Posts in the ‘Party On A Budget’ Category
Melissa Newell from My Party Passion and our new budget party contributor, has written about inexpensive ways to serve summer snacks. Some great ideas here so take it away, Melissa!
Summer time means fun outdoor parties! You don’t have to break the bank to find creative ways to serve food at your party! Here are some examples of budget friendly way to serve snacks at your next party.
Create a "snack shack" using inexpensive beach buckets and shovels. I used little Dixie Cups for our young guests to fill up and keep refilling. BONUS TIP: Put out a sharpie pen for the kids to write their names on their individual cups so they can reuse them and you save on paper goods!
Keeping the bugs away from your food is important during summer parties. Standing there swishing them away all day is not in the plans! You can find these large food tents at stores now and they're very inexpensive!
Or maybe using individual paper food containers is your thing. These are very handy for serving salads, fruits, and more.
If you are like me, you want to reuse all your party gear as much as possible to get the best bang for your buck!
These push pops are EVERYWHERE now and inexpensive to purchase! Instead of using them just for sweet treats, why not put your fruit in them? Put them on ice and the kids can come and grab a healthy snack when they want – keeping them cold is the key!
Again, no buggies feasting on your fruit either! BONUS TIP: Freeze these babies with some grapes and break em out on a HOT DAY – kids will love ya!
I hope I have inspired you to be creative in your next outdoor Summer party! Next month I will be sharing some tips for throwing a fun backyard party for your kids using dollar store noodles! Until then – Party On Friends!
Melissa Newell from My Party Passion knows her way around a budget party. She's added 42 fantastic parties to our site so far. Because of her expertise, I've invited her to be our new budget party contributor. Welcome, Melissa!
Melissa is a big fan of the dollar store. So below are her:
TOP 16 DOLLAR STORE ITEMS FOR THROWING A TERRIFIC PARTY!
Let’s face it, most of us want to style and host a fabulous birthday party for our children but want to keep the budget within reason. With these items, you can style a terrific party for $15 or LESS!
1. Plastic Table Coverings – These are one of my FAVORITE items at the dollar store (although they tend to be thin). I have used these for table covers, draping them to make a curtain, cutting them in ½ for chair coverings, cutting them up to use as “fluff” into goodie bags. BONUS TIP: Grab a few different colors and layer them for a POP look!
Here I used them as a curtain...2. Candles Either the smaller tea lights where you get 10 in a package or the bigger colored candles – all can add ambiance to your event. (Just please remember to keep away from children and flammable items.) 3. Glass Vases – Not just for the obvious flowers, use them to put candy in for your sweets table. Wrap a ribbon around them to add color. Use them to put breadsticks in or other food items or for centerpieces.
Here's a recent centerpiece I made...4. Paper Plates, Cups and Napkins – Besides the obvious, I have used the square paper plates on a corkboard for a backdrop. Also, I've used round ones for a craft – I had kids color on them and made masks.
5. Plastic Serving Pieces – I'm loving all the variety of plastic serving pieces that my dollar store is offering these days. Cleanup can be a big hassle sometimes, so I will (not all the time) buy the plastic serving trays and utensils that can be discarded. BONUS TIP: Remember you can always spruce up your plastic serving trays with a piece of paper on the bottom of them coordinating with your theme like I did here.6. Bamboo Skewers – Ah, the tried and true bamboo skewer. You can usually get a package of 25 or 50 of these babies at the local dollar store. Besides using them to skewer your yummy food, I use them for party picks – adding a paper flower or die cut glued to the top or sticking into a vase with your flowers or here into a pie! 7. Construction paper/tag paper/poster board – I like to use these for making placecards, tags, goodie bag tags, food tents – the possibilities are endless!
8. Crepe Paper – Not just for hanging and twisting over your table. Think out of the box! Use this inexpensive item to hang behind your dessert or main table for a backdrop. Here I used some to make cute pom poms.9. Balloons – You don’t need helium for balloons to make an impact! All the big party planners are using them for backdrops (blown up and pinned to boards). Or you can blow them up and tiethem to your bamboo skewers. BONUS TIP: Putting a marble in them, blow up and hang from ceiling (marble helps them not to blow all over the place).
10. Picture Frames – The local dollar store has a TON of different frame choices! I use them not only to display a picture (maybe of the birthday child), but to display signs, and as serving trays. Buy a few of them and use them as a backdrop with coordinating paper. BONUS TIP: Put a pretty patterned paper inside them before using as a tray, adds POP to your table.11. Brown Paper Bags – You can usually find these in quantities of 10 or 20. These are great for a craft or goodie bags. Use them for popcorn or snack items that kids can fill themselves.
Here I used them as goodie bags...12. Clothes Pins – One might ask, clothes pins, huh? Well I use them for holding the goodie bags shut while attaching a tag with the child’s name on it (see photo above). You can also use them for hanging up décor from a string above a table. BONUS TIP: Use your Washi tape or paint and decorate the pins before using.
13. Ribbon – I could probably write an entire blog post on ribbon alone! Packages, napkin rings, crafting, around glass vases, goodie bags… you name it!
14. Brown Craft Paper or Wrapping Paper – Our dollar store has a good selection of wrapping paper. I use this for backdrops, wrapping boxes to give items height on my food table, and table coverings (instead of plastic table coverings). BONUS TIP: For children's parties, wrapping paper turned over so the white part is showing is a great way to cover a table. Throw out some crayons and markers and it entertains them while the rest of the party arrives!
Here I used wrapping paper as my table covering...15. Themed goodie bag stuffers -- We all know we can find fun candies, bubbles, etc. at the dollar store. But remember, sometimes less is more…Some silly string with a few candy items is all you need for the kids to have fun!
16. Tissue paper -- This is my all-time favorite item! You can find an array of colors at the dollar store! Making the tissue paper pom poms and flowers for a party adds so much excitement and depth to a backdrop!
Thank you, Melissa, for these wonderful tips. I will be visiting my local dollar store with your shopping list in tow. And I can't wait to read your next budget party post!
Melissa N from My Party Passion is my go-to gal for beautiful parties on a budget. She knows how to stretch a dollar better than anyone. Well, she's done it again with the Woodland Fairy Party she threw for her daughter over the weekend, and she is here to tell you all about it.
Over the weekend our youngest daughter turned 3!
She loves to watch her older sister's DVD of Tinkerbell and asked me, back in February, if she could have a fairy party. Of course I can do that, I said. HOWEVER, our "Samantha" aka Sammie, is not a girly girl....so I needed to change it just a little, and went with a Woodland Fairy Party theme.
Right away I knew that I would be using elements from our yard/woods to help create the perfect setting for the party. If you are familiar with my parties, budget is very important to me, but so is quality. I challenge and pride myself on styling and executing a top notch party on a not so top notch budget. Once I got my wheels turning there was no holding me back on this one!
Starting Point: The first thing I do is always write down all my ides in a notebook and brainstorm before buying anything. Impulse buys can turn out expensive and sometimes a waste of time. A routine trip to our local Christmas Tree Shop gave me the idea for more natural colors for the party. Greens, yellows, oranges and reds. I found these beautiful huge butterflies and flowers there for $ 2.49 a piece (granted it was 3 months until her party).
Mushrooms: Another trip to the local Dollar Tree gave me the idea for these brown "natural" looking mushrooms. The idea came to me to use these moss planters for mushroom tops and also for snack bowls. I took two Dollar Tree plastic planters and hot glued them end to end, stuck another Dollar Tree Moss bowl on top and there you have it! The red mushrooms were the same "stems" but I painted our wooden salad bowl set (yeah not sure why I ever had these on our wedding registry) to look like mushroom tops!
Fairy Wings: My first intention was to buy Dollar Tree fairy wings and "glam them up" with flowers and ribbons. Since 15 girls were originally invited, cost was a factor. After scoping out more than 4 Dollar Tree stores with no luck, I turned to Ebay, Etsy and other sources. I finally found a good quality wing for a great price and then used Dollar Tree flowers and ribbon that I bought last Fall from Pick your Plum to make them more "woodsy"...They were $5 a pair but that was really the fairy goodie bags. The fairy "crowns" I made from pipe cleaners and flowers from Dollar Tree and left over curling ribbon from Christmas. These cost me less than $.25 each to make.
My mother made the little Woodsman Hats out of felt for the boys! (if you sew or have a friend that does, hats off to ya! I don't sew at all...) Less than $ 1 per hat!
Activities: Keeping little ones busy at a party is a tough job sometimes. You need a variety of options at any time. One of the activities was a Fairy Story being read by an older fairy (I hired three young girls from our Church to help out at the party - this way I can spend time with the birthday girl and soak all of it in) and I wanted that Mushroom Grotto feel to the story area. I looked all over for little red cushions to make toadstools and everything was out of my budget -- so at IKEA I found red round mouse pads and added my own "spots" to them...voila - toadstool pads for them to sit on in the mushroom grotto! $.99 a piece.
Woodland Crafts - for the girls - paint your own fairy house. Each house was $ 1.00 at Michael s and I bought plenty of them. The Woodsman - my hubby, cut and sanded wooden plaques for them to paint.
Food: Kept it simple. I always seem to have so much food left over and the kids never seem to want to eat while they are so busy playing. However this party was opposite. I put out fresh fruit, homemade salsa & chips, tomato, basil and moz. sandwiches, salads. It was enough and the kids all ate.
Misc Items: My husband made the cake stands from elements in our yard. Cost was nothing! I found the "fairy" house in the woods and added a few elements to it from around the yard. Cost nothing. Fairy Houses - I found two bird houses at Michaels Craft store that were on clearance and turned them into fairy houses "for rent."
This theme could get out of control easily as I had so many more ideas that I just had to stop somewhere! The birthday girl had a blast and so did all the other children. The fairies have all returned to the Enchanted Forest and the woods are quiet again!
Budget: decor $ 50 + food $ 25 + goodie bags/wings $65 + misc $30 = $170
Thank you, Melissa, I always love hearing your stories and how you come up with your amazing ideas!
She just recently threw her daughter a Pirate Party and made it look so easy.
I asked Melissa to share her best kept secrets, and here's what she said...
Ahoy Buckeneers! I love a good challenge! Don't you?! My "challenge" on this Pirate Party was the fact that I needed to STICK to a strict budget (not easy to do with my creative mind).
My daughter is a lover of pirates, Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates to be specific. I knew that I wanted to have a quality party and less quantity (of children) which is something "we" don't do that often! I told our daughter that she could invite 5 other girls (besides herself and her sister). What I would love to share with you today are my top 5 Pirate Party Budget Challenges and their solutions!
1. Challenge: Cover the white plastic outdoor chairs for the party table
HIGH END: White fabric pre-made chair covers (not in the budget).
BUDGET: White plastic rectangle tablecloths from the Dollar Store (didn't break the bank). You only need 1 tablecloth per 2 chairs - cutting them in 1/2 - Solution! (I also splurged on 2 rolls of black crepe paper at the same store to tie around them.)
Challenge - Venue drapery covering to cover the green tents we had up
HIGH END: Bakery made cake (my opinion - so much cake gets wasted as the children really only eat the frosting).
BUDGET: Store bought 1 layer cake used to make into Cannonball Cake Balls - sticking with a pirate theme, cannonballs seemed appropriate. Chocolate and red chocolate melts. I used reusable Push Up Pop containers to showcase them. Solution!Challenge - Quality goody bag items that will not be lost in the bottom of the Mini Van!
HIGH END: Fill with a lot of little trinkets that somehow end up at the bottom of the minivan never to be seen again - money wasted.
BUDGET: I try to find something that goes with the theme that the guest will keep for a while. In this case I found bottlecap Izzy necklaces with the chain on Etzy - less than $ 3.00 per necklace. The bags themselves I found at Hobby Lobby's after Christmas sale (red & white polka dots) for 80% off, less than $2.00 for 10 of them! I would have spent more than that on little trinket stuff that would never be seen again. Solution!Challenge - Craft that are higher end for less price
My advice on crafts, find something that can be showcased in your guests' own homes or something that they can keep and use to remember the party. In this case, I rummaged thru the clearance rack at Michael's and found these good sized pirate banks to be painted for $0.77 each! They were behind a lot of other items and I had to search to find 8 that were not broken. Success!
Thank you, Melissa, for these smart tips. A little common sense and ingenuity go a long way to throwing a great party.
I saw this Vintage Ballerina Birthday on our site that Jenifer H created for her daughter, and I thought it was beyond beautiful.
Then I read that she pulled the whole thing off for $150 and I almost died. How did she do it? I, of course, had to find out Jenifer's secrets, and she so generously agreed to share them here. We won't tell, Jenifer, we promise!
My daughter, Ellah, has a love for ballerinas and dancing. When I was shopping at the Round Top/Warrenton Antiques Show in Round Top, Texas, I found a stash of vintage little ballerina prints. I purchased them for her room, and when she saw them, the gasp she took helped me to decide the theme of her 3rd birthday - a vintage ballerina.
When planning my two children's birthdays, under one month apart, I know we cannot break the bank two months in a row on birthday parties. Although I'd really love to do it, I guess God really didn't have birthday parties in mind when He planned our children. I also work with plenty of moms through my store with similar circumstances or moms who just want to save money. Perfectly understood.
1st Tip - K.I.S.S
My first money saving tip is always the theory KISS: Keep it Simple Sweetie. I am with the idea 'less is more.' My daughter's party was very, very simple. I kept the party small which helped cut the cost. We invited family plus a few of my daughter's closest preschool friends, about 25 guests including the children.
I served less expensive foods by having a simple brunch. Breakfast foods can be inexpensive to make! My husband and I cooked french toast, pigs-n-the-blanket, oven baked ham and swiss sliders (via Pinterest - so easy with very few inexpensive ingredients), chicken salad croissant sandwiches, homemade raspberry muffins and we had a simple green salad and fresh fruit in season. My mom brought the chicken salad, so my most expensive menu item was lovingly donated.
I kept the ballerinas' activities so simple. Since coloring is a 2-5 year old favorite, I printed off a ballerina coloring page free from the internet for the girls to color and decorate. I also purchased foam princess crowns and foam stickers on clearance for $5.00 total.
The girls had a blast creating their own princess ballerina crowns to wear during the party. The last activity was, simply, dancing. All party guests either wore their own tutu or we let them wear a tutu from our play clothes. The little ballerinas cut a rug with what you might call very modern, interpretive dance moves - so entertaining and it was free!
2nd Tip - Use & Reuse
This is a fun and important tip: Use and reuse what you have! I love "shopping" the house (and my mother's house) to find what will work with my party's theme. I think it's perfectly acceptable to ask family and friends to borrow items that could work for your party. Get creative with the stuff you already have. The vintage ballerina prints that I purchased for my daughter's bedroom were some of the main party decorations I planned to use, but they didn't have frames. Lo and behold, in my search, I found three identical, unused frames in my garage that happened to fit the pictures! That was a score. The frames were black, so I purchased spray paint to coordinate with the party color scheme and simply spray painted them and hung the art. Easy and inexpensive.
Absolutely everything that I used to serve the food and candy I either owned myself or I borrowed from my mom's vintage dish collection.
The pops of turquoise you see in the platter and round place mat I already had. Another party item I reused was the large mirror seen in the outdoor table photos. The mirror was kept from our bathroom remodel and worked as a great ballet mirror.
3rd Tip - Use your connections
Here I saved most of my money on the most expensive parts of the party - the photography, the cake, the bunting, the invitations and party accessories - all because of people I know. Do you have a friend or family member you know who takes better photos than you? I do! A good friend of mine is the photographer of Jennifer Schattle Photography. Jennifer and I partner together on projects every year including my children's birthday parties, so I am blessed to know and work with such a talented friend. Of course, you don't have to know a photographer. Ask people you know who can help!
I also know someone who bakes - conveniently, my husband. He is not a professional, but he grew up baking with his grandmother and does a wonderful, tasty job. We insist on baking our children's cakes/cupcakes every birthday, so we save money in that department yearly.
In addition, I have an aunt who owns a custom sewing business, Kustom Kids of Kingwood. When I had decided on the ballerina theme, I knew I wanted a bunting. I shopped around and found that they were a little pricey for me. I contacted my aunt and she quickly put together my requests (and my favorite piece of the party) for a fraction of what I would have paid anywhere else.
Finally, I own my Etsy store Hello Love Designs where I sell printable party invitations and party accessories. I also work with one of the top US press printing companies allowing me to have my invitations professionally printed for cost. I printed out the cupcake toppers, tent labels, and favor tags on my own home printer, cut, and we were ready to party! I have the Little Vintage Ballerina birthday invitation and full printable party collection for sale in the store.
4th Tip - Use printables
I LOVE printables!! Printable party accessories add such detail to a party and save money at the same time. You can purchase anything from full party packages to just the pieces you need for a low cost. Then all you have to do is print, cut them out, and you're ready to add beautiful detail to your party. If you're really on a tight budget, there are many blogs, designers, and sites who offer free party printables. You will spend a little time assembling, but the money you save is so worth it!
5th Tip - Use Etsy
For me, Etsy is an indispensable source. Great deals are to be found everywhere! Etsy offers such a variety of products, styles, and prices that everyone is happy. I found (another favorite piece) a vintage floral sheet that I used as the table cloth outside at a great Etsy store called Eager Hands. It was so reasonably priced, and the seller was kind enough to throw in sweet little "extras." In fact, the eyelet trim I used to trim the party hats came as an "extra" from her shop.
I also purchased the cupcake liners from The Cupcake Social used to serve candy, Ellah's tutu from Cheeky Chic Baby, and Ellah's headband from Prim Couture Shop - all on Etsy. Note: Ellah's birthday outfit was not a part of our party budget.
My one "splurge" item was the floral arrangement and, truthfully, it wasn't all that expensive. I took the florist my pitcher, an inspiration photo, and a budget and they worked up something gorgeous that I could afford. I always plan and shop ahead comparing prices. I try to avoid last minute purchasing which can end up costing me more money.
Thank you, Jenifer, for sharing all your tips and your beautiful party with us. You did an incredible job!
When I read that Candy from The Party Bakery spent $125 on her daughter's Tangled Up in Fun Rapunzel Birthday, I almost flipped. How did she do it? Well, I asked her how, and she was kind enough to write up her money saving tips. Thank you, Candy, for all your practical and creative ideas. Take a look...
Have a Little Princess who’s dreaming of a Royal Birthday Bash? Gonna need a fairy godmother to pull it off on your budget? No problem…you’ve got this!
My little princess wanted to have a Tangled Birthday party for 6th birthday this year. Being an excited kindergartener with a classroom of willing party guest she, of course, wanted to invite 18 kids to the party…never mind her siblings, family friends, and family.
We were able to explain that we couldn’t invite every child from her classroom but that she could invite her best friends from the class. Apparently, she has many best friends…lol! So we still ended up with a large guest list when it was all said and done. She skipped away happy as pie, dreaming of her upcoming Royal bash, and I was left a bit stressed and frazzled trying to figure out how we were going to pull this off.
Long story short, we were able to do it and stay very low budget. In all, I spent about $125 on food and decorations and the whole shebang. Now in full disclosure, I do own a party design and printable business. So I was able to make a great deal of the accessories including my invitations for cost. However, you can access printable elements yourself online inexpensively.
So let’s dig in and let me share my top money saving tips with you.
Invitations. You could run out to Party City and buy the 8 pack of the Disney licensed Rapunzel party invitations BUT do you really want the same invitations that everyone else has? Your invitation sets the entire tone of your party! It is in my opinion, the single most important piece of your party. When I design my party sets, I first start with my invitation and then build the rest of my pieces around it. That being said, I love the idea of a custom invitation.
You can find so many wonderful party vendors on Etsy and on the web that have pre-designed invitations, and complete party sets that you can download and print yourself. Or if your budget allows, you can order them ready made. Like I said, I am in the business of party design, so I designed my own invitation which is available in my Etsy shop (shameless promotion time). For $12 you can download the printable file and send it to your favorite photo print shop (Walgreens, Wal-Mart..etc.) or print them at home. Add your Rapunzel braid, and they’re ready to go. A unique party invitation that sets the tone for your party and lets your guest know there in for a unique and fun time!
Decorations. Look around the house and use what you have. If you need something, ask your friends to borrow it before you go out and buy it!
I knew I wanted to serve some of our food items in iron skillets since it plays such a big part in the movie. I did not have a single iron skillet to my name. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy one so I started asking friends and before I knew it I had 5 iron skillets waiting for me. Perfect!
I basically took a walk through my house and looked around for things I could use. I found a cute lantern candle holder that I could place on the table, a little restaurant style standing chalkboard to welcome my guest, a couple cute baskets for holding various items, and some Christmas lights for stringing the trees outside to make a magical forest. All for FREE!
I knew I wanted to created the Snuggly Duggling (the thug pub) in my dining room, and serve all of the food from there, so I would need a table cloth that was rustic and inexpensive. I went to my local Jo-Ann Fabrics and found some burlap and purchased 2 yards. I think it ran me about $4 because I also used one of their 40% off coupons. Woot woot! I love a deal!
I wanted to have something incorporated into my decorations that resembled Rapunzel's flowing golden hair. My first thought was to use golden yarn and create a huge braid to hang out of my daughters window onto the porch below. Well, after trying to braid the tiny hair piece I made for a photo prop I decided that was going to be way to time consuming and take way to much yarn!! So I found a roll of vinyl table covering at Party City that would be perfect.
The entire roll was $22.00 and quite honestly I barely put a dent in in. If you don’t have a huge area to cover you could easily buy a few of the rectangular table clothes instead.Check the Dollar Store first. They usually have a good selection of basic colors. I then unrolled a large section and cut it in half and was able to string it from the windows, on the ceiling, and through the tree’s outside. It was perfect! You could even weave some Christmas lights through it and make it look like the glowing hair! Cute!
Next I knew we could not fit that many kids inside our house so we were going to have to utilize our front yard. I planned the party for the evening so that I could create a magical forest outside. Using several strings of our Christmas lights, I put my husband on the task of stringing a big tree on our side yard with lights and Rapunzel hair. Inspired by a Taylor Swift video I had seen, I wanted to have pictures from the movie hanging from the tree branches for the kids to look at as they sat under the tree and ate.
I started Googling Tangled pictures and found a bunch of free high quality clips from the movie that I could print on my home computer and use. If you can’t print them yourself send them to your favorite photo place and for a few cents a print you’ve got some great decorations! Then just use some fishing line or even white thread and hang from the tree. It was really cute and the kids loved running around looking at all of the pictures!
Games. You have to have something to keep 18 kids busy for 2 hours. I am a huge advocate for the “home” party. I like the way it enables the kids to interact with each other and actually spend time with the birthday girl or boy. Sometimes these parties at other places can feel so disconnected, and I don’t think it gives much opportunity for the kids to really connect. However, you have to entertain them yourself when they are at your house so you better get creative!..lol.
We decided an easy game would be pin the nose on Flynn Rider. That is a big reoccurring joke in the movie that his nose is always different on all of the wanted posters. So again I turned to my trusty friend Google and found a free Flynn Rider wanted poster. I printed a few of these off for decorations and for the game. Then I just made some little square pieces of paper with noses drawn on them. A simple blind fold and you have a fun game!
One of my favorite things we did was the painting wall. Rapunzel loves to paint and basically paints her entire room to occupy her time. I wanted to run some paper all the way down the side of our fence and let the kids go crazy but couldn’t figure out how to make that happen with out spending a fortune on paper. Then we had the idea of using the back side of wrapping paper. That was one of those “ah ha” moments! We bought 2 rolls of Dollar Store wrapping paper and covered the entire fence for $2.00. We then bought 2 packs of the Crayola paints and some Dollar Store paint brushes and let the kids line up and go crazy! It was awesome! They loved it and what a great art piece we had when they were done.
Another inexpensive idea was to get some sidewalk chalk..again Dollar Store…and let them draw all over the driveway!
I love when I look at party pictures and they have a cute photo op set up with props. So I scoured the clearance section at Michaels and found a white frame that did not include the glass. It was only $6 and would work perfectly. Using some yarn I made a Rapunzel braid to attach to a princess tiara that I pulled out of my daughters dress up box. We hung the frame with fishing line from the pretty tree outside and the kids were able to put on the crown and braid and have their picture taken…turned out pretty cute! One tip though, make sure you take a minute and make the kids go over there to take pictures because otherwise you will forget and they will be having to much fun to stop and want to do it themselves!
Lastly to add to the atmosphere we brought out our MP3 player and some little speakers and played the Tangled soundtrack as the kids ran around and ate outside. We downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes for about $10.00
Food. I didn’t want to break the bank on foo, but knew we had to have something substantial for the kids and parents since it was just after dinner time. Rapunzel's favorite soup is Hazelnut stew…I wasn’t feeling too confident about making and serving actual Hazelnut soup…although the reviews are all great online from people who have made it. I choose to make a pot of potato soup that I made early that morning and just placed in a crock pot. A simple dish of cheese, bacon and green onions to top it off, and it was perfect! We just labeled it Hazelnut Stew to play along with the party theme.
We kept the rest simple --remember you’re feeding kids -- they will grab a few small things and then run off to play and not eat it anyway! We did some cheese cubes, fruit and bread, Jell-O cups and my sister made cherry cheesecake cupcakes...Yum!
Now you can make a little look a lot more impressive by just being creative. Take your fruit and make fruit tower kabobs instead of just a bowl of fruit. Use your iron skillets to fill with cheese and bread. Using some cupcake printable circles you can take an ordinary cupcake and give it a unique and custom topper. Work on your presentation of your food and you don’t have to have a bunch to make it look full.
The Jell-O cups were a very easy and fun thing to serve! I was inspired by Supermomments.com, where she made these for her Tangled party. Basically you take some blue Jell-o and pour into small clear plastic cups. Then once the Jell-o is set, take a slice of orange and poke a toothpick into the top and using either a piece of purple cardstock or some printable kingdom flags attach them to your toothpick to make Rapunzel and Flynn’s boat. Easy and super cute!
For drinks I made a classic wedding golden punch to resemble the magic flower potion they give the queen in the beginning of the movie. I picked up a few golden flowers from the Dollar Store to place in front of the punch and labeled it “Magic Flower Punch.”
The cake. This is where a lot of people like to splurge and who could blame them! I have seen some amazing and beautiful cakes and it is the centerpiece of your table. So if that’s where you want to put your money, go for it!
My little one decided she was soooo over cake and cupcakes (she’s only 6…really?) so I had to get creative with the cake! I decided to use donuts to stack and make a tower. It was a little harder than I thought to keep them from falling over, and I encourage anyone who wants to try it to use something like a thick dowel rod to place down the middle!
I used some store bought icing and made green and pink and purple, and using a pastry bag I started making vines and flowers around the tower. I was fortunate to have purchased a castle cake set a few years ago that I was able to use pieces from for the window and the tower peaks. If you don’t have something like this, you could simply use a sugar cone for the peak rolled in sprinkles and you could use a fruit rollup to cut out the shape of a window…just get creative!
Favors. This was my one splurge! I found this amazing local cookie artist, Decorated Desserts, thanks to Facebook, and happened to see pictures of Tangled cookies she did. Gasp! they were adorable and I sooo wanted some! I had saved money on everything else so I ordered 2 dozen Pascal cookies to wrap up as favors. They were adorable and worth every penny! They ended up being about $2 a cookie which wasn’t really to bad for a favor I suppose.
I feel that it’s the extra little things that make a party! I used elements from my printable set to accent my food table and my decorations. Printables are easy and I feel a lot of people get intimidated by them. The beauty of it is that you have creative freedom to make them as fancy or simple as you would like.
So if you can cut out shapes, glue things together and string ribbon through holes…you pretty much can create it yourself. There are various companies that offer printable sets. Prices can vary but most average around $30-$40 for a set. Included in your set you have access to invitations, thank you tags, thank you cards, banners, water bottle wraps, candy bar labels, cupcake topper circles, welcome signs, table tents…etc.
One price, one download and you can print as many as you need. Now granted ink cost can suck up your budget really quickly, so be careful and make sure that your printer can handle it, and if you feel it can’t,check into printing at one of the many office stores.
For my party I used the cupcake toppers to place on top of my cheesecake cupcakes. I printed a Kingdom flag banner to string around the trees outside. I printed the favor tags to add to each cookie to add a personal touch to my favors. All of the food was labeled with food table tents that were themed for the Snuggly Duggling. I also printed my Thank You cards and loved that they matched the theme of my party! So if you want to add the special touches and don’t have the budget to order them ready made, this is a great option!
Whatever your budget you can create a wonderful party that your little Princess and all of her friends will love!
Thank you Candy, for sharing all your tips. I especially love the activities you came up with!
I saw Brenda F's Backyard Carnival Party and almost flipped. The attention to detail was amazing. Then I discovered she pulled the whole thing off on a budget of $464 for 70 people. That's about $6.50 per person.
Of course I had to learn her secrets, so here are Brenda's top 5 tips on saving money throwing an amazing party. Take it away, Brenda...
TIP 1 - Don't be Shy
Because I knew my theme early on, I was able to talk to the manager of our local Dollar Tree store about a "Big Top" promotion they were having in their candy department throughout the summer and requested that they give me the empty boxes.
Once I was given the go-ahead for pick up, I was able to fill up my SUV with these adorable red & white striped boxes AND she threw in a colorful plastic sign that said "Candy Zone." It worked perfectly at our candy buffet table. These items were FREE, and were going to end up in the trash if I hadn't spoken up.
When a Facebook friend who lives locally posted pics from her grandson's carnival party, I immediately sent her a message to ask if she wouldn't mind letting me borrow some of her decorations before I spent money on purchasing those very same items myself. She was happy to loan them to me, as they were just going to sit in a box in storage otherwise.
Because I didn't have the extra money to hire professional
I called our local feed store to ask about their pricing on hay bales and asked if they were available to rent instead of purchasing. As it turns out, we were able to purchase them upfront and return them later, undamaged, and we received all of our money back. I loved the old-time look that the bales provided, and they also doubled as extra seating. Ultimately, they didn't cost us anything and because of the significant savings, we will be using them a lot in the future!!
From other friends, I received an old fashioned popcorn maker to use for the day, a candy claw arcade game, and I was also offered two cartons of flossing sugar, cotton candy cones, and paper popcorn bags.
All other tables and chairs were borrowed items as well.
I know it seems like a lot to borrow from others but when you really need to save money, take whatever is being offered and it never hurts to ask for help. Most people are happy to oblige!
Tip 2 - Use What You Already Have and DIY Whenever Possible
Collect items around your house that may fit into your theme, including bowls and serving dishes. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box to repurpose items, but you will be surprised at what you won't have to purchase.
Search the web for free printables and royalty free clip art. You can use Microsoft Office and your free basic photo editing software to customize your own invitations, labels, banners, and other party decorations instead of purchasing them at party supply stores. The DIY custom touches are what really "wow" your guests! It doesn't matter what your skill level is with crafting, there IS always something that you can find to do yourself. Sometime's it is just as easy as hitting the print button.
I purchased a DIY printable package from an Etsy shop: Bee and Daisy. I searched until I found the best deal. It was $12 for the blank invite, pinwheel patterns, cupcake toppers and wraps, napkin rings, labels, a tee shirt transfer, and a banner sign. All other printables used were found online and were FREE. But don't allow yourself to get carried away with printing. Ink is expensive and this ate up much of our budget.
I bought a T-shirt at Target at $4.99 and I already had the iron-on transfer sheets lying around, so I printed out the image, and in 1 min. his birthday shirt was complete!!
And to think that I was originally going to buy him a custom T-shirt with a $29 price tag + shipping. Ouch!
I fell in love with cotton pom-pom's this year and created a #4 to decorate the dessert table backdrop. Using cardboard from an empty cereal box, I traced out the number, cut the shape out, and filled it in with small and medium sized colorful pom-poms and I used the jumbo pom-poms for making the fun garland by using a travel sewing kit and attaching each pom pom to thin ribbon. A hot glue gun would work just fine, too, but I really wanted this one to last so that I could re-use it again in the future.
Using some of the "Big Top" boxes that I received from the Dollar Tree, I made a circus train, and used inflatable animals, that we already owned, to sit in the train cars and welcome guests as they walked up to our front door.
I transformed my son's puppet stage as the "Ticket Booth" just by blocking out the painted clock with a picture of a clown and stringing a small banner on it.
For the photo booth: I collected our own sheets and bought cheap curtain panels to use as the backdrop and placed old Halloween costumes into a storage trunk to be used as photo booth wardrobe props. Easy!
Before selling old toys on Craiglist, or donating them to Goodwill, I decided to give them one last go 'round and I incorporated them into our theme as well. Our son's battery operated Thomas the Train Railroad was set up and we also used both his rocking horse, and stick horse for some "Pony Ride" fun!
I find that it is best to stay clear of any party theme that is commercialized or too theme specific. It is almost impossible to use those same supplies in the future, lending them to the "one-time only" option. Example: When looking to purchase a printed cardboard cutout, I opted to buy the Hot Dog Concession Stand instead of buying the Carnival Barker because I can get so many more uses out of it.
Try to use color combinations that are easy to find and that can be used again. I like red, white and blue. The best reason I can give for this is because after every Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, party supplies in those colors are found extremely discounted. It is then that I stock up! This same combination also worked great for our son's train and baseball parties that we have done for him in the past.
Also, when looking for possible favor bag items, I always look in the clearance section of stores first. It is not uncommon to find great favors there that are well made, allowing us to gift our guests with something more than the same junky toys that are usually found in favor bags, and that every parent hates! This year, those items found did not cost any more than $0.49 each and they were used at our Prize Table.
TIP 4 - You're Not Feeding the Army
Outside of hosting a dinner party, you are not promising your guests that they leave with full stomachs. I always keep this theory in mind and inevitably, I am always left with extra food. To save additional money this year, I offered party guests food and snacks that gave me more quantity with lower costs.
For example, we served corn dogs that gave 16 servings for $5.00. I purchased one large watermelon instead of a fancy fruit tray and served corn on the cob at 10 ears for $1.00. I spent $2.00 on bags of small carrots instead of serving a veggie tray that would only get half eaten.
I also purchased Goldfish crackers and gumballs that I individually wrapped into small portions, using clear bead bags that I got from the craft store. It allowed us to stretch the servings better than using the pint size snack bags and instead of over-filling the peanut bags with loose peanuts, I stuffed those into small snack bag first, to help keep them fresh, and to assist in filling up the paper sack, which allowed me to to use only one bag of peanuts and not having to purchase any more.
I also decided to use small cellophane bags again to showcase the cotton candy, instead of using the cones, because it required less product per serving and we had less waste.
TIP 5 - Plan Ahead
The first money saving tip will always be to plan ahead.
When your theme is chosen early, you have the time to search out party decorations and supplies at a reasonable cost, and/or either make them yourself.
Because I started planning our Backyard Carnival early and had an idea of what props I wanted, I went to children's consignment stores first and placed all the items on their "Wish List" and they contacted me when those items came in.
This was a huge time saver too! I did not have to visit these stores more than once and several of the items wouldn't be something they would have taken otherwise, because they aren't a high demand item, or that they were in less than perfect condition.
Simply put, if they weren't on the list, it would have been a missed opportunity. I was also able to negotiate better prices this way because they were making money on things that they never had to place on a shelf.
Secondly, I asked my friends that frequented thrift stores and yard sales to be on the lookout for certain items. They found me a brand new, never used, cotton candy machine for only $6, a baby sized pool and an entire shopping bag of rubber duckies for only $0.50 (to be used for one of the carnival games), a new face painting kit, and a crystal cake plate for only $1.50.
BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES
Our party expenses totaled $464 for expecting 70 guests.
Food- $165 (includes drinks, snacks, candy for buffet table, and birthday cupcakes)
Printing- $60 (includes cost of printable package and paper too)
Party Props- $27 (includes hot dog stand, circus canopy, and dessert table decor)
Oriental Trading Co.- $49 (includes all misc. party supply supplies but I got free shipping)
Craft supplies-$50 (includes paint, glue, tape, paper lollipop and wooden craft sticks, fabric and ribbon.)
Serving pieces- $34 (includes paper plates, cups, utensils, peanut and pickle bags, paper straws, and 2 large netted style outdoor food covers)
Prize and Party Favors- $44 ( includes cost of prizes provided at each carnival game station, the Prize Table for every guest and custom party favor bags for the children only)
Helium Tank Rental- $35
*I could have saved even more money if I didn't insist that every part of the house was decorated....that is Tip #6. lol
Thank you Brenda, for these smart and creative tips. Your party looked amazing!!
If you haven't seen the whole party, please check out all the photos. It's worth a serious look!
Have you heard of festooning? It's one of my new favorite party craft decorations. I first learned about it when I saw this photo on Jen Smith's Jilly Bean Kids Facebook page.
In case you don't know, festooning is crepe paper fringed garlands that comes in 25' rolls in all these colors.
So you can see why it's so great for decorating and crafting!
Now back to the craft... Jen had decorated a Styrofoam ball with festooning, and I needed to know how she did it, so she kindly put together this tutorial for us. Thank you, Jen!
- Festooning 1 roll
- Styrofoam ball or ring or anything else that can easily be wrapped (and be creative here, I didn’t have a Styrofoam ball the size I wanted so I used a round twig ornament I use for decor in my home)
- Glue gun or Glue Dots (could even use straight pins)
If you have worked with festooning before then you know it has a front and back. This is great for crafting. The photo shows both the front and the back side. The back side or working side of festooning, has a flat spine like look to it. This is so helpful when attaching it to objects. The fringe pieces from the front get in the way sometimes but just fluff, squeeze, or shape the festooning after you are done.
Now that we have our working side, find the beginning of your festooning garland roll. Apply your Glue Dots (2-4) to the back flat spine of the festooning roll. Firmly apply the Glue Dots to the bottom of the Styrofoam ring. Now start winding the festooning around the Styrofoam ring. This task is much easier if you do not unravel the roll of festooning. Keep it in the roll and just unwind as you go.
Continue winding around shaping, aligning, fluffing and checking to make sure you have good coverage as you go. Looking back, I would have used less festooning if my styrofoam ring was white instead of green, but again I love using items I have on hand and really loved the end results.
When your reach your starting point, double check your work. Make sure you have the coverage you want before you cut your garland. If you are happy with your results, cut your garland and apply (2-4) Glue Dots to the back flat spine of your festooning and firmly apply to the bottom of the Styrofoam ring.
Ta-da! We have created a beautiful centerpiece in minutes and under $5.00. I have used this festooning centerpiece as a cake pop stand and have even glued photos of the birthday girl/boy on sucker sticks placed them in the Styrofoam ring for an easy and economical personalized photo center piece.
Remember the round twig ornament from the first photo? I covered it with festooning using the same method. I was thrilled how it turned out.
You can even cover an inexpensive paper lantern.
Festooning is my favorite decorating material, and so underused. It is inexpensive, re-useable, easy to store and work with and comes in nearly any color you can think of.
Thank you for taking a moment to read my tutorial, I hope you have learned a little about festooning, and plan on making it a part of your next event. Trust me, you'll be hooked.
Also, to Jillian from Catch my Party, thank you for the opportunity and inspiration behind this tutorial....You have helped put festooning on the map!
Thank you, Jen!! If you'd like to try your hand at festooning some crafts, Jen sells it in her store Jilly Bean Kids for $3.45 a roll. Not bad...
And if you make something with it, please send photos, I'd love to show it off!!
Since we're all trying to save money throwing parties these days, I'm always looking for new ideas.
Mariah L threw this incredible Sock Money Baby Shower and I can't believe she did it for $100! I had to know more (and make sure she wasn't lying :)). So here's what she had to say about her party...
I was born a natural social butterfly and have always loved to plan and host parties. From holidays to birthday parties, I can find any excuse to throw a fabulous party! Having a fabulous party doesn’t mean you have to spend BIG. I believe the little details are what set ordinary events apart from extraordinary events, even in everyday life!
My sister was hosting a baby shower for a good friend and asked me to help her with the shower. We had a small budget; again I throw lots of parties, so I have to keep things reasonable. ;) She told me the mom-to-be was decorating the nursery in Sock Monkeys and I knew immediately this would be a great theme for the shower.
Here are 5 of my tips for throwing a fabulous party on a budget and how I did it:
“Shop” your house or borrow items. When planning the party look around your house and find inspiration and decorations from items you already have.
- I decorated my twin’s nursery with Sock Monkeys so I knew I had lots of items at my disposal to decorate. The look and feel I decided on for the party was inspired by my twin’s room. I used vintage toys and sock monkey’s from their room to decorate with.
- I also borrowed a tricycle and red wagon from a friend to complete the look.
- I had fabric scraps leftover from my twin’s bedding so I used those to create the banner and some of the table runners.
Keep it simple. You don’t have to buy extravagant decorations or have a huge spread of food to throw a great party. For this party the decorations were simple, but the impact of a few key items created the perfect atmosphere for the party.
- •I did splurge on 2 items and those were the sock monkey cookies and cake pops, however I only ordered enough to add that extra little detail. I filled in the rest of the sweets with cake pops I made and store bought cupcakes.
- I kept the food very simple by making mini portions, putting the fruit on the skewers and dressing up pasta from a box mix. I was able to stretch my budget farther a little farther by keeping the food simple.
Dress up store bought items. You can make simple and cheap store bought items look like a million bucks if you take the time to dress them up.
- I bought red & white polka dot cupcake liners that I found at Hobby Lobby for only $1, I added those and custom cupcake toppers to store bought cupcakes to create a cute and custom focal point on the table.
Reuse & Repurpose. Stop before you throw it away can you use it again? Like I mentioned before I have lots of parties so I have an arsenal of supplies on hand that I can reuse over and over again.
- I made tissue paper pom poms (which are inexpensive to start with) for my daughter’s Strawberry Shortcake birthday and saved them to reuse at future parties. Those pom poms can be a pain to make and I knew I could at least reuse them for Christmas so I stored them in the attic. They add pops of color throughout the house and provided a backdrop for the sign-in table.
- The cute banner was made using my Cricut, scraps of fabric, polka dot wrapping paper ($1 at Target Dollar Spot) and some of my nephew’s onesies.
- One of my favorite details was the individual crudités. I used candle votives I had to make individual crudités and served them on a tray I keep in my bathroom for display.
Make an investment. Invest in items you can use over and over again.
- I was super lucky to find the white square plates and serving tray on clearance at Walmart a while back (only $1 each!) and it’s been one of my best investments! I simply add a piece of scrapbook paper that coordinates with the party.
- •While I’m a DIY girl who loves to create things, I can’t ever make the invitations look as good as the ones you can buy! I usually invest in custom printables and have been lucky to work with some amazing vendors. I try to spend $20 or less, but they really help make things look extra special.
Here is how I spent my budget on the Sock Monkey Baby Shower. I had lots of things already on hand and my sister was able to do all of the printing for free.
Food - $30 Cupcakes - $12 Custom Cookies & Cake Pops - $38 Paper goods - $6 (bought at Dollar Store) Fabric - $2 (I only bought 1 yard of the Polka Dot fabric and used a coupon, the other fabric I already had) Printables - $20 Total - $108
*My sister spent an additional $40 on the party favors, but this was not part of my budget. She also had several left over she plans to give as teacher gifts when school starts.
Okay, so you weren't lying. :) Thank you, Mariah, for these great tips, and for sharing your party with us.
Check out Mariah's other fabulous parties on our site. You will be impressed with what she can do!
Harry Potter parties are some of the most popular on our site. So when I spotted Allison W's Magical Harry Potter Birthday a really original party that cost $200, I got excited and had to ask her how she did it.
Well, here are Alison's top 5 tips for how she saved money throwing her very cool party...
Plan ahead of time! I knew about 4 months before what kind of party my son wanted and made sure he was sticking with that theme. It was then that I started planning for the decorations, activities, and food so I knew what I needed to purchase. Not only does this allow me to find the best deals, but also to spread out the purchases.
Yard/clearance sales! I think my best find was the mason jars with handles. I wanted that look and had seen some glass beer mugs at the Dollar store which is a good deal, but keeping my eye out beforehand, I ran across a pack of 10 mason jar mugs for $2. They were etched so I made a super cute label and had custom Butter Beer mugs for cheap! A lot of people go to the Dollar store for party supplies but be careful $1 each can add up pretty fast so be sure to compare.
Use what you already have! Again, because I planned ahead of time I was able to save glass jars and containers for the decorations as we used them. Instead of recycling, I washed them out and saved them for the party.
Make it yourself! Before I purchase something I always ask myself if I can make it easily for less ("easily" is the key word haha). One thing I made was the cupcake stand. I love cupcake stands and instead of paying $15-$20 for one that I sort-of liked, I made a custom one for $3 plus 2 cans of soup that I used later. I also made house banners from felt, a birthday banner from the pages of a ruined Harry Potter book, wands, and the Quidditch field.
Keep it simple! Your entire house doesn't need to be decorated to have a magical party. A few really great decorations can make the entire party and set the perfect scene.
Thank you, Allison, for these great tips. And I couldn't agree with you more about Tip 5. I always believe that all you need are a few special, well-thought-out design elements and you've got a memorable party that "pops."
Make sure to check out the rest of this magical Harry Potter party.