I’m so excited to introduce you to another new contributor today… our Party Contributor! Ashley has been one of my besties for YEARS. Her creativity has always inspired me and truly blows me away. She is the perfect addition to our Creative Team and I know you will love her just as much as I do!
Hi Mine for the Makers!
My name is Ashley and I am so glad to be visiting on Kara’s blog today! Kara and I go wwwaaaayyyyy back and have been friends since elementary school. It has been so fun to have a lifelong friend to celebrate all of the big and little things that life has thrown our way the past 20 years.
A little about me- By day I am a kindergarten teacher but when the bell rings I am wife to Jarrod, a youth minister, and mommy to Halen, 4, and Lola, 8 months. I am passionate about throwing parties to celebrate the major events for those I hold dear and am excited to share some tips I have learned along the way to make your parties run budget-friendly and smoothly.
Whether you are throwing a birthday party, a shower for a friend, graduation celebration, or Mother’s Day tea party- here are some things to remember.
1. Plan Ahead. Okay, I know that this is often easier said than done, but parties take time and effort, right? My daughter celebrates her birthday the first week in January- which is piggyback to all of the big events: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. We have gotten in the habit of asking her each summer what kind of party she would like and then we start the planning process. Lucky for me, she is really good at not changing her mind!
After we have gotten a theme, we start checking the calendar. I always try to have her party after her birthday rather than before so I have a little extra time to get things in order. My personal rule of thumb is that when it comes to invitations you should always make sure your guests have them in hand at least 3 weeks before the party. Also remember that many people forget to RSVP- so a text reminder to finalize your headcount is okay too!
2. Organize and Budget, budget, budget. I am a nerd and love to have all things organized. I fill out a spreadsheet each year that contains things I want to make, buy, and who we have invited. This way all of my details and lists are contained to one spot! I simply fill it out, print, and put it in my purse….er, diaper bag. I also like having all of my addresses in one spot for invitations and thank you cards. The best part is, if you save it on your computer, the next year you just update and most of your information is done for you!
When it comes to today’s world of Pinterest- it is really easy to find great ideas and want to get a little crazy! But- stick to your budget. I prioritize my ideas and then really think about what I am wanting to spend. I could find a million different things to make or buy, but I realize that if at the end of the party I could buy a pony for what I spent on a party- it wouldn’t make sense. I love the budget part of the spreadsheet because it keeps me focused and forces me to shop smart!
I am attaching a link to the spreadsheet I use- feel free to print it and make it your own!
3. Shop Smart and Store. This year when Halen said she wanted a Mermaid party in January I knew I was going to have to start in the summer with a few purchases. I knew I wanted to serve the food in glittery sand buckets so I made sure I hit Dollar Tree in July to purchase them. I also started stalking my local facebook swip swap sites to look for beach themed decorations. I scored a huge bag of mixed seashells for just $3 and a set of six clam serving plates for $2. I also try to grab a small thing each time I head to Target or Walmart to spread the expenses out over time. If you wait to the last minute you are often in a pinch and convenience takes precedence over cost- which can lead to overspending. I also love to shop my house for things I can use as decorations- which are free!
Once you start collecting all of your goodies, purchase a storage tub, use a copy paper box, or save those Trader Joes bags. Find a safe spot in your house and start loading up! I put a box in the corner of my craft room and start putting all of our supplies in it once I purchase them. That way I don’t have things pigeon holed all over my house- where it will most likely be lost, eaten or forgotten. Once the party is 2-3 weeks away I set up a table in my kitchen so I can see exactly what I have left to buy and can start working on things.
4. Ask for Help. Everyone knows what their strengths are with parties- right? I am great at creating, decorating, and organizing. However, I am a terrible baker and cannot photoshop an invitation to save my life! If you have a friend with great editing skills that can make a cool invite- ask her! Your mom is a master cake froster- hit that lady up! Chances are if you ask people in advance they will be more than willing to help you out. My mom always helps me with food items. My little sister is the party photographer and my older sister helps with dishes and clean up. It helps the party run smoother and helps keep a million people asking you what you need help with!
5. Make the Day Your Own and Enjoy. After you’ve hit your Pinterest, magazine, blog overload- think of ways to make the party have your special twist on it. I started the tradition with Halen to have a book that coordinates with her party theme each year. I have all of the partygoers sign it on the day of the party so after the party you have a great keepsake. Also- what a fun collection for when your child gets older!
Even though it is easy to get wrapped up in a million details and stress out- try to remember the person or reason you are throwing a party for. Unless Martha herself is rolling by to feature your party, try to calm down and enjoy the day. After all, the memories you are making with your loved ones are the things that cannot be found on Pinterest.
And in the interest of full disclosure- when you come to my house for a party- don’t ever peek in my laundry room, because this is what you will find!!!
I’ll be back again to share all of the details of Halen’s Mermaid Party and give a budget breakdown. This might just be my favorite party to date! Until then- Party on friends!