In the last 30 days I hosted two bridal showers for my sister, a 1st birthday party for my son, and a Mother’s Day lunch for family and friends. It was a party planning marathon and I’m combining all the fun DIY and budget friendly tips from each of them in this one packed post! Is it just me or do Pinterest and Instagram add a lot of pressure to hosting? Most of us don’t have unlimited funds and even if you do, none of us have unlimited time! The worst thing you can do is let unrealistic expectations get in the way of enjoying your celebration! Because that’s what it’s all about! The extra lengths you go to to make things special is just icing on the cake 😉 Keep that in mind while you plan so unnecessary stress doesn’t rob you of the experience!
Now, here are some practical tips for turning all those hours of scrolling Pinterest for ideas into a party you’ll be proud of with out breaking the bank!
DIY! Even more importantly, DIWH (DoItWithHelp)!
If there’s a way to do it myself, I’m usually in! It might take a little extra time and effort, but it almost always means saving money! It’s also a great opportunity to put your own personal spin on things which always adds to the sentimental aspect of your celebration! Food, decor, games… you’d be surprised at what you can pull together yourself (and even more, with a little help!) Which leads me to DIWH: don’t be afraid to ask for help! Usually, the people you’re inviting to a celebration are your people! They want to feel involved and giving them an opportunity to contribute is a great way to make that happen. Consider their strengths and delegate! Maybe you have a friend you is a great baker?! Assign her to the cake! You’ll save money, she’ll get to love on the honoree with her talent and everyone wins! I had tons of help with these parties: Mainly, my sisters and mom! So when I say “we” that’s who I’m referring to! 🙂
Let’s start with…
For one of the bridal showers and Finnley’s birthday, we created a whole charcuterie table. It was such a hit and I plan to use this idea many more times!
To create a charcuterie table, I purchased this Kraft paper (thicker than my typical paper scroll recommendation from the hardware store!) to lay over the table and placed the food right on it with the help of platters, cutting boards, cake plates, and bowls to add dimension. We added a variety of crackers, meats, cheeses, spreads, veggies, fruits and dried fruits to the table and even incorporated some plants and small decor elements. This table was probably the show stopper of both parties, but it was SO easy and surprisingly affordable. (All the food was bought in bulk from Costco and Winco!) Bonus: This setup also requires very minimal food prep!
I LOVE decorating with photos! It’s inexpensive, easy, and so personal! I like to have mine printed through Costco or Walmart and for these events I used Walmart’s “one hour print.” A picture garland is always an easy way to spruce up an area with some twine and photos. I like to attach them with mini clothes pins or glue dots!
In the left picture (above) I put a different spin on displaying photos and hung them in embroidery hoops as a backdrop for our food table.
Pictures are an easy way to add personal touches here and there throughout a space or as a focal point! You can use a photo as a statement piece in your decor by blowing one up to larger size orrr my personal favorite, turn one into a piece of art!
Since Finnley’s birthday party was outdoor themed, my talented friend Liana Lane created this custom piece for us based off of a photo from one of our favorite family adventures and I LOVE it! You can check out all her art and custom rates on her Etsy shop and follow along with her sweet self on her instagram page! You won’t be sorry!!
My favorite thing about using photos for decor is how versatile they are. They can be used in unexpected ways like this last minute table runner I put together in the backyard! I rolled out some masking paper and then secured pictures on top with glue dots and topped it of with a potted plant as a center piece! Almost free and SO easy!
Speaking of masking paper… I’m obsessed with it! Here’s a whole blog post on creating your own paper scroll wall art using masking paper 🙂
I’ve talked about this before around here, but I love using transitional items in my home! It’s fun to incorporate things that add variety to my space and can be modified to fit specific seasons or events! When times like this roll around, I can easily change up these items in a few minutes to be an element of the celebration at hand!
Again.. you can learn more about how to make your own paper scroll wall art here!! Just this month we used this masking paper for table runners, signs, and on our charcuterie table!
Letter boards, chalk boards, scrabble tiles… All these transitional decorations create fun opportunities to personalize your party in an inexpensive and creative way! Which leads me toooo:
Add your personal spin!
For Finnley’s birthday, I chose the outdoor theme and then popped onto Pinterest. After scrolling for a while, I saw a pun about s’mores that inspired my whole theme: “One S’more Fun!” Things don’t always need to be themed to the extreme and perfectly tied in, its just something I enjoyed doing.
The party favors were my own spin on mini s’more kits I saw online. I filled cellophane party bags with a scoop of cinnamon toast crunch cereal, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows. One bag of each made 20 of these party favors with a little to spare! Then I tied them off with some twine and attached these hand written tags. We also used these letter stamps! (Only $4.99 and I use them ALL the time!)
Another DIY with a personal touch were the games and advice notes I created for my sister’s bridal showers. I plan to share a whole blog post soon about adding sentimental value to your party plans, but for now I’ll just share this peek:
At each place setting was a “how well do you know the couple” game, as well as an advice card for each guest to fill out and place in the accompanying envelope.
Both templates were created for free using Canva! I asked the bride and groom questions and used symbols that represented them personally for the game. It was a sweet and simple way for guests to get to know them better while having fun. The advice cards were placed in envelopes that we tied together for the couple to read when they return from their honeymoon!
We printed and cut both items ourself so this element of the parties only cost us the price of the envelopes!
Use what ya have
Sometimes budget friendly requires some creativity! One of my favorite ways to stretch my budget is to brainstorm how I can use what I already have and incorporate minimal new items to freshen it up.
I started planning this shower based on these amber dishes. I knew I wanted to use them and from there I considered what else I could mix in from what I already owned. I gathered together some candle sticks, plants, and decor that fit my vision, asked to borrow a few more and immediately had the start of a party theme! Then I thought up some simple ways we could add to what I had in order to stretch my funds and do the most with the least! Other than food, this looked like buying some simple flowers and greens (my favorite places are Trader Joes and FredMeyers), a few decorative items from Michaels… Not much else! I came in under budget with every party thanks to using things I already owned or could borrow! That brings me to my last tip…
Think outside the box!
I mean, who thinks to use oranges as a whole theme for a party? My cute sister that’s who! She’s my favorite party planning partner and she is the brain behind the very instagramy orange garland!! Sometimes it’s the most ordinary things that can be used to create the funnest themes. Let the internet and the real world inspire you and don’t be afraid to do something unexpected!
Instructions for the orange garland (from my sis, Marissa herself 😉 ) :
“I sliced oranges, blood oranges and grapefruit in thin slices (about half a cm/ 7 per orange) then I put them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 200 degrees for 2hrs on each side. I flipped them a few extra times, just trying to get them as dry (but still bright) as I could. When I was done with a few little rounds of that I left them out on the counter on the cookie rack in the sun. They need to stay out until they are fully dry! I bought the lowest weight of fishing line they had at the store and a pack of thick needles. Then I got to stringing them! I would do one loop around the peel, per slice, so they wouldn’t slide! P.S. it makes your house smell divine!”
From there we combined our dish collections and added oranges around our tablescape to tie it all in! The meal was brunch (always a favorite theme for me!) And I’ll have to share the main dish recipe here ASAP because it was a big hit.
For now, I’ll leave you with Finnley’s “homemade” birthday cake! Homemade frosting, but the cakes from a box, cute “1” flag, but not my first attempt. Overall I loved it, but it wasn’t my original vision… that’s okay!
The minute I stopped worrying about creating a Pinterest perfect, insta-worthy 1st birthday party for Finn and just enjoyed the opportunity to spend time celebrating him with our favorite people was the moment I started having more fun! That’s what I want my memories to be made of! There’s a time and place for attention to detail, but let it stay put and don’t forget that it’s the people that make the celebration, not the perfect plans!
Head to my instagram for a bonus party planning tip!!
Have any questions I didn’t get to? Comment below or send me a message! I would LOVE to hear from you! 🙂
Thanks so much for reading along and every pin or social media share! They mean so much!!