Next level birthday parties that won’t break the bank

My daughter’s fourth birthday is in a couple of months, and the pressure is on to host the perfect party. As a millennial mom (I still kind of cringe at that term), Pinterest rules all. Perfectly curated birthday parties are all the rage, but it’s hard to come up with something original without getting too over-the-top (live petting zoos and renting amusement park rides are not necessary, folks). After all, we still have to, you know, feed our children after the party is all said and done. Here are three awesome ideas for fun, but affordable celebrations at every age.

First Birthday: “Wild One” Boho Bash 

First birthday parties are notorious for being the most elaborate, and that’s okay. You’re allowed to celebrate the anniversary of when you stopped sleeping through the night by feeding 50 people a seven course meal if you so please. The “ wild one” theme is a cute play on words, plus it’s gender neutral. 

Decor: This party is all about the boho details, like arrows, bright colors and anything outdoorsy. You could even take it to a “Where the Wild Things Are” level by purchasing or making gold crowns for the kids to wear during their own wild rumpus. Amazon has plenty of inexpensive decor items, including “wild one” balloons, cake toppers and banners. Fresh greenery could also be added to a food table to emphasize the nature theme. 

Food: Serve homemade (or store bought, we won’t judge) cupcakes with the “wild one” toppers or make arrow shaped cookies with these cutters

Activities: Keep things simple, since it is an infant’s party after all. Set up a homemade tent with lots of fluffy pillows for photo ops. Instructions can be found here

Little Kids: A Ferocious Dinosaur Party

Kids can be picky when it comes to their party priorities. And while I believe in allowing them to have creative input, I also like the idea of steering clear of character parties. Call me a mean mom, but they lack originality and all of the licensed decor tends to add up fast. Dinosaurs are cool no matter what your age or gender (not kidding, my wedding reception at a history museum was dinosaur themed). 

Decor: Amazon has dino banners, masks and even inflatable dinosaurs. Depending how far you want to go with the prehistoric theme, Oriental Trading has wearable plush dinosaur tails and plenty of non-cheesy decor.

Food: Grab a set of dino cookie cutters and get to slicing sandwiches. Green grapes can serve as  “eggs” and these cute dino pudding cups make an awesome dessert. 

Activities: This dinosaur sensory kit includes almost everything you need for a backyard dig. Cover the bones with dirt or rice and let the kids get to work. And if all else fails, who doesn’t love a good pinata? You can find a T-Rex one here

Tweens: A Magical Harry Potter Soiree

Confession: I only recently watched the Harry Potter movies and I’m still working on the books, so I’m a little behind when it comes to the wizarding world. But I do know that HP is still as popular as ever, and there are tons of resources out there for hosting a magical soiree. This theme works for middle schoolers and beyond. I may even consider having a Harry Potter-themed bash next year, and I’m in my thirties. Not even joking. 

Decor: Hogwarts acceptance letters as invitations, DIY floating candles to match the decor of the Great Hall and a fake brick 9 ¾ platform that guests can walk through are a good start. Find more ideas here and here

Food: Wizard hat cupcakes, pumpkin pasties and, of course, Butterbeer make for tasty treats fit for any muggle. 

Activities: Set up a create-your-own wand station using these instructions or borrow a few extra brooms and play a game of Quidditch. Just make sure not to invite any Malfoys to your party.

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