Emma’s party has been on my mind since she was first born. It’s crazy how as a mommy you begin thinking about these things so early on in your child’s life. When I would mention something to JR about this or that for Emma’s birthday he would look at me like I was crazy and say, “do you REALLY need to be planning that now?” After seeing the party come to life, I think he may understand now why it was so important to plan it all so early. I know that we couldn’t invite anyone and everyone to come to Emma’s first party, so I wanted to invite you to it on here. So, let’s get this party started!
For Emma’s party, we went with a sock monkey theme. We wanted to have a blow out party but we wanted to be able to not break the bank doing this party. Here’s how:
Use what your momma gave you! Basically, this translates to use what you’ve got. We already had several sock monkeys so right off the bat we knew they wouldn’t be hard to come by, not at all. We were also able to borrow a lot of items. The key to this is don’t be afraid to ask! Our friends and my brother and his wife all used mason jars at their weddings. They borrowed these from a dear friend, Debbie. I asked Debbie if I could just take them home with me and she said sure. We decided to use this for the adults to drink from instead of buying paper or plastic cups. We made sure to wash these before returning them to Debbie. It’s rude to borrow stuff and not keep care of it. If people are willing to bless you, be sure to bless them back with NO WORK to do. For decorations, we used several different borrowed things. At my brother’s wedding they used several pieces of tulle, rocks and vases that they didn’t want to keep. I scooped those up, too, and we used them at her party and donated them to the church when we finished. At Emma’s boyfriend’s party, he had the letters to spell out “one” and they matched our sock monkey theme perfectly. I asked where they got them (hobby lobby, of course!) and planned to go buy them. As we were leaving, they offered to bring them to church and let us use them for Emma’s party. Sure! We were able to get some great pictures with these letters, too. As far as food goes, we were able to get by with some things for free here, too. We love bananas at the Linkous house. I stocked up on some for us to eat and we used these for decorations, too. They were FREE for the party because they were really for us to eat at home. I also began stocking up on stuff that I got free to make ice cubes. I spent weeks making mint and blueberry ice cubes since we decided to do water only. Water is a cheap drink so I wanted to spice it up with some fun ice cubes. No caffeine or high sugar juices at this party. No. Thank. You. One last thing we did was decorate using things from Emma’s first year. All the cards I had made to take pictures each month were used as a banner. I hole punched all the cards we received when she was born and strung them together for people to look at. I plan on doing this every year so she’ll have a collection of cards to look at when she’s older. We also used pictures around the room and a slide show JR made. When JR and I got married we received a notebook where people had cards and wrote their wishes for us on them. We had a TON of extra cards from that and used them for Emma’s 18th birthday. We had people write wishes on these and will seal them in an envelope for her to open on her 18th birthday. A super sweet and sentimental idea that cost us $0.00.
You better shop around! We knew this party meant we needed to look for things in sock monkey colors and themes that we couldn’t get for free or borrow. We really found some great deals, too. Back in November, I was able to get several napkins, plates, and utensils on clearance that had “themed out”. I got these for less than $5 and we have extras at the house. I was planning on using serving bowls for the fruits that I already had and kid cups we had for the kiddos. As I was going through Target one day, I stumbled upon white and red bowls of all sizes along with kid size cups on super cheap clearance. I got three large bowls, four medium bowls, four little bowls, and twelve kid cups for less than $5, too. We are going to be able to repurpose these and use them for Emma’s kitchen set she’s getting for Christmas. For our gifts for the other kids, that cost us minimal, too. Everything I used for it was found on clearance and split up into multiple bags. We were able to do 12 kid bags for $.75/each. One of the last things we got for a great deal was Emma’s invitations and her banner. My husband is a graphic artist by trade so we were able to get some AMAZING design work done for free. Thanks baby! For the invites and the banner, all we paid was $10 for printing. We only put postage on a few invites and handed out the rest.
Know where you don’t mind spending extra. We knew food wouldn’t be cheap and we saved money elsewhere to make this possible. We had a mid day party and did a light meal of just fruit and stuck with Emma’s favorites- watermelon, pineapples, and strawberries. We bought enough that we wouldn’t run out and knew we would eat it. Emma loves fruit. We spent about $15 on all of this by shopping around at the right places. I will say this- I wasn’t crazy about the strawberries. I hope I didn’t offend anyone with our strawberries. Next time I’ll do better. I think we made up for it on the desserts. Missy’s Custom Cakes made Emma’s sock monkey cake that was her smash cake and that cost us $20. Emma loved her cake. Mommy and daddy loved her cake, too. Missy did a great job and we definitely recommend her! We also had a friend make some AMAZING cupcakes of all flavors- peanut butter, cookie butter, and hummingbird. We got four dozen of these for $30. This was a little pricier but it’s somewhere I didn’t mind spending extra. It was totally worth it when I took a bite. We also had extra food leftover for our small group the next night so it’s like it paid for two meals instead of one! Keep in mind that you have to have a budget otherwise you will loose your mind. Be reasonable and decide what you’re willing to spend and stick to it. You’ll be thankful you did!
Barter! If you have gifts and talents, trade them. My husband is a graphic artist and we have a good friend who is an amazing photographer. Trade some things here and there and it’s a win for everyone! We all get something without paying a dime and get something in return that we needed. We also have amazing friends who are Emma’s God family and they helped decorate and buy things, too. We all got there at 11:30am to begin decorating for a party that started at 2. You know what? We could have started at 9 and still been rushed. Baby parties are big. Don’t mess with them.
At the end of the day, Emma had an amazing day! She was able to wear and use the things I made for her last week- her tutu, her shirt, and her plate. It was precious to see these things put to use and although it cost me time, it meant so much more than something store bought. She had a blast and we had some amazing memories made together with not just us, but with additional family and friends, too. Even my amazing grandparents were able to make the trip down (thanks Uncle Bruce!). This party was definitely more for us than for Emma when it comes to memories but was worth what we put into it. And we stuck to our budget and had $6 left to spare. I bought myself dinner afterwards with that. There was no way I was going home and cooking. We were pooped!
We hope you’ve enjoyed traveling into our world of the first birthday party. It was fun and we can’t wait for number two!