In my heart of hearts, I want Hollywood-level effect with no Hollywood-level funding. Once a theme comes to mind, the wheels in my head start turning on how to scale it down to Keisha-size. Planning around any theme can add up money-wise, regardless of scale, and especially if you haven’t had months to shop for sales or brainstorm crafty props.
Here are the things I keep in mind to fuel my fun habit:
Plan in advance
For yearly events like Halloween and my son’s birthday, I usually start turning the wheels for a theme or concept months in advance. It’s not unusual for my friends to hear me brooding in August over my mini yard haunt or to watch me scavenging Pinterest for ideas. My husband is no happy camper as he notices the Amazon packages piling up in our living room. But, taking the time to see what other people have created, potential DIYs I can work on and comparison shopping, are helpful in managing cost.
Watch for sales
For many of my other themes, they emerge when I see a sale or a bunch of items for cheap. The Dollar store, Target Dollar Spot, etc. often have items that can be used toward a theme. But, it’s risky to purchase decor and props with no plan…and it’s likely why I ended up with a box of luau-theme items in our garage for almost a year before it got used.
If you’re building a holiday decor theme, shopping a season ahead can save you at least 50%… I always go to Walmart the day after Halloween and Christmas to stock up on new items for the next year or for a future theme – I’ve been collecting ornaments for an all white tree for the last two years! Craft stores like Michaels typically have their big sales a month BEFORE the holiday, so you could luck up on 60-80% off of Christmas items like crafts, tree ornaments and other household decor in early-November if you watch your local store closely.
I’ll be honest. I’m a lover of themes but quite lazy when it comes to DIY. I’m hoping to become more crafty and creative in the future though, because DIY is a big money saver! Tools like the Cricut can help you use vinyl and stencils for details – The Zombie Nerf Party was my first introduction to the Cricut and I fell in love with it. And for most themed fun, there’s a tutorial floating around for how to craft a detail or two.
Repurpose props and tools
A good arsenal of props and tools can help make hosting anything simple. Its easy to be extra with all the right gadgets. Solid color serveware, letter boards, small chalk boards, an electric balloon pump, cake stands, tier platters, a triple crockpot (for appetizers), a clear drink dispenser are all great things to have for hosting.
Pick Your Focus
Another way to manage cost is to decide where to focus your funds. Some themes are so dynamic that I want to focus my funds on the decor and table presentation, but the food may be kept simple and low cost. There are other themes where a good spread is super important to pull it off, so my funds are split between the look and the taste (i.e. anything where there’s a charcuterie board involved, lol). Character themes tend to add up as well, so going for solid colored plates/napkins/tablecloths could be where you cut a few extra dollars, if you wanted to. It’s helpful to decide early where you want to focus your expenses.
I’d love to hear how you other Extra Mom’s plan your fun on a budget.