The holiday season is filled with good tidings and great joy, but it can also be the most stressful time of year! Picking just the right gift, breaking open your piggy bank to cover all the extra expenses and preparing for house guests…it can all build up and end in a Christmas meltdown! Then there’s the unexpected call that you receive from your hubs letting you know he invited a few people over from work for a little holiday soirée. Or the mom who was supposed to host the Nursery School Christmas playdate just called to let you know her family all came down with the flu and she needs someone else to host it…tomorrow!

Those last minute surprises inspired the design for my latest {inspiration} party, “Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen.” I wanted to show you how to plan a party for 25 guests in 24 hours for less than $75! You really can do it without breaking the bank or your back! Here’s my lil’ kitchen before…

…and here’s my kitchen set up for the party!

I started by shopping at two locals stores—Dollar Tree and WalMart—and one online shop—Piggy Bank Parties. I picked up cookie cutters at Dollar Tree (6 cutters for $1) then it was off to WalMart to purchase pre-made cookie dough, pre-made cookies, cookie icing, candy, sprinkles, milk, cocoa and marshmallows. I used our Christmas Sugar Cookie Collection to create all of the paper products.

Next I headed to my kitchen cupboards to pull out items that would work as servingware and décor. I started by taping one of the Christmas Sugar Cookie Signs and a few cookies from our Christmas Sugar Cookie Garland to a cookie sheet. I had a dozen cookie sheets left over from another party which I had purchased at a dollar store. They came in handy for this party but any cookie sheet or platter would have worked as well.

I added a Recipe Card to a wire whisk with one of my family’s favorite cookie recipes written on it. The Recipe Cards are a free download which you can get by clicking here.

I added a card table under the window which I covered with green gingham and vintage white tablecloths. Another cookie garland was added to the front and my red KitchenAid mixer took center stage. Cookies were displayed on cookie sheets lined with our coordinating Striped Paper. Upside down mixing bowls were used to raise up the back cookie sheets.

The cookie menu included Iced Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Crispy Christmas Wreaths, Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gingerbread Men, Christmas Trees and Snickerdoodles. To save time, all of the cookies were either pre-made or pre-made cookie dough. Tomorrow I’ll share with you how I “dressed up” the cookies using pre-made cookie icing, candy and sprinkles.

I used the “Create-Your-Own” Menu and Party Cards to label all of the items. They are simple to use—just open the PDF file in Adobe Reader (free download), type in your text, print and cut. We have set up the font, font color and font size for you so all you need to do is add your own text.

To create the feeling that you have entered Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, I used baking items to display the food and as props throughout the kitchen. The best part…they were all free! I filled up the dead space in the corner where no one could reach with a 3-tiered serving piece. I added baking supplies and cookie decorating goodies to it and flanked it with a mixing bowl and baking utensils.

I created a quick lil’ $2 cookie cutter mobile using an embroidery hoop, ribbon scraps, dollar store cookie cutters and the Christmas Sugar Cookie Cake Stakes. Another idea for a quick and easy backdrop is to hang your favorite cookie cutters using colorful ribbon near the back of any buffet or table.

The beverage menu included Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows and Peppermints, Cold Milk and Ice Water. The hot cocoa add-ins were served in measuring cups and the cold drinks from my $6 clearance drink dispensers. I debated whether to use them or to just serve milk and water in pitchers. Due to the guest count, it was better to have a larger quantity of ready-to-serve beverages. It also reduces the host or hostess’ stress level!

I love to give gifts so my guests always go home with a favor. The amount I spend on favors for each guests depends on the final guest count. Since this party is for 25 guests, I wanted to keep the favor simple. I chose to give each guest a $.19 cookie cutter to keep my budget on track.

When figuring out how many cookies I needed for this party, I decided to serve 5.5 cookies per guest. I provided small plates that would only hold 2-3 cookies. Small plates often discourage grazers and lil’ piggies. As the party draws to a close, I often set out containers (2-4 for $1) or favor bags for guests to take home goodies in. If I have time, I will decorate them using coordinating paper and printables.

I used the Christmas Sugar Cookie Collection’s “Create-Your-Own” Fill-In Banner to create a “Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen” banner to hang nearby. The rest of the party space was decorated with the coordinatiing “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Holidays!” banners.

If you have more than 24 hours, you can use the “Create-Your-Own” Invitation to invite your guests or print a blank one to leave a note for Santa Claus!

The Christmas Sugar Collection is available in The Market for $12.00. In addition to all of the printables shown in our lil’ party, we offer a Custom Welcome Sign for $3. For a lil’ different look, we attached green cardstock to the back of the signs with pop-up adhesive dots.

When you have 24 hours to pull a party together, here are some tips to help make it as stress-free as possible:

  • Decide on your menu and theme
  • Keep the menu and theme simple
  • Create a shopping list before you leave the house
  • List a few back up menu ideas in case the store doesn’t have what you need
  • Minimize your shopping stops (1-2 store limit)
  • Buy pre-made or partially pre-made items
  • Add your own twist to pre-made items
  • Create menu items and décor in an assembly line
  • Don’t stay up all night—do only as much as you can

I hope you’re inspired to have a stress-free holiday season even if last minute changes turn your day upside down!

Piggy Bank Budget: $75.00 (25 guests; $3.00 per guest)

  • Food and Drinks: $34.87
  • Servingware: $1.99
  • Décor: $13.29
  • Printing and Assembly: $17.70
  • Favors: $5.48

Party Budget Total: $73.33 ($1.67 under budget)

{break for Happy Dance!}

I hope you’ll stop back tomorrow to see how I “dressed up” store bought cookies and a FaBulouS giveaway from Sweet Art Factory!

 

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