Disclaimer: I’ve long been a fan of Minted’s invitations and party supplies and have shopped with them for years. I’d ordered (and paid for) Nora’s bunny invites (seen below) way before we ever started talking about this post, but I did receive a shop credit in exchange for writing it. In addition, all of the links in this post are affiliate links (which means I get a tiny commission if you click on them and buy something.) As always, I only represent brands I truly use and love, and I SO appreciate your support! (P.S. There’s also $150 to spend at Minted.com up for grabs at the end of this post. Don’t miss it!)
Let’s just be real here: First birthday parties, especially, are really for the parents. It is a celebration of surviving the first year (for real), and a way to honor the “village” that has helped you along the way. For both of my kids, hosting a first birthday party at our home was a big deal to me. After that, I like the idea of celebrating every year, so I intend to continue having birthday parties for as long as my kids are into them, but the bar gets significantly lowered after year one…
As you know, I had to cancel Nora’s first birthday “Bunny Brunch” last month because she was sick
for all of March. I might have shed a few hundred tears over my party dreams going down the drain; but, the truth is, as much as I love hosting and bringing people together, I really love the planning part, so all was not lost…
Here’s what we had planned:
It all started with this adorable invitation from Minted.com. I had never even considered a bunny theme until I saw this, but I immediately fell in love with the simplicity of it. I also loved that it looked “girly” without being all pink and princesses; plus, since the party was going to be on the Saturday right before Easter, I knew finding decorations and accessories would be easy and I could re-use anything I bought for Easter decorations next year (and every year after that). As a bonus, Minted was offering free matching envelopes and recipient addressing (they still are now), and since we knew we wanted to keep our guest list small and intimate – just family and very close friends – I was able to plug that info in when I ordered and save myself one more step in the process. The invitations came in just a few days, and the envelopes were SO pretty (seriously, I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture) that I almost hated to stamp them. 🙂
I let the invitation guide my decor and went with a teal, light pink, and dark pink color scheme plus the addition of little white bunnies wherever I could put them. I had almost everything already between parties I had thrown in the past and Easter decorations, but I did add a few little details (like the high chair fringe – which is now on my mantle and the first birthday cake topper) from Amazon and bunny ears for all the kids from the Target Dot Spot. I also planned to have light and dark pink balloons and LOTS of white tulips (my “birthday” flower that I’ve been excited to share with Nora since this time last year), but I never made it that far. ;(
Speaking of cake, one way I decided to keep things simple was to host a brunch instead of a big lunch or dinner. I knew with a 10AM start time, I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time to cook etc. in the morning, so I had picked up a few quiches from my favorite bakery, made a big fruit salad (that I’d planned to serve in a cabbage shaped bowl), and ordered two dozen pink-frosted donuts to layer on a cake stand. (I did get a simple white “smash cake” for Nora that we were able to use the next day, but I loved that donuts would cut down on cost, clean-up, etc. for me.) I also stuck to plastic plates and cutlery and splurged on some adorable pink bunny napkins that matched the theme.
And finally, my favorite birthday tradition: I found this cute book on Amazon (which ended up being absolutely darling) for guests to sign. I’ve tried to do this at all of Sam’s parties too – find a book related to the theme of the party for guests to write special notes in – and they are such great keepsakes. As a bonus, the book doubles as decoration for the beginning of the party at least. 🙂
So to summarize… I’m not an expert party-planner in the least, but I do really enjoy it. In particular, I like the challenge of keeping things affordable and low-stress without doing tons of DIY projects or sacrificing cuteness.
If you’re planning a kids’ birthday party soon, here are my top tips for keeping it simple & sweet:
Choose a seasonal theme.
My bunny theme worked great because it was spring and Easter was right around the corner. We also went to a great “Master’s” themed party this past Saturday, and I’m looking forward to planning Sam a summer camp-out party some July. Picking something that is “in season” makes decorating SO much cheaper and easier!
Use grocery store balloons and flowers.
I think a big vase of flowers and a bunch of balloons – tied to the high chair, at the front door, randomly hanging from the ceiling – is the most cost efficient (and cute) way to decorate for a party; plus, you can get everything you need in one (relatively inexpensive) trip to the grocery store: no need for florists or fancy party supply stores. Plus, the balloons also make great “take home” treats for kids, and the flowers will make your house feel happy for days after its all said and done.
Use what you have.
If you still want to add a little “flair” to the party, don’t buy tons of stuff to decorate. I like to frame my invitation and incorporate it into the party’s decor. Often, I’ll even display it in the nursery for a while afterward to get even more “bang for my buck.” Other items from around the house that make cute decorations include mason jars or a collection of mis-matched vases (add colored string or ribbon to unify them), photographs, toys, ceramics, stuffed animals, books, and – my personal favorite – a sheet of fun patterned wrapping paper or plain brown Kraft paper as a table runner. At our friend’s Master’s party this past weekend, she filled vases with golf balls as centerpieces – adorable!
Recycle old decorations.
It is tempting to just throw things away when a party is over, but I keep a big bin in the basement of decorations that are still in good shape and always make that my first stop when planning decor. For Nora’s party, I reused lots of pink accessories from a wedding shower I threw for a friend a few years ago, and I’ve used the same bachelorette party banner for at least five people so far.
Bonus: Leftover party decorations also make GREAT classroom decorations – my room has been sporting the remnants of Sam’s red and teal first birthday party for almost four years now! 😉
Don’t over-do it.
In my experience, people never miss what you don’t have; and – especially for a kid’s party – they aren’t coming expecting a gourmet meal or fine china. Keeping the food simple cuts down significantly on cost, prep time, and clean up. It’s a no-brainer. We did chips, hotdogs, and watermelon for Sam’s first birthday, skipped cake in favor of cake pops for his “Red Ball” 2nd birthday party, and are big fans of Little Caesar’s Hot & Ready pizzas (#noshame) for a crowd. Also, if you aren’t using disposable napkins, plates, and cutlery, you are crazy. Period.
Skimp on (or skip all together) goodie-bags and favors.
I don’t know what makes favors so darn tempting, but try to resist the trap. Goodie bags almost always get thrown out at our house, so it’s an added expense/effort that you can totally do without. BUT, if you absolutely must give your guests a parting gift, think VERY simple – we’ve done big red rubber balls, a pirate eye patch, a fireman’s hat, and bunny ears – to match each year’s theme.
If all else fails, get out of the house!
I mentioned above that I like the have the first birthday party at our house (I’m sentimental like that), but after that, the #1 way to keep your party low-key is to do it AWAY FROM HOME! My personal favorite party spot is the local fire station (simply call to schedule – at least in our city, the tour is FREE and they provide hats!), but parks, museums, art studios, etc. also make great locations. There are lots of good free options, but even if you do pay for something, the convenience of not having to clean/clean-up, cook, etc. will far outweigh the cost!
Ask for (and accept) help!
I can’t stress this one enough… The planning is even more fun if you do it with someone else! In my experience, grandmas are particularly great at this. 😉
Ok guys, thanks for obliging me! What’s your favorite tip for throwing wonderful birthday parties with minimal stress and spending?
And now for the fun part… the great folks at Minted are giving away $150.00 to spend ANY WAY YOU WANT to one lucky Sam&Scout reader. If you’re throwing a party any time soon, you can choose from any of their hundreds (literally) of beautiful invitations, grab an awesome party decor set, and get matching thank you notes to boot. Better yet, treat yourself to one of these custom silhouette art pieces or buy one for Grandma for Mother’s Day next month! The possibilities are endless, and $150 can go a long way!!!
Go here and fill out a quick form to enter!
Have a great week friends!
The Fine Print: This giveaway is only open to legal residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia who are at least 18 years old as of the date of entry, except officers, directors, members, and employees of the Sponsor, the judging organization (if applicable), or any other party associated with the development or administration of this Promotion, and the immediate family (i.e., parents, children, siblings, spouse), and persons residing in the same household, as such individuals. This Promotion is void outside the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, and where prohibited.
The giveaway will end on April 18th, and the winner will be emailed the $150 coupon code on April 19th.
Amanda K. says
Such a cute birthday! My heart definitely broke when I heard about you canceling Nora’s birthday — as a mom of a family who is often sick, I know how hard it is.
1) my nephew was born 10/25 and his mom throws a costume party every year and it is PERFECT. plus the kids get to wear their costumes more than once!!
2) i went to my first brunch bday party this year and it’s now my favorite time of day for a party!!
Awwww what a sweet theme! My sister is expecting her first baby this summer and I always refer her to you and Heather’s blog! Have a great day!
Oh, I love #7! That is definitely our plan for non-party years – I wouldn’t have thought of the fire station, that’s a good one!