You get a phone call from your Aunt Mildred asking you if you can host your cousin’s upcoming bridal shower. You can’t really say no to Aunt Mildred, so even though you have a full-time job, a five-year-old, and one on the way, you smile and nod, knowing that now it’s on you to do most of the work.
The thing is, you don’t have to have a never-ending budget to add a few simple touches, making this event extra special for the guest of honour, and those who attend. Below are a few ideas that should help next time your Aunt Mildred rings you.
Choose A Theme
Pinterest is a never-ending pit of inspiration, or for some dread. There are so many party ideas on Pinterest it can feel overwhelming. Your best bet is to use Pinterest for inspiration on an overall theme (e.g. Watermelons, Circus, Tropical, Shabby-Chic), and do the rest on your own. If you try to create every piece of your party from Pinterest, you’re going to end up spending a lot of money, and even more time. #TimeIsMoney
Take A Trip To The Dollar Store
After choosing your theme, take a trip to your local dollar store. It might sound like a place you aren’t too keen on visiting, however you might be surprised what you can find at the dollar store. From inexpensive frames, to balloons, name cards, streamers, napkins and plates – you can generally find all the items you need to jazz up your event. Why spend hundreds of dollars when you’re only going to use it once anyway?
Lighting Is Key
I always pay attention to the lighting when I go to an event, especially if it’s during the night time. Adding some candles and twinkle lights can go a long way – and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Generally, you can find tea light candles and/or twinkle light strands online for $10 – $20, depending on how many you’re looking for.
Add Personal Touches
Are you planning on hosting a formal dinner, or having a seated lunch? It’s always nice to add name cards to make guests feel special. During your dollar store visit, you’ll be able to find some place cards, and be sure to pick up a fun new sharpie (gold please!) while you’re at it. If you don’t have good handwriting, one of your friends or co-workers will be able to help you out.
I’ll always preach flowers, because they make me happy. Make a stop to your local Costo or farmers market, they’ll have a selection of flowers for you that are sure to go a long way. Pick up a few inexpensive mason jars, snip the ends of your flowers and off you go.
Create a Photo Booth
At every party, people take photos. Many times, people are getting together who don’t normally see each other, making it a very good time for them to take photos they might not otherwise get. Creating a photo backdrop can be easier than you think. One way to do this is to purchase a roll of wrapping paper with a print of your liking (make sure not to get something too busy). Hang it on a wall from the ceiling to the floor, and there you have it! A fun backdrop for your party. You could always purchase a few props from your dollar store as well to make the booth more fun for your guests. (Sunglasses, wigs and mustaches are always a hit).
Another way to do this would be to buy a free-standing hanging clothes rack. Head to a fabric store and purchase enough to hang over both sides. Done! You have yourself a free-standing photo booth you can place inside, outside, or anywhere. Purchase some helium balloons to prop up on the side for a little extra jazz.
Create A Food Display
Everyone knows that food & booze usually make a party. Ok, the people are key too. Because food is such a centerpiece, it’s fun to make a good food display. Create one main table / space that you focus on placing your food. Make sure to get some fun and or plain dishes (depending on your theme). Remember sometimes simple is best! Add little labels for your food options using your name cards. That way all your guests know what they’re eating. You could even add little notes about dietaries (e.g. gluten free).
In addition to your food station, create a drink station that has all of people’s drink needs. This includes: cups, ice, water, straws (paper not plastic!), lemons/limes, your alcohol of choice & necessary accompaniments. There are many variations to make this area extra-special such as: creating a themed drink, pouring your wine in a decanter to make it look extra fancy or creating a DIY mimosa bar station.
Remember that sometimes (if you have the time) it's easier to DIY. Things like making your own candles can make a big difference, and save $ in the long run. Here's a quick, 6 step video on how to make your own candles.
Just remember – personalized parties don’t have to break the bank. So, next time Aunt Mildred calls – say yes with some enthusiasm!