SNAP Class: Party Planning on a Budget

So I know this is a little past due, but one of my favorite classes at SNAP in Utah in April just happened to be the Party Planning on a Budget course. There were some great faces there giving great ideas and tips and I took several pages of notes to share with you guys. So here’s some of the things we outlined in this session:


1. Do not procrastinate!!! Plan ahead so that you can shop around for the best prices and best items!

2. Set and stick with a budget.

3. Be flexible, you may have to give up some stuff in order to stay on budget and in order to fit everything into your time frame available for planning.

Choosing Your Colors:

When choosing your colors, think outside the box a little bit and even refer to your standard color wheel to find nice accent color ideas for your party. Tiger Color is a great source for learning more about where you can better understand color schemes and the source I used for my images below.

Monochromatic: one color dark to light…so you choose BLUE and use different shades of blue throughout your party

Analogous Color Scheme: Colors that are on the same side of the color wheel like purple, blue, teal

Complimentary Colors: two opposites on the color wheel like teal and yellow or red and green (red and green just aren’t for Christmas either! They can make great colors for a fun strawberry themed party!)

Split Complimentary: The split-complementary color scheme is a variation of the complementary color scheme. In addition to the base color, it uses the two colors adjacent to its complement. A good example of split complimentary is red, green, pink.

Triadic: colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel, such as yellow, blue, red or green, orange, purple

Choose a Theme:

  • Start by choosing a location.
  • Window shop for ideas in stores and online.
  • So your child wants a licensed party (how many mothers are letting out a deep sigh to this one?! LOL)…choose colors to match the licensed characters and allow your child to pick out one or two (usually overpriced) items from a party store, but use those colors to decorate the party.
  • Choose a unique theme–adds drama to your party

Party Activities:

Think of some fun party activities that are outside of the box. Fun party activities can include:

  • Treasure hunts (pirate, tinkerbell, cowboy, etc.)
  • Outdoor movie night
  • Tea Party
  • Garden Party
  • Olympic Relay Party

Activities at a Location:

Try to find a fun place to have a party that is a little different than other parties, some fun ideas include:

  • Baseball park (play baseball and have concessions)
  • Library Party with a book exchange
  • Day Camp Party
  • Sledding Party

Customize Your Party:

Find ways to make your party unique and one of a kind by making things yourself

  • Using Printable Parties
  • Make your own party decorations with tissue and crepe paper and a simple sewing project
  • Use scrapbook paper to create decor
  • Dollar Store supplies and Michael’s Dollar Aisle
  • Use rubber stamps
  • Try digital scrapbooking kits for ideas

DIY Decorations:

  • Cupcake Liner Garland


  • Coffee Filter Pinwheels


  • Use solid white or clear dessert dishes and dress them up with scrapbook paper, ribbon, or other accessories to match your party decor

  • Use unique table decorations such as small wreaths on each chair


  • Use fun cupcake toppers to add flare to your desserts


  • Incorporate DIY favors such as crafts and activities for kids
  • Use cheap containers for decorations or for favors

Unique Invitations:

Think outside of the box with your invitations because they TRULY set the tone for your party. Big tip from the expert party planners–NO EVITES AND NO FACEBOOK INVITATIONS! 🙂 To each their own, but they are definitely impersonal and set a different kind of tone for starting your party out. Take the time to put some thought into your invitations. Thought doesn’t mean more $$ either! Examples included:

  • Shop your local garage sales for records and then glue invitations onto records for a Rock n Roll party!
  • Make or buy pinwheels to use as invitations for an outdoor or spring time party
  • Buy dollar store boxes of crayons and glue your invitation onto the crayons or crayon box for an art themed party
  • Put your invitation on a beach ball!
  • Or use the back of a paint set for an invitation….the possibilities are endless!
  • She even put her invitations onto a set of dollar store sunglasses for a beach party!

Unlikely Resources:

Think outside the box for places you can use that may be needed for your party, but you need cheaper or more affordable options:

  • Call culinary schools instead of caterers.
  • Use bartending schools to save some money per hour for bartenders that need practice!
  • Student unions
  • Nurseries sometimes rent out plants for events (I rented from a nursery for my wedding!)
  • Rental companies

Other things to consider to cut back on expenses:

  • To cut down on wasted food use pre-served food options. Ideas for this include pre-scooping ice cream into cupcake liners and storing in freezer until ready to serve.


  • Consider meal times when setting your time. If you don’t have the money to serve a full meal, start your party about mid afternoon after most kids have eaten lunch, but before dinner and serve smaller portioned snacks and desserts.
  • Keep your party intimate. You don’t need to invite every child in your daughter’s class. Have her pick 5 of her closest friends so that you can use your budget on lots of small details and add more drama to the party.
  • Minimize licensed products–easier said than done! I know. 🙂 But they are expensive and you can find ways to recreate some of those items for much cheaper! Just search Pinterest for ideas!
  • Eliminate “fluff” from your party.
  • Make your own cake–there are TONS of great cake ideas and tutorials on Pinterest.
  • Double your party decor as a present for your child….

Suggested Sites:

Halo Heaven

My Party is Over. com –for a place to sell your party stuff after it’s over! What a neat idea, huh!?

 I hope this helps you guys a little bit. There was SO much good info covered in this course, I really wish I could show you all the cool things they discussed, but we actually ran out of time and didn’t get to cover it all ourselves! If you have any questions or need anything clarified, let me know and I’ll try to help! 


My name is Carli, owner, designer & creative mind behind DimplePrints. I am married to my high school sweetheart & we have 3 wonderful kids. In the beginning I simply started by wanting to share a piece of our lives with loved ones by sending cards & invitations for special occasions. With the support of family, friends & great customers, it has grown into Dimpleprints.


  1. Such awesome advice! Thanks so much for sharing!

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