Party Planning Tips and Tricks
It's officially July, which means it's birthday month for my sweet girl! Here in the South, we love to entertain, so throwing a party is something I really enjoy doing. From the planning and prepping, to the hosting and socializing with friends, it's always a good time. There is no better time to throw a party than a birthday! I'm currently in the process of planning Audrey Claire's first birthday and wanted to share the process. Make sure to download the free party planning checklist at the end of the blog. Also, be sure to read all about Grayson's first birthday, which was LSU themed, in this post.
When planning a party, the first thing I do is decide on a theme. Yes, you can definitely throw a generic party, but who doesn't love a good theme!? Plus, I think it's easier to get ideas and inspiration. After deciding on a theme, I set a budget (womp womp). This is so important because it's easy to go overboard on spending between the food, decorations, entertainment, etc.
Now comes the fun part! I could spend hours on Pinterest getting inspiration! I create a board and pin all the ideas I can find for things I either want to buy or make for the party. You can check out my Pinterest board for Grayson's first birthday here, and the one I started for Audrey's first birthday here.
If you are booking a venue, make sure you call in advance to check availability and then set a date for the party. I always try to to plan around holidays or big events (like football games) when I know people might not be available.
Next, create a guest list. Typically, we invite family and close friends, but even doing that the list is usually around 50 people. I keep addresses in our family command center binder. This is so useful when sending out things like invitations, Christmas cards, birth announcements, etc. Once the guest list is done, the planning can begin!
For invitations, I always shop on Etsy. I like to buy the digital rights to an invite and print them myself to cut cost. If your budget is tight, a great way to cut this expense all together is to send out an Evite!
I plan the food and desert based on the number of people I expect to attend, the time of day the party will be and the season of the year. I am not a baker, so I always order a cake. If you're in the Baton Rouge area, I highly recommend Ambrosia Bakery! Don't forget things like cups, plates, napkins and cutlery. Finally, make sure to have lots of drinks for the kids and adults, too!
When it comes to decor, I have a checklist of items I like to have at every party: things like birthday banners and signs, balloons, door wreaths, table centerpieces, and pictures. I also love to have a video slideshow playing on the TV of the person we are celebrating. I make one for each kid on their birthday with memories from the past year. It's completely free and adds such a nice touch to the party! I try to make the decor unique based on the theme. Sometimes it's as simple as getting crafty and adding those Pinterest touches to your normal decor. If I have extra money leftover in the budget, I use it for those extra special ideas that I pined "just in case!"
If it's a 1st birthday party I also make sure to include a smash cake, high chair decor, watch me grow banner and a 1st birthday milestones poster. Finally, keep in mind that if you will have lots of kids you want some form of entertainment. This could be anything from a bouncy house or slip-n-slide to bubbles or balloon animals. The possibilities are endless!
Pictures from a few different parties we've had. For more on Grayson's 1st b-day click here.
Ways to Cut Costs
There are so many ways you can save money and still throw a great party. You just have to get creative! As I mentioned earlier, one easy way to to cut costs is by sending an Evite. Most people throw an invitation in the trash anyway, so be environmentally friendly and send an electronic invitation for free if you would like to.
Next, think about things you can make or borrow instead of buying. For instance, for Grayson's 1st birthday party (which was themed as an LSU tailgate), my husband made a football toss game, I made all the signs and banners, and we borrowed a ton of decor from my mom! Also, be sure to save, repurpose and reuse items from parties you've already had. I have a closet where I keep craft supplies and party decor that I think I may have use for in the future. I use the same white picture frames year after year to display pictures at every party. Banners, signs, and tablecloths can be repurposed and reused too. If you have a garden, cut fresh flowers to put out around the house. Ask friends or relatives to borrow decorations, stuffed animals, or trinkets that might fit the theme of your party.
If you're not crafty, but looking for other inexpensive options, check places like Facebook marketplace or Craigs List. Lots of people sell their party items after an event, and they are usually in great condition! We actually found a ton of stuff for Audrey's upcoming party on The Beaufort Bonnet resale group on Facebook.
When it comes to the food and drinks, you can easily cut costs by making everything at home. Keep it simple with things like dips, finger foods, or a pasta salad. This is also a great way to get other people involved. My parents and in-laws always want to contribute to parties, so I usually ask them to help with the food and drinks. Also, if you or someone you know is a great baker (definitely not my forte) , make the cake and deserts yourself. You can also cut the cost of party favors by wrapping a sweet treat for your guests to take home.
To download your own free party checklist click here.
If I'm being honest, these cutesy parties are more for me than anyone else, but that's okay! I think it's my right for birthing and raising these tiny humans:) Just remember, no matter what kind of party you choose to throw, at the end of the day, all that matter is celebrating with friends and family and making memories that will last a lifetime!