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*Party Planning on a Budget

These days... party planning on a budget is really important!
You do want to plan a terrific party, but you don't want it to break the bank!
     First, figure out your budget, (money allowed to cover everything on the party checklist.)  Check my "Basics" page for your party checklist.

#1 PARTY PLANNING TIP... Want to save money on creative decorations for your party? Here's how... Once you have chosen a theme, take a GOOD look around your HOUSE for items that can be used as props, decorations and food containers! Don't forget to check the attic and storage closets. Match textures and colors when choosing creative containers to display food and candy items. For example, we will be using a twine covered basket(currently housing greeting cards) as a cake stand, for my son's African safari party in September. Transform ordinary household items into cake stands, candy containers and background props! With a little creativity, you can save money on your special events.

You can plan a party quickly, but you may spend MORE!
Planning Ahead:
  • Pick the theme!
  • Figure out what you need and wantNeeds first, wants second, is the rule!
  • Shop around!  If it's a good deal, grab it when you see it!
  • Shop local dollar stores, party stores and online.  Always look in the "sale" sections.  Look for coupons in local publications and use store cards to get good deals.
  • Use what you HAVE!  Don't buy it, if you have it.  So check that inventory first.
  • Borrow it.  If you feel comfortable borrowing an item for a party from a friend or relative, do it!  But beware:  If the party is for young children, and the item gets broken... what do you do?  Always think of what can go wrong when borrowing things.  Can it be replaced? 
  • B.Y.O.C.D.---Bring Your Own Covered Dish.  Family and friends are usually willing to bring something for the party.  Aunt Emma always makes the best chocolate chip cookies, so have her bring them!  Be sure to send them a special thank you after party time.
  • Limit the invites.  You can't always invite everyone to the party.  Think of who is most important to your guest of honor.  Don't send in a few invites for select students to your child's school.  Instead, obtain the phone numbers or addresses of those you want to invite, if you can not invite the entire class.
  • Keep it simple!  Try your best not to go over board on the items that are most expensive.  You can do treat bags for $1 or $2 each if you plan it right. 
  • Always have your guests R.S.V.P., so that you do not over buy.  If someone can't make it to the party, you don't have to save them favors, treats bags, food, etc.  Have extra food, but not too much.  Try your best not to be wasteful.  If you have extra, send home care packages to those who will use them. 
Our African Safari Party was a "party on a budget."
Here is a break down of the table decor.
Use what you have!
    Setting the scene for your party theme is important!  It's easy to set the scene for a luau or island party when you have a swimming pool.  What if you don't... use what you have!
Use items around the house or back yard to fit your party theme.  Adjustments can be made with a little creativity.

Ideas for using what you have...

*Pool:  Luau  -Island Adventure  -Survivor  -All Things Tropical  -Ocean  -Sail Boats  -Pirate Party  -Treasure Island  -Jimmy Buffet  ---------So many ideas!  Like I said, having a pool is an easy, instant scene setter. 

*Sand Box:  There are a wide variety of activities for the sand box...    
  • Pirate Party--Treasure hunt in the sand.  Bury lots of little toys in the sand like rings, gold coins, pirate eye patches, bouncy balls, etc.  Give each kid a toy shovel and an item limit.  Once they have that number of items, give them a bag with their name on it to put in their treasure.  Take turns. 
  • Garden Party:  Give them seed packets, a shovel and watering cans, (which make great take home favors.)  Let them play planting a garden.  If you don't want to waste real seeds use unflavored sunflower seeds.  Place them in cute little, labeled packages.
  • Tropical Party:  Use the sand box as a back ground for taking photos.  Just place a beach chair, sand digging toys and a beach ball right in the sand box.  Take a photo of each family or kid and then let them play at the beach!  If you have photo equipment to print out the photos and give them as a party favor, that's a great thing.  If not in your budget, just email them to your guests as a thank you.
  • Ocean Party:  Have a sea shell hunt!  Give each kid a pail and let them collect sea shells.  Have a limit and take turns.
  • Harvest Party:  Have play carrots and other veggies in the sand for the kids to harvest. 
  • Cars Party:  Set up a car wonderland in the sand box as a play junk yard.  -Less mess then dirt.  Use monster trucks and cars and have them set up dunes for jumping the trucks. 
*Swing Set:  A swing set can be changed into so many different things with a little cardboard, paint and duct tape.  If your swing set has one of those covered boxes, use that for amazing little hideaways that fit the party theme.
  • Pirate Party:  Turn the swing set into a pirate ship.
  • Island Party:  Vine around tropical flowers.  Hang monkeys from the monkey bars.  Make a tiki hut.
  • Fireman Party:  Use it as part of the firemen training obstacle course.
  • Ocean:  Use lots of blue streamers in different shades to create an ocean look.  Hang fish and sea creatures from the different levels.  Use fishing nets to drape on the sides, (not for climbing though.)
  • Princess Party or Knight in Shining Armor Party:  Use the swing set as a castle.  Take some cardboard and spray paint grays and blacks to look like stone and cut out castle shapes.  Create a draw bridge.  Line the top with colorful flags.  Have a good supply of play swords and shields near by. Add a fire-breathing dragon to slay as well.
Use your existing furniture in creative ways!  My friend Jenny Dixon taught me that!  ; )

Pieces used for the African Safari Party...