You celebrate your pup every day, but on their birthday, they should feel extra special. Especially when it comes to big milestones! The perfect way to do that is to throw a pawty!
Pawty planning can sometimes seem overwhelming, but if you follow this guide, you’re sure to plan the best celebration your pup (and their friends) have ever attended.
Pick a theme
The first step in planning your pawty is picking a theme. Every pawty needs a theme, right? A theme will help set the feel for your pawty and keep cohesion among all your decorations and tasty treats (but more on those later).
For Ruby’s first birthday, the theme was “Come, Sit, Stay” and I paired it with a wide hue of summer colors and pawprints since her barkday is in August. I hosted the pawty in my backyard, so I wanted the color scheme to pop, and I also wanted to create a casual, open-house vibe where guests could come and go, but also feel they could stay as long as they wanted (even if it was into the wee hours of the night).
Tip: Pinterest is a great source of inspiration and DIY ideas to help keep your pawty within your budget. Check out my pawty board if you’re throwing a summer bash.
Invite all your pals
The guest list for a pawty is crucial. You want to make sure you invite all your pup’s friends, but if they’re social and have several circles you want to be cautious of everyone getting along.
I’ll admit, this (and the decorations) were the two things I worried about most. Well, I also worried about a dog getting out, so I guess those are the three things I worried about most.
We had 12 dogs, five kids, and around 40 adults attend our pawty. Thankfully, everyone got along great!
Tip: Make sure your location is spacious enough for your guests to spread their legs and play. This will help keep the pawty drama-free.
Serve all your favorite treats
For a lot of people, a party is all about the food. And a pawty is no different. Assemble a treat bar featuring all your pup’s favorites. Be sure to select a variety to satisfy all those puppy palettes – jerky, biscuit, freeze dried, beef, peanut butter, etc.
To spoof a candy bar, I found various treat jars at Target to display the treats outside and told my guests to help themselves. As special additions, I also served Bowser Beer and peanut butter flavored bubbles.
Once you have the pups taken care of, don’t forget about the humans! Having plenty of refreshments for them will help keep the pawty going.
Since the treat bar featured some special offerings, I decided to also create a signature cocktail for the humans – spiked strawberry spritzer – and have an assortment of finger foods ranging from cheese, crackers and fruit to pizza, dips, and jelly beans. Another party favor included our custom koozies featuring the birthday pups Ruby and her brother Max. The koozie colors matched our décor, had the theme imprinted on the back and had the pawty hashtag on the front.
Tip: If you want to create a custom koozie, I used 24hourwristbands.com. I created the initial design, but they cleaned it up a bit and I got endless proofs before printing. Once I gave final sign off, I received the koozies within a week.
Keep your guests entertained
To keep things lively, which isn’t really hard with 12 dogs, make sure your guests have options for activities. Things like a kiddy pool, sprinkler, balls and frisbees, a photo booth, and yard games can be fun things for the pups and humans to do. But make sure you’re prepared for when they’re done, otherwise it’ll look like everyone at your pawty went for a swim.
Don’t forget the cake
It’s not a celebration until everyone sings “Happy Barkday” and eats cake. For this tasty dessert, I wouldn’t worry about getting too big of a cake. You don’t want to over indulge your guests with something outside of their usual diet, and if you’re hosting in the summer everyone is watching their figure anyways.
To be safe with your cake selection, inquire about food allergies beforehand, or get something safe. Things like dairy, wheat, and eggs are common allergens.
I ordered the cake from Three Dog Bakery and selected a carob filling with white icing encrusted in nuts. It was a huge hit with the pups and plenty big. Ruby was eating leftover cake for a week!
Have plenty of water
Staying hydrated at a pawty is key (especially in the summer). With all the eating, drinking (bowser beer of course) and playing, your guests are going to need a lot of H2O. Make sure you have plenty of watering holes available and keep them fresh and filled at all times.
I used large, stainless steel mixing bowls and had them scattered around the yard.
Tip: If you want to relax and enjoy your pawty, consider enlisting some help. Whether you ask friends or family to help you keep an eye on the food and beverages or opt our route and hire a server, it’ll ensure you’re not constantly running around refilling food trays and getting drinks for your guests. With less worry, you can join in the festivities. After all, you put all this time and effort into throwing the best puppy pawty ever – you don’t want to miss it!
Take way too many photos
If you’re going to be throwing this amazing pawty, you need to make sure you document it with A LOT of pictures. Revel in your skills and get pics of your setup before your guests arrive. Then, make sure you capture candids and all the highlights, like guests playing games and the cutting of the cake.
I not only wanted to capture every moment of the pawty, but I also wanted my guests to be able to capture some photos too. I set up a photo booth and hired a local photographer I know that specializes in pet photography. The photo booth was a great opportunity for the pups and their humans to take family pics or join in with friends for group shots.
I assembled pawty favors for all the pups to take home with them, but I think these photos ended up being the best way to say “thank you” for coming to the pawty!
Have you thrown your pup a pawty? Any additional things to consider? Leave ’em in the comments.
Hi, I’m Melanie! An enthusiastic dog mom with a love for travel (especially when it’s dog-friendly). I live in Northern California with my mini Australian Labradoodle, Ruby, and when we’re not traveling or exploring our new hometown, you can find us practicing tricks, hunting for a new brunch spot or binge-watching anything new to relax and recharge.