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?