A Busy Mom’s Guide to Throwing a Memorable DIY Birthday Party

I’m a big DIY-er.  I did as much as I could for my wedding, many bridal and baby showers, and now I’m on to child birthday parties.  Doing things yourself gives you the creativity to get things exactly how you want them.  Throwing a DIY party gives your party an edge, makes it memorable, and usually takes enormous amounts of time and energy, which you are then in turn saving in money.  But what about a the busy mom who doesn’t want to throw a cookie cutter, store bought birthday party?  Or the busy mom who doesn’t want to spend all of her cash on a store bought birthday party?  I’m here to tell you, throwing a DIY birthday party is possible!  I know because, I just did.  You can read about my son’s Thomas the train inspired party here.

thomas the train party
I do have to admit, I’m a stay at home mom with my “part-time” job being my handmade and vintage shop on Etsy, so I do not know what it’s like to be a full-time working Mom (I do still believe this is possible for you, too!).  I did a lot of the cute details to this party last minute (moreso proving this is possible!).

Step 1:  Think “It’s Possible.”

The Little Engine That Could

(Like the song “Impossible” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.)  Or even, “I think I can, I think I can.”  Yes, little engine, you can make it over that mountain!

Step 2:  Brainstorm and Research.


Do you use Pinterest?  No?  Well, it’s time to start.  This is the best place to start looking for ideas, especially for parties.  And I’m sure (well, 98% sure) someone else has already started brainstorming and researching a similar party idea to what you want to do.  Start there and build your dream party on a Pinterest board.

Step 3:  Narrow Your Ideas.

making ideas for diy birthday partyWhat is actually practical and within your ability?  What are you going to have to contract out?  This is the step where you actually visualize your party, in your space.  For me, this step is usually just in my head.  For some, this requires a detailed list of what decorations will go where, what they need to buy, etc.  How you accomplish this step may even vary from party to party.  But be sure to get past the brainstorming phase, or you’ll be a mishmash of ideas!

Step 4:  Plan and Do.

planning a birthday party on a budgetWhatever you can do ahead of time (months, weeks, days, whenever), do it!  There will be lots of things that come up last minute.  Take one night a week to focus on your party (You can watch Grey’s Anatomy online tomorrow!).  Do something.  All of the garlands I used for the Thomas party I made at least a month ahead of time.  My favor items were all bought way ahead of time.  That gave me lots of time before the party for last minute stuff, like cleaning and decorating details.

Step 5:  Know Your Time Constraints.

birthday party ideasIs your party at home?  How much time will any cleaning take?  Are you the only one available to watch your kids?  How much can you realistically get done with a (or multiple) screaming toddler(s) running around?  I knew the Thomas cake pictured above was going to be a doozy for me.  I made sure I got a practice cake in the week before (with my super baker sister), had her make the icing for me, and then still planned a whole day to make the cake (a day before the party).  Don’t get me wrong, I know what it’s like to have a two-year-old screaming for attention when you need to get things done.  Just take a breath, remember the reason for the craziness, and use every second until the guests arrive!  I was literally putting labels on bottles of water until the moment guests arrived, and actually still tying balloons around when our first guests arrived.  It’s okay.  They realize you’re a busy mom!

Step 6:  Enjoy.

happy birthday for busy momWatch your little one(s) run around with all their closest friends and family and make lasting memories.  Savor the compliments.  And however you party turns out, know that you did what you did because you love your little one. Both of you only get this birthday once!

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