This weekend Clara turned three! We celebrated with a small family party at her demand … I mean request. She had the absolute time of her life and is now fully stocked with a lifetime supply of wands, bright plastic jewelry and tutus. I’ll share my tiny budget with you and how I didn’t buy any decorations except balloons — and I got those at the dollar store! I’ll show you how I transformed the pink space and inexpensively and how to keep party costs down.
Clara has been asking me for a pink birthday party for months! She’s so funny. I never asked her about a party or even suggested it. Her brothers have never asked for a party before, and we usually do something together as a family instead of a party. But not this party girl!
She was looking over my shoulder one day as I was browsing through Pinterest and saw a few pink food items and said, “For my pink party!” She would sing songs in the car about her pink birthday party. She would tell me she had a secret, get so close our noses would touch, and softly whisper “pink birthday party.”
She was so enthusiastic about her favorite color that at first I thought I would surprise her with pink everything, but quickly changed my mind when I saw how much she loved helping me put it together. I think decorating the room together made it all the more special for her.
I love decorating for a party as long as things are simple and stress-free. I think that’s why I like hosting them at my house, that way I can set up decorations when I have time or feel inspired. Here are my tips for saving money and time on parties:
Make a budget.
Have a figure in mind and try to stick to it. My budget was $150 for everything including food and presents. I haven’t tallied it up penny for penny, but I’d say we didn’t go much over that. We bought food from a local cafe for $100 and spent a few dollars for juice and sodas. Her presents were simple and inexpensive.
Marcello already had a special giant bottle of wine for the occasion. His dad sent it to him from Italy years ago and told him we would drink it when they were finally here. And they’re here! They’re here! But I’ll get to that hopefully by Thursday.
Look at what you already have.
Party decorations don’t have to come from the party section of Target. The first thing I did was go around my house and grab anything pink — pink fabric scraps (on the buffet and dining tables), one roll of pink streamers, a small piece of pom pom trim (around serving bowl), one random beaded placemat (under the cupcakes) and some faux pink peonies (on light fixture). White would fill in for everything else.
I buy all my serving-ware in white so it will work with any occasion. I use the same cupcake stand, 3-plate tiered stand and cake stand at every party!
The rest of the flowers and garland were from Easter flower sales. I didn’t buy them for the party, but they sure made the space girly and pink!
Make a big impact on the cheap.
I’m less into a million tiny details and more into two or three things that make a big impact.
I usually just focus on one space for decorations, and I’m always using the same banners over and over. These are from Easter and I turned them around so the writing was on the other side.
The 15 pink heart balloons are from the Dollar Tree. I called ahead and picked them up a couple days in advance. The nice thing about helium balloons is that they last forever and you can pick them up whenever is convenient for you. Latex balloons fall flat after several hours. I’ve learned that the hard way! $15 of balloons made a big impact, and more importantly Clara very happy! Kids can take one home as a party favor too.
I bought this $14 tablecloth that covers my giant 9-foot wood table and that brightened up the room instantly, making it a blank canvas.
Another favorite of mine is covering a whole wall or ceiling in streamers. You can do it for just a few dollars.
Make your own cupcakes.
I make cupcakes from a box for birthday parties (gasp!). If you are a foodie or baker, you can ignore this! But I do it for four specific reasons:
- My kids like them.
- I don’t like to cut cake.
- I don’t like baking cakes.
- It costs less than $5!
Buy it when you see it.
When you are shopping and see something on sale or inexpensive that your child would love, go ahead and pick it up. I have a gift container in my closet and keep little gifts I find here and there for people. It comes in handy for last minute gifts — you don’t have to run to the store and spend too much on a mediocre present. It also helps the budget when you don’t have to drop a wad of cash at one time. Spacing it out makes it more absorbable. I even have a very small monthly gift budget.
Always buy white or clear plates and forks.
I shared this in my 9 tricks to make hosting a snap post. This way you can use leftover pieces for any occasion. These forks, napkins and plates are the same things I used at my last get-together I showed you. I didn’t have to buy anything for serving.
Keep it small.
It’s ok to just have a family or small birthday party, especially for little kids, if you want to keep things simple or keep costs down. We just had grandparents and a couple close friends that have a close bond with Clara. This saves on costs, but we also did it because Marcello’s parent’s had just arrived the night before from Italy. I’m sure they were exhausted, but they didn’t show it.
My mom was there too! This place is really starting to feel like home now. Can you tell she’s my mom? Haha!
I loved Clara’s simple theme of pink. I even told our guests to wear pink — just if they had it or thought about it. When I told my bestie, Ashby, my pink wardrobe idea I just meant her — not her whole family of boys! But the sweetest girl went and found pink shirts for her three little boys! I mean, that’s a best friend.
I told everyone not to bring presents, but no one listened. My dear friend Sasha gave Clara pink plants to grow outside her window. Don’t you love that?! So clever.
Basics I use at every birthday party
There are several basics I use at every party. I’ve had mine so long that they don’t even sell them anymore! And that’s a good thing. It means that you can get your use out of them. These are similar to what I have.
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