You know that moment when your kid asks you for something they REALLY want, but you have no idea how to make it happen? You know they are going to be so disappointed if you say no, but you you just can’t see how it can work. That used to be me with birthday parties. I wanted to be able to give them the cool, themed birthday parties they wanted, but I just about lost my mind (and completely blew my budget) the first few times so I just wanted to give up. Well, around here we do NOT give up!
Birthday parties can be seriously intimidating for many of us. There are moms out there with vast amounts of time, money, and creativity to make cool birthday parties a thing of ease. I was NOT one of them. BUUUUUTTT, I didn’t want to let intimidation stand between my kids and something they wanted, so I kept trying. After more birthday parties than I can count, I figured out some secret weapons and 5 simple steps for saving your sanity (and your budget) while throwing a birthday party!
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Step 1: Set A Budget
The first step for ANY party is to set a budget. Be honest with yourself here. Remember, your budget will need to include everything for the party. That includes any food, decorations, and favors you decide to use. There is absolutely no need to overextend yourself here. Over the next four steps I’m going to teach you to create fun birthday parties that fit your budget rather than trying to force your budget to fit your dreams. Sit down and figure out how much you can and are willing to spend on a party. Since we have multiple food allergies to contend with our parties cost a bit more than others, but even with that my total budget for party day is about $100. That’s for EVERYTHING!
Step 2: Pick A Theme
I know many of you are thinking about themed parties and picturing those huge, expensive blowouts you see online. You know what I’m talking about, the ones that cost thousands of dollars and necessitate planning skills that rival Martha Stewart’s! Yeah, this isn’t that. No at all. I am pretty much the opposite of her. I think she’d have a fit and half if she saw my linen closet! 😀
Anyway, having a theme for the party doesn’t mean it will be elaborate or costly. Remember the name of this post is Easy Themed Birthday Parties. We’re going to make this EASY! The theme is just there to help focus your planning and inspire your creativity. Plus they’re a lot of fun. So, go to your kid and ask what kind of birthday party he wants. If he tends to suffer from a bit of analysis paralysis and can’t come up with an idea on the spot , give him two or three potions to choose from.
Step 3: Invite Some Guests
A party just isn’t a party without guests, so you’re going to need to invite some people. There are different schools of thought as far as the ‘proper’ way to do invitations. Some people are all for electronic invitations, others find things Facebook invites in poor taste and believe paper is the only way to go. I tend to lean towards “whatever floats your boat”. We want to keep this easy so whatever works best for you is just fine. It’s really a matter of preference, budget, and circumstances.
For convenience and cost reasons I stick almost exclusively to Facebook Event invitations. If you want to do paper invitations but have a limited budget, check out Pinterest for some fun homemade ideas that fit your theme. It is one of my secret weapons for party planning! Whatever invitations you choose, make a list of the people you want to invite before you do your invitations so you don’t forget anyone (not that I’ve ever done that, lol).
Step 4: Make A Menu
People celebrate with food. It’s true of just about every country and culture in the world. That means you’re going to want some sort of food at your party. It does NOT mean you have to have it catered, or serve a full meal. It does NOT mean you have to spend a ton of time and money on it. It also does NOT mean you have to be super creative and come up with everything on your own. As I always say, there is no need to reinvent the wheel! Head over to Pinterest and do a quick search for “______ birthday party” and fill in the blank with whatever your theme is. There you will see bunches of posts from others who have had similar parties. Take ideas from those and adapt them to work for your party.
I’ll let you in on a little secret here. I serve almost exactly the same menu at every party! It consists of fruit, veggies, salty snack(s), sweet snack(s), cake, and a drink. Then I just pick foods in those categories that fit the season and the birthday kid’s taste and give them cute names to match our theme. So I served strawberries at my son’s Minecraft party and called them ‘Red Stone’, but served grapes at my other son’s dinosaur party and called them ‘Dino Eggs’. Here is how we set it up for my son’s dinosaur party last weekend.
Step 5: Choose Some Decorations
Have you ever seen that Catch My Party website? It’s the one that looks like everyone hired a party planner and spends hundreds of dollars on decor alone. Yeah, that’s not me! With 5 kids we can’t afford to shell out big bucks for each kid’s party decorations. At the same time, decorations are a key part of hitting your theme home. So, how do you have rocking decor without breaking the bank? My two secret weapons- Pinterest and the party store.
I’m telling you, Pinterest has a solution for just about everything motherhood could throw at you! When you’re there looking for menu inspiration, take note of some cute decorations you can make with just the basic supplies you have at home or can find at the dollar store. After gathering a few ideas for homemade decorations I head over to the party store to find a few final touches. Yes, you could easily blow your budget there, but just say no to getting all the things. A balloon and one decoration to match the theme (plus maybe some stickers for party favors) and I’m out of there for under $10!
For my son’s dinosaur party we bought the door cover and balloon from the party store, printed and cut out dinosaurs, and used his toys to decorate his cake. Simple as that!
I know throwing a birthday party can seem intimidating. For the first few years I dreaded them as much as I cherished them. Once I figured out the secrets to saving my sanity and my budget I was able to give my kids the parties they so badly wanted. I learned to let go of my fears and embrace the fun!