The birth of my first child ushered in a slew of new hobbies/obsessions – including, but not limited to, photography, allergy-friendly baking, and party-planning. In those pre-Pinterest days, you could Google party ideas, search party-planning websites, and stalk blogs, but for the most part? You were on your own. To save money and to keep myself occupied as a newly minted stay-at-home mom, I decided to plan my daughter’s first birthday party 6 months in advance and to do as much of the food, decor, favors, etc. as I could by myself.
I hit a few snags along the way: I can neither cut nor draw a straight line. I hate party games. My kids are allergic to everything that makes birthdays fun. So, I’ve compiled my experiences over the last 5 years to bring you this series, which aims to lessen the pain of DIY party-planning for moms whose love for their children far outreaches their talent…or budget…or both.
Before you can do anything, you need to have that one element of cohesion – a theme that will tie everything together and give you some direction when it comes to choosing invitations, food, games and decor. In my brief career as a party-planner I’ve used Peter Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland, Olivia the Pig, John Deere Tractors, Pirates & Pixies and Frozen. Last year I saw a Facebook friend whose son just requested “Red”. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just something the guest of honor will enjoy. Do they have a favorite book, color or toy? Use that as inspiration! Are they too young to choose? Enjoy it while you can, and pick something YOU think is fun! Maybe for some the idea of a theme is too stressful; I get that. One of the most fun lunches I’ve attended was one where the hostess pulled out her leftover paper goods & decorations from her last 10 years of party planning and we had a crazy, theme-less party with a chaotic pot-luck buffet, consisting mostly of cheese and chocolate.
There are a few routes for invitations the non-DIYer can take once the theme, time & date have been chosen. Pinterest has got you covered for impossibly cute (emphasis on the “impossibly”) and incredibly pricey hand-made invitations. But if craft supplies and glitter make your skin crawl, try one of these:
⋅ Digital Invitations – Send cute invites via email and manage your RSVPs online. Easy, free, and just as effective as the paper kind. Use a company like Evite, Punchbowl, or Paperless Post to customize your cards and then send them with no cost for envelopes or stamps!
⋅ Pre-Made Store-Bought Invites – These have come a long way sine I was a kid in the 80s! Target, Hobby Lobby and Party City typically have ANY kind of themed invited you might need.
⋅ Design Your Own Invites – This is the option I usually choose! Using PicMonkey, a free online design and editing tool, I choose the dimension of my card (5×7) and then “design” without having to draw, cut or glue anything. They have free images and tons of fonts to choose from! Once my design is complete, I save it & send it to Sam’s to be printed (for .58 cents each) as a photo.
⋅ Pinterest – Ok, there are some Pinteresting DIY options, don’t hate me! For my daughter’s Frozen party, I found this ticket design someone else had created and merely typed in all my text! Even though your search may turn up some unrealistic options, it’s always worth a try to see if Pinterest has the perfect, easy invite for your party theme!
⋅ Birthday Kid DIY – If your child is old enough, let THEM do the work! Write down the important info (date, time, location, etc.) and let your kids make their own invitations to send out.
⋅ Text/Call/E-mail – Somewhere along the line, we millennials forgot about the easiest way to invite guests to a shindig: pick up your phone! Call, text or email your guests – it’s fast, free and still yields the same results as the previously mentioned options!