Planning a party can be great fun—but it can also be a huge expense! Many people have the wonderful idea for planning a party, but then quickly realize as they get into the planning that this can be a bit overwhelming. Between all of the things that you have to get, all the stops you have to make, all the money you have to spend, and all the time that goes into it, you can quickly see that party planning can be one mammoth task!
Before you go into a panic attack, recognize that there are some simple but effective ways to save some time and money on planning the perfect party. No matter what type of party you are planning, you can always find some wonderful ways to save on your financial expenditures and your time. Consider these tried and true methods for planning the perfect party but saving yourself a whole lot in the process.
1. Pick a Theme to Tie Everything Together
Even if the person that you are planning the party for isn’t big into a particular theme, this can be a great way to save yourself some time and money. Picking a theme, even if it’s just a simple birthday theme, can save you a lot of wear and tear. Consider even going for a color scheme if all else fails. What this does is gives you one central idea to plan your decorations, invitations, and everything else around. This then saves you the time of picking out each individual detail separately. It also tends to save you a lot of money, as you can find just about everything that you need for this at a party supply store. You may even be lucky enough to find a discounted party pack that incorporates everything that you will need for that theme in one handy package.
2. Get Everything in One Location
Have you ever had to run from store to store just to find that “one item”? If you have then you know that it can be maddening. It can also be a huge drain on your gas tank and your overall expenses as you are paying whatever you need to pay to get that item on the list. Save yourself a whole lot of wear and tear and consider getting everything you need in one easy to find spot. Look for all of the party supplies that you need online at a discounted site, as this can really serve you well and get everything sent to your house in one click of a button. Go to a party supply store or even a super store that offers party supplies and get all the party fixings with one trip to the store. These days you can find everything you need in one spot, and ultimately this saves you a whole lot of time and some great money in the process.
3. Make a Checklist and Get Organized
No matter how organized you are (or not, such as myself), this is a great time for a list. Help yourself by visualizing the party well in advance. Here are things to put on your checklist:
- the date and time, when you will allow parents to drop off their kids, and when to pick them up
- the number of guests and parent’s emergency contacts – also, any allergies or concerns
- the party theme – then list the tablewear, supplies and decorations to go with it
- games and activities planned – list what supplies you need for this, where they will be located in your house or yard, and who can help you set all this up
- food – what types, when to buy or put together, who can help (don’t forget that you can incorporate a kid’s activity into this, such as cupcake decorating! Just make the cupcakes in advance)
- cake – store bought, or home made? Whatever you decide, add a date and time you will make it or order and pick it up
- goody bags – supplies and the time to make them
Don’t leave out even one little detail, because this “master” list will become your guide as you move forward. If the party starts at 1 PM, write down what will be happening at 2 o’clock. When will cake be served? When will presents be opened? Also, add some time for anything unexpected, and be flexible. For instance, if one activity is too short, have a backup ready for bored kids … just in case.
Also write down where you need to go to pick up everything (supplies, toys, food), the tasks you need done before the big day, and things to do during the party. This is also a great time to list neighbors and family members who can help you. You need somebody overseeing a kids activity while you prepare the cake, for instance.
By picking a unifying party theme, you can buy all your supplies and décor in one place. This also gives you ideas for activities (for instance, a preschool farm party can involve “farm animal bingo” where you create cards with pictures of animals, then make sounds that match an animal for the children to mark off.)
Limiting your purchases to just a few stores saves you loads of time and frustrations of “having to go back to pick up one more thing” (which I used to be terrible at!)
Finally, your most powerful money and time-saving weapon is the lowly “checklist.” This organizes your thoughts on what you need to do (and allows you to set a budget), what portions to delegate to others, and what to do during the party to make everything run smoothly. It definitely pays to get organized, particularly when it comes to party planning!
By Chris Molnar, who is planning a barnyard party for his three year old in a couple weeks. He already has the party supplies and decor ordered online (check), knows where to buy all the food and drinks (check), and has most of the games and activities figured out and who will help (almost checked).