There is a new mommy war going on. No, not the stay at home vs. working moms. It’s the party war. Between the $60,000 Mad Hatter party for a four year old on The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills and TLC’s Outrageous Kids Parties, keeping up with the party Joneses seems to be the latest. Some moms believe ice cream and cake is more than enough, others believe in location parties and fabulous favors. Never the two shall meet.
I, in no way, judge any parent on how they choose to celebrate their child’s special day. With two boys who have a roster of friends that rival that of the Hilton sisters, I have to throw fun creative parties on a shoestring budget. And here is the best part, with a little planning and imagination you too, can throw a memorable bash without taking out a second mortgage.
Today begins the first of my four part series; Plan, Plan, Plan. I cannot stress this enough. When you have time to find what you need for cheap, you won’t find yourself scrambling and paying more.
1. Choose a simple and if possible, inexpensive theme
I’m a special kind of party planning freak, where I often obsess on the next birthday the moment I finish cleaning up from the party. But take note to early planning, you can pick up items as they go on sale which leads into #2.
Some party themes can be naturally more expensive by their very nature, i.e. location parties, because of food and entertainment fees. If you are doing a location party, do a little research into what guidelines the facility allows. Some places will only allow their vendors for food, others may not allow outside decorating.
Another way a theme can drive up your cost is what type it is. Disney Princess products will cost more than a generic princess. If your daughter insists on Cinderella, have a few items to set the tone (like the paper products) and use solid colors to round everything else out.
2. Have a budget and (try to) stick to it
Decide how much you can afford to spend. This is directly related to #3. Open up a spreadsheet program and make a list of everything that you’ll need and how much you want to spend. Keep a running tally as you purchase items. There are also many online options at planning sites like Evite and Punchbowl.
3. Trim the fat
Keeping your guest list small is a good way to minimize costs. But, if you do have a large guest list, look into options like your YMCA, local parks and community centers. Many community centers have full kitchens, tables, chairs and may even be next to a great park. Does your friend have a great yard or a basement you could use? It never hurts to ask.
4. Plan, plan, plan!
When you are bopping around your favorite stores, keep an eye out on clearance tables for items that can be used for your party, especially after the holidays; solid colored tableware, candy (watch expiration dates), colorful gift bags. Box stores like Dollar Tree, Target, Micheal’s and even Toys R Us have dollar spots that often rotate through themes. ,
Tune in next time for part 2 of this series, Do It Yourself Or If You Can’t, Etsy.