Budget-friendly GRADUATION Party Ideas

My oldest son is graduating from high school, and of course, we'll be doing a lot of hosting and entertaining. I have some fabulous budget-friendly graduation party details to share today, and you are definitely going to want to include them in YOUR celebration.

Check out this graduation photo prop made from a piece of dollar store foam board and stickers. Seriously... it's soooo easy and cute! Find the step by step instructions here.

And how adorable is this graduation centre piece made by gluing dollar store frames together? I LOVE a piece of decor that includes photos, don't you? Find the step by step instructions here.

And I LOVE this graduation tiered tray made from dollar store plates and candle stick holders! It takes a few minutes to glue together, and it looks fantastic! Find the step by step instructions here.

You'll also want to make sure you get lots of photos, and a hashtag will make photo sharing easy. This graduation photo hashtag sign is free at EastCoastMommy.com, and you can pop it in a dollar store frame. Easy peasy! Grab your free download here.

Get a closer look at these four pieces of DIY graduation decor below.

Guests will also need fun food, and I think this DIY graduation candy bar is perfect. Grab your free tags here, and check out the instructional video below.

Finally, you are going to want to make sure guests leave with a fun graduation party favor. You can check out my FIVE favourites in the video below, and you can download the tags for free here.

I hope you like these budget-friendly graduation party ideas. Unique details really are the key to making a celebration memorable. Happy graduation party planning!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

DIY Bowling Party... with cute food and favour ideas

Hosting a party at a venue outside your home is a great option... but it's still fun to add some homemade DIY details to make the party memorable and special. When my oldest son turned 11, we hosted a party at a bowling alley, but of course we created some fun games, food, and party favours. Below, check out the DIY details that made our DIY bowling party unique and fun!

We started with a simple DIY invite that I created on Picmonkey. If you design a 4X6 invite on Picmonkey, you can print the photo invites inexpensively. Mine were $0.19 each.

The main activity at the party was obviously bowling, but I wanted to add a few more activities to make the party fun and unique.

After the kids finished bowling, they were able to "guess the candies in the jar". The party guest that guessed closest to the actual number of Skittles won the jar. Fun, right?

We also had a prize punch (which has become a staple at my boys' parties). It's always a hit with party guests, and you can get the full tutorial here.

Of course, we had to have festive bowling party food. We had pizza and lots of treats at my son's personal "canteen".

And I made a simple "bowling cake". I carved a bowling pin from a rectangular cake and a bowling ball from a round cake. They were simple cakes, but they were cute and went well with our party theme.

And finally, our guests left with adorable bowling party favours (with sweet tags that I designed). You can download the tags for free here

I thought the bowling party theme was fun, and I enjoyed planning out all the DIY details. Have you ever hosted a bowling party? What did you do to make the party fun and unique?

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

DIY Sledding Party

Winter is the perfect time for a sledding party. You can host a special afternoon for a few kids, or you can invite the whole neighbourhood for a super sledding themed birthday party. As long as you have a few fantastic treats and activities, all your party guests will have a great time. Below, I am sharing all my best tips, tricks and ideas for hosting a sledding party... including a special hot chocolate bar.

The key to the success of a sledding party (besides snow), is a fun hot chocolate bar. Using different sizes of mason jars to hold the different components of the hot chocolate bar is simple, and it creates a lot of visual interest. Fill the jars with hot chocolate, chocolate kisses, marshmallows, and cookies. Whipped cream and different types of sprinkles are fun too!

You can also decorate with dollar store snowflakes, a winter themed tablecloth, and this cute "hot chocolate bar" sign

To download this sign for free: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8x10 photo.

Getting the party guests to decorate their own cups is a fun party activity, and it will help the kids remember which cup belongs to them... in case they want a refill. Drawing on styrofoam cups with Sharpie markers is simple and fun.

Doesn't the tablescape look cute when it all comes together?

And the hot chocolate is going to be a hit after an afternoon of sledding.

You can use sleds you have, ask guests to bring sleds, or you can make designing and crafting a duct tape sled a party activity.

And, after the party, you'll want to send guests home with sledding party favors. "Make your own snowman" kits are perfect for a winter party. (Get all the supplies you need at the dollar store: hats, scarfs, and some big buttons. Attach notes that say "Just add snow!") 

Snowman Soup (a bag containing hot chocolate, marshmallows, chocolate and a candy stir stick) is also fun.

Snowmen gum favors are adorable and inexpensive too. They are easy to make with scissors, a couple Sharpies, and a little felt (for the scarf).

A sledding party is a simple party theme, and it is perfect for winter. I love the hot chocolate bar and party favor ideas, don't you? Do you have a child that would enjoy this type of party with their friends?

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

PS - These cookies would be perfect to serve at a sledding party too...

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Budget-friendly NEW YEAR'S EVE Celebration

I've never been a big fan of getting dressed up and fighting crowds on New Year's Eve. I much prefer smaller (and more casual) gatherings... especially now that I have kids. Home parties with tons of fun DIY details are my favourite... so today, I am sharing some of my favourite New Year's Eve DIY ideas that will help you ring in the New Year in style... and on a budget. 

Don't you love this simple New Year's Eve tablescape? It includes dollar store decor, midnight kisses, treats to "ring" in the new year, a way to add sparkle to the festivities, and activity bags for kids. 

My best tip for New Year's Eve decor is to use leftover gold and silver Christmas decor. Look for cheap silver and gold garlands, silver and gold tablecloths, and silver and gold serving trays and dishes. White Christmas lights work well too. 

And if you are looking for ways to keep kids entertained, consider putting together New Year's Eve activity bags. Fill several bags with different treats and activities, and let the kids open a new bag every hour. (For some ideas on items to include in the bags, you can click here.)

Party food is also important. It's simple to transform store-bought fortune cookies into custom creations. Simply dip the cookies in melted chocolate and sprinkles, and let them set on a piece of wax paper. It doesn't get much easier!

Cookies and milk in wine glasses is also fun. I love that kids can take part in a midnight toast with the adults.

And don't forget to hand out party favours to your guests. I love these "Bring some sparkle to 2022" cards for sparklers. Print the cards (for free) below, cut slits in the cards, and insert sparklers. 

To print the sparkler card: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

"Midnight Kisses" also make adorable party favours. Fill plastic wine glasses with Hershey kisses, and package them with noisemakers. I put mine in clear bags and added a "midnight kisses" tags with some curling ribbon.

To download the "Midnight Kisses" tag I designed: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

And kids will LOVE candy rings packaged with "ring in the New Year" tags.

To download the "Ring in the New Year" tag I designed: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

When all these DIY details come together, you end up with a table that is packed with fun... and full of style.

These simple tips, tricks and free printables are perfect for a DIY New Year's Eve party at home. Adults and kids will both be impressed with all the fun details.

Happy New Year!

Gina Bell

(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

PS (I love getting the kids to fill out a year in review questionnaire too. You can download a copy of the one I designed, for free, here.)

Simple Holiday Movie Night

Holiday movie nights are perfect for celebrating Christmas with family and friends. All you need is a good movie and a few simple movie-themed snacks and decorations. 

First, you'll need a good Christmas movie. This checklist contains 15 of my favourites. For older audiences, Die Hard, Love Actually, and The Holiday are wonderful choices.

Then, you'll need some great movie snacks. You can go with a red and green colour scheme or get inspiration from the movie. For Elf, I set up an "elf food group" candy bar. I had: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.

A cookie bar is another fun idea. You can fill it with homemade goodies, but store bought cookies are impressive too.

And don't forget to add a bit of movie-themed decor. I made a fun tiered tray for our Elf movie night using dollar store supplies. Cute, right?!?

You can see how I made it here...

Are you planning a holiday movie night this year? It's definitely an easy, inexpensive and fun way to celebrate with family and friends.

Gina Bell

(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

You might also be interested in the holiday celebration ideas here.

Thanksgiving Party Favours

Every party needs a good gift for guests to take home, and I am in love with these adorable Thanksgiving party favours. Today, I'm sharing an option for adults, something for the kids, and FREE printable tags. Fun, right?!?!

Both of these favours start out with a fantastic seasonal cookie recipe. These soft and chewy ginger cookies, smell great and taste delicious. You can find the recipe here.

After the cookies have cooled, you can put them in a clear cellophane bag, and add the cute tag I designed. Click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

Trim it to look like a gift tag, and tie it to a bag of cookies.

These really are the sweetest little "take away" for your adult Thanksgiving guests.

For the kids, why not make these adorable turkey cookies. Put one of the ginger cookies in a bag, tape a faux Fall leave to the back, add a cardstock beak and wattle, and glue on some large googly eyes.

That's it! What kid wouldn't love taking one of these sweet cookies home after Thanksgiving dinner.

These Thanksgiving party favours are perfect for small dinners and large gatherings... and they are easy and inexpensive to make.

What do you think of these Thanksgiving party favours? Do you think you will share these tasty treats with your guests this year?

Gina Bell

(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

You might also be interested in the holiday celebration ideas here.

Simple Personalized Party Banner... for less than $2

Personal touches are what make a party unique, and they are even more impressive when you can DIY them on budget. I love the idea of creating a photo banner to use as DIY party decor. It's easy, inexpensive, and fun.

I like to make a banner using a combination of photos of the person being celebrated, and photos designed to co-ordinate with the party theme. Then, I print the photos, use a hole punch to put holes in the photos, and string the photos on a thick piece of jute cord. It's that easy!!!!

For the design element, I create a 4x6 image that fits with the party theme. Here are two examples that I designed for my boys golf and hockey parties.

The photo banners can be used anywhere. I hung one in my trunk when I hosted a mini golf party. We had a round of mini golf, and then we had a "19th hole" celebration in the parking lot.

I also love a banner hung behind a "treat table". It adds a touch of fun to the decor.

What do you think? Isn't this a fantastic way to add an inexpensive, personalized touch to a party? I can't think of a better way to spend $2, can you? I absolutely love this DIY party decor!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)