Who loves going to a party? Who loves planning a party? Chances are most of you only said yes to the first question and I completely understand. It’s a lot of work! A lot of people are not a fan of all the details that involve throwing a party of any kind–such as birthday, anniversary, baby shower, new years eve, home warming, to name a few. I am one of the few people who thrives on planning a party more than going to a party. I do plan one major fundraising gala a year at my job, which has helped me learn some tips and tricks. But they are very different events. I just really enjoy the whole process of planning gatherings that bring people together and transform a place into a celebration. To see guests smile, enjoy and appreciate a party I host makes me happy. I enjoy every aspect of it—determining the theme, getting all the party planning supplies together and—the best part—putting it all together. Even if I have a ton of things to do, I would still volunteer to do it! I have even gone out and bought new stemware or dishes for a party because I wanted to make sure everything looked just right.
My son recently turned two years old and, of course, we planned a little birthday party for him at home. It was not a big birthday party as our home is unable to accommodate many people. We just invited a few family members to celebrate. Regardless, I was on a quest to make sure that it was perfect! As I planned and put it all together, I thought of several things that helped me through the process during this party and other parties I have hosted. My “portfolio” includes, Bachelorette, Baby Shower, New Year’s Eve, Oscars, Three Kings Day, Ugly Sweater, among many others. So, I thought I would share some tips of what I’ve learned along the way that have helped me put and save some money.
- Use a linen tablecloth. Instead of a paper or plastic table cover, invest in a tablecloth. You can easily find a tablecloth online in the color to match the theme of your party. If you are using it over a glass table, make sure to stick double-sided tape on the table so that it does not slide around. I purchased a 70-inch round tablecloth for $11 on Amazon. The bonus part is that I get to keep the tablecloth to use again in the future! Yes…I have reused them!
- Use a cake stand. If you are throwing a party where there is a cake involved—especially a birthday party—use a cake stand. This will make a world of a difference. There are round cake stands to accommodate cakes of all sizes. Want to stand out even more? Buy a cake stand that is not white! A cake stand that is not the traditional color will make your cake display look more interesting. If you have a sheet cake instead and want to raise it, you can purchase a cake riser. But since it is not as common as round cake stand, it may be a bit more expensive to purchase than a round one.
- Buy pre-strung banners. Nothing is worse when setting up your party than finding out that the cute “Happy Birthday” banner you bought needs to be painstakingly strung together letter by letter. If you have plenty of time to devote to putting a banner together, that’s great. Some are not that time intensive, but you don’t know until you attempt it. If anything, at least read the instructions as soon as it arrives and try to put it together in advance to avoid the stress of putting it together the day of the party, when you will have many things to do.
- Use twinkle lights. Nothing says festive like twinkle lights. Hang them in different areas to give your party a festive and cozy feel. If you want to take it up a notch, buy a twinkle lights curtain to accent a wall.
- Decorations are not always at the party store. Be creative. If you can’t find decorations at the party store, look elsewhere. Some examples of where I have found decorations: the dollar store, TJ Maxx, and Target. For my son’s party, I wanted some safari animals for the table. I ended up finding them at TJMaxx in the toys section. The bonus is that my son is playing with them after the party. Actually he wanted them as soon as he saw them so they were on and off the table throughout the party! I’ll call it a win!
- Use white napkins and plates. Napkins and plates that match your decor are a nice touch, but you can also use plain white napkins and plates to let your decorations stand out. Also, if the design on your napkins and plates does not exactly match our decor it will compete with it and result in a confused look. White napkins and plates tend to be cheaper.
- Use clear cups and utensils. Just as with the napkins and plates, use clear cups and utensils to let your decorations stand out. For cups and utensils, clear ones look more elegant than white. They also tend to be cheaper than their colored counterparts.
- Get the appropriate cups for what you are serving. If you are serving wine, make sure to buy clear short wine cups. If serving soda, do not use beer cups or worse, colored beer cups, to serve soda. Those cups tend to give a college party feel. For the same price, or likely less, get cups that are smaller.
There are so many other tips that I can share, but these are what have helped me with every party I plan. Throughout the years I have learned that the dollar store is my friend. You can find cups, napkins and even some very cute decorations to support your theme. Don’t limit yourself to just the party store and, remember to not make your decor compete with each other!