September 17, 2014

How To: Throw an Eric Carle Themed Birthday Party

Okay, so anyone who knows me, knows I love to throw parties. I'm obsessed with them...doesn't neccesarily mean I am good at them, but I like to do them, lol. The obsession grew from always having a much too large guest list. I always like to include everyone, and in order to do that, you need lots of planning, lots of food, lots of treats, lots of entertainment. One thing I don't have a lot of? Spending money or time! I usually spend months preparing for parties before they actually commence in order to get everything in order. One of my other favorite things to do is to bargain shop, and try to keep things frugal. Many people ask me how I plan the crazy parties I throw. Well, I thought I would start to dissect the parties that I've thrown so far (before the holy grail that is now called Pinterest evolved), to help others in need of quick, easy, and cheap ideas.

Here's the basic low down on Noelle's large 1st Birthday bash, almost 3 years ago! (Holy, where does the time go!?)

Event: 1st Birthday
Theme: Eric Carle (Author of many of Noelle's FAVORITE first books!)
Guests: 80
Location: Shoreview Community Center 

First off, you cannot beat holding your party at a community center if you don't have amble space because you can get a pretty good deal on the room, especially given if you are a member of that community! For being a resident in the area, I get a discount!

Decor: I started scouring the clearance racks months before her actual party in order to get some of the decorations for super cheap - like cents! Balloons were from big bags at the Dollar Store, and the tablecloths came cheapest from Oriental Trading Company. I find that if you need rectangle tablecloths Wal-Mart is your best bet (even cheaper than the Dollar Store). However, if you need round tablecloths, like I did,  it's best to buy them in bulk from a wholesaler, because those are pricey! At your local party store they can be $3-4 a piece!


I also got lucky on the decor because my girlfriend had recently held a Very Hungry Caterpillar (one of Eric Carle's most popular books) birthday party for her son, so I borrowed her birthday banner. For foil balloons, I ALWAYS go to the Dollar Store. They are ALWAYS cheaper than the party store, even for the EXACT same balloon!

These are a dollar a piece at your local dollar store...much cheaper than the party store for the same balloons!

I made the centerpieces for each table by getting Eric Carle paper baskets from the dollar section at Target (they have Eric Carle stuff ALL the time - at least once a year). Watch for the dollar section to go on clearance every couple months when the season changes - the sales are massive. I grabbed all these for a dollar a piece, but imagine if I had gotten them when they were 70% off - that's .30 cents a piece. Then I filled them up with Dum-Dum suckers (the cheapest bag can be found at Wal-Mart), and stuck in a little "lollipop" I made for each centerpiece. The "lollipop" was made from popsicle sticks, with circles that I cut out for nights beforehand, and pictures of Noelle throughout her first year. Then on every other table, I would tie some balloons to the centerpiece.


I also used rainbow colored yarn I already had on hand and clothespins to hang up pictures of Noelle throughout her first year. (One picture for each month.) I used her pictures taped on colored construction paper, then used clothspins to secure them to the yarn. I hung this over the food table. I also took the book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" and had the pictures of the animals photocopied, then I cut them out and glued them on card stock paper. I then scattered these animals around the room and taped them to the walls.

Food: We served Subway subs, cookies, and chips. I made a huge crockpot of generic macaroni and cheese for the picky little kids which went over well, and to save money on chips we just bought the individual bags in bulk from Costco. This was where we spent the most of our money. We also had fruit, veggie trays, and pasta salad that some of our generous family members brought to the party. The food cost more than the room rental, but that was to be expected, feeding bear 100 people for dinner.

Now, looking back I wish I had printed these signs out - would have looked better! You plan, you party, and you learn! ;)

We had three different kinds of cookies. (Oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, and double chocolate chip.) Yum! Subway cookies are my favorite!! We could have totally saved making our own, but there's something about those Subway cookies!

Cake: We got a custom cake made from Costco (sheet because it's cheapest), and for her smash cake I got a one layer cake from Target for only $6! If I had wanted to REALLY save, I could have made the smash cake myself, which is something I might do for Halle's first. 

Grandma Shel insisited that we have a cake with Noelle's face on it, lol. 

I picked out a cake that Target already had in their ready to sell bakery, then asked a baker to please make a large "1" on it. Perfect!

Signs: All my signs were just found online, printed, glued to card stock paper, done. Easy! You can find a lot of Eric Carle images online. 

Yes, I wrote that cheesy poem, lol. 

Guestbook: Noelle is almost 3 and still reads this all the time, and makes me read ALL the notes that everyone wrote to her in it. I found the book used in excellent condition on Amazon. This saved me tons - I got the book for a little over $4 (that is INCLUDING shipping and handling) instead of $20 brand new at the book store.


Activities: I had Joey drag in our kiddie pool into the center of the room and filled it up with plastic balls for the little ones to play in. The ball pit was a huge success! I also brought in TONS of our own push toys for the kids. Not to mention we had balloons scattered all over the floor. Since most of our guests were either very, very young, or old, we didn't need any games or anything at this party. I did have a large screen overhead playing The Wiggles in the background though, which served for our music, as well as something for the kiddos to watch. We also played a video that I made for Noelle towards the end of the party.

It was a great success, and for not really being "Pinspired" yet at the time, I thought I did pretty good. LOL. Of course, now with Pinterest amongst us, I will have to up my game Parties are visually so much more applealing nowadays.  ;) As long as my kids are happy, it's all good!

For more pictures from the entire party, click this.

1 comment:

  1. My sister wanted to host a party for his 4 year old son and asked me to help her out. Though I asked her to hire a party planner but she said she was looking for arrange everything of her own. I think I can forward her this blog of yours.


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