party plannin

How to plan and execute an awesome party.

Get inspired.  Think about what your kid/friend/husband loves, think about their style or their favorite things. Each time I have done a party for my babes I pick something that makes them excited. Once Isabelle was old enough, she picked her own party theme (Minnie mouse.) For a baby or wedding shower- think about the guest of honor and what kind of personal style they have. Bright, subtle, modern, vintage etc. Gather ideas from pinterest or that that vast intra-web.
Pick a theme! Decide on color combinations. Set the date and time. Make sure the date works for the people you want to attend, and the time works with nap schedules. Because no party is fun with a screaming baby, right? (right.)
Get going. I usually start by looking at what I already have that can be used. Go through your party supplies for colored balloons or crepe paper, sacks, tissue paper etc. Check your closets and especially your garage, you never know what gems need to be dusted off.  For Lincoln’s chalkboard party, I didn’t have to buy a single frame because I had a bunch of unused ones in the garage that just needed some (red) paint. One of my favorite places to get crap is the dollar sections at Michael’s, Joannes, and Target.  If I see something with potential, I grab it, knowing that if it doesn’t work out for any reason it was only a dollar! I found big red punching balls for Lincoln’s party, 2 for $1 at Michaels.  Score.  And make sure you take coupons for Joanne’s and Michael’s, they always have good ones like 40% off for regular priced items.  One of my favorite tricks is to get a super cheap coordinating tablecloth by purchasing a few yards of fabric from Joanne’s and serging or zigzagging the edges. It’s something really simple that adds a ton to the table. TJ Maxx often has really great scrapbook paper packs or Martha stewart craft supplies way discounted. The dollar store is surprisingly great for favors, colored plates and utensils, craft supplies, and cheap wrapping paper. I can always find things there. I always keep my eyes peeled while I am out with the kids- but if you can sneak away to run errands without them it makes it a lot easier! 
Stay organized. I’m a list person. I seriously make a list every single morning outlining my day or the things that I need to get done. When I have a party on my brain, I write down all my ideas, even if some of them won’t work out, I write it down. Keep a list of the things you have, and the things you need, and projects you want to tackle. I usually keep a big clear tote in the garage and use it to store my “party crap.” That way, it’s all in one place while I plan and gather and work, so I don’t forget what I already have.
Play to your strengths. Use your talents! Try new stuff. I am not great at frosting cakes. I wish I was. So I always pick designs that look good messy, so when I make mistakes it isn’t a big deal. Also, I love felt, there are so many awesome uses for felt, like a billion. I get mine cut from the bolt at joannes. Cheap and durable. Know your stores and your town- Redding is small and so I usually order a few things. Make sure you order what you need early enough to accommodate packing and shipping. For Lincoln’s birthday, I ordered those teeny milk glasses from amazon (actually shot glasses, shhh.) and the giant 36 inch balloons from a random website because I knew no where it town carried them.
Pace yourself! Know that you won’t be able to accomplish everything the morning/day/week of the party. It takes me awhile to get everything ready to go- so I work on my projects a little bit here and a little bit there. It really helps me to make a big list- everything that needs to get done- and then I kind of set up a schedule to make sure I’m not frosting the cake as people show up. Actually, I learned that from Isabelle’s first birthday- there are tons of things you can do the day before, including frost a cake. Morgan always helps me know what I can bake/freeze/prepare in advance so I’m not running around like a chicken with her head cut off. Though I usually do that anyway. I start hanging decorations up the week of the party- some things take a long time (like Isabelle’s crepe paper wall. Consuming.)
Ask for help! Look people, it takes a village, and my village is always willing to pitch in and help. A few times I have had people bring food or treats (artichoke dip! Salad!).  That water dispenser that is always at my house? Not mine, its borrowed. I’ve also borrowed cake plate and platters before I had enough of my own. When I wanted to cut out mickey mouse shaped invitations for Isabelle’s 3rd bday, I called up Lanece to see if she could help me with her cricut and she totally came through. Saved me. I’ve also borrowed paper cutters, circle stampers, decorations- maybe the most helpful thing is when Jazz takes care of both kids so I can work on things. So appreciative of that. When Morgan is in town, she takes care of the cupcakes and frosting and making amazzzzzing baked goods. Everyone should have a professional baker in the family.
Remember- it’s temporary! When I did Isabelle’s first birthday, I sewed what felt like miles of pennant banners, front and back, and binded them with bias tape. Was extremely cute but extremely time consuming. I’ve reused them a ton and they hang in her room so it was worth it- but I didn’t realize that the decorations don’t need to last. If I have learned anything from my mom’s theater experience it is that “It is a show.” No one needs to see the back of things or look closely to see if the materials you used are traditional party things- be creative! 
This little Lincoln sign is actually a Christmas decoration that spells out “believe.” I circle punched some black paper, used some chalk and voila- personalized letter blocks. Also, the cake stand was on post- Christmas clearance for two dollars. One, two. The “L” Letter was pulled from his room.
Red buckets- dollar store. I added chalkboard paint.
All this crap was in my garage. The “1” signs are cardboard inserts from Isabelle’s giant coloring books. The White frame was also in the garage- I bought it at a garage sale last year for $8. It had sheep fabric in the middle which I removed, and painted the back with chalkboard paint.Ribbon was leftover from Isabelle’s Minnie mouse party, pictures printed out at Costco.
The hanging garlands are felt and paper leftover from invitations polka dot envelopes- circles cut and sewed in a straight line. Frames from the garage, napkins from Isabelle’s Minni party, red treat cups from TJ Maxx. The “one” sign is actually chalkboard fabric from Joanne’s, hung by fishing line. The red ball is a ten inch beach ball.
Crepe paper from the dollar store! Ruffled via sewing machine, hung with regular tape. The pink ruffled cake stand actually has grapevines around the outside, I just taped fabric over it. Cotton candy was randomly from kmart. Plates, yellow polka dot mat and pink tray, all from the dollar store. Pom balls- styrofoam from the dollar store, felt and fabric pinned in with straight pins.
The “1”s are actually cut out from dollar section stationary- it’s the letter L. Now I use that wreath for Valentine’s Day.
Party hat made from a paper towel roll. the “1” sign in the background is foam core covered in fabric. I always grab any framed pictures I have of Iz or Linc and set them out.
Sabrina’s Bridal Shower: tablecloth and poms from Isabelle’s party, treats by Morgan, cupcake garnish from paper leftover from invitations
Those teeny trees were $2.50 in that front section at Target. Now I use them for Easter crap. 

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