Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Planning a 1st Birthday Party

I began planning Nathan's first birthday when he was six months old. Yes, I'm that kind of mom.

It took me a while to figure out how I was going to execute the whole thing. I have never thrown a party before, so I gave careful thought to the "what, where, why, and when" of pulling off a kid's birthday party. After deciding on all the details, I began to buy a little at a time, to reduce the overall cost AND to take advantage of various sales and such. I must say, it was gloriously fun! Below is the planning process and some tips to save money while you pull off a cute little birthday for your kiddo!

The theme: Puppy Dog. We are a DOG family! There are quite a few in our backyard, what with my husband so heavily into hunting. We also have a little pup named "Sadie" that is Nathan's new buddy. Nathan also has a little stuffed puppy named "Blue" that he loves! So.....puppy theme, it is!

I looked at various puppy-themed invitations and didn't like ANY of them!..until I ended up at and found the invitation pictured below. I loved everything about it, but I especially loved how the little puppy in the picture looks exactly like Nathan's stuffed, "Blue." Can we say perfect?!

Here is a picture of the invitation (minus our personal info)

At Simply Birthday Stuff, I found this theme and I decided to buy the invitations to send out to our families. There was no way I was going to buy the whole "theme package" as I found it to be overpriced and unnecessary. But I did buy the invitations, four place mats, and a banner.
For plates and cups and napkins, it was a no-brainer! I went to Wal-Mart! I looked at Oriental Trading which has some excellent prices if you're buying in bulk, but when I compared the prices AND the amount of what I would need to Wal-Mart's prices, Wal-Mart won out. :) I simply bought solid-colored tableware in the three colors of the theme. And all less than $15!

My friend and neighbor who is an awesome photographer took some excellent pictures of Nathan and I wanted to send out an updated picture of him with the invitations, especially for the members of our family who rarely get to see him. I looked at what it would cost and decided to purchase a few. Before I made the purchase, my wonderful friend, Shutterfly, gave me 101 FREE PRINTS!! *happy dance* So, instead of buying 10-15 pictures, I ordered 101 various pictures that cost me nothing except the shipping. Shutterfly, you are just too kind!

As you can tell from the birthday post, the party was simply wonderful!! We were SO blessed! And I think I had more fun than Nathan! hehehe

Here are my tips for having a low-cost birthday party:
  1. If you are going to have a theme, do your homework first. Look around. There are several websites that offer cute, low cost party decorations and themes. Oriental Trading is one of the best, but dig a bit before you make a decision. And don't be obligated to HAVE a theme! There's no rulebook that says you have to.
  2. Buy a little at a time. Don't spend a chunk of money all at once. Think before you buy, and then slowly build. And have fun with it!
  3. Watch for sales and discounts. Some party websites and stores will have seasonal offers where you can get 10%, 25%, and even 50% off! Take advantage of that!
  4. Start early. Don't wait until the last minute because then you will be rushed and stressed, and you will end up spending MORE money by missing discounts and buying a little at a time. I started buying little pieces here and there before Christmas!
  5. If people offer to help or take care of something, let them. It will ease your work load and God may be using their generosity and thoughtfulness to bless you. Plus, they may really want to be a part of your little one's special day. :) And don't be afraid to ask others for help. You would be surprised at what can be done when you are open to another's suggestions and helping hand. For example: I really wanted a birthday wreath. It wasn't a big deal, but I did want it! I wasn't about to spend $50 on one and I knew I wouldn't be able to make it. So I asked around to see if anyone knew of a cheap place to buy. In an answer to my simple prayer, my mother-in-law offered to make one herself! Another family member gave me a box of balloons to use. My sister offered to make the cake! Recognize those gestures as blessings!...and bask in them!
  6. Save where you can and spend on what matters. Is it that important to have goody bags? It isn't to me. Do you have to have the birthday hats or centerpieces? For me, I made food a priority because I knew that many of our family would be driving over an hour to get here, and that the party would be held around dinner-time. Due to work schedules and such, I knew they would all most likely be hungry, so I wanted to have plenty of food for them. That came first -- and it always will.
  7. Be creative! If you can draw or paint or if you have a color printer (unlike me with all three!), try making your own invitations! If you can decorate a cake (totally not me!), make it yourself! Get creative and utilize your own gifts and talents.
  8. Have your party at home or a place that doesn't require a fee. For us, I wanted to have it at home, not just because it would save money (which it does, anyway), but because I wanted to have the close, family atmosphere I love so much. I moved our furniture around and brought in a few chairs from a nearby Church so all of the grandparents, great-grandparents, and aunts and uncles would have a place to sit. If you are able, do the same! Or go to the park! Or ask your Church if you may use their fellowship hall! There are plenty of options.
  9. Use balloons. Balloons are the most inexpensive decoration and they come in every color imaginable! Buy a few bags, blow them up, and have them everywhere! It will definitely give a "party" atmosphere! And, really, what kid isn't captivated by balloons?! :)
  10. Finally, pray for wisdom so every decision you make can glorify God AND bless your husband. James chapter 1 says that if we ask for wisdom, the Lord will give it to us - liberally! So ask. This birthday was HUGE for me. I wanted it to be special and big...but I also wanted to be wise and not "break the bank." As the keeper of the home, it is my responsibility to be mature in my management and planning. Of course, you can have fun! And, with your husband's approval and "green light," there may be times when you can splurge, but honor your role as the home-keeper and be smart and practical, and a wise woman who builds her home.

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