5 Not So Secret Secrets to Throwing a DIY Party

The motto in our household should be “I could do that.” We say it on a regular basis about different things. Walking through Target I will point out a bookshelf I like, for example, and Ben’s reply is always, “I could build that.” The same goes for little things like snacks for my kids’ birthday party. If you were following along on Instagram, last week we threw Isaac a Costume 4th Birthday Party (his 3rd birthday was the same!)

I learned a lot about planning and prepping for parties with Isaac’s 3rd birthday. We had thrown parties before but his 3rd was the first time we invited more than just our family, invitations were sent out to all the kids in his class! I was stressed and not super organized. I left so much stuff for the day of, not realizing that there are always things that pop up the day of, and we were running around like crazy people right up until that doorbell rang. Actually, I think I was getting dressed when the first guest showed up. Yikes!

Secret #1: Don’t Sleep on Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree has become a slight obsession for me. I have used Dollar Tree for a ton of cheap organizing bins for under the sinks. I’m sure you already know, but Dollar Tree is perfect for party planning too. They have little items perfect for goodie bags for kids’ parties. I always love their seasonal decor items. I use those a lot for easy and cheap party decorations. Dollar Tree is also the perfect place to purchase items for doing some DIY party games. From poster board to ping pong balls, paints, and plastic containers, all for $1.25!

I made this cute Pin the Spider on the Web game for Isaac’s birthday party using Dollar Tree poster board, spider web, and spider rings. The kids loved it!

Secret #2: Plan Ahead

I learned this one the hard way. Plan out what you need to do ahead of time. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE DAY OF. Or even the day before. You will be up way too late if you start the night before. This is what I did for Isaac’s 3rd Birthday party (and for Addie’s 1st actually) and it was a hot mess. Did it all turn out fine? Of course. But I had Ben running around town until the party started, and I was overwhelmed. So this year, I took a better approach.

I set out what I needed to do and then planned when I was going to do it. On one sheet of notebook paper, I laid out what I was making for snacks & desserts, what I needed to get from the store, what I was making when, and what I was cleaning/setting up when.

free-party-planning-template-download

Secret #3: Icing Color Calculator

I always have a vision in my head of my perfect cupcake. And I am not a baker. Not even in the loosest definition of the term. But I struggled with food coloring for so long. In my head it was super easy, to make purple you need red and blue, for green blue and yellow, etc. One year I was trying to make a very specific salmon orangey color, I cannot remember what this was for, and was struggling. Then I came across this food coloring chart from the Food Network. GAME CHANGER.

Did this level up my baking? Absolutely. Am I a pro? Absolutely not. But I think I did a pretty good job on these Halloween-themed cupcakes!

halloween-cupccakes

I picked up this cake decorating kit ($27.99 on amazon) during lockdowns in 2020. My intention was to get really good at baking and then I never practiced. But, it is super nice to have on hand for when I do want to make cute, simple, treats for the kid’s Birthday parties.

Secret #4: Make a Running List of Basics

If you are going to throw house parties on a regular basis, there are some things you should just try to keep on hand. Ben and I love having people over at our house. We want people to feel welcome here, and to know that our door is always open. Over the years we have thrown parties here and there, and have just had people over at random times. There are a few things we always try to have on hand. This makes throwing parties just a little bit easier. Here are some examples of what to keep on hand:

Non-Alcoholic Options & Snacks

  • Coke
  • Sprite
  • Juice Pouches
  • Tortilla Chips & Salsa
  • French Onion Dip mixes

Alcohol Options to keep On Hand:

  • A Lite Beer
  • Liquor (Vodka, Bourbon, Rum)
  • Wine
  • Simple Drink mixers (lemonade, red bull, pineapple juice, ginger ale, etc.)

We try to keep a shelf in our garage pretty stocked with basic sodas and juice boxes for the kids. I also usually have a few packets of French Onion dip at the ready, it’s always a huge hit and helps make a mean spinach dip! Having all of this on hand isn’t necessary, but it can help with the running around during the prep stage. With that being said, if we didn’t have people here regularly I am not sure we would try to keep drinks stocked so well.

Now the last one is a big bonus, but one that will make a big difference for all of your parties!

Secret #5: Make Introductions as Best You Can

I suck at this, but I understand that this is an important part of any party. Make introductions. If you are having a party where you are inviting friends from your neighborhood, friends from work and a few childhood best friends make a few introductions. Introduce that work friend to the couple down the street. Introduce your best friend to your next-door neighbor. There is nothing worse than going to a party and knowing no one and this is often the case when you are mingling friend groups. If you make introductions, you immediately help people feel a little more at ease.

As a bonus, give a little fun fact when making an introduction. Especially if they have something in common. This can be as simple as this:
“Emily, this is my neighbor down the street, Melissa. They do a ton of DIY Home projects like you guys, you should see what they did in their bathroom!” Giving your people an instant talking point makes a world of difference! Taking the time to think about this a little will go miles. People will want to come to your get-togethers instead of dreading them!

I hope this helps you, even if it’s only a little, feel more confident throwing parties yourself. The reality is that your toddler doesn’t need a picture-perfect party with a party planner. Taking a bit of time to make one thing special goes a long way! And planning ahead of time, even just a few days helps your sanity leading up to party day!

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