I love a good party and the better & geekier the theme the better! However, not all themes allow you to just go to a store and buy everything you need, some times you need to get creative and get ready to do some DIY. While I have only thrown a few parties in my day, Shann Soiney over at Dirt and Noise is quiet the expert. Having a pose of little boys keeps you on your toes and parties in abundance. So she has some great pointers on throwing a geeky party AND staying on budget (who knew right!)
With three boys in our house, we have a lot of birthdays to celebrate. Luckily, two of those kids celebrate a birthday (hooray for twins!) but I still like to make their party fun and special. We are a one income family, so a budget is a must!
I would definitely say I’m a geek about theme parties. I just love them. It’s easy to go overboard, but since I like the challenge of saving money, and I also love to make things myself, I thought I would give you some tips on keeping your budget in check.
My oldest son’s birthday isn’t until October this year, but we’ve already decided on a theme…Star Wars. It’s perfect timing because the new movie is coming out, so I know there will be tons of stuff in the stores. The trick is waiting until it’s on sale or clearance to buy it. Since this theme has been in my mind for a while and we’ve still got at least 5 months until the party, I have plenty of time to wait for a good deal.
I have a couple boxes in the basement filled with things I’ve found for 70% to 90% off from Target’s Dollar Spot. Since my kids are pretty young, they are pretty flexible on what their birthday theme will be. As they get older, I’m sure they will have more input, but for now, I’m stocking up.
Not only do I shop at Target, but I went to Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreen’s, The Dollar Tree, Boston Store, Michael’s, Joanne Fabrics, Party City, and even Pick ‘N Save to find things. I compared prices online, looked in every clearance bin, and sometimes waited for things to go on sale before buying them. I also used Amazon (We have Prime so I have free shipping,) and Walmart’s site-to-store option so I didn’t have to pay for shipping. If you want to get the cheapest items, you need to give yourself enough shopping time to make it happen.
Last year we had a “Minion” themed party. If you’re not familiar, the Minions are from Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2. They also have their own movie coming out soon. I found a lot of cute things to go inside a treat bag for the guests, but couldn’t find any cheap bags that would fit the items. As I was browsing Michael’s summer clearance, I found yellow sand buckets and water bottles. At $0.29/piece, I was going to make them work. I think they turned out pretty good, plus they double as something the kids can actually use again. I filled the buckets with a $1 coloring book, and split up packs of graham crackers, cheese crackers, fruit snacks, stickers, and bouncy balls.
As for decorations, I made those too. I made birthday banners, signs, etc. I used yellow place mats that were 70% off at Target for one banner, and then sticky foam paper combined with the kid’s pictures for some other ones.
If drawing isn’t your thing, you can always check Etsy or Pinterest for cheap and/or free printables. You could also use pages from coloring books, or cut our pictures you find in magazines. The minions that I used on one of my posters came from the packaging from the items in the treat buckets.
Instead of balloons (which scare me around little children,) I bought some purple and yellow beach balls. They were really cheap from Amazon, plus I can use them at parties in the future.
We also wanted to hide…I mean decorate our living room carpet. We took foam tiles that we had from the kid’s playroom, and made a pattern of grey and yellow to match the colors of the party. We just flipped the green, red, and blue tiles upside down.
Kids don’t really care about eating at parties, with the exception of cake. So, we made the party in the middle of the afternoon, not during a mealtime, and then just had snacks and cake. I had some family members offer to bring stuff, which also cut down on the budget. I also just bought plain yellow plates, napkins, and plastic ware. They still matched the party, and were a lot cheaper than the licensed party stuff.
We enlisted the help of our parents for childcare. I needed to head to the store by myself a few times, and we also needed to clean up for the guests without interruption. I am really blessed to have family nearby that’s willing to help, but if you don’t, try asking friends to help out. You can always return the favor.
And speaking of help, if you ever need mine in planning, decorating, or shopping for a party…you know where to find me. I’m over at www.dirtandnoise.net.