Math in Real Life: Planning a Party

At one point in our life or another, we as adults have been forced to throw some type of party. Maybe it’s a New Year’s Eve party for friends or a birthday party for one of our children. What most children don’t realize is that throwing a party takes quite a bit of math related planning. You can help your child practice using real life math by letting them plan a party of their own.

Setting a Party Budget

Start by deciding how much money you can afford to spend on the party. Then let your child decide what he will serve for food and how many people he will be able to invite. Make sure he thinks about whether the food he has chosen will be enough to feed all the people he has invited. He may have to add up the food to find the total cost.

Of course, your child should also plan for favors, decorations, games, and invitations in his party budget.  All of these things need to be added up and subtracted from the amount of money he has to spend. If your child goes over budget, encourage him to either remove people from his invitation list or find less expensive items to purchase.

Planning the Party Events

A major part of hosting a successful party is having the party events planned out in advance. Have your child choose a time for the party to start and end. (Let them choose whatever times they want. They will figure out quickly if the party needs to be longer or shorter based on the events they want to include.) Next let them plan out the exact times that different party events will start and finish. Remind them to include important things like eating the food or playing party games. (You may need to give them reasonable amounts of time for different activities in this step. Children may not have a good sense of how long it takes them to do things like eat a meal, but this is a great chance for you to help develop that sense.) You can also use this step to review elapsed time by having your child write down the start and stop time for each activity and then figure out how long that activity took.

Throw the Party!

Once your child has planned out his entire party, let him purchase the supplies and prepare for the party. He could help make the food, put together party favors, decorate, and set up the games.  He could also help write the invitations to send out. Then let your child run the party himself once it starts.

Planning a party not only reviews math skills like elapsed time and money, but it will also be a great confidence builder. Your child will be so proud of the fact that he was able to throw a party on his own! What other real life math tasks do you let your child help with?

Photo by:  Maegan Tintari



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