I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. With all of the great inspiration it gives me, it also leaves me feeling very overwhelmed and inadequate. I mean, do you really need to go all out for EVERY single holiday? No. Hell no. When does Pinterest make me feel my worst? When planning my kids’ birthday parties. Because as much as I want to throw a great celebration for my kids/husband/sister/etc., I live in the real world that has budgets and other restrictions such as raising a family and running my own business. So here are my tried and true tips for throwing a party on a budget. It may include a link or two to Pinterest, but I promise that they are only feasible ones. Girl Scouts Honor.
This is where Pinterest gets me. All of those adorable and perfectly coordinated cupcake toppers, banners, personalized EVERYTHING….sigh. But here are some easy and affordable ways to cut down on the cost of your decorations:
Get all your color coordinated paper products (and some plastic too!) from the Dollar Tree. For example, my boys love the ocean and we have thrown a whale/dolphin/shark themed birthday party a time or two. So all I do is head to the Dollar Tree and scoop up streamers, balloons, plates, napkins, and cups in shades of blue. Another option is to simply choose basic white or clear cutlery and serving wear so you can use it time and time again.
Really want something personalized? Here are my two favorite options. Collect your favorite photos of the birthday boy or girl and arrange them on a wall in the shape of their birthday age or first initial. Super simple and easy. You can also put them on a poster board if you don’t want to tape anything to the walls. My other favorite thing to do in order to add a splash of color to a party is put the birthday child’s artwork on display, such as transforming it into party bunting. Easy peasy.
Oh, and on the topic of balloons….everyone seems to love helium balloons. But here’s the thing: helium is getting to be very expensive since we are running out of it as a resource, and the helium leaks out of the balloon pretty quickly. I recommend tying together regular balloons and saving yourself some hassle and money all at once.
The cost of feeding a group can really add up, especially if you are catering a party. That’s why we always cook for our parties with a little bit of help from the store (I am so NOT a baker and leave room in my budget for that). I take full use of my Costco membership and buy things in bulk that will appeal to all different ages at the party. Here are some of my favorite menu options:
Brunch—Homemade muffins (using a boxed mix, because as I mentioned before, baking is not my forte), frittatas, fruit salad, green salad, pre cooked ham from Costco, juice and coffee….and champagne, of course.
Italian—Frozen lasagna premade from grocery store, sliced Italian bread, green salad, platter of buttered noodles, wine, iced tea.
All American—Pulled pork in the slow cooker, rolls, roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, baked beans, fresh fruit, beer, soft drinks
Mexican—Ground beef tacos, grilled veggies, taco toppings (cheese, lettuce, tomato), tortillas, cheese quesadillas, guacamole, salsa, beer, margaritas, juices.
Breakfast party—Bagels, yogurt, fruit, coffee, juices, DIY cereal bar.
Oh, and about those cakes. My trick? Get a basic cake frosted in a color that matches the party theme, and then top it with small toys or figurines that go with the party theme. I got this cake from Mariano’s for $15 and the toys for $3. $18 awesomeness!
Depending on the age of the birthday child and his/her friends, you might not really have to do anything for activities other than put out some toys. But if you have an older and more high maintenance bunch, I like to choose from an array of different activities using what you already have at home depending on your party location. Some of our favorites include obstacle courses, sports games, and Lego and other brick building contests.
I also like to put out a craft for kids to do, especially since it serves as an adorable favor that they can then take home (buh bye, goodie bags!). Simple craft ideas that you can alter to fit the party theme (princess, animal, super hero, etc.) include puppets, masks/hats, bookmarks, etc. I like to buy different craft supplies either online from Oriental Trading or in store at my local Michael’s location.
If you are reading this post you are obviously looking for ways to stretch your dollar, and what better way than to win a free copy of Dr. Seuss’s Happy Birthday Baby! Simply share (in the comments section below) your favorite way to stay on a budget while party planning to be entered to win. The winner will be chosen via www.random.org on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 and contacted via email.
Oh, and don’t forget to stick to a budget when you are attending parties, too! Here is my secret weapon birthday gift that only costs me $15!
For other birthday party planning tips, be sure to check out my top suggestions about other ways to throw a birthday party on a budget.
Happy Planning…and am I invited to the party?!? 😉
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