Upon the birth of One Weddings, I was sort of surprised to get emails asking "Do you do birthday parties/anniversary parties/bridal showers/vow renewals?" The answer is YES! While we specialize in weddings, we can certainly plan or coordinate other parties! Weddings are typically on a larger scale than other family get-togethers, but, many elements are the same! You still need a venue (even if it's someone's house), food (whether catered or prepared), and occasionally vendors (like a DJ, photographer, or Bartender) are still contracted.
I recently had the pleasure of planning a surprise birthday party for the biggest fan of One Weddings, my mom! My mom LOVES surprises and we really wanted to celebrate and honor her for her big 5-0! I wanted to feature the party on the blog so everyone could see that our skill goes far beyond weddings.
For any event, a budget must first be determined. While I certainly wanted this party to be so special for my mom, I knew what was most important to her was celebrating with her friends and family. I did not want to go crazy with the budget, so I DIY-ed all I could and asked for help where needed!
Once the budget was set, I began to search for a venue. My biggest piece of advice for planners searching for a venue is to not be afraid to ask for a discount or if there are any cheaper options available. I called over 10 places, from apartment clubhouses, reception venues, and Columbus Metro Parks. Once I settled on a park setting, I asked the Metro Park Reservation Staff is there were any cheaper options, and there was one! Apparently, there was a park that was recently acquired by Columbus Metro Parks, so they were renting the shelters at that park for half price! It never hurts to ask for a discount or cheaper option; the worst someone can say is "no".
After the budget, venue, and guest list was determined, I focused on the food. To maintain the budget I set for the party, I chose to make most of the food myself. I wanted to keep the food as simple as possible to save time and money, but, I know guests always remember the food, so it still had to be tasty! This crowd of 30 plus was the biggest I'd prepared food for, so this was a new experience for me!
Here is the menu I settled on:
Food: deviled eggs, pasta salad, turkey and Cheese pinwheels, guacamole, salsa, and chips, jalapeno corn dip, caprese bites, Sub sandwiches, fruit kabobs, and Watermelon. I chose food that I didn't have to be kept warm and that was appropriate for our park venue. I also considered items I had in my pantry or things I could get cheap or free! I always have ingredients for pie crust in my pantry, I get free eggs from a friend who raises chickens, and I stock up on pasta noodles and tortilla chips when I find them on sale.
For drinks, we had bottled water, homemade strawberry lemonade, berry lemonade, and root beer floats.
We had three dessert choices: strawberry cheesecake bites, devils food cake, and cherry pie.
I made about 90 % of the food and drinks to save money. If you do not have the time to prepare the food yourself, catering is a good option, it just requires a larger budget.
I chose gold as the party color/theme, but I kept the decor to a minimum. We had gold balloons, streamers, cupcake liners, straws, and a few gold serving trays and accent pieces. I purchased a few of the items, and I borrowed some from friends! Luckily, my good friend was planning a black and gold Bridal Shower for the following weekend and let me borrow some decor!
Even more than surprises, my mom loves games. I planned two games for her surprise party: the first was 'Fifty Things About Mary' and the second was 'The Price is Right'. In the first game, guests had to try to answer fifty facts about my mom, from the time she was born to the make and model of the current car. Obviously I had to do some digging to get the answers! For the second game, the guests played in teams and had to guess the price of 10 items in the year my mom was born. Each team had to try to guess closest to the actual price without going over. Games are always more fun when there are prizes to be won, BUT prizes do not have to be expensive or extravagant! The winner of the first game got a small chalkboard easel that I purchased at Michael's (it was discounted to $4!). The team that won the second game got candy in cardboard strawberry crates. People just like to win something! And, if there are prizes, you don't have to have party favors.
The party turned out wonderful: everyone enjoyed the food, the guests loved the games, and best of all, my mom was completely surprised! For any of the recipes, details on the venue, copies of the games, or for help planning your own party, please comment on this post or contact me on the website!