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The Look for Less: Sand & Sea Turtle Party {Under $250!}

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sea turtle party

Tonya Coleman here from Soireé Event Design, and I’m back with the “Look for Less” series sharing my Sand & Sea Turtle Party for under $250 using dollar store and thrift store finds!

This party is near and dear to my heart as I designed it for my 5 year old daughter, Riley. We recently moved to Minnesota from California in the dead of winter and Riley is a bit shocked by the climate change. She is a California girl for sure! So, while it’s still a winter wonderland of white snow outside, I wanted to create a warm, beach environment for her inside featuring her favorite animal… sea turtles!

birthday girl with a turtle

sea turtle party printables

sea turtle party activities

cookie coloring idea

sea turtle fondant topper

FAST Budget Party Tips!

Check out how I was able to pull off this party in less than a week and for a modest budget of only $228 for 8 guests! When I have to plan a party on a super tight timeline and budget, I always do these 2 things:

1. Check around my house and stash of party stuff for items I can use that match the party’s theme and colors.
2. Take a trip to my local Dollar Store and Thrift Stores to find inexpensive items that I can use in cool ways!

Keep reading for more tips + a budget breakdown of the party!

bubble backdrop made out of plates

Create a Water Bubble Wall Display for $1!
Using one pack of blue plastic plates from the Dollar Tree, I was able to create a water bubble wall display that is an inexpensive and super easy wow factor to the party’s decor! Just tape the plates to the wall with a removable tape.

sea turtle party ideas

Create Mini Chargers for $1!
To get more bang for my buck, I also used another pack of blue plates in between the gold chargers and the green ceramic plates for an added pop of blue color in the tablescape.

turtle party printables


Use Printables to Customize Dollar Store Items!
I also found a must-have for any kid’s party–cups with lids and built-in straws! These super cute green ones were perfect…I adhered a circle printable to it which adds a custom look to the dining table.  The Sand & Sea Turtle party printable collection is now available here.

sea turtle inspired centerpiece

Design a Unique $5 Centerpiece from a Thrift Store Find!
I created a $5 centerpiece from a fabulous bamboo and white shell decor piece found in a local thrift shop. I added a gold charger and blue gems I already had and a printable table sign I designed.

turtle chair back idea

Use Backpacks as Decor For Your Chairs!
Here I hung a pink turtle backpack from the back of Riley’s chair to add a special touch to her chair. This is super easy as backpack straps fit perfectly over the chair back.  You can use this tip to add any backpack to your chairs as extra decor AND double as a take-home favor for your guests!

Create Turtle Themed Activities That Double As Take Home Favors!

turtle doodle art

turtle party activities

turtle decorating materials

Decorate Your own Turtle Bank: We used markers & rhinestone stickers to decorate mini ceramic turtle banks…PERFECT for little ones and not as messy as paint!


cookie decorating

Doodle Turtle Shell Cookie Activity: I ordered large round cookies from my grocery store bakery and asked them to dip them in smooth icing which dries to a perfectly hard smooth surface to draw on with edible markers!

sand and sea turtle cake and cupcakes

Use a Printable Cake Topper with a 3D Fondant Topper to Add a High-End Custom Look to a Store-Bought Ice Cream Cake!

cake decorating steps


1. Buy an undecorated ice cream cake (you can use regular cake also)
2. Cover the entire top of the cake with blue sugar sprinkles to give the effect of sparkly water
3. Place the fondant topper turtle on top like she’s swimming on the top of the cake
4. Top it off with a custom Lolli-tag printable!
5. Place the cake on an elevated cake plate…or in this case…get creative! I used a white dinner plate on top of a wire fruit basket from my kitchen.
6. Place the stand on a large platter then cover the bottom of the platter with brown sugar to look like sand (don’t pack it down)
7. Nestle the store-bought cupcakes into the sugar and sprinkle a little of the brown sugar on top of the icing
8. Top each cupcake with a custom Lolli-tag cupcake topper!

The final look is super custom and high-end!


Decor: $75

  • “Sand & Sea Turtle” printables ($55 Soiree Event Design Shop)
  • 2 packs blue plastic plates ($2 Dollar Tree)
  • green cups with lids & straws ($8 Dollar Tree)
  • bamboo & shell decor piece ($5 thrift shop)
  • gold and green ceramic turtle ($5 thrift shop)
  • tablecloths, white vase with green floral centerpiece, gold chargers, green plates, chairs, tables, turtle stuffed animals & large bling turtle bank ($0 already owned)

Activity #1 – Decorate Turtle Banks $22
12 turtle banks ($20 Oriental Trading)
markers ($0 already owned)
rhinestone stickers ($2 Walmart)

Activity #2 – Doodle Cookies $31
8 iced cookies ($16 Byerly’s grocery store)
edible markers ($15 Amazon)

Cake & Cupcake Display $100
ice cream cake ($21 Dairy Queen)
sugar sprinkles ($3 Byerly’s grocery store)
3D custom turtle fondant topper ($65 Edible Details)
cupcakes ($6 Super Target)
brown sugar ($2 Super Target)
silver wire fruit bowl & large white tray ($0 already owned)

Want more “Look for Less” tips and party inspiration? Click over to my blog “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Party Planning” for more party inspiration and tips!

Vendor Credit
POSTED BY:tonyaTONYA COLEMAN is a busy mother of 4 that ”LOVE LOVE LOVES” design & events! She has more than 10 years of experience in the entertainment business with a very successful graphic design studio & has been designing events for the past 5 years.

4 responses to “The Look for Less: Sand & Sea Turtle Party {Under $250!}”

  1. @PartyBlowout says:

    The Look for Less: Sand & Sea Turtle Party {Under $250!}

  2. The Look for Less: Sand & Sea Turtle Party {Under $250!}(via @HWTM_Jenn): Hostess with the Most… – #Cake Blogs

  3. Lisa Frank says:

    I always love the look of professional fondant sculptures and cookies, but just can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money! $65 for one cake topper?! I’m sure my daughter would much rather me spend that on a dollhouse or something. It is fun to splurge on those items if you have a big budget, but if you’re trying to keep costs in check, homemade treats are the way to go…or trade favors with a friend who’s good with fondant! ;) I bet the kids would love to sculpt their own toppers with marshmallow fondant, too! Party decor and activity in one! ;)

  4. Kate says:

    Though it is heavy budget but still Sand & sea turtle birthday theme sounds really interesting.Any kids would love to have birthday party like this.and that turtle on birthday cake is looking so cute.