I’m often asked how much I really spend on my parties. My answer, “Usually under $100…but I try to make them under $50.” The response I hear, “Really?!?” People seem astonished that you don’t have to spend a lot to create a fun and memorable event. They also think they could never do it because they’re not creative enough. I say, “Nonsense!”
I decided to challenge myself and prove that anyone can create a fantastic celebration on a limited budget. When I say limited, I mean NO budget! Zero. Zip. Zilch. Since we just relaunched Oink!, I thought it was the perfect excuse to throw a party and use all of the free downloads we gave away during our REE-Launch PaRtY!
In honor of Oink!’s REE-Launch, I’d like to present our FREE-Launch Party…
The challenge was to use only what I had in my pantry, fridge and around the house. We even went grocery shopping while I was creating this but I restrained myself from using any of the new items I had purchased. Even this lil’ piggy has those lil’ urges to pick up things at the last minute that would be perfect for the party. I’m so happy that I didn’t because I love how it all turned out!
I started with our infamous paper plate backdrop. The white one is so versatile and creates the perfect backdrop for the colorful Lot-O-Dots Collection. J and I made the backdrop a few months back by attaching white square paper plates to thick foam core with velcro (approximately $35.00). We can easily switch to a different plate color and reuse and reuse and reuse. A project that has paid for itself over and over again!
Next I layered the Lots-O-Dots Banner on top of the white backdrop.
The best part is you can create your own custom phrase! This was our first venture into creating a banner with our “add your own text” feature. We’ve done all the hard work—set up the font, font color and font size. All you need to do is open up the PDF file in Adobe Reader (free download), click on the blue-ish grey box, wait for your cursor to reappear, type in your text and print. Simple. Easy. Affordable.
I wanted to add a lil’ punch to the backdrop so I decided to create lil’ lanterns for either side of the banner.
I’ll let you in on a lil’ secret…I didn’t plan to use them this way! I originally planned to create lil’ lanterns using the Lots-O-Dots Paper and the Lil’ Lanterns Template (page 2). Once I started to hang them, they just weren’t working the way I had envisioned them in my head. Then the light bulb went on! I pulled the white ribbon I used as a hanger through the opposite way so the lantern base would lay flat against the backdrop. LoVe.
Backdrop…check! Next, the table. The backdrop flowed seamlessly into table because I used a white tablecloth. The table’s focal point was created using the food I made for the party.
As I was looking through my cupboards, I realized that I had a set of polka dot glasses that matched perfectly. I bought them at Crate and Barrel over 13 years ago and they made the perfect base for my dollar store white platter. Since I didn’t have candy bars, I used the Lots-O-Dots Candy Bar Wrappers to line my platter. A white ramekin highlighted one of the cupcakes and two Target dollar section pails held my faux cake pops.
Faux cake pops? I finally had the opportunity to use my new Babycakes Cake Pop Maker. I’m still working out the kinks but it’s an easy way to create a bite-sized treat. I used half of a boxed chocolate cake mix to make them. They taste nothing like a super moist and delicious cake pop but they’re not bad either. Especially when you cover them with buttercream!
Since I didn’t have any candy melts in the cupboards, I used 3 Dark Chocolate Hershey’s Kisses mixed with some leftover Heath bits to glue the lollipop stick to the cake pop. Three Kisses? All I had in the candy dish so I had to get creative! Then I made white buttercream and divided it in half. One half of the buttercream was divided into 5 bowls and tinted with gel food coloring.
I honestly am not a big fan of candy melts. I think working at Godiva ruined most readily available chocolates for me! I’m also a huge fan of buttercream frosting. Okay…my buttercream frosting. I decided to use different cake decorating tips to create some whimsical patterns. It’s a party! The food has to be fun! I displayed the cake pops by adding a small piece of dollar store floral foam to the top third of the pail and covered it with mini marshmallows.
In front of the focal point, I added mini donuts I created with my new Babycakes Donut Maker…
This lil’ piggy got a couple of new toys for her birthday! This was my first attempt with the donut maker but each batch was better than the last. I had all of the ingredients to make these in the pantry and fridge—eggs, flours, baking soda, etc. Since I made a big batch of buttercream, I decided to decorate the donuts the same as I did the cake pops.
I used the Lots-O-Dots Candy Bar Wrappers again as a platter liner and personalized them to match our theme.
In front of the donuts, I added more cupcakes which were made from the other half of the boxed chocolate cake mix and the second half of the buttercream. I added large candy dots in coordinating colors and personalized Lots-O-Dots Cake Stakes. I created the cupcake wrappers with the Lots-O-Dots Paper and a template I had previously created for a client.
On the sides of the table, I added another Target dollar section pail filled with Piggy Bank Parties pens. These were the party favors since we were celebrating the relaunch of Oink! I added a personalized Lots-O-Dots Party Card to the pail handle with a piece of tape. I also placed the pail on a ramekin to give it more height.
I added party hats which were created with Lots-O-Dots Paper, our Lil’ Party Hat Template and more personalized Lots-O-Dots Cake Stakes. Each Cake Stake was added to the top of a hat using an adhesive pop-up dot. I embellished the bottom of the hats by punching 1/4″ holes and weaving 3/8″ white ribbon in and out of them. I finished off the ribbon by tying a knot and trimming the ends. Now everyone can have a personalized party hat to wear or take home!
To dress up the clear jars, I traced the jar lid on the Lots-O-Dots Paper, cut it slightly smaller than the trace line and punched a hole near the edge. I inserted a white straw and the jars were ready to be filled with cold milk.
For those who preferred water over milk, I personalized the Lots-O-Dots Water Bottle Labels, printed them on white paper and attached with tape.
I always have a variety of reusable white plastic plates in the party stash. I had these lil’ appetizer plates which are perfect for holding a cupcake or a couple of mini doughnuts! To save space and make it easier for guests to grab a napkin, I often stack one napkin between two plates.
I have family and friends who always want to know what they’re eating. I usually print a menu and have it posted somewhere in the party space.
I also like to hang a sign on the front door to welcome my guests. It gives them something fun to look at while they’re waiting for us to answer to door and it sets the tone for the entire party. To continue that tone throughout the party, I plan activities that match the theme. Since we did a whimsical celebration, I would have pulled out Yo-Yos, Twister, Mouse Trap, Uno or other favorites that bring out the kid in everyone!
I pulled this entire party together in one day. If this party seems too big for you to conquer, only use a couple of the décor elements. Start small so you don’t get overwhelmed. If you have a week to pull off a last minute party, spend 15 minutes a day creating your décor. Print, cut and assemble the banner the first day. Then the next day make Cake Stakes and continue creating décor each day until the party. You’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish in just 15 minutes a day.
Just like in the kitchen, I keep staple items on hand in my office at all times—white cardstock, white paper, white ribbon, tape and adhesive. My décor tool kit includes scissors, 2″ circle punch, single hole punch (1/4″ or 1/8″), tape, adhesive roller or glue stick, poster putty and adhesive dots. My basic party supplies include white servingware, white plates, white cupcake liners, clear jars or glasses, straws, lollipop sticks and wood food picks.
To pull off the décor for this party, I used…35 sheets of White Paper, 14 sheets of White Cardstock, 2 rolls of 3/8″ White Satin Ribbon, 8 wood food stakes, 10 lollipop sticks, 8 straws, tape and adhesive dots.
Ta-Da! A fun and memorable lil’ party on a Piggy Bank budget….FREE! My hope is that you’re inspired to plan a lil’ party without spending a lot of pennies. Use what you have to create priceless memories with family and friends!
…and don’t forget to get all of the free downloads!