I started pinning items in a newly created “Ellie’s First Birthday” board when she was about 2 months old. You might call it early preparation, or you might call it wishful thinking (not a fan of the newborn phase), but either way, I was excited about throwing my baby girl her First Birthday Party, so pin away I will!
I was the same way with my oldest, who is now 4, and am pretty fresh off her last birthday, a successful and fun Wonder Woman party. So, as I approach my next party-throwing adventure, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned along the way that might help you throw a DIY birthday party and save some money too.
5 Tips to Throw an Awesome DIY Party
1. Plan Ahead
I know this should go without saying, but life gets crazy. And then all of a sudden, your little one is a week away from a birthday, and you have to whip something together. That’s stressful! So, my #1 piece of advice is to plan ahead.
You don’t have to start pinning 10 months from party time (I am a little cray cray), but I would give yourself at least 6 weeks to prep. The more time you leave yourself, the more fun you will have, and the less hectic it will be. Start with a Pinterest board or a simple Google Doc to get things in swing, then slowly organize from there.
Oh boy, how I love a good printable. And most of the time I can find them for free. I opt to skip the store-bought character party packs in favor of a more DIY approach. It saves me money, adds a personal touch, and gives more options for the party theme. I usually start with an idea for a theme, and then I search Pinterest for a printable that goes along with it. I’ll use this as my inspiration point for the rest of the decor. Bonus: free decorations! Just print on some card stock, put in a simple white frame, and done.
I am always in favor of shopping local when I can, and it isn’t any different when I throw birthday parties. I can also usually get a better deal from a local company with a little bit of bartering and a smile. You can find anything in Dallas, from party decorations like banners and cake toppers to bounce houses and table rentals. You can even search Etsy for local sellers. I also keep all my parties local by having them in my own house. It’s free, I don’t have to worry about transporting a bunch of stuff to a third-party location, and I can do things ahead of time — a little bit at a time.
4. Big Impact/Small Effort
This is key! If I can get grandiose results with little effort on my part, I am one happy mom! A few ways to accomplish this is to pick just a couple areas in the house to decorate, then go all out in those areas. It doesn’t take much to make those few spaces look amazing vs. trying to make the entire house look like the party store.
Something new I did this year was front yard signs from Card My Yard. It’s a local Mom owned business right in central Dallas, and boy does this have big impact! Order a custom sign — “Happy 4th Birthday Molly” — and the company comes to your house, sets up the signs, then comes back 24 hours later and takes them down. That’s right, no effort on my part and a huge awesome birthday sign in our front yard. My 4-year-old was beyond excited when she woke up to this display!
Another easy way to make a big impact is a bounce house. We get them every year at my child’s request, and they are a hit! All the kids love them, it keeps them easily entertained, and it just looks like “party time!” Again, all I did was make a phone call and boom! Bounce house.
5. Find a Crafty Friend
This might not be possible for everybody, but I am super fortunate to have a best friend who is extremely crafty and loves helping throw my kids’ birthday parties. She’s able to help make all my Pinterest ideas come to life and takes my DIY parties to the next level.
Bonus Advice: Keep it simple!
I bit off way more than I could chew for my oldest daughter’s 1st birthday and turned into a psycho mom. Nobody wants that. I was running around the house minutes before party time shouting orders to family members and basically just losing my you know what.
Figure out what will make the party special for your child and your family and stick those key things. The party is about having fun, and nobody has fun when you’re crying in the corner in a fetal position because the balloons aren’t all blown up and the cake isn’t perfect (this might have actually happened).
It’s also COMPLETELY okay to swing through Chick-fil-A and grab a massive plate of nuggets on your way to the “play place” along with cupcakes from the grocery store and call it done. Your little one won’t know the difference, and you’ll get no grief from me. You do you and I’ll do me. Party on, moms!
Here are links to a few printables I LOVE that would make great starting points for a fun DIY birthday party.
- Disney Princess Castle
- Dinosaur Party Circles
- Where the Wild Things Are — super cute theme! (Another option)
- Printable Birthday Banners
- Free Printable Numbers for Birthdays