When folks look at the pictures from the party they assumed it cost a fortune. It didn't. The truth is, the most expensive parts of the party were the cake and the performers. So, what's my secret?
Plan ahead and upcycle!
Case-in-point: I've gotten lots of questions about the little tea tables we used for our FROZEN birthday party. The 6 tables that we used for the party cost a whopping $0. They're actually cable spindles that I came upon at the office when the elevators were under repair. I asked the repairmen what they were planning to do with the spindles and they said they were headed for the dumpster. So I asked them to put them in my car instead. No actual dumpster diving was required, which I consider an added bonus!
I had a vision for some pretty blue patterned pillows that I imagined would be re-usable, but Viola insisted that the seats be snowflakes. We were very fortunate to find on clearance some XXXL snowflake pajamas at the mall that we were able to get 4 pillows out of as well as a white-snowflake top sheet from the thriftstore that was enough to make the rest! Phew!
It took some experimenting to figure out exactly how they'd go....
Of course, it was fortuitous that a few weeks prior to the party I came across the spindles. But that's where the other half of the advice comes in: PLAN AHEAD. When you know what the theme for the party will be well in advance, you can keep your eye open for the things you will need. And I don't just mean impromptu tables. We found most of the teacups for under $2 at thrift stores and garage sales. I couldn't have walked in and bought 12 teacups for that price, but over time I was able to find them here and there. The same with the tea pots. And the decorations that had to be knew (the balloons, snowflakes, etc.) I was able to get on clearance after Christmas because I knew we'd be doing FROZEN in April.
We were also able to re-use many of our decorations from last year's Princesses and Pirates party, too, namely the castle wall room wrap, and the tablecloths. (Keep in mind that the tablecloths themselves were thrift store finds last year, so I'm not sure if that counts as re-using or up cycling... or both.... re-up-use-cycling, perhaps?) Because I have two girls, it's safe to say that I have a few more princess parties ahead of me so I try to save anything I think I'll be able to re-use.
One last fun little upcycling detail from our FROZEN party: each tea table had it's own centerpiece filled with treats. These were actually made from very inexpensive plates that I bought from IKEA and glued together using zots and easter basket grass for color. During the party they made beautiful centerpieces, and after the party I ended up with a cute set of summer dishes! Each one cost about $8 in materials.
So, remember: the key to an elaborate yet affordable princess party: plan ahead and upcyle! Save the things you think you'll be able to re-use next time around! Look for discounts and clearance items! Get inventive! And stalking your local thrift store doesn't hurt, either.... You never know what you'll find!