Basic Party Planning Tips for the DIY-er


Other than having a large-ish group of extended family over for a BBQ or holiday celebration once in a while, I had never thrown an actual “party” until my son’s first birthday.

I had no clue where to start. So I did what most do, and hit the internet (pre-pinterest). I was overloaded with beautifully styled parties done by both mommy bloggers and professional event coordinators. I was so impressed, and had my creative itch tickled. But with a small budget, as always, and no real skills, I figured “How hard can it be?” So I started working on doing something special for my son, I invested in the crafting necessities, got out my scissors and got to work.  I wish I could go back in time and give the past me a little bit of general planning advice. It would’ve made things a lot easier those first few go-arounds.

1. Pick your theme, decide on a budget, Know your skills & priortize what’s important to you.

This part is pretty straight forward, once your theme and budget are decided, you need to evaluate what things are worth paying for and what aren’t.

Is having a professionally made and beautiful cake a top priorty, or maybe you want your to invest in having some amazing favors for party guests, or a venue that you can’t pass up.  Maybe you want the birthday kid to have an adorable outfit you found on etsy, or a professional photographer to capture the event. Figure out what is at the top of your priority list and what’s at the bottom.

2. Get your Vision on Paper. Gather your inspiring ideas and tutorials.

At this point, I’m sure you have a theme in mind, or a million pinterest ideas floating in your head. Even simple projects can become overwhelming if you take on too much at once. And what is a party but a ton of simple little projects combining to make a one of a kind soiree? And trust me, It can can turn into crazy town quick especially if it’s not something you do often.

This may seem like a silly, frivalous step, But for me, it makes a huge difference in keeping me on track when making shopping and to-do (or to-make) lists. I am no artist, but it makes such a difference for me to sketch some thing out, an idea for a backdrop,  banner placement, layout of a sweets table, or signage ideas.  Once I’ve sketched out my overall idea.

I can make notes or jot new ideas down, I can easily go through my sketch and make a shopping list for party & craft supplies on a project by project basis. I know it may seem unnecessary, and for you, might be. But I end up going back to my initial sketches and ideas more times than i can count throughout the planning process.  Also, make sure you’ve pinned those tutorials you plan on using from pinterest or other websites (and read them!), so you can find them easily when you’re ready to get down with your crafty self.

3. The party is for the “guest of honor”… But not really.

Yes, your one year old is having a birthday, but who are we kidding, the party is as much for them as it is for mommy and all the guests that attend. If it was solely about the birthday kid, we could easily spend the entire afternoon tearing apart my tupperware cabinet or unraveling toilet paper rolls..  But that’s not so fun for Uncle Joe. So keeping your guests in mind when planning activities, food, and other festivities is a must. Is it going to be guests of all ages, just kids, kids and their parents? Family, friends from school, or both?

You want everyone who attends your shin-dig to leave happy that they spent the afternoon at YOUR party. Have fun activities and games for the kids, things that keep them busy and allow for parents to sit back and also enjoy themselves (because that’s important too.)

And Never run out of food.  Make sure you have plenty for everyone, and include some easy crowd pleasers that will keep even the pickiest of eaters sastified, even if you’ve been dying to wow your mother-in-law with your calamata, feta, spinach something thingy ma-bob for months.

4. Timing is Everything.

Schedule your party and activities accordingly.

If you’re throwing a party for a child, especially a young one, you WILL want to keep their daily schedule in mind when planning. A party should be planned around nap time, not during (seems obvious enough). Also, if the end of the party is nearing naptime, don’t wait to do cake and presents until the end of your party. Your Little one year old will probably be all party pooped-out and would be much happier doing that cake smash thang a little earlier on, then they can relax and snuggle while the party winds down if their little heart desires.

4. Don’t DI-Out Do Yourself.

don’t take on more DIY’s than you can handle. Sometimes things look simple to make or accomplish when done by some amazing party stylist, designer, or savvy online blogger. And you can seemingly find a tutorial on most things that seem simple enough. But there is no way to know how long a new project or DIY will take you. Don’t over do it. Just because you CAN make it, doesn’t mean that it always makes sense to do so in the long run. (I’ve learned that the hard way)  Read the tutorials before you make a final decision, schedule them out and add an additional week to your timeline. (trust me.)

5. Details, Details, Details.

It really is all in the details, so keep the rest simple.

If i could go back in time, and give one piece of decorating advice to myself for getting it done effectively and inexpensively. You want the room to seem full of handmade lovelies and decor, but to fill an entire room would usually either take A LOT of time, or a small crafting staff. I recommend finding a cheap solution, like filling your walls with easy to make decorative banners,  (Like 15 feet of Fringe bunting for $1). And focus your time and energy on the small details that guests will notice and be even more impressed by, amazing food labels, cupcake toppers, party signage, unique favors, games, other personal touches sprinkled throughout the event that really make it shine.

6. Don’t let pinterest discourage your efforts.

Don’t let pinterest fool you. There are SO many truly amazing and beautiful parties and inspiration on pinterest.  The difference between those parties and your or my party, we are not event professionals with years of experience, an exquisite eye, and boatload of resources at their fingertips. Not to mention, professional photography, big budgets, an arsenal of beautiful servingware and table decor, crafty employees. And some of the parties aren’t parties at all, just a beautifully styled table for a photoshoot. Don’t get me wrong, they are amazing, glorious and I aspire to create anything as equally beautiful. BUT I know to keep realistic personal expectations for myself. I am working on a MINIMAL budget, and although you can DIY most things, somethings can’t be accomplished without spending a little cash. Your guests will still be wowed by the truly unique and special party you created. With or without the vintage suitcases, porcelain white owls perched atop them next to a beautifully arranged floral piece.

8. Ask for help.

I highly discourage setting up all by your lonesome while your hubby stays with the kiddo. Again, Trust me, i know. Enlist your bestie or mom to help day of with set up, or even before with crafting and planning details. Also, if you have a friend or family member who loves to cook or bake, use their skills and call in a favor. Food at a party is a whole other topic in itself. Who can argue with having one less thing to worry about.

7. Have Fun.

Definitely not last, but most importantly, Don’t forget to have fun. whether you accomplished everything you had on your to-do list, or your party seemed to fall apart at the seams (in your opinion atleast. I’ve found that even when I feel this way, nobody else seems to agree)

Let it go, Don’t be to hard on yourself, it’s a party for goodness sake. It’s suppose to be fun. That’s the point.

It’s a lot of build up for a few hours of celebratory goodness, and then it’s over and you’re stuck cleaning it up with a sugar shocked, overstimulated, one year old on your hip.

Prioritize, Plan ahead, Be realistic, Ask for help,

So have fun and know that the work you did is appreciated by all of the special people in your life who attended. (and that you really impressed everyone with your craftiness and party planning skills, you “look” like you have this amazing chic mom thing down pat!) And isn’t that a sub-goal ultimately, an added bonus at the very least.  🙂

Thanks So much for stopping by! Don’t forget to check out all the easy Party DIY’s and free printables on the site to help make your event a little less stressful.


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