But for some of us, the process of planning, designing and creating a party is a true joy. I have heard MANY time..."I'm not going to spend THAT kind of money on a birthday". I will address that issue later in another post. But for now, here are my top ten tips to pull it off if you want to be one of "THOSE" moms!
1) Pick a good theme. While I understand that this decision in not only yours....apparently kids like certain trends and although they have only seen "Elmo" 9,000 times, they still want him center stage at their birthday. I try and stay clear of commercial themes for my own kids. And if the Ariel, Madeline, Dora, Lego, Barbie and Angry Bird parties that I have thrown in the 4 years should give you some indication on how super successful I have been!
2) Once you have been suckered into a theme, start thinking how you can "de-commercialize". I know that is not a word, but it's the only description I can come up with. Think about ideas around your theme. For example..a Madeline Party/French Party, Dora/Fiesta Party, Barbie/ Fashion or Spa Party, Harry Potter/ magic. In other words..think about elements that you can add to the party that you are not going to find at the party store. This leads me to my next tip.............
3) Stay out of the party store...WHAT?????? Yes. You may go into a party store ONCE to shop for your party. Party stores are like coloring books..they stunt your creative thought process. Your party is a blank canvas and having all the party supplies you think you need front and center will stunt your growth. The only things I usually buy at a party store are items for favors.
4) Start your planning early. If your party is next week...then (I guess) you can go to the party store. The earlier you start, the more fabulous your party will be. You have to give your mind time to come up with all the fabulous ideas and then you need time to execute them. Don't forget to write your ideas down. Create a check list of the details you want. Even if you are not sure whether or not you want to do a project, just write it down....in ink, not blood.
5) Now that your wheels are spinning and you have come up with all these great ideas and details, decide what party detail/decor is the MOST important to you and do that first. For example, for my daughters 2nd birthday, I REALLY wanted to have pictures of her dancing (she was having a ballerina birthday). I dressed her up in a tutu and did a photo shoot. I knew if I waited until closer to the party, it may not get done. It gets hectic the days leading up to the party, so the smaller details may slip through the cracks. For my other daughters 5th birthday (Madeline Party), I really wanted all the girls to have yellow hats. I spend a full week spray painting what use to be pirate hats yellow. They turned out fabulous, but again..I would not have been able to that days before the party. And just FYI, you cannot find yellow Madeline hats anywhere!!
6) And that leads me to my next tip..if you cannot find it, make it! Banners, cupcake toppers, invitations, Madeline hats etc. can all be made by you or someone else. Just because it does not exist does not mean it cannot be. Books that are the theme of the party are a great way to create many different party decorations...that is, if you can stomach tearing up a book (sorry mom). For the previous mentioned ballerina party, I wanted ballerinas for cupcake toppers..I couldn't find what I wanted, so I made them!
7) Create a really great party table. These do not have to be huge...just pretty. They can have just the cake and drinks on the table or a full spread of goodies.
8) Outsource what you cannot do. It took me a long time to realize that I cannot bake...well I can bake, it just is never pretty. I no longer worry about the cake, cake pops, decorated cookies etc. I love having an edible treat that has been decorated, I just find someone else to do it. For me, they tend to be a time sucker and I want to concentration on the styling of the party. I once let a pan of cupcakes burn because I was so focused laying out the table decor, I did not hear the timer going off. Yeah..I'm kinda like that :)
9) This leads me to my next tip...splurge on at least one thing you want. For me, it is the cookies or the cake. Remember I told you that I'm not always budget friendly. I styled a "county fair" party where I really wanted a roll of tickets. I had not idea how expensive they were, but I really wanted them. I grind my teeth and bought them....glad I did.
10) Keep things simple. I know it seems that I am going to the wrong direction, but simple is usually better on most items. You do not want your party to be too "cluttered". If you are finding that you are running out of room, time and money, you might have to scrap some of your ideas. Remember your list...just cross it out. For my fiesta party, I initially wanted to have a huge taco bar with all the fixings, but as time and money ran short, I just could not pull it off. I instead decided on salsa chicken chili which I just threw in a crock pot and was just as fun.
I know these tips are more "mental" then concrete suggestions. It took me a while to learn that party styling in a mental process. The shopping and crafting are the easy parts. Pulling together your vision is what is an awesome and fun challenge.