Pick a Theme
When choosing your theme, make sure it works with the time of year and the location you choose for the party. And of course, a theme that is perfect for the occasion and interest. If you are hosting a Sports Party, a local sports field at a park would be ideal! A Princess Party can easily be held at home, both indoors or out.
Parties held at home or in a neighbourhood park (do you have one with a water park?) are typically less expensive but the savings is really gained through the DIY "Sweat Equity" . You are able to save on venues by using what's already available in your neighbourhood, preparing your own food & snacks and letting the kids just have fun... maybe a few party games, but most kids will be happy enough playing for a couple of hours and getting cake!
Booking a party venue usually has a per person cost, as well, many will not allow you to bring in your own food, and that can end up being pricey. However, if you are looking for an inexpensive activity based party; a local pool, bowling alley or non-professional sports games (A local baseball team, a "farm team" and many others are only a few dollars to attend).
You don't need to spend a fortune to book a location, the kids will have fun no matter where the party is held!
Plan in Advance
Planning in advance allows you to set a budget, look for sales, shop ahead. Eg. buying Halloween decorations on November 1 when they go on sale, they can be used the following Halloween, but also "out of the box" ideas eg. a skeleton for a Science Party, glow sticks for a Glow-in-the-Dark or an evening pool party or even a Murder Mystery Dinner Party! Buying party supplies at after holiday sales can save you a few $).
You can save money on food. If you watch fliers and shop sales you can pick up non-perishables in advance (when the cost makes it easier on your wallet).
Buy items that can be frozen, if you see them on sale! Ice Cream, burger patties & hot dogs, Also, look at your menu and see if any food can be precooked and frozen (an un-iced cake can be frozen to decorate later). Or cooked at least a day or 2 before (pasta salads etc).
Buy in bulk, especially for things like Candy Buffets, it will save you $$$, and makes a perfect take home "thank you" gift for your guests.
A fun way to feed guest is having a food bar, where guests can help themselves. Match the food bar to your overall theme. Eg. Smores Bar for a Camping Party, Popcorn bar for a Movie Party, Concession Stands for Sports Parties or even a Taco Bar for a Cinco-de-Mayo Party.
Cake | Cupcakes | Desserts
Depending on your theme, some dessert choices may seem obvious, Ice Cream for an Ice Cream Party, something red/white/blue for the 4th of July or Pies for a Farm themed party!
Another Idea is a pull-apart cupcake cake in you theme.
And for some people (non-bakers) the money spent having a cake make is money well spent! You can easily order a cake in your theme from local grocery store and bakeries, or an Ice Cream Cake from Dairy Queen.
some None of your guests expect a party like the ones you see on Pinterest. Personally, I love the inspiration but it definitely makes me feel uncrafty and self conscious!
I learned as my kids grew up and have birthdays, grad parties etc don't need to be expensive or complicated! Most ideas can be DIY's (and makes it all the more special).
A great idea is to visit your local dollar store or discount store and buy generic supplies that compliment your colour scheme. Solid colour plate & glasses, streamers, table clothes etc and then add in a few theme related decorations, such as a decorated balloons, a pinata, cake topper, banners, centerpieces and photo booth backdrops and props!
A printer, some crafting supplies (you might already own, like construction paper) and a little time and your party can look amazing.
TeaMy favourite place to shop for basic party supplies is at the dollar or discount stores! Not only can you pick up all the supplies you need in coordinating colours. Eg. Red/White for Canada, Red/White/Blue for the 4th of July, different shades of pink for a Princess Party or maybe, all primary colour for a Rainbow theme.
Sometimes they have theme related decor, if it's the hot and trending party themes.
If you can't find what your looking for at the dollar store and rather not spend a small fortune at the party supply stores, there are many ways to DIY your decor, even using things you already own!
Ask for help! Why buy supplies you may never use again? See if any family or friends have what you need? Need extra tables & chairs? Ask! Glass drink dispenser (the ones with a tap) can be expensive, see if you can borrow one. Other rarely used items might include a cake stand, tea cups (Tea Party), or maybe sports related decor for a birthday party.
Thrift stores and craigslist can be a wonderful place to find decor items that would cost a lot brand new! I love keeping on eye out for mason jars, fabric and crafting supplies too!
The type of crafts or games really depends on the location you chose for your party. If you picked a venue like bowling, you don't need to have the extras.
If you are at a local park, a few theme related games would be fun, but don't overdo it... the kids will want to play on the park equipment. A scavenger hunt is always a lot of fun! Just remember to enlist some adult help for supervising!
Having a party at a home , you have a lot more flexibility for activities! One major "craft" (that they make at the party) or a "prize" (scavenger hunt, pinata etc.) is a lot of fun for the kids, and gives them a "thank you" gift to take home!
Choose activities based on your theme... it might be a "spa experience" at a Spa Party, a pirate party can have a "walk-the-plank" game for little ones, a "best costume" Halloween contest or some fun minute-to-win-it games! Set things up in "stations" for easier control and supervision!
Once you have your theme and location, it is time to think about food! One of the most expensive parts of a good party!
Does you theme give you a starting point? A Cinco-de-Mayo party suggests mexican food, or a BBQ will probably have hotdogs and hamburgers.
A candy-bar is always a fun addition to a party, you could have it colour match your theme, or that can have fun titles, like a lifesavers for a pool party, chocolate quiddiches for a Harry Potter Party.
I LOVE food bars... most can be prepped (and cooked) ahead of time! And there are so many options... a s'mores bar for Christmas, make your own pizza station, or a breakfast bar for a sleepover!
Once you know your menu, it's time to plan the grocery trip! Make a list of EVERYTHING you need, then check your cupboards and freezer and cross of what you already have (things like ketchup, mayo, butter etc).
Whatever is left is what you need to buy... and the earlier you know, the better for your budget! Watch store fliers, sign up for the online fliers and shop for items as they come on sale! Chips, soda, candy and other non-perishables can be bought as you see them on sale, Stock up on things that can be frozen, on sale, like hotdog, burgers, ice-cream.
You should only need to pick up the perishables in the 2 -3 days before, and the cake the day of the party (if you ordered one). Being prepared and shopping sales is a great $ saver!
Some things don't make sense to DIY, either based on ability, time, or need!
Some fun additions like a face painter, a bouncy castle, a photo booth rental (although you can DIY this with a little know how and a few you-tube videos).
Some time savers or "ease of mind" ideas; a cake or cupcakes (especially if you don't enjoy baking), a balloon display or any custom orders.
When my kids were young, I never understood the need for "goodie bags" with cheap candy and dollar store toys. All those little things add up and before long you've spent $50 to say thank you for coming, for stuff destined for the garbage!
I think a better idea is to have a "station" with a craft or activity that the kids can then take home to enjoy! Pot a flower for Mother's day, make bath bombs at a Sleepover, a painting at an Arts & Craft Painting Party or a crown they can decorate, wear and then keep for a princess party.
If you feel you must give a thank you gift, save those dollars and buy 1 minimally cost item, Something that goes with the party theme. A foam finger for a Sports Party, a water bottle for an Outdoor Extreme Party, a copy of the book the theme is based on or maybe a kids bucket & shovel or a beach ball for a beach or pool party. Most can be found at a dollar store, and will probably be used again!
You only have 2 eyes and 2 hands... you will make yourself crazy trying to do everything and wont enjoyed it!
Little ones will need extra supervision, some people ask parents to stay, others enlist family and friends to be another set of eyes and ears.
Have a potluck! Some parties, this would be inappropriate, but if you are hosting a friends or family holiday or theme party, asking your guests to supply a side (you supply the main) will save you money, time and stress!
It's also fun to see what people come up with if you give them a theme (maybe a Harry Potter Party for adults, also fun in costume).
You can have a fun and memorable party without spending a fortune!
A simple movie night with popcorn & candy can be as much fun (maybe more so). Kids don't need an over-the-top party, that rivals a mini wedding!
Keeping it simple, and enjoying the day is what will make it a success! *remember your camera*
celebrate life simply
Parties shouldn't break the bank, with a little time and some imagination you can throw a party with some easy decorations and a little love!
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