Now that it's been almost a month since we held my daughter's birthday party, I've gotten some perspective on what it takes to host a super fun "unslumber" party for tweens. It seems like I'm always working with a tight budget this time of year, but that doesn't mean we can't pull off an awesome party to celebrate the birthday girl. My daughter was all about keeping it a small party and she didn't want it to be a full on sleepover, just having some friends over for a few hours. We settled in on an "un-slumber" party theme and things just started coming together.
My girl further decided the theme would be a Donut & Bacon Pajama party... how perfect is that? We started looking through Pinterest for ideas and working on a time frame, decorations, menu, crafts, etc. So, here are my tips for a simple, budget-friendly tween birthday party:
1. Talk the party over with your tween to figure out guest list, general theme, date/time, and any ideas they want to incorporate (within reason, of course). For us, that always means there will be crafts. ;-)
2. Get the house ready the day before with some easy decorations... the theme may determine what you choose. Keeping things simple, I came up with a Donut & Bacon Banner made from small white paper plates, construction paper and twine.
- For the donuts, simply free form cut some donut frosting out of brown, cut a hole in the center, glue to the back of a paper plate and glue on some "sprinkles" (hole punched confetti).
- The bacon strips were simply made from red construction paper... again free-form cut. I glued on some natural colored construction paper strips for the bacon look.
- Punch 2 holes in the top of each donut and bacon strip so that the banner stays facing forward when it is strung onto the twine.
Because the girls were going to be doing some crafting in the dining room, I tried to decorate the kitchen eating area like a bed. Bringing out some stuffed animals and bright pillows, as well as spreading out an old quilt for the tablecloth. Some fun cereals in canisters, along with the stuffies, served as the centerpiece. Let's not forget about the Sprinkle Donut Cake. (Even less labor intensive than my Kit Kat Piano Cake from last year, it's just a yellow bundt cake with homemade chocolate frosting poured over the top and plenty of brightly colored sprinkles to give it the donut vibe... the girls picked up on it right away.) Speaking of donuts... and bacon...
3. Plan out some fun theme-related crafts... We made donut-shaped memo boards and bacon bookmarks. (I try to check out my craft stash first to see exactly what I already have that can be used.) Last year's crafts music themed.
- The Donut-shaped memo boards with pom-pom pins were so much fun and a big hit. I loved seeing how each of the girls painted their donuts... each one an original. These started off as 3packs of cork trivets from World Market. My husband drilled out the centers of them for us and my little crafter and I gave them a base coat of cream-colored paint before the party. We brought out a few acrylic paints for the girls to choose from and let them go to town. Then we hot-glued mini pom-poms to thumb tacks for the finishing touch of "sprinkles".
- The bacon bookmarks couldn't have been easier...or any cuter. Using some stiff red felt from when we made photo-booth accessories for another birthday party, we cut some rectangles about 6 in. x 2 in. and punched a hole in the top for a ribbon. The girls cut out some tan felt strips and hot-glued them to the red felt to give it the bacon look. Then came the googly eyes and little smiles. Adorable!
4. Create an easy menu... we went with breakfast food. Since the cake was a "donut", we needed to incorporate some bacon into the menu. I knew my daughter was not too keen on savory breakfast casseroles, but didn't want to just load the girls up on sugar. World-wide-web to the rescue!
- Delicious breakfast pizzas were the result after combining a few ideas I saw online. The girls loved them!
- A giant fruit salad and cubed cheese were also set out.
- Bacon, bacon and more bacon!
- Orange juice, apple juice and milk were the beverages.
5. Pull out some classic games to play, like Twister and Jenga, to keep them busy while you set up the next activity, whether it's present opening, getting the candles on the cake or until the party starts winding down and parents come to pick up the kids.
6. Open presents... everyone likes to see the birthday girl's reaction when she open's her gift. (Somehow, I did not get a picture of this... ) She received some wonderful gifts... Charming Charlie's gift cards, a blingy picture frame, cash, a cool purse, and a Secret Garden (by Johanna Basford) coloring book and Papermate felt-tip pens - seriously, my favorite gift. I'm considering getting this for myself too.
7. Sing "Happy Birthday" and eat cake! We had homemade chocolate ice cream to go along with the donut cake.
8. Allow time for spontaneous concerts or "talent" shows. I try to have a general timeline for the party, but almost never plan it out to the minute. It keeps me sane and lets the kids have a good time. We also did a Minute-to-Win-It game where the girls stacked chocolate donuts on their foreheads to see who could keep the stack on the longest. (I had this game planned in case we ran through all the other activities... all that was needed were mini donuts and a timer.)
9. Keep the "goodie bags" simple, or ditch them all together if the girls are going home with crafts they made. We found some inexpensive eyeshades to give the girls and threw in some small candies. Each one went home with their donut and bacon bookmark.
10. Relax and have fun! Gone are the days of having to have every last detail planned out. After all, girls just want to have fun!
Even if everything doesn't go completely according to plan, or you forget to do one of the activities, don't sweat it. If your daughter is anything like mine, she will love and appreciate the effort you put forth to make her birthday special. Got anymore tips for how to host a stress-free tween birthday party? I'd love to hear them!
Need more craft ideas for tween parties?