By Tracy Lane
We’ve all been to an enormously overdone party. It felt amazing when we walked in. The décor was perfect. The cake was perfect. The birthday child’s outfit was perfect. Even the mom’s outfit was perfectly coordinate to fit the theme.
Everything looked like a perfect masterpiece…until the two-year-old partygoers entered the scene. And dug sticky fingers into the three-tiered cake, spilled pink punch over the carpet, and fought over the fishing pole and tails to pin on for the party games. Which is fine because the party was meant for toddlers and well, toddlers celebrate and enjoy in messy toddler ways that will likely mess up an expensive hand sewn outfit and extravagant party planner’s ambiance.
So let’s just cut the disappointment on the front end and plan a party that your toddler will love that doesn’t break the bank. Seriously, toddler party planning on a budget can still be super cute, but will for sure be much more effective. Here are a few tips to keep the party planning under appropriate wraps so that you can save all your nice things for another day, like their wedding!
1. Consider a low key location. Check out your neighborhood park. Oftentimes you can use this space without reservation and most parks have a playground for little birthday climbers too. What about your own backyard? This would obviously be free and a comfortable, familiar space for your child.
2. Opt for digital invites. It’s 2018. It’s perfectly fine to forego the cost of a handwritten invitation, envelope, and postage stamp. Use a free app like RedStamp to personalize a premade template and text those cute images to your friends. Besides, hard copy things are so easily lost in the messy organization of momlife. A text that your friend can refer back to on the drive to the party will be extra valuable for her that day.
3. DIY like crazy. Pinterest is your best friend for budget party planning. Have you seen all the free printables offered on literally every party theme you could ever imagine? And on many occasions, a friendly mom blogger will even show you step by step how she threw the best Barbie (or what have you) party ever. Which I’m thankful for because I’m totally using her free Happy Birthday banner, editable invitations, and entire itinerary for my daughter’s 4th birthday this weekend. Who needs a party planner when you have Pinterest, a printer, and a hole punch at your fingertips? Not you, budget-friendly Momma!
4. Be realistic with food and drink. Toddlers aren’t notably good eaters, so no need to make the adult party recommendation of 2.5 servings for each guest. Stick to a sweet and a drink. Sure a little snackage can be nice but it’s not necessary for this guest list. If you’re choosing cupcakes, make one per person (and most moms will decline a cupcake offer so be mindful of that if you don’t want leftovers). A cake can go even farther because you can offer small servings to the little ones. And again juice boxes or individual drinks are nice, but a pretty pitcher filled with homemade punch or lemonade will go farther.
5. Save money on your gift buying. If your parents and in-laws are anything like mine, they will shower your child with an overabundance of gifts. I’m thankful. I welcome it! But I try to remember that when I’m in the Target aisle scoping out my own gift for my birthday girl. If I’ve given a good list to extended family and guests, we go light on personal purchases. Because honestly, how many crying Baby Alive dolls can my daughter really comfort at one time?
So you’re ready. You might feel inadequate or not prepared by foregoing some of the pomp of a meticulously done party. But remember, this party is for your child. Not for all the moms who might oooh and awwwe over the perfect décor. Choose to celebrate your little one well and save your sanity for enjoying the day with your family and friends by throwing a meaningful but budget friendly party.