8.21.2010

How to Throw a Thrifty Birthday Party



Welcome to the weekend my friends! I'm so excited to talk about today's blog post, inspired by the fun night I had on Friday. We went to a birthday party with two of our friends, where the hubs and another friend were going to be playing music, and the joyousness of the occasion left me thinking of all the fun you could have throwing a thrifty birthday party! This idea would work for guests of honor at all ages, from toddlers to people in their golden years, and really give you an excuse to stretch your creativity. And, let me tell you, it feels so good to sit back at the end of the night and see all the special touches you were able to bring to the event, without breaking the bank. Here are some tips to help you get the party started:

  1. Start by picking a theme. Since you'll be going to second-hand stores and you never know what they're going to have in stock, having a certain aesthetic in mind helps get the ball rolling. And (obviously) make it something specific to the guest of honor, whether it's a hobby they're really into, a certain place they love to visit, or a favorite memory they have.
  2. Give yourself plenty of time! Since you're working with what you find, make sure you start searching for things at least a month in advance. If after a week of looking you're starting to see that your theme is going to be difficult, be flexible and pick another one. Since you've started planning this so early, you'll still have plenty of time to accommodate the changes.
  3. Enlist help from friends and family. I'm willing to bet that you and everyone near and dear to you don't all live on the same street (if you do, that's awesome and I'm very impressed), so make use of the distance and cover more ground in the same amount of time. Ask your sister who lives on the north side of town to scour the thrift stores over there, while you cover the south side. Tell them you'll reimburse them for the items, and ask that their time be a donation of love for the guest of honor. On the same note, if you know someone with a special talent (i.e. plays an instrument, does magic tricks, etc.) ask if they would re-gift their gift for the party.
  4. Remember the basics. Things like table linens, candle holders, flatware, glasses and serving pieces can be found in abundance at thrift stores as well, and you might find something that is useful for the parties you'll through in the future. So if you have space to store it, get it!
  5. Let your items do double-duty. Since some of the things you're going to buy will be specific to a theme, most likely they won't be something you hang on to after the party. So...send your guests home with favors; it'll be a great way for them to remember the fun they had. You can also re-donate the items and get a tax receipt. Either way it's a win-win!
  6. Make the cake yourself. I'm going to introduce you to what I consider the baking Bible: Baking Illustrated, from the people behind the Cooks Illustrated food magazine. I got it as a gift from one of my roommates a couple years ago, and have yet to be disappointed by any cake I've made from it. The people behind the recipes do all the grunt work for you, testing different pans, techniques and temperatures, and even print their trials with the recipe to enhance your baking knowledge. If you just want to go easy on yourself and make a cake out of the box, think about ways you could cut and sculpt it into a 3-D creation that goes along with the party's theme. One year we threw a dinosaur-themed party for a friend and I made a dinosaur birthday cake; this past year, for another friend, we made a cake in the shape of a swan. Even if it doesn't look perfect, they will certainly appreciate the effort.
Dino cake (ignore the terrible writing!)
Swan cake (even though it kinda looks like a duck)
 
The best part (for me) about this method of throwing a party is it's sustainable. Most thrift stores are connected to a nonprofit, so the money you spend there goes on to help people in need in some way!

Hope this inspires you for your next shindig! Have a great weekend!

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