I am so a kid at heart, and I get very excited about my kid’s birthdays. We do birthday parties here every other year. One year they get a party and the next they have to have their celebrations at home with just our family. This year both my boys are getting a party. Their birthdays are roughly two weeks apart, and we are celebrating turning one, and three. Both big birthdays if you ask me. First birthdays are big, for obvious reasons, but I love third birthdays because it’s really the first year that they truly understand the fun of it. So again, this will be a fun one.

Party planning can be quite overwhelming, so I like to start very slow. My first step is always the budget. This year, and really every year, my budget is small. I know lots of people who go all out for first birthdays, hiring caterers and DJs, the whole deal. For me, it’s not that practical. Hey, I’ve got a lot of mouths to feed! To save some dough, I always plan our parties between main meal times. 2-4 is the golden time for us. That way I can serve cake and ice cream, drinks,and maybe a small snack. The simpler the snacks the better. One of my favorite go to party snacks is popcorn. It’s really inexpensive, but it’s also very tasty, and most people like it. I like to offer a few varieties. I will make a plain butter and salt popcorn, a caramel corn, and maybe a spicy variety (or peanut butter popcorn!). Whatever suits your taste.

Popcorn is also pretty, and very easy to display. Glass bowls work great, or my personal favorite clear cookie jars! As with many things, the details can really make a party. Labeling your snacks is a great way to do this.  Find a font you like on your computer and print out on card stock all the names of the things you are serving. Paste those onto a piece of construction paper slightly larger and it looks twice as fancy. This is also a great way to play with your color scheme! Speaking of schemes, if you have one you will no doubt notice how expensive plate ware can cost at your local party store. Licensed characters add a few bucks to each package. My favorite trick to get around this is to buy one pack of your character plates, and one that is a plain solid color that matches. On party day stack the plates alternating plain with fancy. You can do the same with the napkins, and cups as well!

The same idea can be applied to balloons. Not all of your balloons need helium! Have some with and some without spread within your party space. If you have a little extra money in your budget check out Etsy shops. Some very talented people custom design invitations and labels, stickers, and more for your parties. Most that you can print from home.

-Stephanie Wright

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