When you go to the “discount” party store, do you almost pass out at the cost of the paper goods, decorations, and party favors? I am always shocked how much I can spend on themed merchandise. If you have felt the same way, I have some budget-friendly ideas that will help you create a festive atmosphere for happy kids.
1. Paper Goods: Put the money where it counts. Not EVERYTHING needs to be branded with whatever your particular theme is. It can simply coordinate. For example, for our recent Moana party, I only bought the tablecloth, napkins, and cake decorations that were branded. Fortunately for me, at the beginning of summer, Dollar Tree (that has an online store, by the way) often carries a whole line of luau products which is where I found the perfect coordinating plates. An alternative would have been to use matching solid colors. Also, if the kids are drinking from juice boxes, you don’t need to buy cups. Win-Win!
2. Decorations: Again, not everything needs to be branded. Dollar Tree had some Hawaiian inflatable decorations and cut outs and a “Happy Birthday” banner that was easily embellished for the occasion. The custom Moana banner from the party store was $19.99. I spend $1. Dollar Tree grass skirts added to the décor as well. I cut one really short to use on the cake stand. I spent money on the cake toppers but they doubled as toys.
3. Balloons: If you want to save a few bucks on helium balloons, purchase a tank at Walmart, Sam’s, Target, or Party City. The advantage is that you can blow the balloons up when you want instead of running to the store at the last minute. This is particularly helpful if you are having at least two events close together. This year I used the tank to refresh Mylar balloons, which were used three times, and to blow up the ones for the Moana party. To really save money, however, skip the helium and just employ an air pump like the kind you use for air mattresses. If you tie the balloons onto something that is at least eye-level, you will get the same effect as if they were floating.
4. Party Favors: In my experience, you can spend a pile of money and energy putting together goodie bags filled with stuff of dubious quality. My advice is to give the kids something they will actually use or consume. Candy is a very simple and always desirable choice. The movie-style boxes are usually $1.00. Wrap them in a ribbon with a themed sticker and you’re done. Giant bubble wands, pool noodles, or squirt guns make great take-home items in summer time.
Another good choice for younger kids is something for their dress-up boxes. For the same amount of money that I could have spent on branded stickers, pencils, and plastic toys, the girls at our Moana party went home with Dollar Tree grass skirts, bandanas, and flowers for their hair. One of those items would have been enough but we used the bandanas for an activity and the flowers added color. As a bonus, having all of these displayed meant they did double duty as favors and décor. We did have some extra items leftover because we didn’t have an accurate count of party-goers ahead of time. But they will no doubt get repurposed at some point.
So, the next time you are having a themed party, don’t get sucked into the branded vortex. Your wallet will thank you!