I had no idea how much I would love throwing birthday parties when my son was born 7 years ago. When I found out I was pregnant again when my first son was only 10 months old, I found myself searching Pinterest. I wanted to make his first birthday special since he had such a short time to be an only child. That first birthday party unleashed a passion in me that I didn’t know was there, and I admittedly went overboard. I worked tirelessly for weeks on party prep. I even made ridiculously cute pictures to use as a banner of my silly 1-year old making faces and wearing huge party hats.
Through the years, I have refined my birthday party planning to a much more reasonable celebration. I am still in love with the handmade banners and homemade sock monkey cake pops from some of the first parties, but I’ve discovered a few mom hacks that allow me to still have the special, personalized elements that I love about birthday parties, but not break the bank or spend weeks preparing.
Here are a few tips to help throw a Pinterest worthy party, without spending hours and busting your budget.
- Determine your target audience. If you’re throwing a family birthday party, you need a different plan than if you’re hosting ten 7-year-olds. For our family parties, I tend to be a little more elaborate with food, and when it is for kids, I spend more time coming up with activities to keep the kids having fun! There are so many fun places around the Wichita area to host a birthday party, so if your invitation list exceeds the space of your home, it’s no problem to find a budget friendly option! Here’s a local birthday party guide to help inspire you!
- Develop a fun birthday tradition. I have some friends that sneak in and decorate the bedroom with balloons and streamers for the birthday boy every year. Others start the day with birthday pancakes. For my son’s first birthday, I made a birthday wreath for the front door out of balloons. Now that my boys are getting older, they have started helping design it by picking out the colors and decorations. Initially it was about a $25 investment, but each year I only need to swap out the balloon colors, and for just a few minutes and a few dollars for new balloons, the wreath is done! We personalize it each year with an extra dessert plate or build LEGO shapes for the middle of the wreath to go along with the theme.
- Go all out with a theme. I love to get creative with every theme we have. We’ve had carrot and cucumber swords for our pirate party, meatball cannon balls, cheese balls as balls of fire for our dragon party, and rainbow colored sour balls were “memories” for our Inside Out party. When I get desperate for food for a theme, I buy Costco pizzas and decorate them with pizza toppings in the shape of the theme. Themed pizza and a birthday cake make for a pretty excited kid!
- Birthday banners are a must! In the early days, I hand made banners for the wall behind the cake and the fireplace. After a few years of stressing about the banner, I bought a simple chalk board banner at Target and tape a cute image of the theme to the end of each banner, and I’m done! We put the banner up a week before the birthday, and leave it up a week after so the birthday boy gets to enjoy the anticipation and memories of the big day.
- Right-size the workload. One of my “Homemade party hacks” is that I no longer try to do it all. If I spend all of my energy preparing the food, I usually order cake from a local baker. If we keep the food simple, I go a little more extravagant on the home made treats. I have found that since my time is limited, I can only tackle 1 major food project for each party.
As my children have gotten a little bit older, I have asked them to prioritize their wish list for the party. I want them to look forward to and feel so special at each birthday party, but I realize that the party itself isn’t more important than the one being celebrated. When life was a little crazy, we purchased everything and kept the party low-key by jumping at a trampoline park and getting ice cream, and my boys were perfectly happy with those parties.
Now that my boys are a little older, they share with me that birthday parties are some of their favorite memories – so I’ll keep making them magical for as long as I can!