Thursday, May 5, 2022

Ten tips on how throw an amazing party on a budget

My favorite tips to throw an amazing party on a budget 

I had the opportunity to go through some older posts this morning.  Eight years ago this week I wrote a post about my tips on throwing a party on a budget. Since it has been quite awhile, and I still stand behind these tips, I thought it would be a great time to re-share the post, and update it for 2022. 

First of all I am going to share with you a little secret.  Do you sometimes see beautiful themed  parties on the blogs and Pinterest, and feel in adequate because your parties don't measure up? While those pictures of parties are beautiful to look at, many of them cost a pretty penny to put together. Now the secret...  Most kids  really do not  care about all the details. They do not even notice if things are not perfect. They just want to eat the treats that are on those perfect dessert tables. They are just as happy with a cake that is a bit crooked as they are with  a high priced perfect one.  So the next time you want to throw your child a birthday party, just do the best you can. If it makes your child happy, then you had a successful party.  

Tip #1 The Dollar Tree and Dollar Spot at Target have almost all the supplies you will need at a fraction of the cost of the party store. When I am planning a party, The Dollar Tree is always my very first stop. They carry plates, plastic table covers, napkins, cups, plastic silverware, themed items, streamers, trinkets, and so much more.  The Dollar Spot often carries many themed items that are perfect for goody bags, and they often go on clearance, so you can sometimes pay only .30 to .50 for each item. 

Tip #2  If your child has their heart set on themed tableware, compromise, and buy one or two themed items such as the plate or napkins.   Color coordinate your themed items with plain color items.  The plates will be covered with food while they are eating , and then thrown in the trash when they are done. Wouldn't you prefer to spend $1.25 for 16 plain plates, instead of $4 for 8 just because it has a picture of a princess or ninja turtle.

Tip #3 Recycle cardboard and other items, and make your own   decorations.  It may take a little bit of time, but you can make them for very little money.  My kids and their guests have always loved the unique decor we have at our parties. I used old cardboard boxes to make a Triceratops, and a six foot T-Rex for my son's dinosaur party. As you can imagine, the boys were beyond thrilled.  I used paper mache to make the Pokeballs at our Pokemon party.  All I needed was a few balloons, some old newspaper, and  some paint.  We had to make our own falling food at our Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs party, since it was such an unique theme. We used cardboard, poster board, and card stock to make the food,  and hung them from the ceiling with thread.  I recycled a few long boxes to make the life size surf boards that we used at my daughter's Beach Bash Birthday.

Tip #4  Do not bother to buy the cardboard party hats with the elastic.   The elastic hurts, and kids really do not like them very much.  Instead why not make a hat or accessory for the kids to wear.  Not only will the kids be a lot happier to wear something fun at the party, but they can use them again when they play dress up. When my oldest was three, she had a Madeline party. All of the girls loved their yellow felt Madeline hats.  I used craft foam to make Scooby Doo ears and ribbon to make the  collar for my son's Scooby party.  My youngest was so excited to wear her tulle Tinkerbell skirt and star crown at her Tinkerbell party. I remember her wearing the skirt  for days afterwards. Guests at the unicorn party loved that they got to wear their very own unicorn horns made with a dollar store headband, felt and yarn.

Tip #5  Make up your own activities using items you already have at home.   We set up stuffed animals all over the house and backyard for the Safari party.  My son really enjoyed leading all of his friends on a Safari tour.  One of the games we play at almost all of our parties, is the Pin the Tail game.  I use poster board to make a game matching the theme.  The lion in the picture was actually used twice. It was used for both our Safari, and our Zoo party. Some of the other Pin the Tail games have been pin the tail on Pikachu, pin the hat on Madeline, pin the rocket on the moon, and  pin the cherry on the top of the sundae.  The dinosaur dig was super easy to set up. We had to do it in the garage since it was raining too hard to go to the sandbox.  We hid some dinosaur skeletons in a large box of sand.  Each of the boys had a plastic shovel and paint brush, so they could  become pint sized Paleontologists.  Using a dollar store hula hoop and some rope, I put together the perfect lasso, for our cowgirls to try and lasso the foam board horse.

Tip #6  Use props, and make your own photo booth.  I have been taking photo booth type pictures years before it became a fad.  One of my favorites  has to be the year my son turned one.  The Teletubbies were very popular then, and all of the guests were three or younger.  They all happily posed as the baby in the sun. Those photos made a really cool scrapbook page.  My daughter looks teeny next to the very large T-Rex from the dinosaur party.   I made a cardboard corral for the horse party.  Each of the girls got to have their picture taken while  sitting on Buttercup the horse that my daughter got for her birthday. (I found it for 50% off the day after Christmas. Score!)  You may be wondering what is going on in the last picture.  That is the monkey cage we used at the zoo party.  A friend of ours is a rep for a blinds company, and had many long thin boxes we could use to make the cage.  The monkey in the picture was actually a great investment several years ago when I bought it for  $10.  We have used it for four different parties. It has made an appearance at both luaus, the safari and the zoo party.

Tip #7  There is no need to waste money buying those plastic themed bags and fill them with plastic trinkets that the kids are just going to lose and break.  It is possible to make a very nice goody bag that matches your theme for not much money.  We found almost all of the items in the Beach Bash tote bag at the dollar store.  The girls decorated the flip flops with fabric scraps as their craft. The frisbees were decorated with details of the party, and they were  used as paper plate holders during lunch. Also included were a bottle of bubbles and a sun visor. Total cost for this goody bag was only $4 per person.   The brown paper bag owls were from our Woodland Party.  Inside  was a notebook with deer pictures all over the cover, a necklace and a ring. The girls also got garden pad in the shape of a frog that were on clearance for .25 each.  Total cost for this goody bag was $3 per person.  I do admit to spending more on the Art themed bag from her art party. My daughter only invited a handful of girls. She wanted the bag to be filled with art supplies. The paint palette is only $1.29 at Michaels. The flip flops, colored pencils and wooden frames were all $1 each. The girls decorated their flip flops again at this party.  The paintbrushes are from Ikea, where a pack of 5 brushes in only $1.99.  The tote bags were leftover from the Beach Bash, so they did not cost anything this time around. Total cost for these goody bags were about $6.50, but every single item in it can be used again and again.  

Now some BONUS tips to use during the party 

Tip #8 One thing we did at all of our parties over the years was have the birthday child sit in a special chair.  The guests should  all sit on the ground or floor so everyone can see the opening of the gifts. 

Tip #9 To lessen hurt feelings, put the names of all of the guests in a cup. Draw their names one by one to determine which present to open next.  When their name is drawn they can go up and sit by the birthday child while the gift is being opened. Take a photo of the guest, birthday child and gift.  Doing this  makes it much easier to remember who gave which gift after the party. You can also send a copy of the photo to the guest in their thank you card. 

Tip #10 Use a sharpie to put the guests' names or initials on as many things as you can.  There will always be someone who loses their cup, hat, and even goody bag.  Doing this will cut down on the number of cups that are used, and it will make it easier to find those lost items. 

I am still using many of these tips to the present day.  While all my children and my bonus children are grown up, I am still putting together theme parties.  I definitely still go to the Dollar Tree for most of my items, and I still like to make decor like my Cinderella Tower Photo Booth. This summer we are throwing two birthday parties.  One will be a Victorian Halloween (yes in the summer, but it is what the birthday girl wants) and a Taco Fiesta birthday party.   I will be sharing both posts and printables for those parties soon! 

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