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.
Vintage ballerina print in spray-painted frame
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.
Chicken salad croissant sandwiches
Pigs in the blanket
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.
Crowns to decorate
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.
Borrowed vintage dishes
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.
Ballet mirror from bathroom remodel
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.
Caked baked by Jenifer's husband -- incredible!
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.
Bunting sewn by Jenifer's aunt
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.
Custom invitation designed by Jenifer
Cupcake toppers and tent labels designed by Jenifer
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.
Eyelet trim on party hats
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.
Ellah's birthday outfit
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!
To see more of Jenifer's designs, check out her other pretty parties on our site and her Etsy shop, Hello Love Designs .