By: Melissa German
As most moms do, I like to let my kids pick their party theme both so that they can be excited about it but also as a record of their favorite things through the years. The first year is always a little tough, we try to limit the kid’s tv time so my son didn’t have a favorite cartoon character and with a toddler for a big sister, his first birthday party options were either baby doll tea party or a thumb suckers bash! Luckily one day I brought home a cuddly FAO giraffe for his nursery and while it momentarily spooked him he eventually fell in love with it. I settled on a circus theme and then suffered night and day seeing all those professional designer parties on Etsy and Pinterest. You see, there are certain things that I
just cannot pay for even if I can afford it, it’s just a matter of principle and common sense! Besides, there’s a certain reward that can only come from a good deal and a challenge conquered. Here you’ll see how with the dedicated help of my party planning committee (lol!) : my husband, brother and baker cousin Cakey Inc, I made my vision about 90% reality! If you like what you see please be sure to visit us over at Owl & Lion Party Rentals and give us a like!
I saw the painted circus animals online at $25-30 a piece and knew I would need at least 6. I seriously contemplated buying them ready made but felt up for the challenge, I mean it was only a little painting, right? I ended up ordering a whole set of animals for less than the price of one pre-painted cutie on Amazon. I tried to drive down costs even more by using my two year olds’ washable paint and crayola brushes. Bonus! My kids would be able to keep them afterwards….Well, I stayed up very very late one work night painted two coats on 6 animals only to learn that washable paint cracks (and in similar fashion this momma’s nerves and patience) Almost defeated, I gave it a second try with cheap acrylic paint (18 paint pots for $8? Yes please!) I started by taping off the legs and head with good ol scotch tape then with a steady hand I primed in white, painted again in color and finally free hand striped or zig zagged the lines. Later my cousin finished them off by hot glue-ing decorative trim around the edges. The elephant and fabulously leg-warmered giraffe were dressed by my cousin using felt sheets and my trusty 99 cent store hot glue gun. I’ll admit to not loving the matte finish and perhaps I could’ve spent more than one dollar on the edging trim but I’m overall happy with the outcome. And, as it turns out they were such a hit that some of my guests stole them from right under my nose!
The marquee letters are by far the guest favorite and the biggest diy saver considering that a SINGLE letter made of this same paper mache/ same font cost $50 online. My original plan was to follow any of the many tutorials available online and cut the letters out from foam core but then life reminded me that I’m a suburban, unlicensed, full time working mom of two children two & under! I swear exhaustion can make you delusional. I bought 12” paper mache letters at Joanne’s and got to work! The hubster marked out the light bulbs and I took a chance with an exacto knife cutting out holes both in the front and back of the letters, a deliberately sloppy coat of red paint and super fragile (ask me how I know lol) string lights from Target finished off the look.
Other party savers:
- Cricut machine? Hole punch? Psshht! We keep it real around here AKA pick up a scissor and tell your guests not to look to closely.
- The cupcakes purchased as a real last minute, night before, 11 p.m. run to Stop and Shop. I just added a set of vintage plastic toys bought for $2 and a pack of jungle animals from the 99cent store!
- The lollipop/marshmallow pops display cost a whopping 3.99 retail. I simply hot glued colorful paper around the perimeter.
- I made the marshmallow and mustache pops.
- Shop early=save much! The gumball machine was purchased on clearance during one of my all too frequent Toys R Us trips.
- The tent was decorated with hanging pennant banners purchased at Oriental Trading, the entire thing was rigged up to an elegant 99 cent store underwear drying rack-lol I swear it was.
The party took place at our home this past chilly Easter day. To go with the Circus Carnival theme I purchased some super fun games from Oriental Trading as well as some of their coordinating Carnival Party Supplies. They were the perfectly complimentary to my vintage kid centric party theme. The face cut out board was a party favorite and will be with us all summer for future visitors. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the tent set up for the party and only snapped a single pic after the rental company picked up the tables and chairs. Our friends and family anxiously awaited our whole roasted pig, while my little guests had a great time playing the carnival games, stocking up on candy and watching a show by Confetti Clowns. The birthday boy you ask? Perfection as always, he napped through the first hour of his party but then joined the fun! It’s his party and so he just had to be the
ringmaster, wouldn’t you agree that he’s beyond handsome in his outfit? Somehow his smile makes all the late nights and early morning crafting sessions worth it.