6 Ways to save on your next kids party (and for it to still be fabulous!)

Every fortnight or the past few weeks I have been sharing helpful party planning tips from my dear friend Natty Faulks. Natty is a children’s party entertainer through her company Strawberry Fundaes, and she keeps your children happy at their parties by dressing up as their favourite character. Natalie is a complete expert when it comes to party planning, so here are her top tips for cutting catering costs at your next party…

Kids parties are so much fun! But sometimes we can get carried away with what we think it needs to be and then we blow out the budget. That is where I can help to keep you on track!

Here are my top 6 tips to cut costs on some of the wallet draining items, but still have an awesome party!

1 – Invitations
Create your own or go digital!
You can make your own invitations, at home on various online platforms and then you can either print at home or save as a jpeg or PDF and email out. My go to sites for this are Canva or Greetings Island. They look great too!

2 – Decorations
Firstly… Less is more! The most simple of decorations can look fab. Eg – a whole wall of single balloons stuck down makes a great backdrop and only costs around $5 tops! Also, I highly recommend choosing a colour theme to decorate with instead of using licensed product. Eg – Instead of using Frozen branded cups, plates and balloons, just stick to generic blues and whites and silver. You will save a stack of $$$ right there but it will still look really effective!

3 – Party at the park or at home
Venues can cost a bomb, so unless you really want to factor them into the budget, go for the free options – the park or at home. Just remember that wherever you choose to hold your party to always have a wet weather plan.

4 – Free online party printables
I have used this option many times. Simply google ‘free online party printables’ and there are heaps of options. You can download and print at home birthday signage, cupcake toppers, water bottle labels, name tags, favour bag tags and more!

5 – Ditch the party bag
To be honest, I am not a fan of party bags. Lots of parents are not that keen on lollies these days (And it can get sketchy with allergies etc.) and I also find lots of party bag fillers really are just rubbish or choking hazards. And the average bag costs a min $5 filled. So my alternatives are – Bubble wands with a thank you tag or sticker (Wands are 75c at Kmart), Balloons on a stick (These can double as decorations at first and then the kids take home), keep cups (Buy $1 glass jars with straws and the kids take those home) Lucky dip gift wrapped in blue or pink tissue paper ( wrap random boys and girls stuff like rubber snakes, matchbox cars , lip gloss, bath bombs. These are all individually cheaper than a lolly bag.) Take home cupcakes.

6 – Cake Hack! (Or make your own)
I am terrible at making cakes so if I can’t afford to outsource one, I buy two mud cakes from Coles or Woolworths (Around $4 each) stack them on top of each other and then cover them both with butter cream (You can even just buy a tub of Betty Crocker Icing if you really are time poor!). Set in the fridge and then decorate with themed figurines or flowers! Super easy!

1 – Invitations
Create your own or go digital!
You can make your own invitations, at home on various online platforms and then you can either print at home or save as a jpeg or PDF and email out. My go to sites for this are Canva or Greetings Island. They look great too!

2 – Decorations
Firstly… Less is more! The most simple of decorations can look fab. Eg – a whole wall of single balloons stuck down makes a great backdrop and only costs around $5 tops! Also, I highly recommend choosing a colour theme to decorate with instead of using licensed product. Eg – Instead of using Frozen branded cups, plates and balloons, just stick to generic blues and whites and silver. You will save a stack of $$$ right there but it will still look really effective!

3 – Party at the park or at home
Venues can cost a bomb, so unless you really want to factor them into the budget, go for the free options – the park or at home. Just remember that wherever you choose to hold your party to always have a wet weather plan.

4 – Free online party printables
I have used this option many times. Simply google ‘free online party printables’ and there are heaps of options. You can download and print at home birthday signage, cupcake toppers, water bottle labels, name tags, favour bag tags and more!

5 – Ditch the party bag
To be honest, I am not a fan of party bags. Lots of parents are not that keen on lollies these days (And it can get sketchy with allergies etc.) and I also find lots of party bag fillers really are just rubbish or choking hazards. And the average bag costs a min $5 filled. So my alternatives are – Bubble wands with a thank you tag or sticker (Wands are 75c at Kmart), Balloons on a stick (These can double as decorations at first and then the kids take home), keep cups (Buy $1 glass jars with straws and the kids take those home) Lucky dip gift wrapped in blue or pink tissue paper ( wrap random boys and girls stuff like rubber snakes, matchbox cars , lip gloss, bath bombs. These are all individually cheaper than a lolly bag.) Take home cupcakes.

6 – Cake Hack! (Or make your own)
I am terrible at making cakes so if I can’t afford to outsource one, I buy two mud cakes from Coles or Woolworths (Around $4 each) stack them on top of each other and then cover them both with butter cream (You can even just buy a tub of Betty Crocker Icing if you really are time poor!). Set in the fridge and then decorate with themed figurines or flowers! Super easy!

 

A huge thank you to Natty for these incredibly useful tips!

You can find more information on Natty’s packages here.
Explore her beautiful Instagram account here.

Lots of Love!

 

Small-Signature-Nat

5 ways to cut the catering costs of your next kids party…

A couple of weeks ago I shared a guest blog post from a gorgeous friend of mine which had an incredible response, so I decided to get her back to share more of her party planning wisdom! You remember, my party planning expert Natty Faulkner! Natty is a children’s party entertainer through her company Strawberry Fundaes. She keeps your children happy at their parties by dressing up as their favourite character. Natalie has been to more than her fair share of children’s parties, in fact she’s been to hundreds! So here are her top tips for cutting catering costs at your next party…

Something I also see a lot at kids parties is over catering and food wastage!
Kids generally don’t eat much at parties. They are busy running around playing games and are very distracted. So… Here are my top 5 tips to help you cut back on your party catering costs and waste.

1 – PARTY LUNCH BOX
This is seriously my all – time favourite! Individually portion each lunch box (cardboard or paper bag made in advance) and then encourage all the kids to sit down to eat together. It helps to create a moment of peace and gives structure to your party.

Here is a list of food I use in my party lunch boxes
1 x Sandwich – (Or a wrap or sushi)
I often use cookie cutters to make the sandwich a fun shape.
1 x cheese stick.
1 x popcorn cup or pretzels/crackers.
1 x cupcake ( or jelly cup or cookie, muffin etc)
1 x fruit cup or fruit stick

2 – JUGS, JUGS, JUGS
Serving drinks in jugs or drink dispensers is much more cost effective than the individual juice or cordial packs. I use paper cups or keep cups that can be an alternative favour to take home.

3 – THE 4 PLATTER RULE
Have you heard the 4 platter rule? Well, I made it up! It keeps you on track and on budget. This is how it works…
Platter 1 – Fruit – You can make it look as pretty as you like. Don’t buy too much fruit though. Kids will only eat an average of 3- 4 pieces each. (also don’t use banana as it goes brown)
Platter 2 – Sweets and chips – Think fairy bread, jelly cups, chips, pretzels, popcorn, lollies, crackers, cheese. Only choose 3 things on this list. You definitely don’t need to serve all! (Remember we are saving money)
Platter 3 – Main food – This platter can have sausage rolls, pies, pizza, sandwiches, sushi, bbq sausages on bread, mini hamburgers, fried rice in cups, nuggets and chips, etc. Only choose 1 type of ‘main food’ to be served on this platter.
Platter 4 – Cake! – Cake and cupcakes are your final serving of food at the party.

4 – ADULTS, SHMADULTS…
I am sure most mums and dads will agree that when we attend children’s parties, we don’t expect to be fed. (Obviously this is a different story if you have been invited to a family event.) There is no need to create a whole menu for the adults. Most mums and dads will usually pick from the kids platters anyway!

5 – KEEP IT SIMPLE
At the end of the day, a small table of snacks followed by a main serve and end with cake will do the trick. Choose foods that are filling and then you won’t need as many snacks (which add up the $$ and get wasted the most). And remember… the food doesn’t have to look like a 5 star Pinterest party! Kids will not notice!

A huge thank you to Natty for these incredibly useful tips!
You can find more information on Natty’s packages here.
Explore her beautiful Instagram account here.

Lots of Love!

Small-Signature-Nat

 

 

 

Ari’s fourth Birthday Party – Circus theme

Recently Ari had his fourth birthday and we enjoyed a week long celebration including a trip to Sea World AND a Circus themed birthday party held at our local Strawberry Fields.  Ari had THE BEST time, and so did I putting it together for him!  I am big on birthdays, not only to celebrate another trip around the sun, but also that we all survived the year together as a family!

The Theme
Ari had total control of choosing his theme and venue for his party this year.  He loves the movie Dumbo so wanted to have a ‘Circus’ themed party.  To me it was an extra special theme for him to choose as Dumbo was the first movie that my Grandad watched in the 1950s, and he still watches it with Ari today!  When I searched ‘circus theme parties’ on Pinterest I found one particular image that I loved, and based the colour scheme on  that.

The Invitations
Jess from Little J Design put together the invitations from concept, design to completion.  I didn’t even have to send an idea to get her started! They were bright, playful and fun.  I love posting out proper invitations because I know how excited children get when they receive them in the mail.  Jess is truly amazing and I am forever grateful for her talents.

The Venue
As I mentioned Ari had control over the venue for his party and he chose our local Strawberry Fields.  Ari’s birthday comes around just as strawberry season commences and it is by far his favourite fruit.  We also had a strawberry themed party for his second birthday, at the same venue, which you can read about on my blog.  At the time of writing this the fields don’t charge a fee to host a party on their property.   The venue is stunning with plenty of patches, a shop, playground and a cafe.  It really is an incredible spot to host a birthday party.

The Food
Earlier his year I wrote a blog post for Chloe’s second birthday party, where I wrote about how I outsourced the food preparation for the first time ever.  I also wrote that I didn’t think I would ever prepare all the party food again and I was spot on!  Once again Sharni from Grazing Acres put together the most delicious spread of food including crackers, drips, cheeses, different fruits, meats, pretzels and more.  The budget was perfectly on point, with only a small amount of food leftover for us to eat for dinner that night.  Outsourcing your food prep really is a no brainer, and if you are close to the Sunshine Coast you must check out Grazing Acres.   Not only did Sharni produce the most amazing party spread, but she styled the entire table using items that I had bought and provided including the decor.  I will write more about this below, but one thing I did learn from Sharni is how food can be used as decor and to create stunning table scape.

I also borrowed a donut bar from a friend and filled it with delicious donut treats.  I wasn’t sure if these would get eaten but every single one did!

The Cake
The incredible Ange from Ange’s Cakes put together a charming white chocolate Circus themed birthday cake.  Ange has been baking all our cakes for 18 months and every single one has gone down a treat!  Ange also made 12 sweet little cupcakes which had circus animals jumping through hoops on them.  Th concept, design and creation of the cakes was all Ange.

Ari’s cake topper was from XOXO Design which is where I always get our cake toppers from.  Again, I had no input into the concept and design.  I love working with suppliers who are passionate about what they do and watching their creativity unfold.   The topper had a gorgeous circus tent on it as well as Ari’s name and the number four.

The Sweets
I also organised custom chocolates from Print and Party, who had the perfect deign for us!  They were customised with Ari’s name on them.   There are countless flavours of chocolate to choose from and you can even select the colour of the foil wrapping.  All of this came be done from their website.

The sweetest circus themed cookies were handmade on the Sunshine Coast by Sweet P Cakes and Cookies.  I love to support local where I can, so this was very special to me.  All the cookie designs were in theme with the party and included fairy floss cones, circus tents and entry tickets.  The cookies were a huge hit at the party because they tasted and looked amazing!

Party Favours
We had two party favours this time.  The first was from Cloud Theory Marshmallows who put together gorgeous wrapped Marshmallows on a red and white sticks.  They looked so cute on the table and really lifted the decor.  Of course, the marshmallows taste fantastic too!   Each gourmet marshmallow was handcrafted and came in the mail from Adelaide with no issues at all.  The wonderful woman behind Cloud Theory Marshmallows is just so passionate about her work, I love it.

Secondly, we purchased an empty punnet for each child to go and pick fresh strawberries from the patch to take home.  This made me feel a little better about all the sugar they consumed… Life is all about balance right!

The Decor
My biggest tip when decorating is to choose one statement piece and put your budget into that.  We chose to do a gorgeous balloon garland from Party Planet again because I was so thrilled with how Chloe’s turned out earlier this year.   I sent Kelly my Pinterest photo and let her create.  She is such a passionate and beautiful person.  If you are close to the Sunshine Coast you really must check them out, they even deliver and do the set up too.  This time we collected the day before and the garland only took 5 minutes to set up, it was so easy!

As the party was outdoors I needed to create a beautiful backdrop, so I ordered a custom screen from Be Branded.  Little J Design provided to concept to Be Branded’s specs and then it was printed.  The idea was perfect and can be used for future parties as we opted for no wording on this one and a simple design.  The cloth attached to a gazebo and was great for providing shade and also as a wind barrier.

Be Branded also supplied a custom cut out for children to have their photos taken with.  It was a sweet little lion design. This not only added to our gorgeous decor but provided a lot of fun fir the children too.

As I mentioned before Sharni from Grazing Acres came up with the whole table concept.  I love that she set the tables up as a square because I am so used to doing them in a normal L shape look.  She is so talented, and I am truly grateful for her creative eye, watching her work her magic on that table was a dream.

Things like the paper plates, cups, popcorn cups and napkins were all purchase online.  I had a photo of Ari at ages newborn, one, two, three and four that I printed and put into white frames.  Jess from Little J Design made me a sign to let guests know to take a party favour home, and made a cute ‘Roll up Roll up’ printable for me too.  I placed vases on the table and filled them with red and yellow flowers that I purchased from Aldi for only $25.  There were plastic animals scattered throughout the table, party hats and a sweet little Ferris wheel puzzle that I made with Chloe.   Whenever we have a party I always go through our home to see what decor might work with the theme.  This time I pulled a few large animals from Ari’s jungle themed bedroom and popped party hats on them.

Photography
The beautifully talented Emma Nayler took the stunning images you will see below, and I am so incredibly grateful for her talents.  She just went about the day and did her thing, with us able to just enjoy the party with our beautiful boy. I would highly recommend employing a photographer for all your important occasions.  The one time I didn’t listen to this advice is the one occasion I don’t have any photos from!   Not only does Emma photograph families, but engagement sessions and weddings also (overseas too.)

Outfits
Chloe’s oufit – Nicole Elliot Designs
Ari’s outfit – Online through Ebay
Gum Boots – Seed Heritage
My dress –   Breastfeeding Wear Autralia

We decided to invite the children to dress in circus theme if they wished.  Ari really wanted to be a Ring Master so after searching high and low for a custom I bought one on Ebay.

Nicole Elliot Designs made Chloe the most stunning Ballerina costum.  This lady is seriously celver with a needle!  Everything from her Tutu to the feather belt was so sweet.  Due to rain the few days before the party both little enjoyed wearing ‘flashing light gum boots.’

Supplier websites
Photography – Emma Nayler
Venue – strawberry Fields
Invites and design of signage and printable – Little J Design
Food table – Grazing Acres
Cake and cupcakes – Ange’s Cakes
Custom cake toppers – XOXO Design
Cookies – Sweet P Cakes and Cookies
Custom chocolates – Print and Party
Marshmallow party favours – Cloud Theory Marshmallows
Balloon garland – Party Planet
Custom back drop and cut out – Be Branded
Chloe’s oufit – Nicole Elliot Design
My Dress – Breastfeeding Wear Australia

Supplier Instagram pages
Photography – @emma_nayler_photographer
Invites and design of signage and printable – @littlejdesign
Breakfast Table – @grazing.acres
Cake and cupcakes – @angescakes
Custom cake toppers – @xoxodesign_au
Cookies – @sweetpcakesandcookies
Custom chocolates – @printandparty
Marshmallow party favours – @cloudtheorymarshmallows
Balloon garland – @party__planet
Custom back drop – @_bebranded
Chloe’s outfit – @nicoleelliott_designs

Discount codes
I have a HUGE list of discount codes available, including to some of the stores involved in the planning of Ari’s epic party.  All you need to do is subscribe and it will hit your inbox.

Don’t forget to follow along on Instagram for more special moments with my little loves, click here.

For party inspiration check out my Pinterest here.

Now for the party spam!

Enjoy x

Small-Signature-Nat

5 Common Mistakes Made When Planning a Party (and How to Avoid Them)

Parties are so much fun right!?  But planning them can be super stressful.  So for this blog post I needed to call in a party expert Natty Faulkner who really knows how to party!  Natty is a children’s party entertainer through her company Strawberry Fundaes.  On weekends you will find her glammed up and dress up as anyone from Snow White to Moana, and all the children’s favourites in-between.  Natalie has been to more than her fair share of children’s parties, in fact she’s been to hundreds!  So here are her top tips for avoiding common party mistakes…

Common mistake #1 – Planning an outdoor party with no back up plan.
This is the most common party mistake I see!  Parties in the park are a great idea… Until it rains.  I highly recommend looking at the weekly forecast before and always have a back- up plan.  Your back up location could either be at your house, a friends garage or their home (if they have the space and are willing), or perhaps you could set up a marquee for shelter, use the local church or YMCA / community hall or even sporting club. Have that back up plan sussed out well before the party.   Note – Some parks actually have huge rotundas you can reserve through local council which means you can still host your party in the park, rain, hail or shine!

Common mistake #2 – Planning a party on a national holiday or event without realising.
Before you set the exact date of the party, consult with your calendar to ensure that chosen date does not fall on holiday weekends and school breaks.  Celebrating two occasions can be fun sometimes, but when those days are meant to be spent in a tight-knit family circle, it is silly to expect your child’s school friends to want to attend a big bash party on a date they might want to be with their family.

Common mistake #3 – Over Catering Food
This is easy to do.  I recommend collecting RSVP’s to have a clear estimate on how many guests are attending.  And remember kids don’t eat a whole lot in the time frame they are at a party. A good party time frame is about 2 hour maximum for little ones and they get so over whelmed and distracted with playing or being entertained that they often only pick at the food.  Pick just a few food options and make them easy to eat. Or create little ‘snack packs’ to encourage kids to sit down and each their own individual portions ( this is great for less mess too! )

Common mistake #4 – Planning a party time during nap time
If your child has a nap at midday, don’t force a party time then because it suits your mum/ grandma/ uncle/ cousin. Or if you do, expect to have one cranky child!  Everyone’s nap times are different, but your child is the one being celebrated so try your best to accommodate. Even if it means attempting to pop them down earlier than usual.

Common mistake #5 – Failing to have any activities for kids
Not everyone has the budget to hire an entertainer, so here are my quick and easy options to keep the kids busy at your next party.  Colouring in sheets, pencils and stickers, craft station, Hoola Hoops, Dancing, singing, cupcake decorating, old fashioned party games or water play.

A huge thank you to Natty for these incredibly useful tips!

You can find more information on Natty’s packages here.
Explore her beautiful Instagram account here.

Lots of Love!

 

Small-Signature-Nat