If there’s one thing I’m crazy about, it’s throwing parties. But y’all know that already right? I mean, who doesn’t love parties? Probably a few of you. I know I’m a weirdo here, but aside from getting to show the birthday person just how much I love them by throwing in a crazy amount of time and effort into making it awesome, I just love the planning around a good theme. I adore having lots seemingly little, insignificant details work together to make the overall look and feel of the party something special.
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But we all know that this usually happy occasion can turn ugly real fast. I mean, have you even seen Pinterest?! It’s the place where I personally suck in enormous amounts of incredible inspiration but unfortunately also the place that leaves me feeling like I’m just not doing it right. That my cake isn’t perfect enough. Or that I don’t have enough thoughtful activities in the party packs. Not to mention the lack of beautifully made themed biscuits for the children to lick once before smooshing into the carpet.
If I have learned anything over the last EIGHT years of having parties, it’s that none of this stuff matters to the children.
At least, not as much as we think it does.
Case in point – the party we’re about to have on Saturday. It’s a bit of a crazy one to be honest.
In effect we’re having a triple birthday for our three kids AND a going away party (before we head off into the sunset in our campervan), all in one go! Over the course of the afternoon/evening we’ll probably have about 100 odd people arrive at our house, eat, party and leave. I can’t wait! Which, even though I might be stressing like a feral squirrel about to head into hibernation, makes me wonder if I’ve lost the plot.
Now what makes it even crazier is the amount of prep that I have done. Go on ask me! Yes, yes, I hear you asking. How much prep have I done? Here’s a curveball. None. Well aside from ordering some food for it. Oh, and I invited a few people.
But even though I should probably be freaking the heck out, I’m actually feeling pretty chill about it. We’ve done 14 parties already. FOURTEEN!! We have this thing waxed. Well, mostly.
I’ve chatted to my kids about this at length. There are only two things that they want for this party
- An awesome birthday cake shaped into our campervan, Optimus (it’s a campervan theme – how creative we are – but after the way the real Optimus cake turned out for the Transformers party I’m not holding my breath haha)
- All their friends and family there to celebrate with them!
But guys, even though I say that I can chill and not do anything for the party aside from putting out food and drinks, I can’t. I just can’t. So I wanted to share some of the best tips that I have collected over the years on doing a great party without breaking the bank. Parties don’t have to leave you in debt to be awesome or memorable. I promise!
HOW TO CREATE A MEMORABLE PARTY ON A BUDGET
- MAKE YOUR OWN INVITES – There’s this free program called Canva. Use it. It’s so easy and you get to have the coolest looking invites ever!
- CONSIDER HAVING IT AT HOME – We used to rent a little hall for our parties. But I realised that our house may not be big, but our garden isn’t thaaaat small. So we save money on renting out a space, and instead we use it towards providing really good food for our friends. The benefit of doing it in your home is two fold, you get to save on the rental AND you get to start decorating weeks in advance (if that’s your vibe).
- WEIGH YOUR OPTIONS – Although it might be cheaper to have it at home, it might not be the easiest. You need to have the space and also the inclination to fix up all the random broken things in your house. Sometimes it’s better to find a really great, kid friendly location that provides decor and awesome facilities all in one go. Bonus – NO cleaning up!! Yes please. It’s important to compare prices on this though, sometimes these places can be a full on rip off.
- DECOR – The way that I really save on decor is that I buy really good quality, but versatile options. Think bunting in different colours and that kind of thing. Then you can really use it for any party that you have. There are lots of places on Gumtree that provide really affordable decor options for the long or short term. Or I make it myself (or my Mom does). Well, sometimes I do. I just don’t have the time for that anymore. But I do save every decor item I make or buy, just in case I can use it the next year for something else.
- ENTERTAINMENT – We have found some great options for jumping castles and soft play toys through Gumtree over the years. I always contact about 10 different providers for a quote and go with the one that has not only gotten the best price, but the most reliable feedback/turnaround. If they can’t get back to your mails in time, what makes you think they will deliver on the day?
- CAKE! – We are suckers for making our own cake, but if this is something you outsource, make sure that you go to a trusted baker. You don’t want to end up with a Pinterestfail of a cake for your kid to look at or something that tastes disgusting once you actually put it in your mouth. Unless you make it like we do and then this is basically exactly what will happen.
- PARTY PACKS – Over the years I have done different things here, from handing out The Faraway Tree books to little puppets. There are so many novel ideas that you can also find on Gumtree. This year I’m cutting this altogether as I feel it just adds more pressure to parents and expectation from kids to get something for going to a party. But that’s just me.
- USE WHAT YOU HAVE – I used to be embarrassed that I didn’t have enough matching mugs or glasses. So I would pay to hire some. Now it adds the the charm of having the party in the homely space of you garden.
- LITTLE DETAILS – Sometimes really memorable things are little. Like putting flowers inside ice blocks or using hula hoops to create pretty back drops. Not everything has to be designed or bought.