"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)


I love a fantastic party filled with tons of easy and budget-friendly DIY details, don't you? Today, I am sharing all the elements of my boys' joint camping-themed birthday party. It's a wonderful party theme that appeals to a wide range of ages and personalities.

Camping party decor - For our camping party, we had tons of DIY signage, balloons, camping gear, and more. You can find all the fun camping party decor details here.

Camping party activities - For our camping party, we had a large variety of games and activities to entertain our party guests. We had a scavenger hunt, we cooked s'mores, we made candy kabobs, we had a prize punch, and more. You can find all the fun camping party games and activities here.

Camping party food - For our camping party, we had a wide variety of camping themed party foods. We had a bbq, bug juice, camp candy, campfire flames, bears, fish, and more. You can read all the details about the camping party food we served here.

Camping party cake - Homemade cakes are economical and fun. For our camping party, I made each of my boys their own campfire cake. My middle son had a chocolate cake, and my youngest son had a vanilla cake. You can find all the info you need to make your own DIY campfire cake here.

Camping party loot bag - A take home gift is always a great way to show guests you appreciate that they took the time to celebrate with you. For our camping party, our guests brought home prizes from a prize table, water balloons, and prize punch prizes. You can find out about our camping party party favors here.

For a quick video of our camping party, you can check this out....


My boys and their friends had a lot of fun at our camping party. It's a party theme that works for kids of all ages... and adults would like it too... with a few modifications. What was your favourite part of our party? If you throw a similar party for someone in your family, I'd love to hear about it!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

Camping Party Loot Bag

Every party needs a fun party gift / loot bag, and today, I am sharing the simple camping-themed party favors I gave to guests at my boys' birthday party. I have a couple of treat ideas you are going to love.

First, I had a prize booth where the kids were giving the opportunity to choose their own gift. The kids went on a scavenger hunt, and when they completed it, they were allowed to pick a prize.

Every party guest was also able to claim a prize from the prize punch. I have been making prize punches from dollar store supplies for years, and they are a staple at all our parties. You can find the full tutorial here.

And finally, as the guests were leaving, they were given a package of water balloons with a thank you note that I designed using Picmonkey.com.

I love an easy, inexpensive, and useful party favor / goodie bag / loot bag, don't you? I especially LOVE how these little treats fit in perfectly with the camping party theme.

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

Find more camping party ideas here.

Camping Party Decor

Setting the stage for a party doesn't need to be expensive or difficult. You can easily create simple (and adorable) decor for very little money. Today, I am sharing the fun way I transformed my house into "Camp Bellzie" for my boys camping themed birthday party.

I started by creating a simple photo banner. I designed 4x6 pictures using Picmonkey.com, printed the photos, and strung them on a piece of twine.

I also used Picmonkey.com to create other signage, including a camp schedule that I placed by the door in a simple dollar store frame. Using camping supplies I already had (like this lantern) added to the atmosphere too.

And of course, I used balloons that matched my red and yellow colour scheme. Every party needs balloons, right?

I also set up a tent.

And I set up a fun party food table. I used a red and white checked tablecloth (from the dollar store), red dishes, and food labels I designed using Picmonkey.com. Sticking with a consistent colour scheme is key!

Simple decor and a cohesive colour scheme can really make a party look pulled together. This camping party decor is easy, inexpensive and fun... and is guaranteed to impress your guests.

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

Find more camping party ideas here.