I am so excited this week to to have my awesome friend Amanda owner of Sugar Pine Paper Company in Reno, Nevada, as a guest contributor on the blog! Amanda and I met about a year ago through social media. She has helped contribute to several parties I have had through out the last year with cake toppers and super cute garland banners!
She asked me about doing one year photos with her little Coen and asked her if she would contribute some tips about how she planned Coen’s first birthday party! Today we are celebrating this little dudes birthday with making pancakes and eating cake too!! These are some of the tips and tricks from Amanda:
• Pick your theme a few months in advance. The earlier you pick a theme, the more time you will have to figure out exactly what look you’re going for. I chose Coen’s Party Animal theme about 3 months before his first birthday. I then spent about two weeks browsing Pinterest, Instagram (searching various hashtags), and party blogs for inspiration.
I originally thought I wanted Coen’s party to be monochrome with pops of color only on his party favors and balloons, but after browsing through various inspiration photos, I decided to go with loud, bright colors everywhere!
- Create an inspiration board. This will help keep track of all your ideas. Pinterest is great for this, but I also really like creating a shared photo album on my iPhone. This way I can easily add photos of things as I buy them, or things that I see in stores and may not buy right away, but want to remember.
- Ask for help. Once you have picked your theme and created an inspiration board, I suggest asking a few friends / family members to keep an eye out for deals on cute decorations. For example, as soon as had some inspiration photos put together, I invited my mom and best friend to my private Pinterest board (I set this board to private because I like to keep some element of surprise with parties I’m hosting), as well as the shared iPhone album I created. My best friend lives on the opposite side of town as me, and my mom lives 30 minutes away, so even though we all shop at the same stores, we often shop at different locations. Target, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, Michaels, Hobby Lobby – all of these stores often have awesome clearance items, but each store tends to have a different selection. Having eyes in all of our local store locations helped me find deals that I wouldn’t have seen on my own.
- Keep your receipts! Most stores will take back items for 90 days after purchase with tags and a receipt, even clearance items. I always buy things as I find them, and as the party gets closer I weed through everything and decide what I am going to keep and what I am going to return. For Coen’s ‘Party Animal’ party, I knew that I wanted a couple of plush animal heads to hang with a Happy Birthday banner or letterboard in between them. I originally bought two on Targets website for $19.99 each because that was the best deal I could find; however, I ended up returning them when I found similar items at Hobby Lobby on clearance for only $4.99 each!! I also found plates I liked at Target, but ended up finding ones I LOVED at Walmart.
- DIY – DIY – DIY !! This will save you so much money! Have you looked at how much it costs to have someone make you a balloon garland?? I have… and it is not cheap! But you can order everything you need on Amazon for less than $15. All you need is balloon tape, balloons and a hand pump! It is a bit time consuming, but worth the nearly $100 saved (if you’re reaction to that number was WHAT!?, you are not alone). I also knew that I wanted to have my décor second as party favors, so I bought cute jungle animal figurines at Target and added my own DIY party hats to them. I bought scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby that matched the colors of the party (less than $1) and found a party hat template on Pinterest. It took me about 30 minutes to cut all the hats out, add mini pom-poms and hot glue the hats to the animals. Easy-peasy, incredibly cheap, and super cute décor / favors.
- Keep the food simple. Trust me, the last thing you want to be stressing out the day of a party is the food. We chose to order pizza, make a salad, have fresh fruit cups, and have a variety of prepackaged snacks for the kids (applesauce pouches, string cheese, etc.). One, this saved us a ton of money. Two, we had barely any dishes to do after the party. Three, everyone LOVED the pizza!
- Gift registry. Hear me out on this one… I know creating a registry can often make guests feel required to bring a gift, but to help avoid this, I left the registry off of the invites. However, when someone would RSVP and ask what he wanted/needed, it was nice to be able to send them the registry link. Thinking of items off the top of your head, or keeping track of what you have told who, can be tricky. Creating a registry allows your guests a simple and easy way to get something they know your child will like.
- Saying thanks. I’ll admit it, I am the WORST about sending out thank you cards. I always buy the cards and two months later realize I never wrote them. I have found that if I buy the cards AND address them ahead of time, I’m more likely to get the card sent out within a few days of the event!
- Set up. If possible, don’t wait until the day of the party to set up. I always like to set up the night before. This takes the day of stress of hosting a party from a 10 to a 2, and gives you a little bit of time to grab any last minute things you need (serving spoons, ice, a rectangular tablecloth because you accidentally grabbed an oval one…).
- HAVE FUN!! Make sure to enjoy the day, and spend time with the person you are celebrating!
Amber and Amanda