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parties in a pinch: quick and easy first birthday party

{Quick Note from HWTM} We are thrilled to have Rachel Scott from RV Parties here today as our newest guest contributor, kicking off an exciting new series — Parties in a Pinch! It’s easy to feel a lot of pressure to put together a Pinterest-perfect event and then become overwhelmed by the planning process. Rachel’s advice will equip you with some tips and tricks to help you pull off a special, memorable party — in a pinch! Take it away, Rachel…

One of my favorite sayings is: It can be good, cheap or fast, but it can’t be all three. This can definitely be applied to party planning!

This series will highlight how to throw a party that’s GOOD and either fast or cheap. (If you figure out how to throw party that’s all 3 — let me know!) First up? A good party that’s FAST. (For the sake of this post, we’re going to assume that a good party is one that has a bit of the wow-factor and makes the guest of honor feel celebrated.)

first birthday party decor and signs

My baby turned one a few days after we moved cross country. As a party planner, I couldn’t bear to miss the chance to celebrate him, but our house was in shambles and there wasn’t time to put together a huge bash like I normally would. The most important thing? Celebrating this sweet boy and a full year with him. And the other most important thing — getting a few pictures so that he’ll know he’s loved when he’s big enough to care!

Make sure to read below for some tips on how you too can put together a fast, memorable party.

simple and quick birthday party kids tablescape

first birthday smash cupcake display

first birthday smash cupcake photos

first birthday family photo



1. Stay off Pinterest. When I started working on the party all I wanted to do was sit for hours and curate an impeccable Pinterest board for the party. Maybe do that a little–but the more you look at Pinterest, the more you are going to feel the need to go overboard! That makes it hard to keep it simple. Simple is lovely! I kept getting awesome crazy ideas and even though it killed me to rein it in — I chose to file them away for next time.

2. Pick a theme that’s easy. Shop your home first! Think about recent parties that you still may have decorations from that you can reuse. Choose colors that you may have an abundance of in your home. If your guest of honor loves trains — grab trains from around the house for the decor. I was able to poke around through old decorations and find a bunch of stuff in the house that would be perfect. (Granted, I throw a lot of parties…) But if you just walk around house and collect items in your color scheme you’ll have a good start in putting something together.

3. Instant Downloads. Your best friend for decorations? Instant downloads on Etsy. Search for “instant download _________” with your theme and you’ll find a bunch of cute things. After you’ve paid and downloaded your goodies–call your local print shop and get an email address to send your files to. Most stores have websites you can upload files too–and most of them are terrible. Emailing them in saves you a trip and a lot of time! Most decorations can be assembled with scissors and a glue gun. Keep in mind that you are the only one who will notice if things aren’t perfect — so get things put together and move on!

4. Shop quickly. Give yourself an hour to find as much decor as you can at whatever stores are convenient for you — Target, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Party City… Stores are starting to carry lots of great party goods as planning parties becomes more fun! Using “store bought” decorations no longer equates to something tacky! You can find cute straws, bunting and decor just about anywhere. Grab items in your color scheme and get going!

5. Make it personal. I love photo banners, I think they are such a sweet way to celebrate a year going by. Upload the pictures to your favorite local photo printer’s website and grab the prints while you are out shopping! Quick and easy wall decor.

6. Buy some treats. Don’t feel bad serving store bought goodies! Walk down the candy aisle and look for candy in your colors — swing by a bakery and see if you can find any treats that match! If all else fails, go with white. You can always dress up a cupcake with printables to make them tie in!

7. Have fun. At the end of the day, a party is about celebrating a moment in a loved one’s life! Remember that, and celebrate. Our shop’s slogan is that parties should be fun and that includes the planning process. Don’t stress — just put together something that will make your guest feel loved, and enjoy. You don’t need a fancy dessert table and elaborate backdrop to make a party a success. All you need is a few decorations, some sugar, and some of your guest’s favorite people to celebrate.

This party’s invitation can be found in the RV Parties shop here. Thanks so much Rachel for all of your helpful tips! Let us know what you think about this new series + anything that you’d like to see more of.