Tag Archives: Planes

Party on a Budget Tip #4: Games, Favors and Other Miscellaneous Thoughts

Today I had 2 hours to myself  very close to a restaurant with wifi!  So I am really enjoying being a blogger today!

We are coming to an end of this party series.  The other night, I was interviewed about my party planning, and the questions I was asked gave me some ideas about quick tips and short topics that I haven’t covered yet, so this post is going to be a quick wrap up covering some final miscellaneous topics. Please feel free to post in the comments below if you feel like I have  skipped over a subject matter that interests you.

CLICK on the pictures to see specific information for each one.

How far in advance do you start planning a party?

Obviously, you can never start too early, but I think the ideal time-frame for fairly stress-free party-planning is a month.  This gives you time to come up with the theme, decide on the details, and get items ordered if needed.

What kind of games and how many do you need?

The answer to this question, can depend on the age of your children.  The younger the children, the shorter the attention span, and the more organization is needed to avoid chaos.  With preschool/early elementary, I try to plan 3-4 activities that last 10-15 minutes each. They should be SIMPLE, with instructions that are easy to follow and enforce.  For this reason, many times, I simply choose games they already know how to play (musical chairs, hot potato) and just add a themed element to it.  Or I choose a “basically no rules” game, like take turns showing us your ninja moves on the trampoline.

I also have one activity that is “quiet.” It can be a craft or as simple as coloring pages spread out on a table (of course, the pages are theme-related!)

With older elementary kids, you might be able to get away with one game that has a variation of rounds–flag football with a “capture the flag” variation round.  Nerf wars with different scenarios and goals (target practice, evasive tactics and then all-out war!)

FYI, Pinterest can be your best friend in finding theme-related games.

Are party favors a must?

I don’t think they are.  I usually give one out, but it is NOT going to be my high-expense budget line item.  My party favors consist of either 1. something I used during the party for the decor or a game (at the Nerf party, the boys got to keep their team bandana and eye protection along with theme-colored gum and tic-tacs), or 2. $1 or less/child.  For example, one year we did a Ninja theme.  I found giant (2-inch) ninja star gummy candies.  I printed a “thank you” label, stapled it to the individually wrapped ninja star, and that was my party favor that year.  I think it came out to 25 cents/child. And no, I did not take a picture of that particular party favor–another photographer fail!

To DIY or not to DIY?  That is the question!

Should you make your cake or buy it?  Do you order everything or try to make it yourself?

There are so many factors that go into this decision, that I can say with all honesty that there is no wrong answer!  Factors to consider include, but are not limited to:

-SAHM with more time than  money or working mom with more money than time?

-Priorities: is this something that helps you bond with your child or something that keeps you from spending time with him?

-Do you ENJOY it, or do you get stressed just thinking about it?

-No matter your skill level, you CAN DIY.  Just remember, you need to learn your limitations and tailor your DIY accordingly.  For example, I can wield, a mean glue bottle, but I cannot sew, so I don’t even attempt any DIY that involves a needle and thread. On the other hand, after several years of attempting to make cakes, and knowing that this was something I wanted to keep doing, I went ahead and took a beginners cake-decorating course and learned SO MUCH. My stress-level went down and my enjoyment (and skill) level went up. I have learned to look at a cake idea, and tweak it down to my skill level.

How do you make sure you aren’t forgetting a key element to your party?

Get a party template going and follow it for every party you plan.  This blog is long enough, but if you would like to see mine, make sure you are subscribed to my blog and then comment below that you would like to see it, and I can email it to you.

In the future, I will try to post about once a month on planning a party for a SPECIFIC theme.  Please post in the comments below if there is a theme you would like me to post a blog about to help you in your planning!

My next blog post will be about teaching our children the life skill of WAITING! So stay tuned!

 

 

Party on a Budget Tip #2: Edible Decor (and free printable)

I had very good intentions of getting this post out earlier, but this household has been hit with the nasty stomach virus, and I’ve been busy doing other not-so-pleasant activities!

Back to the more pleasant subject of party planning!  Did you know that one of the best ways to save money when planning a themed party, is with your food? Why? Food has to figure into your budget one way or the other, right? Well, here is a little secret:  You might be able to fudge on some of your other decor, if you make your food part of the theme, thereby saving money!

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Edible decor has another advantage:  It gets consumed so you don’t have to figure out what to do with it after the party is over. Here’s another secret: I think this is why I enjoy cake decorating so much–I can be crafty, without having to figure out where I’m going to put it after I’ve made it!

Now, before you get overwhelmed, let me clarify.  If cooking and baking is not your thing, ordering pizza is not a wrong choice, or worthy of inducing guilt.  You can still have an epic party!  Your child would rather have a relaxed, fun mom at his  pizza party, than a frazzled Martha Stewart who is barking orders at his perfectly themed and executed party-of-the-century.  I know, because I’ve been both.

However, edible decor, does not necessarily have to be super fancy or even time-consuming, if you use a little imagination.

Edible decor CAN be simple.  Take the picture of the above veggie platter.  I always serve veggies at my parties, so I chose what veggies to serve and HOW to serve them in keeping with my Ninjago theme.  That “snake” is one of the bad guys.  Meet Pythor.  I spent no more money than I would have, but added a great decor element to the theme that my birthday boy loved!

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Here is another great simple example:  Sandwiches cut with a bat cookie cutter to match the Batman theme.  It added no cost to the party, and maybe 5 extra prep minutes, and they got gobbled up.

 

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The menu itself might be chosen based on the theme.  This Kung Fu Panda party menu featured mini egg rolls, “dumplings” (pepperoni & cheese rolls), chow mein noodles served with chopsticks, and “sushi” made with rice krispie treats and gummy candies.

 

 

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This isn’t a great picture to illustrate my point, but sometimes I fall down on the photography job at parties!  Another easy way to use your food as decor, is to choose your food based on it’s color.  Here is party where I chose to do pizza, rather than making a lot of food, so I kept the rest of the food color-coordinated.  I only served orange and yellow food to go with this Nerf theme.  I had lemonade and orangeade (and Pepsi, but hey, black was one of the colors too!), yellow plain chips and orange Cheetos, and yellow peppers and orange carrots as veggies.  Simple, but it still tied into my theme (remember tip #1 about colors?)

12553048_10153808781575053_5058950187527923158_nStar wars label

Sometimes, all you need are printed signs with pithy names for your food. And if you are as unimaginative as I am in the name/title/labeling department, well, that is what Pinterest is for!  In our Star Wars theme, we had “Yoda Soda,” “Hutt Dogs,” “Vader Veggies,” and so forth. In fact, if you would like a ***FREE PRINTABLE*** of my Star Wars food labels, subscribe to my blog, and then let me know in the comments section that you would like me to send it to you.

And last, but not least, is using the cake to further your theme, but that is probably a post for another day, since that is a hobby of mine . . . this post is long enough!

I leave you with a few more pics of ways to incorporate your food into the theme.  How have you used your food to build on your party theme?

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No cute way to serve your drinks? No problem. Just slap on a cute themed label in this Pixar “Planes” theme.
Car "tires" for a Pixar "Cars" theme
Car “tires” for a Pixar “Cars” theme
Lego guys heads made with marshmallows, and m&m and yellow candy melt.
Lego mini figure heads made with marshmallows, an m&m and yellow candy melt.
Captain America Shield Fruit Pizza.
Captain America Shield Fruit Pizza.