We celebrated my daughter's 9th birthday with a tea party -per her request. I honestly didn't set out to keep the budget so low-but it ended up being a very inexpensive party. Here's how I did it:
1. Plan and shop ahead.
I've found that I can't find deals when I'm shopping only a week or 2 ahead of time. We decided at least 2 months ago that a tea party would be the theme. So we were able to keep our eyes open for deals with no pressure.
For instance, every weekend we would head to Goodwill or Salvation Army to look for teacups. I was able to collect one for each girl. Each cup and saucer cost no more than a $1. Salvation Army even had 50% off on Saturdays!
Because we shopped ahead and had time to browse, we came across purple boas at A.C. Moore for $.99 each! Usually boas cost at least $5!
2. Ditch the goodie bags.
Let's be honest, goodie bags are usually full of junk. I have a one day rule for goodie bags at my house. If you come home with one and it's not emptied AND put away in one day it goes bye-bye.
So with that in mind, I spend what I would normally spend on goodie bags (around $30 for 8 kids) and bought bows for each of the girls. A friend makes these adorable bows and she was able to customize them with a tea party theme. So much better than a bag full of candy and $1 store toys.
I also didn't buy bags. I just used brown bags I had already and cut the tops with patterned scrapbook scissors. Then I cut their initial with my Cricut and glued it on.
We were able to add their crafts to the bags as we completed activities.
3. Buy premade food.
Ok, sometimes this goes against everything I believe in. But when it comes to baked mini goodies that are characteristic of a teaparty, I found that it's cheaper to buy them. I went to our brand new Walmart, which has an adorable bakery and spent $16 on individual mini sweets.
I also spent $10 on a big precut fruit bowl. I originally had about $15-$20 of fresh fruit in my cart that I would have had to cut up and prep myself. It saved me a lot of time and money to use the prepped fruit for these fruit cups.
Enlist "that person" who loves to bake to make the cake. Our favorite baker is Aunt Nessa. She's made just about all of my kids' birthday cakes.
4. Don't buy premade decorations.
So-buy premade food, but NOT premade decorations. All of those tablecloths and birthday banners add up. And crepe paper is just cheesy. The time you save baking, can be used to make decorations. For a tea party, my favorite decoration is doilies. I spent less than $10 for doilies. I used clear plates and set them on doilies with their names handwritten on them.
I also cut letters with my Cricut and glued the doilies to lace for a birthday banner.
We also made the invites from doilies.
I found tissue paper on clearance for $.58 at Target about a month earlier (another advantage to planning ahead and shopping early) and made these pom-poms for table decorations.
I printed out this sign to add to the atmosphere.
My favorite decorations were the girls. We asked them to wear their tea party dresses. They were adorable!
5. Plan Cheap Games and Crafts
Don't pick a game or craft that requires tons of supplies. Think about what you have on hand.
Our first craft were God's eyes. I already had the popsicle sticks and yarn.
We made lipgloss, which only required vaseline, a pack of kool-aid and little containers that were $.50 each from Walmart.
The games we played were the good ole' make a dress out of toilet paper.
And "who can build the highest structure" out of sugar cubes. Sugar cubes were only $1.50 a box.
It was such a fun time! Who says you can't make memories on a budget?