11 EASY and AWESOME Ways to Celebrate Birthdays at Home

Celebrating at home is great for parties... but it's fantastic for intimate gatherings too. I have two birthdays in my house this summer, and with Covid restrictions in place, I'm guessing we will be celebrating with a small number of people. Today, I'm sharing some fun ways to celebrate birthdays at home.

1) Serve candy for breakfast - Can you think of a better way to start the day? My sister-in-law serves her kids a tray of candy in bed on their special day every year, and they love it. I think candy for breakfast is a super-fun birthday tradition.

2) Make birthday pancakes - Pancakes are the birthday breakfast of choice for my boys. I make birthday pancakes in the shape of their age, and I serve them with milk in a wine glass. It's a simple idea, but it starts the day in a special way.

3) Write a birthday letter - Every year, I write my boys letters on their birthdays. The letters are a "snapshot" of my boys' likes/dislikes/personalities. Writing birthday letters to my boys is my favorite birthday tradition. You can find an example here.

4) Decorate while the kids are asleep - Waking up to fun decorations on your birthday is an exciting way to start the day. Decorate a special chair, hang streamers, or fill a room with balloons. 

5) Pick a theme - Any size gathering can benefit from a party theme. A cohesive theme really pulls a party together, appeals to the interests of the guest of honor (and makes them feel special), and gives the gathering a professional feel. You can find some of my favourite DIY party themes here.

6) Make fun party food - Party food doesn't need to be complicated or fancy... but it should be fun. Buy and prepare the birthday boy/girl's favorites, and choose items that fits your party theme. You can find some of my favourite DIY food ideas here.

7) Make a fun cake - Making your own cake instead of buying one from a bakery is a great way to add a personal touch to a party and make the birthday boy/girl feel special. Cakes don't need to be fancy either. Check out my favourite simple DIY cake ideas here.

Another option is to let siblings make birthday cakes. They aren't fancy, but they are made with love.

Simple cupcake parfaits are another super-easy option.

8) Let the birthday boy/girl choose the meals - Picking the meals on their birthday is fun for kids. Kids can choose to get food from a restaurant or they might prefer to stay at home and enjoy their favorite homemade meal.

9) Have the birthday boy/girl wear a special birthday shirt - It's always fun to let the world know it's your birthday with a special birthday shirt. In the past, my boys have made their own shirts, and I have created shirts to go with their interests and the theme of their parties. 

10) Set up a birthday scavenger hunt - Instead of just giving the birthday boy/girl their birthday gift, send him/her on a scavenger hunt to find it. It's a simple idea, but it adds a little bit of anticipation and fun to the occasion.

11) Have a "yes" day
 - I've never been brave enough to do this, but I have read about parents that let their kids have a "yes day" on their birthdays. The idea is to say "yes" to everything the birthday boy/girl wants to do on his/her birthday. I think (with a few parameters in place), this could be a lot of fun!

Aren't these fantastic ways to celebrate birthdays at home? If you have a birthday celebration to plan, I hope some of my easy and inexpensive ideas inspired you!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS - Find more party planning ideas here.

"Simple" Harry Potter Movie Night

Sometimes simple "at home" celebrations are the best. In my house, we have "family movie night" every Friday night. We usually keep it simple, but every once in a while we have a extra special celebration. Today, I'm sharing our latest "at home" Harry Potter movie night. You are going to love the simple (yet fun) DIY details.

In my house, food plays a big part in our celebrations (which is not surprising given the fact that I am the mother to three growing boys). For our Harry Potter movie night, I set up a simple Honeydukes Sweet Shop. I used a sign (crafted from dollar store foam core) that I made for a Harry Party birthday party I hosted a few years ago. Then, I made some popcorn and a few special treats.

I put jelly beans in small condiment containers and displayed them on a stack of Harry Potter books with a sign I designed that says, "Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans".

I also made some "Nimbus 2000 Broomsticks". I put pretzels in little bags, inserted paper straws, and tied the tops of the bags with black yarn. Pretty cute, aren't they? 

I also made some chocolate frogs using melted chocolate wafers and inexpensive chocolate molds. They were easy to make, and they turned out super-cute!

To download and print the tags I designed: right-click on the photo below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8 1/2 x 11 photo.

I also made a Harry Potter cake and cupcakes... because what's a party without a cake?!?

Then... because a little DIY party decor is always fantastic, I hung this brick wall tablecloth I made using a sponge and red paint. Walking through Platform 9 3/4 to get to our living room movie theatre added an extra bit of fun.

Finally, with our food and decor ready, we hung a bedsheet in our living room, we strung up some Christmas lights, and we used our projector to watch the movie in our "home theatre".

Putting a little extra effort into watching a movie at home can turn a simple activity into something really special. We love our family movie nights... especially when we have themed food and decor to go with them.

What do you think of our Harry Potter movie night?

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

7 Tips for Party Planning on a Budget

Parties (especially children's birthday parties) can quickly get out of hand. In an attempt to throw the perfect party, you can easily lose track of the budget. However, I'm here to tell you that a fun and memorable party does NOT need to break the bank. Today, I'm sharing 10 tips for throwing a fantastic party... on a budget.

1) Limit your guest list - Think carefully about who you want to invite and who you need to invite. Consider just hosting a few close friends or throw a "family only" party. You don't need to invite an entire class or sports team. (Just don't invite most of the class or sports team... and only exclude a few kids. That's just mean.)

2) Carefully consider the venue - Hosting a party outside your home may seem expensive, but many places offer budget-friendly packages that include a venue, activities, and food. Consider all your costs, and make an informed decision.

3) Create your own party games and activities - Customizing party games and activities can be easy and inexpensive if you make them yourself using cheap materials. DIY elements are budget-friendly and make the party unique and special. You can read more about some of my favourite DIY party games and activities here.

4) Pick a party theme - A cohesive party theme really pulls a party together and gives it a professional feel. You can find some of my favourite DIY party themes here.

5) Keep the party food simple - Try not to go overboard with the food. Chances are the guests will be too busy having fun to spend a lot of time eating. Buy food that fits your party theme for an extra special touch. You can find some of my favourite DIY food ideas here.

6) Make your own DIY cake - Making your own cake instead of buying one from a bakery or cake making professional can save a lot of money. It can also be a great way to add a personal touch to a party. Cakes don't need to be fancy either. Check out my favourite simple DIY cake ideas here.

7) Hand out thoughtful (but inexpensive) party favors - You don't need to spend a lot of money on party favors, but guests will appreciate going home with a simple "thank you for coming" gift. Read about 40+ of my favourite loot bag / party favor / goody bags here.

Planning a special and memorable party doesn't need to break the bank. These tips should help you plan the perfect party... on a budget.

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

5 Fantastic DIYs for your New Year's Eve Party

After the craziness of Christmas, I love a simple New Year's Eve celebration at home... but simple doesn't need to mean boring. The key to an easy, inexpensive and fun party is to focus on a few DIY details. Check out these 5 fantastic DIYs for a New Year's Eve party.

1) Reflect on last year and look forward to the year ahead. Print these fun "year in review" sheets, and take a few minutes to remember the past and look ahead to the future. Click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it on an 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of paper.

2) Create activity bags. Every year, I fill several bags with different treats and activities, and the party guests open a new bag every hour. It's a lot of fun, and it's something my kids look forward to every year. (For some ideas on items to include in the bags, you can click here.)

3) Have fun party food options. A milk and cookie toast is perfect for kids, and adults will love store-bought fortune cookies dipped in melted white chocolates and sprinkles. 

4) Set up a simple photo booth. Party guests of all ages love an opportunity to take a fun photo. Use dollar store accessories and the photo props below. To use the photo props I designed: click on the photos below, right-click, save them to your computer, print on 8 1/2 x 11" card stock, cut them out, and attach them to sticks.

5) Send guests home with fun party favors. Put chocolate kisses in plastic cups with "midnight kisses tags, or attach "ring in the new year" tags to candy rings. To download the cute tags I designed: click on the tag (below), right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4 x 6 photo.

Will you be hosting friends this year? Or will you be celebrating at home with family? Either way, there is something on this list that will help you make your New Year's Eve even more special. Happy New Year!!!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

Simple "Grinch" Movie Night

There is no better way to celebrate the holidays than with a festive movie night with family and friends, and you can "up the fun factor" with some movie-themed treats, decor and party favors. Today, I'm sharing all the easy and inexpensive DIY details of my family's simple Grinch movie night.

First, you can set the stage with a little DIY decor. I turned a door of my house into a Grinch vignette. with some card stock, cotton batten, and a dollar store ornament. I cut out the pieces (see below), and attached them to the door with painters tape. Cute, right?

I also took a picture of my door, added some details using Picmonkey.com, and printed it out to display on my table of movie treats. 

You can download your own copy by: clicking on the picture below, right-clicking, saving it to your computer, and printing it like a regular 8x10 photo.

And what's a movie without festive treats? I set out some popcorn mixed with red and green M&Ms, a jar of green candies, and some cookies decorated with "grinchy" green icing and green sprinkles.

And what's a party without a party favor? This homemade Grinch ornament (using dollar store supplies) is simple to make. You can can find the instructions and the free printable tags here.

A Grinch movie night is the perfect way to spend an evening this holiday season. With some simple decor, food, and party favors, it can be a really special Christmas celebration.

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)