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I know people love to shame millennials for thinking everyone deserves a trophy, and we’re all special snowflakes, but celebrating our babies is a big deal! I love my little girl and I love celebrating her milestones. Seriously, I was ready to throw a party when she rolled over for the first time. But I’m frugal, and when it comes to parties – all the bells and whistles add up.
I would rather spend that money on gifts for my little one! My frugalness is alive strictly to keep myself from spending money in all the wrong places. SO I scoured Pinterest for party inspiration and figured out the bare necessities.
The TWO essentials of a First Birthday Party are:
1. A super-cute Highchair
2. A Theme!
I’m a working mom, and the sole breadwinner for my family. I knew I’d have to keep the budget tight, and I couldn’t just outsource help with things like Cake, Food, & Decorations. With careful planning, I pulled it off FOR LESS THAN $100.
The only places I spent money were Target, Amazon, & Publix. Totally bearable for busy modern mamas with no time to shop.
My $100 was split pretty evenly. 50/50 Decor and Food. Here’s a more clear cut breakdown of how I put that money to work:
frugal party food
Since I began planning the guest list 4 months ahead of time, I had sent invitations 6 weeks out. By the week of the party, I knew I needed to expect at least THIRTY PEOPLE… Yikes.
My house is small (or cozy, or quaint). And the party went from 1130 to 2 PM.
Literally lunch time.
FYI, you WILL need to feed your guests. No matter what time you plan to host it. Figure out some festive food appropriate for the time of day. I forewarned some invitees; they were not going to leave the party stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey.
And that was ok! That isn’t the purpose of the party anyway.
6 or 7 pizzas was OUT. That adds up fast. Definitely not in my budget OR diet.
And not very cute on a festive spread.
I went to the source of my inspiration. Pinterest!
The night before showtime, I prepared 3 varying flavors of Sweet Roll Sliders. I cannot suggest these enough. These are a hit in my house. My husband begs for them. They are so easy.
Turkey & Cheese – Simple, yummy, crowd pleasing
Cuban – festive! Flamingos live there, I learned
Pizza – Birthday party appropriate, and another crowd pleaser
This is the pin that inspired those flavors. As you can see, I didn’t stick to the recipe. I deal with a lot of picky eaters. The most amazing thing is, you can top them with literally whatever you want. All you need are the logistics (cooking temp & time, don’t forget that tin foil!).
I spent about $20 on sandwich fixin’s. We could’ve done well with a fourth tray, but everyone ate their fill. It was only sad that there weren’t many leftover haha!
The tin foil makes clean up stupid easy. Bonus for busy mom!
As a side, we spent about $18 on fruit which became our Fruit Salad. I used a slight variation from this pin:
It doesn’t get much better than this
Dessert gets its own section, because cake plays a huge part in a birthday party! Babygirl got her very own, as is expected in a Pinterest-Worthy Party.
But the party-goers needed their own little bit too.
Being money conscious, buying a cake was out. They never taste right to me anyway. I love a fresh cake! Now, I don’t have the time or tools to make a truly beautiful, tiered, original, cake. So I opted for cupcakes & cakepops!
I spent less than $5 on cake mix and icing. I made a 6″ smash cake for the Birthday Babe, and poured the remaining batter into some cupcake liners. Bada-bing!
My husband was so worried that we wouldn’t have enough, so he sent one of our parents (no idea which one) to buy a 6-pack of extras. Happy Husband, happy life?
I was just happy it didn’t cost me money!
CAKE POPS: They’re cute, trendy, delicious, and not very easy to pull off. One day I’ll experiment and find some practical tips to make it less of a total mess, but again, not today.
All of the materials cost about $10. Cake Pops are an event, to say the least. But I wanted an additional festive dessert, and all but two of the attendees were under 16. So I went with
inspired by Pinterest.
I say “inspired by” because I do not hold myself to every Pinterest standard. It’s one of the ways I stay sane (if I am, still unsure). I try, and I usually surprise myself! The most important detail to me was those graham cracker crumbs. After all, it’s the best part of a key lime pie.
From my Instagram. Follow me!
My “attempt” was definitely edible. I ate maybe 7… if I’m being honest. The crowd liked them too! We are all Floridians, so Key Lime Juice might be in our blood.
I absolutely love everything about that flavor. And it fit with the Flamingo/Tropical vibe.
This is one of the most critical methods for Pinterest-Worthiness: Think THEME. If it doesn’t work with the theme, cut it.
budget table decor
In addition to food, you need some decor! Who doesn’t love all those perfectly styled tables with varying heights? You can make up for not covering the table with cutesy items by creating a busy background with several little elements.
It doesn’t hurt that I like the “clean” look, so my frugality translates into minimalism.
Birthday Banner – Target – $7.99 (before red card. I love that red card). Iridescent and adorable! I’m a firm believer in reviews, and the only complaint with this was the “Made in…” stamp on the T. Don’t care. Didn’t matter!
Cake Platter – Target – $3!! My Dollar Bin score. I absolutely loved that little thing for her smash cake. It was shattered the next week, thanks to my sweet ridiculous dog…
Frame – Ikea – Already in my house… sorry. The art inside of it is my pitiful attempt to recreate something I’d seen online… but with markers & computer paper….
FLAMINGO! – Amazon – 2 for $10.10 So fun. I saved one to decorate baby girl’s room after the party. The other was lost to the dog…. Get this awesome PRIME deal here! These guys are V trendy AND timeless. You can’t lose.
Tropical Leaves – Amazon – $6.99 My dream of a Flamingo Flock made me swoon for that trendy bird and anything related! These may have been overkill… I definitely didn’t need 8 of them, but they are fun and gave me extra decor to throw around! To the right is a smaller (8″), higher quality alternative, if you’re looking for quality over quantity. Shopping around is highly recommended!
The Party Seat!
I absolutely love cute 1st birthday highchairs, but I wanted mine to feel original and not too much like a boxed set. That fringe might have been the star of the show.
Baby actually preferred it to the cake.
I placed it in a corner to maximize spectatorship and limit photo bombings. It worked!
But not without an attempt from my mother-in-law.
ONE” Balloon Set – Target – $7.99 So necessary! Actually not. But SOOO CUTE!
Tissue Flower Garland – Amazon – $5.39 A simple bit of tropical flair. I actually saved this after the party, and I will definitely be looking for another chance to use it! So easy and adorable. Not to mention affordable (& prime). Buy it here!!
Gold Fringe Streamer Sheet (?) – Amazon – $6.75 I knew I wanted a backdrop for the party chair. This is the one I bought. It is definitely a ‘one time use’ item. But as you can see, I stick to the cheap prime items. They get the job done with limited retail regret.
Believe it or not, that is everything I bought for her first birthday party.
Plates & plastic flatware were brought by helpful relatives. (Thanks guys!)
The tissue paper used was saved from my baby shower!! I never throw out good wrapping supplies/gift bags. Those things come in handy! And they are expensive…… I always feel so efficient when I get to reuse it.
I hope I gave you some confidence to go for your dreams. You don’t have to settle for flimsy sets from a big box party store. All you need is a little creativity!
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