Coming from a design background, I always get excited when it's time for crafting parties. It's a chance for me to forget (briefly) that I am 'just a stay-at-home mum' and get creative again! Half the fun is the challenge of translating my ideas into reality, without spending a great deal of money. It's also the challenge of executing these ideas, whilst trying to keep the household running smoothly...not always easy...!
Handmade invitations for an Under-the-sea and a Japanese party.
Crafting to keep costs low
To keep costs down, inevitably means that I need to make as many things as possible myself. But that's where a lot of the fun lies! I try and make invitations, decorations, elements of the games, costumes and even the going home presents. Admittedly, it's quite time consuming, but I love it! The only thing that makes it hard, is that my kids have never managed to keep the number of guests to below 10! We usually hit around 15-18. After a while this can make the process of crafting things, like going home presents, a little tedious.
I try and budget around S$100 per party (not including food). This means a trip to the local $2 store to see what I can customize. When it comes to costumes, I see what old clothes or scraps of material we have lying around the house. I then embellish them with things from the craft shop. For decorations, I see what 'props' I can find around the house. Or I find natural and easily available things, like large branches from the nearby park, for hanging decorations. Then invitations, cake toppers and the like, I design and print out from my computer.
Handmade cake toppers for a viking, an English and an American Indian party
Getting dressed up in costumes is fun, but there's no point spending a load of money just for a few hours of fun at a party. That's why I always make them and make them using stuff I have lying around the house. I'm not a very good sewer, but I can operate a sewing machine and thread a needle, so I can usually pull something adequate together.
Over the years, I've had fun making mermaid, pirate, super hero, Halloween, under-the-sea, American Indian costumes, to mention a few... and now, for my daughter's upcoming party, a Viking costume. All using old clothes and material scraps. They've not been brilliant...but good enough!
For the viking costume, I spent ages trawling the internet to see if I could find cheap drinking horns. But there are no such things! They are all hugely expensive. Unless you want to buy a minimum order of a 1000 pieces from Alibaba! But a drinking horn somehow felt pretty vital to Amber's costume. So I made one from papier maché. I think in hindsight, it took rather too long. But hey, now she has one, and it adds a certain authenticity to her costume along with the axe we made! I also bought a hideously ugly plastic helmet, which I then painted to look a little more authentic. We'll use this as a prop for photo taking.
Cheap props: a papier maché drinking horn and an axe, made from a stick from the park, a scrap of card and kitchen string.
An inexpensive, hideous, bright yellow gold plastic helmet, transformed into one a little more 'battle-worn'. We'll use it for the ceremonial casting of rune stones and as a prop for photos.
I've still a long way to go before next week's Viking party, but I'm having fun! You should try crafting YOUR party! I think even if one is not artistically inclined, it's fairly easy to pull together costumes. Even if you end up buying, you can easily customize them a bit to look more authentic or interesting. Add a touch of paint, some ribbon or additional props. As I always say, look on Pinterest for inspiration! And with all that's available on the internet, making invitations, cake toppers and the like, has become easy. Crafting your party is not only fun, it means you end up with things that are wonderfully unique. You can save money and best of all, your kids will have a great time getting involved.