Wednesday, October 1, 2014

7 tips for throwing an awesome theme party on a budget.

honestly, i thought id be back to a (somewhat) regular writing schedule once school settled down (which it did a couple weeks ago), BUT it just so happened that finally settling into a school routine coincided perfectly with the craziness that goes along with planning/executing alices birthday party. and while i really, really do want to show you what ive been working on for alices party, i figured it would be best to wait until the official party post to share. 

instead, today i want to talk about throwing an awesome theme party on a budget. because, thats kind of my thing. i like to think of myself as somewhat of an expert in this department (not nearly as much as an expert as my mom, but shes thrown about 71 more kids birthday parties than i have so....), and really, whats not to love here? i mean, who doesnt love an awesome party? (actually, ive recently learned that there are some moms who really like to talk crap about the moms that throw theme parties but obviously i dont write this blog for them) but obviously not everyone has the budget to go all out with a pro party planner and everything (though if you do, i totally know one)

so without any further ado, here are a few of my (tried and true) tips to save a little $$$ on your party budget, without sacrificing an ounce of awesome. 

1. stick with re-usable decor. preferably things you already own. first off (obviously) buying new, disposable decor is basically just buying things to throw away almost immediately. might as well just be throwing away dollar bills while your at it. secondly, tablecloths, cake stands, platters, vases, etc. all look a million percent better when theyre the real deal. now you have two options here: utilizing things you already own, or investing a little more money in some reusable party decor. either way, your party will not only look more put together, youll also save yourself some money (either right away or in the long run). oh and youll also save yourself TONS of shopping time for when the next party rolls around. 

2. just skip the themed paper goods. i know the first place your mind goes with a theme party is to get the plates and cups and napkins and whatever to go with that particular theme. dont do it. just dont. theyre expensive, and theyre just going to be used for a minute and thrown right away. im going to be completely blunt here: paper plates are just glorified trash. you can get a bulk pack of plain dessert plates or napkins at smart and final for the same price as one little pack of hello kitty napkins, and nobody will care. i promise. 

3. schedule your party to avoid mealtime. think about it: if the party isnt at lunch (or dinner) time, you dont have to serve lunch (or dinner), and you can get away with just serving snacks. this not only cuts your food budget WAAAYYY down, but also keeps the party brief (majorly important when small children are involved), AND makes cute table set ups even easier. a win-win-win all around. 

4. cut your menu options in half. yes, literally half. if you were thinking "snacks and desserts" just do dessert. if you were thinking "hotdogs and hamburgers" just pick one. this saves you money by allowing you to buy fewer things in bulk, gives you less things to deal with on party day, and saves you from having to throw out that watermelon or veggie tray that nobody touched and nobody wants because it was left out in the sun all day. 

5. free printables. seriously, whatever theme you had in mind, the internet has millions of free printables for it. basically ALL of the decor for alices adventure time party last year was free printables. banners, tags, labels, games, all of that you can find as a free printable. 

6. diy your invitations. and no, you dont have to be a graphic design wunderkind to do this and still have it look great. last year i bought a custom invitation graphic on etsy for like $10, and got them printed at target (with a photo lab coupon, obviously), and paid a grand total of $14 for all of her invitations. this year i was a little braver and designed her invites in the a beautiful mess app, got them printed at target, and spent just under $7, for WAY more invitations than we bought last year. also, if youre not as old-school as i am, emailing invites is completely free. 

7. ditch the goodie bags. im sure theres some old outdated etiquette rule that says when you invite someone to a party you HAVE to give them a gift in return or else YOU ARE A HORRIBLE PERSON THAT HAS NO BUSINESS THROWING PARTIES. but lets be real here, unless youve got an idea for a favor that actually has some kind of use beyond the party itself (last year for alice i used free printables to design adventure time buttons, but no favors were involved in her first birthday or this one), that baggie filled with stickers and fruit snacks and a whistle is going to be eaten/lost/in the trash within the day. 

these are just a few of the tricks that ive used to keep all of alices parties on budget, without looking/feeling like were skimping on anything. 

i want to know, do you have any great tips for saving money on parties? let me know in the comments!6


  1. I wish we'd known about this earlier then our mom wouldn't have had to do all those party packs. I know I threw away those whistles and whatnot that came in friends' birthday party packs haha. I also like your point about cutting the menu in half. That is so brilliant. Great post, Victoria!

  2. These are all really great tips! One thing I like to do is make all of the activities Sidney and her friends are going to play. We make our own pinatas (last year was in the shape of a pumpkin) and for goody-bags we simply let the kids put the treats from the pinatas in paper bags they decorated themselves. We also played "pin the face on the ghost" and each child got their own ghost to take home afterwards that they decorated blindfolded.

  3. thanks! yeah, the activities are SO much more fun when you DIY them. we havent made a piƱata yet, but i think we may try that one when alice gets a little bigger.