DIY Budget Party Decorations

I know, I know, where has Beth's blog been! Well... life has been super busy the past few weeks and it just all caught up with me, but I am back in the game now!

A few weeks ago we celebrated a 16th Birthday, for my step-son Logan! Complete with family from all areas, party decorations, barbecued burgers and hot dogs and cheesecake with strawberry-rhubarb compote for a topping! I might have share the recipe with you because it was just so very good!

But on to the real reason for this blog, parties! They can cost a lot of money and you want your children to feel special, right? So you choose a color theme, you buy invitations, you start shopping for decorations, paper plates, plastic ware, cups, tablecloths, napkins. Then there is the food, snacks, desserts and drinks.

All of this can really start to add up. Did you know there is a way around this? It doesn't have to cost you a lot of money to throw the perfect birthday party for your child. Here are my tips on how to throw and affordable birthday party:

Tip one: Invitations

Start your parting planning with the perfect DIY invitation that matches your theme and set the tone for your party from the moment you start planning. Visit Beth Ann Erickson Designs or Blue House Collection to purchase wonderful print at home invitations.

Tip two: Buy items you can use for multiple parties

This past year I also planned the decorations for my sister's birthday party and some of the key items I used for that party were also used for my step-son's party. These things can include glass dishes/candle holders that can be used for a variety of things from candy, flowers or candles. These square candle holders pictured here have been used for flowers and candy and were purchased at the the local dollar store.

Also reusable are the plastic disposable table clothes that you can find at Walmar, the dollar store or Party City. Just wipe them down at the end of your party, fold and store for your next event. After about the second or third use I throw them away.

Tip three: The Dollar Store is your friend!

Maybe you have never been in your local dollar or discount store, but if you have the patience to sift through all the unwanted items, there are often treasures there that will work perfectly for throwing a party. Most recently I found my tablecloths, plastic wear, table decoration and napkins at the dollar store. One of my best finds was beer glasses for $1 each which I used as vase and candle holders. Which in the end only cost me around six dollars and some of those items can be reused in the future!

Tip four: DIY decorations

Do you have a computer and a printer? Yes, well then you have the ability to print your own decorations. Maybe your thinking “But I have no idea how to make decorations on my computer.” Well, I am here to tell you that you can! One of the most simple ways to do this if by searching online for royalty free images that you can print out that match the theme or color scheme of your party. The other option is to visit Etsy and search for printables that you can purchase and print out at home.

Visit Chalky Prints or Stockberry Studio to see what is available. These party sets might look complicated to use, but if you have a printer, scissors, colored ink and just some household supplies like twine, bamboo skewers, paper bags, glue and stapler these are really very easy to use. See the photos throughout this post for ideas on how to use printable party decorations.

Tip five: Add Color

There are also ways to add pops of color to your party without making your own decorations. You can purchase candy in coordinating colors. Jelly beans work great for this. You can take ribbon and wrap it around your water bottles, vases, or jars. Make juice or punch and wrap your gifts to match your color theme. Float candles in mason jars and add food coloring to the water.

Truth be told there are lots of ways to decorate for a party without spending a bundle! This is just the tip of the iceberg!

P.S. Here is the recipe for the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote. Enjoy!

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

  1. In a saucepan, add in the strawberries, rhubarb and sugar. Mash the strawberries to get the juice flowing.
  2. Place over medium heat and let cook for about 17 - 20 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Recipe Credit:

Mug Love: Mug Cakes As Gifts

I am in love with coffee mugs! Okay, not as much as I am in love with my hubby. I love handmade mugs, ones with eye catching designs or ones that remind me of places I have been. Mugs I was given as gifts and others that I have just always had. I have also been known to share my love of mugs with those around me. I think they make perfect gifts and all the better when they contain a cake mix intended to be baked in that very mug.

Everyone uses mugs, from soup to coffee or tea. They are part of everyday life. I have never been in a kitchen, office, apartment, or dorm room that didn't have a mug! This makes the idea of mugs as a gift perfect for almost anyone! You can make them gluten free, sugar free and low-fat, if needed. They are cost effective and simple to put together.

I rely on mug cakes when I want a one-serving sweet dessert with no left-overs. So, why not make it into a simple gift idea that works for almost anyone. In this weeks tutorial I will outline the supplies and steps needed to complete this wonderful gift idea.

• Microwave safe mug of choice
• A mini wooden spoon or wire whisk (optional)
• Clear/patterned cellophane treat bag
• Ribbon/twine/string
• Scissors & hole punch
• Recipe ingredients (listed below)
• Color printer (For FREE gift tag download as seen below click on the recipe name)

Step One: Purchase the perfect mug for the recipient (You can purchase some beautiful hand-painted mugs on Etsy, one of my favorite shops is, her mugs are microwave safe and I love her designs. I don't own any of her mugs yet, but I am certain they would be a good purchase.)

Step Two: Combine the dry ingredients only in a bowl, mix well and place in the cellophane bag. Here are a few recipes:

Chocolate Crazy Cake in a Mug (CLICK for download)
(This recipe does not call for eggs, milk or butter.)

(Combine these ingredients in the cellophane bag)
5 Tablespoons flour (all-purpose)
4 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa (unsweetened)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt

(These ingredients are on the FREE download)
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (or canola)
4 1/2 Tablespoons water

Spray the inside of the mug with non-stick cooking spray. Put the cake mix in the mug, mix well. After mixing well, make 3 depressions in dry ingredients. Pour vinegar in one depression, vanilla in the other and the vegetable oil in third depression. Pour water over top. Mix well until smooth using a fork.  Place in microwave and cook on high for 1-2 minutes, uncovered. Check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean. Be sure not to over cook.

Chocolate Chip Mug Cake (CLICK for download)
(Combine these ingredients in the cellophane bag)
• 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (lightly packed)
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 Tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips

(These ingredients are on the FREE download)
• 3 Tablespoons low fat milk
• 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Spray inside of mug with non-stick cooking spray. Then, put cake mix in the mug.  Stir in wet ingredients. Use an 8 oz. mug and it should just reach the top when finished cooking. Mix with a small, sturdy whisk until a smooth batter forms and no lumps remain.
Stir in the chocolate chips. Cook in microwave for about 1 minute. Let cool a few minutes before eating.

Step three: Close the cellophane bag with your choice of ribbon, twine or string. (I have put some tissue paper in the bottom of my mug to make it look full.)

Step four: Print and trim the mug cake tag, punch a hole in the top, attach to the mug with ribbon, string or twine. Also tie the mini wooden spoon or whisk the the handle of the mug.

That's all it takes, 4 easy steps and your Mug Love gift is ready for the recipient.

Visit my Etsy store to find other ideas for Mother's Day.

Bonus Idea:
Mugs can be used to hold more than just mini cakes! Fill your cellophane treat bag with anything from their favorite tea, instant soup & crackers, candy or hot chocolate mix. Then make your own gift tag on the blank tag included in the free download and your personalized gift is ready to go!

Coming Next Week: A Review on my cold brew coffee filter, using if for coffee and tea!