How-To: Plan a Successful Birthday Party in One Week!

I never really thought of myself as a party planner, but I not-so-secretly had so much fun planning Calvin’s First Birthday (aka the ultimate fiesta!) I am a project manager by day so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that planning something for my own life could be kinda fun too. I’ve never really been that into this sort of thing until I had a child – now I want to give him the world 24/7 (spoiled much!?) I even did a craft (see banner below.) Who am I? It’s also kind of true when they say it’s really a party for the parents, lol! I wanted to make sure that our friends and co-workers we met during our time on the East Coast had a great time. I’m so thankful for every one of the relationships we formed in NJ and I really wanted to get everyone (and their kids) together at once for some fun.
For the longest time, I kept putting off the planning for Calvin’s Birthday. I could blame this on procrastination (which is usually the case) but we really didn’t know if we’d be in OH or NJ for his special day. We found out on 2/9 that we’d be moving on 2/27, so I had approximately ONE WEEK to pull together this party for 2/18. Miraculously I did it, and we had about 40 people there to help us celebrate. Why didn’t I wait till we moved back? I was pretty adamant that my first child WOULD have a party on his actual birthday…first time mom probs.
Did I order all of our decorations off etsy? No. Did I send out custom hard copy invitations? No. Did I make all the food? No. So yes, I took some shortcuts in order to make this happen, but I believe the outcome was just as great.
Here are my recommendations for pulling a successful & affordable birthday party together in 1 week–because sometimes that’s all the time we got!

Have a Theme and “Vision” in Mind

(^I made this banner with string, glue, sparkly green paper, plain letters, and gold foil decal paper from Hobby Lobby!)
This one is important to determine first, because all party aspects will revolve around the theme – invites, food, decorations, dessert, etc. Honestly, almost any theme you chose for a small child’s birthday will be cute. First I wanted winter ONE-derland, then I thought we’d do a safari theme, but ultimately decided on a “First Fiesta.” I’m very glad we didn’t chose a winter theme because it ended up being 75 and sunny day of!
Once I made that decision, the other aspects started to fall into place. I knew exactly what e-vite to pick, I knew exactly what to look for in terms of decorations, and the food/drinks became easy to choose as well. This is really random, but once I found a table cloth that fit my vision (see below), the color scheme fell into place and I just had to find other items I loved that matched. Allow yourself some time in the party and/or craft store to walk around, brainstorm, and come up with your own ideas. Remember, you don’t have to replicate something you find on pinterest for it to be awesome – you can have your own vision and build upon that!

Table Cloth
Lantern Lights
Easel Chalkboard – On Sale!

Send Evites

Do you know how much time and money I saved by doing an evite? It was honestly the quickest, easiest and smartest thing I’ve ever done. I downloaded the evite app (yes I did it all from my phone!), found a fiesta themed invite (I would’ve liked to customize a bit more but this did the trick), loaded in the date, time, and a special message, and then started sending out. The best part – I didn’t even need to gather everyone’s personal email addresses. You can send the invites via text message and then when the person RSVP’s they provide their email. From this point forward, you can send group messages to the list that your invitees will receive directly to their email, add photos, and even send thank you notes via the app after the party (this one is still on my to-do!)


Find a Neutral Location

Have you ever hosted a holiday, dinner, or gathering in your home and you decide that suddenly this is a good time to re-arrange, remodel, and buy new items to make your abode look “cooler?” Yeah, me too. Now I’m aware we were moving and hosting in our home wasn’t an option, but I KNOW the stress of making our home spotless + the stress of having a great party would’ve sent me over the edge. If you can, find a neutral location where you can host your party. We ended up renting and having the Fiesta at our complex clubhouse, which I highly recommend. If you don’t have a clubhouse, someone you know might, or you could ask a friend or a relative (hello aunts & uncles!) if they wouldn’t mind hosting for you. I think that this takes the pressure off a bit and allows you to focus more on the actual reason you are having the party.

Outsource the Food

Image result for moes catering

Choosing the food for a Fiesta was a no-brainer (which is honestly why I ultimately decided on this theme.) We love Mexican food and drinks so we went with Moe’s Catering, Coronas & Margaritas! I had heard great things about Moe’s Catering services and I can concur it was simple, affordable and yummy! I saved a ton of time and stress by ordering food that I knew everyone would enjoy and would be ready on-time.





Margarita Glasses
For dessert, my Mom helped us make homemade cupcakes and we decorated ourselves.
Cupcake Stand
Because I started planning his party last minute, I didn’t have time to order a custom smash cake for Calvin. Actually, if I’m being honest, I tried calling the only custom cake company I knew of in the area 3 separate times and they never got back to me. Alas, I decided to take matters into my own hands. You can’t have a first birthday without a smash cake. The plain white cake below was already made & purchased from Stop & Shop – I scraped the generic balloons off the top and re-iced with white icing. I decorated myself with the candles, sprinkles, mustache decals (edible) & maracas for detail. Ta-da! A $15 custom smash cake.
img_2603^we cut a strip off the table cloth to decorate his highchair (my sister’s brilliant idea!)

Enlist Help Day of the Party

This was so key – I didn’t realize until after the fact how helpful and necessary having help the day of the party really was. It’s possible to plan on your own, but setting up, talking to guests, taking care of your child(ren) + food/drink/trash upkeep, plus final gift, food, and trash clean-up on our own would have been near impossible. I’m so thankful my family completely helped clean up and load the car while we were still able to enjoy our guests. Lastly, you will probably have friends offer to help or bring items. 99% of the time you will say no, but if you truly need something, it’s okay to take them up on their offer.
For the rest of our party photos, I posted part one here last week.
I loveee seeing all your little ones birthday celebrations, so keep ’em coming! What theme did you go with? What were your time savers in the planning process?
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