I have loved planning parties for as long as I can remember! I was really in my element back in 2015 when Eric and I were planning our wedding and I got to pick out alllll the things! I also loved all the little DIY projects (invitations, menus, favours, etc). In another life I would TOTALLY be a wedding / party planner!
I LOVE planning birthday parties for my kids, because they are waayyy less costly then weddings (lol) and you can really have fun with it! And no matter what you do, your kid will be ecstatic (as long as there’s cake and a present or two)!! Below are the steps I take to create a party on a budget!
Choose a theme and a colour scheme
Step one, choose a theme! It’s the best when they are old enough to actually tell you what you they want so you don’t have to guess what they would most want! Regardless, I ensure to check a few times with the birthday girl/boy before I start ordering supplies.. juuust in case. I enjoy picking coordinating items in a corresponding colour palette rather than picking up every single thing from the same section of the party aisle. This year Clara asked for a “Frozen” birthday!
Give yourself lots of time
Whether it’s a baby/ wedding shower or a birthday party, you can save yourself a bit of money and a lot of stress by planning early! I like to give myself at least 2 months to prepare. If you know exactly what you want, you can shop at places like Ali Express, where you can get things substantially cheaper than Party stores and Amazon. The downside is, shipping is usually super slow (like close to 2 months) to receive your items, especially if you want to go with the free/ cheaper/ shipping options. I like using Ali Express for things like balloons and baking moulds.
I also love to support small businesses and don’t mind splurging a bit on some pretty “statement pieces’ like these pretty gold rimmed lilac plates but it can get costly to buy everything online, especially if you have a lot of guests. So I like to get a few nicer pieces online. Then to save a bit of $$ by finding other items at the dollar store in a similar / complementary colour such as paper cups, party hats and extra napkins.. I also found straws, stir stick star “wands” and beautiful iridescent “treat cups” at Real Canadian Superstore!
Keep last minute errands to a minimum
We had a busy week before the party which included sick kids home from daycare which slowed down last minute projects and finishing up last minute errands. The morning of the party I had to travel to another town for the balloons, pick up some candies at Bulk Barn, get ingredients to make a blue drink and grab some fresh flowers. It was a hectic morning and these are all things I could have done at least a day before the party if not a week before! It was pretty rushed the morning of the party and it didn’t have to be! So keep last minute errands to a minimum!
I DIY everything i possibly can. Not only is it kind of like my therapy (lol) but it also saves me money. If DIY is not your thing, you can generally find some amazing sellers on Etsy that will customize products to your needs.
After I choose a colour scheme, I check my existing stash of craft paper and go to Michaels if necessary to get a few packs of paper in my colour scheme. Lucy for me, I already had lots of silver and blue paper so I just had to pick up some purple paper. I make banners using my Cricut and stick to the same colours so everything flows. Something I also think is really fun and adds special touch is making my own confetti! For this party I chose different sized snowflakes and Elsa’s profile in shades of purple and blue for confetti.
Spread out the tasks and get help from your spouse and/or family
I have pulled way to many all-nighters in my time and learned I cannot possibly do everything myself and definitely not the night before or day of the party. I like to make my own cakes / treats but sugar cookies are not my forte so I prefer to enlist in the help of a professional! I have learned I don’t need to be good at everything. I suck at baking and decorating cookies and that’s ok 🙂 If you are in the GTA, I love Cookielicious by Sara and Sweet10CookieCo !
My cakes are not perfect, but I am always on a budget and prefer the flavour over store bought cakes and I have fun decorating them. To prevent myself from scrambling, I bake my cakes at least a week before and then freeze them. On top of being a time saver, they are easier to ice and less crumbly when they are frozen! I made chocolate covered oreo cookies a few days in advance and the cupcakes were made and iced the day before the birthday. Clara’s birthday was a day before her party, so I liked that we could serve some of the cupcakes on her actual birthday and she had a candle to blow out before the big cake at her party!
As far as decorations go.. We have done a few balloon garlands for various events. We (and by we I mean my husband) find it’s best to blow up the balloons at least a day or two before you need them to save time. They do not deflate for some time, so you don’t need to wait to blow them up until right before the party. I pick out the balloons and just leave them out with the pump and my husband puts it all together. Then i just go in and add some mini balloons with glue dots.
I also learned if you like helium balloons, you can get special gel added to make the helium last longer. I usually get balloons the morning of and don’t bother with gel.. but It actually worked! Even the latex balloons are still going strong a week later! The next time I get a balloon bouquet, I will pick them up a day or two before I need them and just pay a little for the gel so i’m not scrambling hours before the party.
I also enlisted in the help of my mom to watch Clara so we could set up and have the decor be a surprise. Our 1-year old Samuel naps for 2-3 hours so we were able to get a lot done with Sam asleep and Clara at my mom’s, and then she got a fun surprise when she came home and the whole house was “Frozen-ified.”
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