A Pinterest-worthy birthday party on a dollar store budget

I’m exhausted, and it’s not just from this Chicago heat. Somewhere between my early 20’s and motherhood, summer went from peacefully enjoying drinks on a patio to cursing out 20-somethings peacefully enjoying their drinks on a patio. 

These days, I’m packing peanut-free, egg-free and gluten-free lunches that won’t get my kids kicked out of summer camp, so needless to say, July hit me like a ton of fireworks. 

It’s already July? Mother trucker. Two-thirds of my children were born in this month. So was my mother, father-in-law and my only nephew. I should be a master of July celebrations, but somehow summer mashes my brain and spits out a version of the caffeinated coffee concoction I’ve been surviving on. 

Luckily I’m a mother, and I consistently manage to pull “mom so hard” out of thin air, put on a full face of “hide the undereye bags,” and plan some epic shindigs. I’m a firm believer in the fact that social media can make me anyone I want to be, so you better believe I’m going to throw a Pinterest-worthy party with no visual evidence of any last minute dollar store purchases.  

Prepare to be amazed:


Throw the kids in the car and hope you have enough lollipops in your purse to get through a 10-minute sprint through a public space. 


Pick things up. Feel them. Imagine kids trampling over them after the sugar-highs kick in. Did the product survive? PURCHASE IT. 


Purchase other things in similar colors. Add textures and things that are plastic. I hit the jackpot with this picnic theme. It was so easy to find red Solo cups that match the theme as well … Oh, hello, mom-win. Plus, it’s not age or gender specific. Nailed it. We officially have a winner of this year’s summer birthday theme. And dare I use the word epic?


For the people saying, “This generic theme won’t fly, my child/friend/mother has a PERSONALITY!”, I suggest a co-theme. Princess Picnic, Beach Picnic, Picnic and a movie, and yes, I’m guilty of using leftover Fourth of July decor and calling the birthday a Red, White & Blue BBQ. Really, anything works with this theme. It’s worthy of any top Instagram feed on your invite list, and it is as easy as pie; the store bought kind. 

Here’s the breakdown of my Pinterest-perfect picnic:

Red checkered gear is all from Dollar Tree in Melrose Park. Grand total was around $13, but I also bought water guns and more lollipops because I was running low on bribery tools.

Pizza was from Lou Malnati’s in Oak Park. Deep dish pizza in Chicago is better than high-end catering, in my opinion. 

Treats were from Twisted Cookie in Forest Park. Pies and cupcakes are obviously edible but double as decor. Pretty sweets are huge with guests so load up on them. 

You can send me a dozen cupcakes when your Pinterest-worthy party hits the popular page on Instagram. Deal?

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