If you are on a tight event budget like me, taking the time to do a little research and price comparison will make a difference in your guests' experience.
There are a few websites I found through this birthday planning process that I wish I had known about years ago. Here are my top 2:
1. Since the guest tables, food table and gift table were not in great shape, we needed to cover them with linen at a low cost. Rental linens were completely out of the budget, but I think plastic table cloths looks cheap. A great solution is paper table cloths. Shindigz offers a variety of paper table covers at just $3.99/each. The shipping will cost a few dollars, but avoiding sales tax is always a plus with most online shopping.
ESPE TIP: When choosing table covers, consider multiple coordinating colors to create a little movement and depth to the tables. I chose a lime green and emerald green for the round guest tables to play into the dinosaur theme. The food tables and gift table will be covered in a darker color, chocolate brown, to feature brighter objects placed on the tables such as the food and gifts.
2. I used to visit Party City for all my party favor needs, but they don't always have items in stores and the shipping costs online can be a little expensive. For easy themed party favors, party enhancements, and decor items, Oriental Trading Company is my favorite. I purchased B's favors, 64 themed napkins, themed treat bags & party hats for $20.00 total. And never had to leave the house!
ESPE TIP: Save your money and purchase solid color paper plates and cups. I know the printed paper plates can be so cute, but they won't be cute with food of them nor in the trash once guests are finished. Napkins are a more cost-effective way to carry out the theme.
Aside from just online shopping, there were a few times I bought party items from the store.During the initial bargain shopping phase, I kept my eye out for great deals on items that would shape the look of the dinosaurs (cartoon vs. authentic, bright colors vs. dark colors, etc). That's when I found these plastic dinosaurs for $1.00 each.
ESPE TIP: If you are shopping at Michael's, never buy all your items in one trip. Use those 40% off coupons that print off with receipts for each future visit.
Another way to save money on your next party? Get creative! Since I come from the catering world, I'm big on displaying food nicely and labeling buffet items. Using one of my Michael's 40% off coupons, I purchased ivory place cards for $2.00, put a dinosaur sticker on each, and ta da! Themed, customized food labels. People like to know what they are eating, especially when it comes to children and allergies.
Finally, don't forget an activity for your guests! Back before I was a mom, I was always a little bored at most children's birthday parties. Sure my friends or family enjoyed watching their child open birthday gifts, but what did I really care? Now that I'm the host, adult guests can participate in a "Guess My Age" worksheet with various pictures of B throughout his first year. The guest with the most right answers wins a prize! The prize is the only thing that really cost money, and even a small, silly gift is a nice gesture for any adults attending the party.
4 WEEKS OUT:
- Visit venue if necessary to view decor
- Start planning menu
- Online decor/party favor shopping
- Plan/create activities for guests. Consider a prize to motivate participation.
Be sure to check back for photos of the party, a complete planning timeline and more!