and cut the birthday cake! If you’re struggling for birthday cake ideas then think about what hobbies, movies, books, or sports your child likes in to get some inspiration. Or you could even get their favourite photo printed onto their cake! 

If your child wants to open the presents at the party, this should be the next thing to think about when planning the order of events. Some children can get a bit shy about opening presents in front of everyone and other young kid’s can get a bit jealous too. So skip this step if you need to. Just remember to keep a track of the gifts so you can thank everyone later.

1:50-2:00 Home Time

So now it’s time to start wrapping the party up and think about saying all the goodbyes and thank-yous. 

But no children’s birthday is complete without some party bags!

Check out our complete guide to party bags for some help! It’s full of unique and classic party bag filler ideas, tips to stay under budget, and will tell you where to buy everything too!

Don’t forget to head over to the ultimate children’s party planning checklist for more tips, tricks and advice to help you plan the perfect kid’s birthday party. 

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