EASY TIPS TO THROW A FUN AND SIMPLE PARTY

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I love throwing a fun party. I'm a big believer that parties don't have to be extravagant, overly expensive or leave you crazy by the end of it. Even when I find myself 38 weeks pregnant and buried under a pile of mini piñatas and streamers and cursing myself for thinking it was a good idea, it still actually makes me happy.

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Lia's birthday is wedged between Christmas and New Years and our brains (and budget!) are usually fried by then. This past weekend, we threw her fifth birthday party and I like to think I've got a small bag of tricks now to help pull off fun parties that won't break the bank. The best part is these tips can really work for any event!

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Tip #1
Start with an idea or theme that you can fall back on to pull everything together. I'm not a fan of character-themed parties, to be honest. And luckily, my girl has never really asked for one. I usually pick some sort of theme pulled together from both of our opinions. It could be based around a few favorite colors, a favorite type of food or even something as simple as fresh flowers. Don't over think the party! Simple is key and having just a few focal points or highlights really pulls it all together. 

You can see our pink & sprinkles party here.
Our pajama breakfast party here.
And most recent, our backyard movie bash here.

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Tip #2
Use what you already have around your house! Mason jars, my favorite ceramic platter, unused flower pots - they've all played parts in decorating for every party I've thrown. Be sure to clean everything a few days before your event so it's all ready to go then just get creative! I've used small flower pots to hold silverware and mason jars are a favorite for paper straws or candy.

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Tip #3
I like to decide on two or three colors ahead of time and use that as a jumping point for everything else. It's so easy to find paper plates and napkins that are so pretty they can double as your decor! I also like to use plain white disposable cups with a paper straw for a pop of color. Then, I'll usually add a few balloons to the mix and sometimes even a vase (or two!) of fresh flowers. Paper banners or tissue paper garlands are also great and usually easy to make or inexpensive to buy! Brown kraft paper is a favorite trick of mine to keep tables covered (you can find this at places like Target or Staples). You can set out crayons, let the kids draw on it then toss it after the party.

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Tip #4
Keep the food and drinks simple! You'll thank yourself for it in the last 10 minutes of party prep. Regardless of how organized you thought you were, something always needs to be taken care of right as guests are getting to your door. Hot dogs cook well in large batches in a slow cooker. Juice boxes work great for kids to easily grab themselves. Fill up different styles and sizes of bowls and platters with pretzels, chips or even candy in a color that matches your theme. I like to hold our parties in between meal times so that having a small variety of snacks should be all I need on hand. I also like to check with parents ahead of time when throwing a party for kids to be sure I know about any important food allergies (peanuts, milk, wheat, etc).

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Tip #5
The cake! Growing up, we almost always had a homemade cake (usually from a box mix). It was good enough for me then and still is! Cakes from a grocery store or bakery, while tasty, can be expensive. If it fits in your budget, go for it! If it doesn't, your cake will still be great. We like a homemade touch so I'll usually grab a favorite box mix (or an easy recipe) and make a cake or a batch of cupcakes. I always let my husband frost - he's the best and he's always frosted our daughter's cakes. I like to keep them simple by adding just sprinkles or a few DIY toppers!

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Tip #6
Your invitations and favors. The invitation is the first glimpse of the party your guests will see! You want to be sure it clearly states the details of your party and anything special they need to know. For our most recent party, I specified that guests should bring a blanket to sit on during the movie! You can make your own if you're feeling up to it, there are always fun ideas over on Pinterest; or you can go a more personal route and choose one from Shutterfly like this bright, colorful invitation with some pictures on it. They have fun invitations to fit any type of event! When it comes to party favors, I like to keep it outside of the box. I have to admit that my mini piñatas did take a little extra effort but the kids loved them! You could do something like a mini notepad with a few crayons tied on or a treat packaged in a fun way.

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Tip #7
Kids will find a way to stay entertained! I've spent a ton of time and effort making games that were never played, and trying to always have an activity planned, but it just never worked. Now, I keep a loose plan for the flow of the party and I let the kids do as they please. They usually gravitate to our swing set or the toys in our house and I just gather them together when it's time for the cake or any main event you've planned (a movie, a craft or hitting the piñata!).

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As long as you're having fun, I think you're doing it right! Almost every party I have thrown has had some "hitch" - rain, a cake that fell apart, etc. Just remember that it will never be perfect, but these tips can help you keep it perfectly imperfect!

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