A first birthday is a big deal. For my boy Lucas it meant throwing a big birthday bash. I know he won’t remember, but I love parties and the ideas started flowing and I could not stop. As a blogger I wanted to share some tips on how I pulled off a wonderful birthday for my son that all the kids loved and did not break the bank.
I started planning all the details about four months in advance. With it being a summer birthday I knew location was the key. I love outdoor parties and I knew it was in the dead heat of summer but I took my chances and booked an outdoor shelter. We picked Antioch Park. It was located close to home and I loved the shelter. Shelter one was set apart from most of the park. Offered about sixty parking spots and seating for around 80. It had a larger grassy area next to the covered shelter and we were up on the hill from the pond where fishing is permitted.
Location was the key and that was booked. We got the shelter for the full day and used a friend who lived in the county to get the discounted rate. The only downside of this location was no music is allowed and you have to get special permits for everything from water balloons to piñatas. I knew this in advance and it did not cost anything, just an extra phone call that had to be made.
Next on the agenda was a theme. My son is a water baby. After swimming all summer and going to his first beach his party had to have a beach theme. There was no resisting the theme when I went to Target and saw there summer party collection. The crab and nautical décor was just what I was looking for. So I stocked up on everything for the party. Little did I know eventually these items would be discounted 90% on clearance. It sounds ridiculous what I did, but when you are on a budget and you bought items two weeks before and then they discount 90% there is no way I was not taking advantage of that.
I bagged everything up and returned it and repurchased everything at the discounted price. Wound up saving $160 and it was well worth my trouble. After getting the theme and party décor it was time for the invitation. This had to be special. After much thinking we decided what better way for people to see Lucas then a DVD invitation. We compiled our favorite videos and photos and made a seven minute video (with the help of our Mac Book) of Lucas and his treasured moments over the last year. We then included all details about the party on the last frame and mailed it to everyone on our guest list. Needless to say it was a huge hit.
About two weeks before the party I started working on party favors. I wanted something specifically for the adults and the kids. I found adorable beach pails at Dollar Tree and Target for $1. Every kid got their own personalized beach pail. I used permanent marker to write all the names on them and filled them with goodies that included bouncy balls, gummy skewers, visors and water bottles. The water bottles were another Target discount that was apart of the summer décor that when discounted were only .19 each!! The gummy skewers were hand made using bamboo skewers and stacking fish/shark gummies on the skewer and then wrapping in cellophane. Even the babies got in on the favors with sippy cups that matched the theme and iron-on onesies that said ‘I Love Lucas’.
For the adults I needed Gerber baby jars. I used each jar to personalize a message saying “Look Who’s 1!” printed on a label in black & white with Lucas’ photo. We used about five different photos and after removing the Gerber label stuck this on the jar. On the other side of the jar I stuck a sticker with the letter L in black. Each jar was then filled with M&Ms. they looked perfect but I went a step further. I had much debate over what I should put these baby jars in, if anything at all. Then I found this template. A perfect way to make my own holder for these great jars. It was a lot of work but I bought card stock paper in the vivid beach ball colors. Each paper was cut and then folded and taped. I then printed the saying “Hope you had a blast at Lucas’ first birthday bash” and placed a crab gif image above the saying. I used double sided tape to put the saying on the front of my jar holders. The cardstock paper when folded looked like a miniature popcorn holder. I then wrapped each one in cellophane for easy carrying.
As for food for the party we kept it simple. Hot dogs, chips, pasta salad and fruit. Plenty of water, lemonade and ice tea was on hand as well. My husband made the awesome cake. A three tiered cake where first level was the sand then the ocean and a beach ball for lil man. It looked gorgeous and melted slightly in the heat. We also made cupcakes for the kids.
To keep the kids entertained I threw beach balls all over and had a visor decorating station. I bought stickers, glitter pens and foam stick ons and the kids made their visors look amazing. The best part for the kids would be the Island Paradise Slide. An eight foot inflatable slide that I rented from FUN Services. Keeping with the discount I picked up the slide and was able to set up easily and returned it on the following Monday. All the kids loved it.
Lucas had many loved ones come to help him celebrate his big day and the greatest memory of it will come from his 11X14 matted photo that all the guests signed. This will hang in his room for many years to come and will always remind him of how much he is loved and how special his big day was. Hopefully some of my tips will help you plan your child’s next party. All birthdays are special and should not cost an arm and leg and these tips are here to demonstrate how I managed to do that.