I really don’t know how 3 years have past already. I could’ve sworn I had a newborn yesterday, and I was still sitting skin-to-skin with him while absorbing the sun’s rays from the window of our bedroom. It’s not that I want to go backwards at all, it’s just – can we slow down a bit?
But yes, about his party! After his big first birthday, I told myself I wouldn’t want to throw another party until he was 4 or 5 so he had more of a say on what theme he wanted and be able to invite his own friends. We would still go out and make the day special, but we just wouldn’t throw a full on party. Well, once Tristan and I came to the realization that this would be his last birthday party to celebrate as an only child, we decided to go for it. Three weeks before his birthday, we made the decision and invited our friends. The party was the day before Christmas Eve so I worried we were asking for a bit much from our friends, but everyone came out and made this day the most special day for our boy. He was so, so happy to get to be the center of attention as everyone sang Happy Birthday, and he got to blow out his own candles. It made every bit of last minute planning worth it.
Thank you, THANK YOU to everyone that was able to be there.
Because we only had 3 weeks to plan and in the midst of the holidays, I kept everything as simple and budget-friendly as possible. The theme was easy to decide as I knew it had to be Cars since he’s been in love with Cars 3 ever since we got to see it months ago (his first movie in the theater!).
Here’s some of our favorites snaps and 3 tips I picked up on to help save money (and quickly plan!) a successful toddler birthday party!
1. Use Colors and Elements to Create the Feel of the Theme
To save money on decor, focus on creating the feel of the theme instead of using actual theme decor. We went away with the Cars themed plates, cups, and banners, and just went with red and gold details, race flags, and traffic cones. These pieces you can get in bulk and at much cheaper prices. He had a ton of Lightning McQueen cars, so I just scattered them in different places. Another perk of sticking with colors instead of themed tableware? You can reuse the leftover tableware at future gatherings easily!
2. Keep Entertainment Simple
I realized at a few other toddler parties we went to that planning games wouldn’t be worth it because everyone is busy keeping their eyes on their toddlers and organized activities don’t go quite as smoothly. Because of this, give them a variety of things to do and let them have at it.
We cleared out our living room and brought out the bulk of Dominic’s games and toys. Another thing we did was go online and print free Cars coloring sheets for the kids to color. I put crayons in cups and laid them out on the table.
I swear they were having fun. They just didn’t want to sit still for photos!
Last but not least, if you don’t have much toys, fill the room with balloons! I didn’t really plan for this, but the balloon wall that we made went down to the floor, and the kids just pulled the ones they could reach off the wall. I didn’t think that part through, but somehow it made the party even better for them, so I’m not complaining!
Anyway, all simple, affordable, and time-saving.
3. DIY What You Can – Even the Cake!
Wherever you can, DIY. Write down the essentials of what you’ll need at the party and see what you can do on your own to cut costs. For our cake, we bought a pre-made one at the market and decorated it with M&Ms, Oreos, and Dominic’s toys. This ended up costing us $14 instead of the usual $50+ for a custom themed cake.
As a little token of thanks, for our party favors, I wrapped up some goodies with a traffic cone. They included a “thank you” note, Cars temporary tattoos, neon chalk, race flag lollipops, and bubbles.
Overall, I love how the party turned out, but I honestly think it was mostly because of our great friends that came out and that big smile from Dominic when everyone cheered for him after blowing out the candles. Every moment spent on the details from the costs to the overall celebration was worth it.
Clearly, the most highly anticipated part of the cake for him was the Oreo. Grandma and Grandpa added the icing to the cake for his celebration though by giving him his first brand new car! It’s a Lightning McQueen one, of course. He takes a peek at it in the garage and says “goodnight” to him every night. Like father like son 🙂
Happy 3rd birthday, my sweet boy.