Even if I wanted to I couldn't throw a small birthday party for my children. Usually a small party is parents, grandparents, and aunts, uncles, and cousins. Well, my husband and I both come from split homes so my girls have 2 sets of grandparents on each side plus great grandparents that they are really close to. Then I have 2 brothers and Casey has 2 brothers and 2 sisters, 2 of which are married with children. When you add everyone up it ends up being 19 people plus the 4 of us. A party with 23 people isn't small at all. Then we have those friends that are there for my girls like aunts and uncles and I just feel bad leaving them out because my girls see them more than they see most of their aunts and uncles anyway. So to say it simply, we'll always have large parties but they don't always have to be expensive.
For Hayleigh's first birthday party I spent a total of $20. Out of that $20 I have left over decorations that I won't have to buy again for Madelynn's next party. Now I know it can be done cheaper. But what fun is a party without beautiful decorations?
The first step to a less expensive birthday party is making your own cake. You could buy a box mix or make it completely from scratch. Either way it's cheaper than spending $15+ on a cake or cupcakes from Walmart and it is usually cuter.
For Hayleigh's party I scoured Pinterest for MONTHS for ideas. I found the idea to make Minnie Mouse heads with Oreos. Then I got to thinking. The adults that come usually never eat a cupcake. I think it's because everyone and their brother is on a diet anymore. So I decided to make mini Minnie cupcakes for the adults. I was quite pleased with the way they turned out. To make them you just open a mini oreo and scrape out the cream filling and stick the pieces in the icing like ears.
Next are the snacks. When you have that many people coming to your house close to dinner or lunch time then it's nice to have some snacks because you don't know if they've eaten yet or not. So I decided on simple things that I could make fun. I made rice crispies with sugar sprinkles mixed in and Minnie shaped cookies with icing bows. Then my mother-in-law offer to help with some snacks so she bought strawberries and chips. I have also learned that you NEVER turn down help for a party.
For drinks that match your theme there are an array of different colored kool-aids and other mix and serve drinks. All you need is a clear pitcher and the flavor or color of your choice. For Hayleigh's party I picked pink lemonade. You can dress it up with colored or shaped ice cubes if you'd like. But I just kept it simple.
Then the part I know you're waiting for cost effective decorations and favors. When you go to the store there are all of these cute cute cute decorations in lots of different character themes. I have learned that you don't have to buy those to get your theme across. Took me 3 birthday parties to finally learn it. I picked pink and black everything. I was lucky and found polka dot pink napkins at Walmart. I used pink and black streamers that me and my sister in law already had. Plastic table cloths are cheap. Though I am looking into a white cloth one for all parties that I can just add different stuff to for different themes. Then I hit the clearance bin at Michaels. They have so much cool stuff in their clearance bin. This time I found round pink lanterns. I knew immediately that they would me Minnie heads and then used again for Madelynn's Tangled party in January.
Streamers are always cheap and festive. You almost never use a whole roll. At least I don't. So you can save them and cut the costs of the next party.
For the ears I just traced around a cup on construction paper and taped it on.
Madelynn insists that you have to have a Happy Birthday banner. So I found one for $1.50 at Walmart. I got it in generic girl colors. That way I can save it and always just use that for parties in the future.
For favors I used another Pinterest idea and made Minnie and Mickey headbands for the kids. I already had black felt but you can get it at Dollar Tree. Then I bought 2 packs of plastic headbands at Dollar Tree. I made sure to get packs that had black and pink in them. That way I didn't have to cover the headband with felt, I only had to put ears on it. The kids enjoyed their ears and got to take them home.
Hayleigh is to young but if you were throwing a Minnie party for an older kid and wanted a game you could play "Pin the Bow on Minnie". Obviously it's played just like pin the tail on the donkey but with a black Minnie/Mickie head cut out and a large pink bow. The prize/favor for playing the game could be a small bag of cookies.
For parties I used to spend around $100. I thought I needed to have elaborate meals or snacks, and the best character themed decorations. Then, after Madelynn's first birthday when I ended up taking home like 2 gallons of spaghetti and 2 loaves of garlic bread or her third birthday when I spent $50 on simple decorations, I realized that kids are gonna love whatever you do it doesn't have to be so costly. As long as you have the right colors and 1 or 2 balloons with the character they want on it your child is going to think it's the perfect party and love it. As far as the food goes it all just needs to be kid friendly. The adults barely eat anyway. So don't make anything to cater to them. Just make enough of the kid friendly snacks that if the adults want some they can eat them too. You actually get more rave reviews on your food if it's simple than you do if it's intricate.
Hope this helps with planning your next party! What are some ways you have found to throw a Festive yet frugal party?