I….LOVE….CELEBRATING…BIRTHDAYS! Mine, my family members’, my friends’…It’s the one day of the year that is all about YOU!

My little Emma hasn’t had the opportunity to celebrate her first birthday yet (it’s coming up in May) but my daughter Caroline’s third birthday is rapidly approaching. I’m currently in the midst of lots of birthday party planning (but I will fill you in on all of those details in my “Part 2” post). I truly enjoy making a big deal about her special day and creating a fun and unique party, although sometimes I start to question if I’m secretly doing this more for me than her. There’s something about deciding on a theme, finding creative (and cost efficient) ways to personalize the party, and especially the satisfaction I get from watching my daughter admire it all while having a great time with her friends and family. I guess you could say I’m a party planning junkie (who wishes she could make a living doing this)!

Whether or not you get as much pleasure as I do when planning your child’s birthday party, I have some TIPS and IDEAS for you that can SAVE YOU MONEY! Not only that, but you will end up with one kick a$$ party!

Well, now that I have your attention, here are my top 6 birthday party planning tips:

1. Decide on a theme for your party. Last year I decided to do an Elmo-themed birthday party for Caroline because she was really digging that adorable, red, furry puppet. When deciding on a theme, think of your child’s interests. It doesn’t have to be based on a favorite movie, show, or character. Think outside the box! Does your child repeatedly host pretend tea parties? How about a fondness for a particular animal or job (i.e. firefighter, construction worker, etc.) *Hint: Try to decide on a theme at least 2-3 months before the actual party. This can save you time and money (not to mention stress) in the long run!

2. Search online for ways to incorporate your theme into the party details. Let me tell you – if you have not already given in to the Pinterest craze, you will want to now! I cannot even tell you how many creative, unique, easy, cost efficient ideas I have found for Caroline’s birthday parties! And it’s a super way to keep those details organized without unnecessary printing, loose papers and scribbled notes jotted down. No pinterest? No worries! Just do a Google search. I like to search by images in Google. I’m a visual person and I don’t want to waste my time clicking searching through a website when I don’t even really like the product/project! *Hint: You would be surprised by how many adorable FREE printables there out there in cyber space just waiting to be used for some lucky little kiddo’s birthday party. Perform a Google search with your theme and “free printables” (i.e. “Elmo free printables”). You will be amazed by what you can use for decorations!

I set up a coloring station for the little ones and used some free Elmo printable coloring pages. This one has "2" on it which worked really well for Caroline's 2nd birthday!

I set up a coloring station for the little ones and used some free Elmo printable coloring pages. This one has “2” on it which worked really well for Caroline’s 2nd birthday!

3. Keep on the lookout for items in the store that correspond with your party theme. I found lots of fun $1 Dr. Seuss items at Target about 5 months before her birthday. I snatched those suckers up faster than you can say “Sam I am!” Of course I hung onto the receipt just in case but it’s a good idea to not let opportunities like that pass you by. You can always return it later if you change your mind!

4. Utilize your strengths and make some things yourself if you can. Do you excel at baking or cooking? Then how about making the cake or cupcakes yourself? If you need a few pointers/ideas/reminders, there are tons of YouTube tutorials for you to take a look at. Are you a talented artist or crafter? How about painting a Happy Birthday banner or creating one out of fabric pieces, some stencils and paint? Think about your skills and talents and how you can use them to make a unique party experience. Not to mention the fact that it will save you money since you then won’t have to purchase it from a store or pay someone else to make it.

I painted an Elmo character board that the kids (and even adults!) could take their pictures with.

I painted an Elmo character board that the kids (and even adults!) could take their pictures with.

5. There’s no shame in bartering (if you feel comfortable doing so). This is pretty self-explanatory. If you know someone who possesses a certain skill that you lack (and vice versa) then you might want to consider applying the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” method. For example, if you struggle in the baking department but work wonders with a paintbrush and some paint maybe you can work something out with a friend who has a knack for baking cakes. If they make the cake for your party, maybe you can pay them back by using your artistic talent to create some decorations for their child’s party.

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I was lucky enough to receive help from my stepmom (who really could run her own bakery) with these adorable Elmo cupcakes.

6. Be Resouceful and Make as much of it yourself as possible! The food, the dessert, the decorations, the games… if you pay someone else to make them or buy them from a store, you will most likely end up spending much more money than you need to.See what you have lying around the house (or garage?) because you might just have some pretty cool treasures to use for the party! Think books, toys, dress-up clothes that correspond with your theme. You are in the driver’s seat and can make it as simple or as intricate as you would like.

Instead of spending a lot of money on Elmo cups and plates, I created my own Elmos with plain red plates and red solo cups. I just glued the Elmo eyes and nose on them!

Instead of spending a lot of money on Elmo cups and plates, I created my own Elmos with plain red plates and red solo cups. I just glued the Elmo eyes and nose on them!

 

Most importantly, have fun with it and remember that it’s a celebration! So don’t take it too seriously and don’t get so wrapped up in the nitty-gritty details that you don’t enjoy yourself! Just party like a rock star!

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I am going to show you how I applied my special ideas and tips towards creating a Dr. Seuss themed birthday party for my daughter.

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