Homemade parties are great for activities leading up to your child’s special day and awesome for the birthday itself since it will have your stamp of approval! Leading up to the soiree you get to make invitations, goody bags, maybe (if you dare) even decorate your own cake! We checked in with local moms to get awesome tips for making your DIY party a success.
Shop Your Plans
Planning is key when it comes to a party at home, and you’ll want to make sure you have all the big items covered — invitations, party decorations, games and activities for the kids, goody bags and of course, refreshments (i.e., CAKE!). Tackle them one at a time and you’ll have this party in the bag.
“I love DIY birthdays!” says Northern Kentucky mom Amanda. “I typically give the party as my gift to the boys. I let them pick out a theme a few months out and start planning. I head to flea markets and craft stores to make unique party decorations. We do a themed photo shoot about a month before their birthday and display the photos at the party. Family can take the cute photos home after the party, which the grandmas look forward to as a favor. Planning my dudes’ at-home parties is one of my absolute favorite things to do! I think allowing yourself time to plan it, instead of rushing, makes things less chaotic and more enjoyable,” she adds.
A little creativity goes a long way when shopping for party supplies — there’s a lot you can make at home. “For Jay’s first birthday, we did a Mickey theme,” says mom Heather. “I made most of the decorations myself on the computer and just bought dollar store plates, cups and silverware in the appropriate colors instead of the expensive themed ones.” Finding deals here and there, or going with simple colors rather than themed decorations, also has the benefit of letting you splurge on something big, like an outstanding cake or tiers of cupcakes, a bounce house or a professional entertainer.
“A lot of people don’t realize Sam’s Club does tiered cakes,” says mom Kristy. “We got a really cute Treasure Island themed, two-tiered cake for Izzy’s ‘Pixies and Pirates’ party. It was really cute, tasted great and cost around $30.”
Mom Kelly suggests timing your party purchases if you can. “I waited until Halloween was done to stock up on Disney party stuff and costumes,” she says. And consider a strategy on the time of day your party takes place to help keep costs down. If you plan your party between meals, all you really have to provide are some light snacks and cake.
Keep Your Eyes on the Games
You don’t have to go all out with invitations, decorations and fancy foods, especially since kids probably won’t notice or remember. What they will remember, however, is the fun they had. Mom Kim created a pirate-themed party with some brown craft paper and an old footlocker. “Invites were printed on white paper and glued to brown craft paper that had been burned around the edges … rolled them up and tied them with twine. I got an old trunk like I had in college — put the goodies and his gifts in it and hid it, then had a treasure hunt.” She printed clues on the same craft paper and let the kids travel the yard, field and barn to find the “treasure!”
Mom blogger Marci threw a Doc McStuffins party for her daughter’s sixth birthday. She started with free printables she found online in order to spend funds on kid-sized nurse scrubs that served as both party favors and kept kids clean during the craft portion of the party, in which kids made their own Band-Aids from felt and Velcro. Party guests also made a stethoscope and a Book of Boo-Boos, all of which kept them busy and made for great take-home souvenirs. Get instructions for these crafts, as well as more great ideas, at her blog, My Heavenly Recipes.
When Things Go Awry
What’s that they say about the best laid plans? Anytime you’re working with kids, chances are good something will go wrong, whether someone has a meltdown, or a game isn’t going as planned. The trick is to keep your wits about you, have back-up plans and be flexible about using them. You never know how some changes might actually be for the better!
“I had every intention of making Connor’s first birthday cake,” says mom Brie. “And last minute I ran out of time because of work. So I compromised and bought cupcakes and a small cake the day before the party and made a caterpillar out of that. Worked out better in the long run!”
Mom Karianne got crafty when her own cake plans fell apart — literally! “I was making a tower cake [for a Tangled theme party] of eight three-inch round cakes sitting on top of two nine-inch rounds. I used cardboard between every two layers and had a giant straw-type cake support. It was looking good … then I started to ice it.” The weight of the icing caused her cake to sink and tilt, and eventually it fell over. After some maneuvering she got the cake standing, but made sure to have all the guests sing “Happy Birthday” and blow out the candles as soon as they arrived — a wise move, since the cake fell a second time! “We just stuck it on a plate and served it up later!” she says.
The Very Best …
There are loads of ways to make your at-home party a success, one of which is to check out our Best of Parenting for readers’ tops in party entertainment! Head to the Parties in the Directories for more resources!
Best Party Entertainment
Charlie Cadabra was our winner in both Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky!