I already revealed how I react when it it time for company to come over, so just imagine the stress and anxiety I put myself under to prepare for a party. I have pulled off a few great parties (Milk & Cookies, Where the Wild Things Are, She’s Going to Pop, Lego Party, Bug Party), but last year I took a break. We were out-of-town for my son’s fifth birthday so I surprised him with an ice-cream party in a box. For my yougest’s third birthday we just kept it low-key at home.
On one hand I get very excited at the prospect of a party, but on the other hand as the party date nears I feel the stress mounting. I am definitely a victim of all the picture perfect parties spread all over the web. Then I find myself as a one woman show trying to pull off similar miraculous spectacles that were originally done by a team of event planners and vendors. No more!
This time I didn’t even plan on having a party. Well, other than an Adventure Awaits Pinterest board I have been building slowly over time… for someday! Then, when I realized we could get my immediate family together for my son’s birthday (no small feat since I have siblings that work odd schedules), I decided to host a party less than 24 hours later. Sounds crazy, but it was the best way to do it!
Other than the under 24 hour deadline, I only gave myself two requirements for the party:
1. Use only what I have for decoration
2. Make the party food as healthy as possible
How to Decorate With What You Have
I met the first requirement thanks in part to my party supply cabinet. With every party I have thrown in the past, I have saved the decorations. Now I have a cabinet full of party decor options.
Using the “adventure awaits” party theme I dreamed of, I found decor around the house to match the theme. The vinyl decorated globe and this atlas tapestry set the stage. The boys quickly turned the theme into a pirate party :)
Several parties ago I invested in a beverage dispenser. I stuck with white so I could fit it into any party theme. Instead of disposable drink cups, I used my DIY mini milk bottles. Quite possibly the cutest way to serve drinks at a party! This time I displayed the bottles on a bottle drying rack I bought earlier this year. I set out some leftover striped straws from pervious parties.
For some of the food, I used a few different items from around the house. I made the donut tower on top of a large candle plate. I put muffins in a tray we normally use for remotes on the ottoman. To make both food safe, I lined them with parchment paper.
The vinyl decorated globe got a lift from the help of a few decorative boxes. I arranged the drinks and treats all together to make a vignette on one side of the island.
Crowd-Pleasing Healthy Party Food
I met the second requirement for healthy party food by making the food one of the party activities. With my families odd schedules, the best time to host the party was 11am. Perfect time for brunch. We hosted another brunch party with milk and cookies in the past and loved the early in the day party.
Brunch food can run the gamut from healthy to sugary and carb-loaded. I wanted to offer something healthy and crowd-pleasing.
I created an Omelette Bar. The ingredients looked fab on my large stenciled tray. My favorite was the ombré tray of shredded cheese (cheddar, marble jack, and mozzarella). A last-minute chalkboard sign gave the guest instructions.
Since our party was small, limited to immediate family, made-to-order omelettes were easy and fun. Guests filled a bowl with their favorite ingredients and I cooked them up two at a time on a large griddle pan. Everyone loved it!
We also put a large platter of fresh fruit as the centerpiece on the kitchen table. No need to watch the kids around these healthy party snacks.
The One Thing Every Party Needs
I prefer parties that have naturally integrated activities. No silly announcements to start party games. The omelette station was a naturally integrated party activity.
Another favorite of mine is a photo booth. Every party needs one. We used this atlas tapestry as a back drop. The only thing I purchased for this party was the $5 felt happy birthday banner from Target. It added some fun color to the photo booth. We opted for a sitting photo booth…much easier with little kids.
Using my new toy camera, I took two pictures of each pose. At the end of the party, each guest got to choose one instant picture to take home…easy-peasy party favor.
My boys decided to spruce up the photo booth with props…so much fun. They rounded up a few of their pirate play things, including a red bandana, a felt pirate hat, and a telescope. The props added a little something extra to each shot.
We managed to capture this family photo…one of my favorites of all time!
And, when you can’t get a whole group to smile, the next best thing is to have them all pretend scream!
I am delighted to report this last-minute birthday party was one of our favorites! No stress, just lots of fun. It seems like at-home birthday parties are more the exception than the norm these days, but I think we are going to stick with it. We love celebrating at home. What about you? Do you prefer a DIY party at home, hiring the whole thing out, or hosting the party elsewhere?
Your boys are soooo cute!!!! I can tell they had a great time! Way to go Jackie! I especially love the bottles for party drinks–and they can go in the dishwasher. Love that.
Yes, Melissa! And, they take up very little space in the dishwasher. I can fit twice as many of these bottles compared to drinking glasses.
The party looks like a ton of fun.
For our parties, we usually have them at home and we only have a “big” party every 2 years. For the “big” parties we invite their class (usually 15 kids) and the neighborhood kids. For the “small” birthdays we invite a friend or two to play and maybe sleepover.
With 5 kids, having a party every year would be way too much work and money. We also stopped having big parties for the older kids when they were 10-11 years old. They still have a couple of friends over but I don’t call it a birthday party because I don’t want the friends obligated to bring presents.
I try to reuse party items and similar games (pin the bow on the present is at most of the parties – bag of stick-on bows and a square of wrapping paper).
I have also pinned too many party ideas. I have to remember that I can’t do it all and those “perfect” parties don’t always turn out the way they look. My personal experience was with a “hot dog topping bar” that just didn’t work for us – no one used the “special” toppings (pickles, salsa, cheese) – waste of time and money.
I love how you alternate years. That is an awesome idea! The hot dog bar sounds fun, but sad the toppings didn’t get used. I think that is why I limited the omelette ingredients, and stuck with ones I knew we could use in other meals if there were party leftovers. Have a great weekend!
OMG. Your little one is so adorable. I miss that cute age. Way to go on your impromtu get together. I think I would still be stressed about styling everything since I’m still learning. You always do a great job with presentation.
Lisa, limited time was my friend in this case. I just didn’t have time to fret over everything being perfect. Haha…you’ll notice I did not get perfect pictures of the set up either. I didn’t take one straight on of the drink station, because my oven door in the background was not clean…and I am glad I did not stress about that!
Love this! It looks like so much fun with such little fuss. And your family is aDORable!!
[email protected] says
I love this post!!! I can never pull off those Pinterest perfect parties and it never occurred to me how many people are involved in making those happen. I’ve realized recently that the best parties are those where the host isn’t exhausted and stressed out, not where everything is perfect! Thanks for sharing!!
I couldn’t agree more, Melissa.
Roni Faida says
I now want a party supply cabinet. That is just cool.
Kasi Griggs says
I love your party supply cabinet idea! So want one of these. I have things stored all over the house like you used to do before your cabinet.
LOVE the Happy Birthday banner! Can you share where it’s from?? Thanks!!
Thanks Nicole. The Happy Birthday banner is from Target.
Tonya Smith says
I wanted to offer one suggestion for your omelette brunch party idea that accomplishes 2 goals: 1) allows you to spend time with guest rather than cooking omlettes; and 2) allows you and your guest to sit down and eat at the same time while everyone’s omlette is hot. Depending on the number of guest you will need one or more pots of boiling water. Hint: I use a canning pot filled 1/2 to 3/4 with water and have cooked 12 omlettes at a time. If you don’t have one of these, just use Dutch oven and have a couple pots of boiling water. You could probably get 5 omlettes per regular sized Dutch oven. Just before your omlette bar set out quart sized zip lock bags and sharpie markers. Instruct your guest to first write their name on their zip lock then proceed to put in all the “fixin’s” they want in their omlette. Next have each guest decide how many eggs they want in their omlette two or three. Crack the appropriate number of eggs into each Baggie of fixin’s, mix contents of baggies by squeezing ingredients together (this is where you’d normally whisk your ingredients), squeeze the air out, and seal. Drop the omlette baggies into the boiling water and set the timers. I like mine well done so I cook the two egg omlettes for 13 minutes and add 5 minutes for each additional egg. So to keep things easy I have the guest remember if they fixed a two or three bag omlette. All the 3 egg omlettes go into the boiling water first and will be ready in 18 minutes. Then I add all the 2 egg omlettes after the first five minutes. When the timer goes off at 18 minutes all omlettes are done and each guest picks up a plate and you remove their omlette from the boiling water with tongs. The omlettes will look kind of like an egg log with the omlette fixin’s mixed in. When you open the baggies they will just roll out and onto the plate. You will want an adult to this part for the little ones to ensure they don’t burn themselves. Top with grated cheese, salsa, and chili and enjoy. This is our favorite breakfast for a lot of people (i.e., Family reunions, camping trips, sleep overs etc. Because it’s so easy, never fails, everyone is satified since they make their own, and if you serve on paper plates the only clean-up is the pot you boiled the water in? So it’s a win-win and you get to enjoy the party, eat with your guest and not worry people sitting around watching others eating while you are cooking omlettes 2 at the time, and lastly don’t have to fuss with “eggy” dishes to clean afterward. Hope this works for your family as well it does mine. There are better instructions online in case I wasn’t clear about something just type in a Google search boil in a bag omlettes and you’ll find it. Good luck!