Party Planning: Overview and Tips

June 5, 2014
party planning overview and tips

It's been a month since Chelsea's "big" birthday party and I am finally sharing this post with you! It's been a crazy, busy month, decorating my house and preparing for little one number two, but it's been a good one.

First off, I want to give you a brief overview of the party. If you've forgotten, we threw a BBQ party for Chelsea's birthday party and we invited just three other families plus a sister-in-law. There were eight adults and six children under four years old. I made Chelsea's birthday presents out of leftover fabric I had so we didn't get too spendy on presents. The decorations were minimal since we were outside and nature was our main decoration. For the children's entertainment, I made a water blob and filled the kiddie pool which was enough to entertain the kiddos from 11-3 (4 hours!). For eating, we had:

Pink Lemonade
Hamburgers
-patties
-buns
-lettuce
-tomatoes
-ketchup and mustard
Chips
Strawberries
Pineapple
Watermelon
Jelly Beans
Ice cream
Cake

The entertainment for the adults were the children and conversation, and we all had a blast!

Now for the tips:

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1.) Your biggest expense will (probably) be food
Our gathering was pretty small, but I was still surprised at how much we spent (I used money from my Etsy shop to pay for it so it wouldn't be a hard blow on our family finances, and it was ALL worth it!) About 10% of what we spent was spent on play/entertainment (the water blob), 20% was spent on decorations (I included plates, napkins, utensils, etc. in decorations), and 70% was spent on food. Obviously, my food expenses will be a little different than yours based on where you buy your food and what you buy, but that's how it was for us.

2.) Choosing who to invite
Deciding who to invite was probably the most stressful part of planning Chelsea's party. We have been blessed with so many friends where we live and I wish I could have invited all of them, but had to narrow the list down. If you can, invite everyone that's close. If you can't, invite your closest friends and family, relationship-wise, and physically. We ended up inviting the friends that we had spent the most time with, knew the best, and lived the closest. I wish we could have invited more, but it was nice to have a more intimate gathering at the same time.

3.) Food amount - better more than less
I've heard that you should multiply adults by 1.5 for a likely food amount and just 1 serving per child, but I decided it was better to have more, rather than less, so I got enough for each child to have one serving and each adult to have two servings. We ended up with more leftovers than I anticipated, but Andrew and I didn't mind eating BBQ food for the next couple of nights.

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4.) Prioritize expenses - presents
Since I had decided to do a birthday party for Chelsea, that meant less money to spend on presents, but I think it all worked out in the end and I'm sure Chelsea appreciated the day more than she did the presents anyway (maybe this wouldn't work as well for a teenager, but for a two-year-old, it was fine).

5.) Prioritize expenses - decorations
Don't go overboard on decorations, especially if you're having a party outside. The banner and some streamers suited us just fine, plus, it was windy so anything more would have been too much.

6.) Entertainment
The kiddie pool was easy entertainment, and the blob took me about an hour to make and only cost me $13.00, not to mention it was totally safe and allowed the adults to relax while the kids entertained themselves.

7.) Cleanup
After this party, I have decided that all of our children will be born in the spring and summer. Having an outdoor party was the best decision that I made (and I am SO glad the weather worked out). Cleanup was so easy. We didn't have to worry about watermelon or ice cream spilling on the floor or table, we used paper plates, cups, etc. so we just had to throw those things away, and we even could hose down the kids afterward to get them cleaned up! Seriously. The best.

8.) Stress
I love to-do lists and I think that's a big part of what kept me sane. The night before, I went over everything I had to do the next morning to prepare for the party so I wouldn't be stressed trying to remember everything the day of (I even included "Stay Calm" and "Breathe" on my to-do list). It also helps to have a very helpful husband who will cut all the fruit up for you, get the grill from your neighbors, mow the lawn, etc. etc.

9.) Prioritize - Let some things slide
Don't fixate on everything being absolutely perfect. Prioritize the really important things in your mind and if something starts to go awry, decide whether or not it's something crucial for the party to be a success, or if it's just an extra, and make do. For instance, I had planned to make brownies or cupcakes, or just a regular 'ol cake myself, but the morning of, I realized I wouldn't have time. So guess what I did? I bought a cake from Walmart, and you know what? It was decent and it didn't ruin the party.

10.) "Me" time
Make sure you plan time for yourself to enjoy your company! After setting the tables with all the food and finishing the decorations, it was so nice to be able to sit with our friends and enjoy the party, too.

11.) Backup plan
If you're planning an outdoor party, make sure you have a backup plan, just in case the weather doesn't cooperate.

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12.) Remember the purpose
The whole point of this party was to celebrate two years of life of the sweetest, most important little gal in my life. I wanted to throw this party because I thought it would be fun for our whole family, and because I wanted Chelsea to be surrounded by the people who love her on her special day. If I had allowed myself to get sucked into all the planning and intricacies of everything, I would have missed out on the experience, the most important day of the year for my little Chelsea.

I never thought I would be "that mom" who threw a birthday party for her kid when she turned two. What's the point of throwing a party for a two-year-old who will never remember it? It wasn't until a few weeks before her birthday that I was hit with the motivation. I decided that this birthday party wasn't just about Chelsea, but about our friends, too. There are people in our life right now that may not always be around because they, or we move, and they are very special to our family. I am so grateful for those friends. They help us out with babysitting, play-dates, yard-work, lending us tools, giving advice, sharing experiences, giving us rides, and just coming over to say hi. I've never had so many people that I truly love and that love me back that weren't already members of my family and I can't tell you what a blessing that is to me, my husband, and my daughter. How truly blessed we are to know these wonderful people!

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So whatever party you're planning, I hope that you're not stressing too much about it. Keep in mind who the party is really for and focus your energies on making the day special for them. My dad always told me before I performed, whether it was singing, dancing, cheerleading, pole-vaulting, whatever, that the moment I started thinking of myself and not about the people I was entertaining, I would fail. I believe this to be true. When you put other people first, it will always be a success, and those people will feel the love that you have for them and appreciate it.

Thanks for stopping by today and being my readers! I feel blessed to have people  like you interested enough in me and my family to take some time out of your busy days to see how we're doing. Keep being you, and keep it real! ;)

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4 comments

  1. These are such good tips! One of my favorite parts of hosting a party is all of the leftovers!

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    1. Agreed! I was really surprised with how much watermelon we had leftover because I thought for sure the kids had gobbled it all up!

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  2. Thanks for the awesome tips! My husband and I are planning a big BBQ on the 14th for our one year wedding anniversary, and I am so hoping it won't rain. Pinterest helps me plan it a lot, but then it becomes overwhelming with 16 different ideas for one thing, like a table cloth!

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    1. I know what you mean! There are so many good ideas out there, it's hard to pick just one! Thanks for reading!

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