Thursday, September 7, 2017

Budget DIY Decorations for a 1st Birthday

In my family, birthdays are a big deal! We love to celebrate, go all out and have all our family and friends over to make the birthday boy or girl feel as loved as possible.

Now, with three kiddos who all want themed birthdays, it can get pretty expensive! When you think birthday party, there is the food, the decorations, balloons, cakes, etc. All of which, if not done wisely, can cost you an arm and a leg. And that's before you budget in birthday gifts!

I'm here to show you that you can have a fun birthday party on a budget! I spent a total of $24 on decorations for my son's party.

Benjamin is turning 1 years old!! Or, to say it in theme with our party, he's O-FISH-ALLY ONE!!

We are throwing him a little fisherman themed birthday party. As a family, we have made a few camping trips and always go fishing when we do.

Ben has been watching his daddy and uncle fish since about 8 months old. He is always fascinated when he sees them casting and all that, so we thought this type of party would be fitting for him.

I scoured the internet for ideas and decorations through Party City, Target and even Walmart, but everything was so dang expensive! It is a first birthday, one that he will not even remember.

I think that first birthday is more for the family and parents anyway.

In any case, I wanted to have a fun party without breaking our budget, so I decided to Do It Myself! All of it! I made the decorations from scratch, and planned a simple, crowd-friendly menu to go with them.

Now, I am not the most artistic person in the world, so you may be able to paint these items with a little bit better skill but for me, they turned out great and I am so proud of myself!
I started by searching Pinterest for ideas. I saw a bunch of decorations that people have purchased off of Etsy and Amazon type sites.

I looked at them, then looked at the prices and I just couldn't... I mean some of the prices were outrageous and I could easily make them myself with MY own hands.

Well here it is. When you think of fishing, there is the bait, the poles, life jacket (if you're on a boat), tackle boxes, fishing hats, bobbers, etc.

I wanted to make decorations that I could easily string up with some fishing line and hang from my patio outside.

I wanted a few things that I could hang up around my kitchen and living room for when people walked into the house the day of the party.

I had all these ideas and so I just started going for it.

I started with a ton of cardboard boxes that I had lying around the garage. If you don't have some lying around, you can always call your local grocery store or Superstore (Walmart etc) and ask that they hold some boxes for you.

I have never had an issue when doing this and it is usually a cart full or however many you want to take.

FREE! check.

I happened to have a ton of acrylic paint in the garage so I was able to utilize this for my decorations at no extra expense.

If you don't have paint on hand, you can go to the Dollar Store and score some cheap paints!

Remember that this paint doesn't have to be of the highest quality, it is just being used for a ONE DAY PARTY!

You could even use those tempura paints that your kids have sitting in the closet.

I used the paintbrushes from my kids paint set. So for me, FREE! For someone who doesn't have them on hand, maybe $5?

You want to start by taking a pencil and trace out what you want to use as a decoration.

I started with bobbers!

I took the largest bowl I could find in my cupboard and traced it. I then cut it out using a razor knife. I also cut out a little square  that I later used as the top of the bobber.

I made a few of these and set them aside.

Now keep in mind that it is cardboard that you are painting on. It will soak into the box more than you want it to, so you have to do two or three coats when using light colors like white or yellow.

Darker colors seem to work well with just one or two coats depending.

Paint one coat and set it aside.

Don't sit there and hover over it like I did trying to blow it dry (not literally but it sure felt like it).

I made a few other items that were all free hand drawn and cut out by me.

I can say that I did make a few that I was not satisfied with and had to re-do them but it was OK, because I was using cardboard and not an expensive material.

Get creative, you really can go any direction with this step.

What's a first birthday without the adorable month to month pictures of how your little babe has grown over the past 12 months?

Now, this part of the project was probably the most expensive part for me, but it doesn't have to be for you!

I am an avid Shutterfly user and have taken advantage of the 50 prints for free to a new user promo. If you haven't heard of this, please go check it out!  You will receive 50 free prints just for signing up with their website, and they are really good quality! (for you - FREE!)

Since I had taken advantage of this before, I had to get my prints done at my local CVS. It cost me a little under $7 for, I believe, 15 prints. I probably could have found a cheaper rate but I live in a small town and it is easily a half hour drive to get anywhere and, well, 3 kids, hot days, no thanks!

Anyway, I again got my cardboard and created what was intended to depict a life saving flotation device (the rings that they have at pools or sometimes on boats).

I painted it red - which was completely covered by the pictures, so it was kind of a waste of time but oh well.

I carefully arranged my photos from birth to the newest picture I had of little man on there. I then took some tape and made it into double sided tape and stuck them all on there.

I did it this way so that after the party, I could easily take the pictures off and use them again in a frame or baby book!

I thought I was done! Then I started to look at it, and thought it would be cute with a little saying in the middle. I created just a simple rectangle and glued it in. I thought for days of what to write in there and just was not having a creative couple of days so landed on BEN IS ONE.

Short and sweet I suppose! Again, you can get super creative with this.

The one thing that I couldn't figure out how to make myself was the decorations for the cake and cupcakes. I suppose I could have gone without, but the cupcake stakes and bunting I found for the smash cake were adorable and I only spent $11 for both WITH shipping from The Oriental Trading Company.

If you haven't heard of them, I suggest you check them out. They are an awesome site that has just about everything under the sun that would be used for holidays and parties, a lot of which can be bought in bulk for cheap.

The stakes are little poles with a little plastic fish attache, which I used on the cupcakes I made. The bunting went on his little smash cake, and then set aside as a bedroom ornament for his room.

Last but not least, was the tablecloths, silverware, cups and plates, which really aren't decor but I went with a blue and green to match my theme so I will stick in it here as well.

I don't know about you guys, but I am a fan of dollar stores, because if you really take the time to look, you can score some pretty sweet stuff at low cost! Especially if you go at the end of a season or a few weeks after a major holiday, everything is even more discounted!

I scored 24 blue cups ( from 4th of July) for $0.50 for all! I got 2 turquoise table clothes and 2 matching silverware sets for $4. I also grabbed some plastic plates for serving on the discount rack for $0.50 for  24.

At an end-of-summer blow out sale, I found 2 bright green serving platters that I happily grabbed for $1! I will be able to use them again around Halloween or save for next summer.

That is it, $6 for all that! Score!!

Cups and plates will be saved (if not damaged) for our camping box! Can't go wrong with multipurpose items!

So as you can see, it doesn't have to be expensive but can still be awesome and fun!

You can make things with the stuff you have laying around your house and it will even more special because you took the time and effort to make it yourself rather than blindly buying something from a store and as the kids get older they can help make the decorations, too!


  1. Amber, what an awesome blog! You're so creative. I love the party decorations and the cupcake and cake decor. I really enjoyed living Ben's birthday preparations through you, well done. I hope Ben's celebration was wonderful! Love you guys.

    1. Thank you auntie!! Miss and love you guys. Wish we could have celebrated with all of you too ❤

  2. I had a big birthday in August when I turned 60. Thanks for sharing your party ideas with us and proving you don't need to spend a lot of money to make it special. #BloggersPitStop

  3. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing at Friday Frenzy Link Party! PINNED!

  4. Oh this is a SUPER cute party idea!

  5. These ideas are so much more personal than generic shop-bought tat.
    So much fun!
    Thank you for sharing.
    Fake Fabulous | Style and fun with fashion, over 40

  6. What a cute theme and you did a great job! Thank you for sharing with us this week at Celebrate Your Story and we hope you will join us again next week.

  7. What a great theme for a party! Love the fish and bobbers decor! 
Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Hope to see ya next week!

  8. Cute! I love the fishing theme! There's some great ideas here!

  9. So many cute ideas! Love all the painted projects. Thanks so much for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

  10. I love the ideas, and the fact that they're budget friendly. Thanks for sharing on Sunday's Best.

  11. Loved the idea. Everything is so budget friendly. Will be refering them to my friend who has to celebrate 1st bday soon.

  12. Thanks for the cute birthday ideas and sharing with us at #BloggersPitStop. Have a lovely day.

  13. What a sweet party! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday,we are so happy to have you join us. Have a wonderful week and come back to see us real soon!
    Miz Helen

  14. Amber this is such a nice party for a baby boy. Congratulations. I am sure everyone loved it and those cupcakes are especially adorable.

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