Updated: As I prepare for this year’s Easter Egg Hunt, I want to reshare some of the awesomeness that happened last year around here!
Hello Happy Readers! I wanted to go into detail about something that’s been a fairly popular search topic for this blog, my party planning techniques. As I’ve mentioned before, we host 3 large scale parties a year for Geekling’s friends. We have an Easter egg hunt in April, his birthday party in June, and a Halloween party in October. My goal for these parties is always to make them fun for the kids, easy for their parents, and maintain a reasonable budget (although Happy Daddy and I might differ on our definition of “reasonable budget).
The first place I always suggest people start is with a theme. Themes can do a lot for your party planning, usually making it a good deal easier. Themes can help you determine the main activities, the time of day, the location, and if you want to get very detailed, the menu as well. They can also take a regular event and give it that little extra push that leaves people saying “wow… what a fun party.”
Our Easter egg hunt, which I try to do a few weeks before Easter, is always the simplest of our parties. No large scale decorating, simple finger foods, and lots of sunshine our are main ingredients. I make sure we have sufficient eggs for all the kids to feel like they found plenty, and I try my hardest to not ply them with too much sugar. Hahaha, no, I kid, that’s totally not true, there is plenty of sugar to go around, although I do use other fillers too.
In order to keep each party in a reasonable budget I utilize some creative shopping, as well as allot plenty of time for inexpensive handmade details. I typically start shopping for egg fillers in the Valentine’s clearance section. I almost always have little mini bottles of bubbles in some of the eggs, stickers or tattoos are favorites, and this year stretchy sticky bugs were a big hit. I round this out with goldfish crackers or teddy grahams, m&m’s, jelly beans, and mini rubber ducks for the younger crowd. This was the first year we had a separate hunt for the young ones, and we had the older group hide the eggs for them.
This year on fillers, paper products, drinks, and cupcake supplies I spent roughly $100. A big part of being able to keep the cost low is recycling eggs. Every year the kids empty their goodies out of their eggs, and toss the eggs back into the basket to be used again the next year. In the basket are 140 eggs for the big kids, the little ones have 30 eggs in the plastic bag. Many of these eggs are 3rd or 4th generation
Drinks, sandwiches (along with delicious bread bowl dip that the Bestie is required to make for all functions forever and ever), and cheetos were the main food attractions, simple works, trust me! Sandwich fixin’s and a last minute purchase of a couple cans of frosting cost about $40 (bless you, Publix, for always having BOGOS when I need them), and that was the entirety of the budget for the egg hunt this year. Previous years have been more, or less, depending on what we served, how many were coming, and what needed to be bought vs. what we already had.
These Peeps cupcakes were back by popular demand this year. They’re not quite as elaborate as previous years, but the kids always love them. Last year I made a really pretty, delicious cake instead, and have spent the last year listening to Geekling wax poetic about all the reasons that Peeps cupcakes are required eating at an egg hunt.
I decided that this year the main activity aside from egg hunting would be painting, something not all the kids get to do very often, as most parents have a much healthier amount of respect for their floors and walls than I do. I had many of the supplies on hand, but did borrow some paint brushes and smocks, along with 3 or 4 colors of paint we did not already have in our (ridiculous) collection, from my homeschool group art box. However, on a smaller scale, you can totally do it just with a regular pack of brushes. Geekling got a good pack of roughly 20 brushes from Santa for Christmas ($5 or so at JoAnn’s after a coupon), and without my “go big or go home” mentality those would have worked just fine. For our palettes I cut a rough shape out of regular paper plates (doubled up to be safe) from Target. Incidentally, we were using those same cheap paper plates to eat off of, you can see them featured next to the sandwiches. Everybody can even bring their own art smock (aka old white t-shirt) and brushes if they have them to share. Here’s a fun tip from your friendly once upon a time preschool teacher- in a pinch, a garbage bag works great as an art smock. Cut a hole for the head, two for the arms, and voila, instant art smock/poncho/fashionable mini dress. Just make sure you’re always there supervising the kid wearing the trash bag, and that you help them put it on and take it off. The bonus to full coverage smocks as opposed to aprons, is when you have multiple children of varying ages, the trick is not keeping them from painting on themselves, but keeping them from painting on OTHERS.
Clothespins, heavy white construction paper, and a chain link fence make the perfect easel. Paper cups pinned to the fence make brush holders.
Not counting planning, shopping, or cleaning (and in this particular case, putting the house back together from renovations), party prep for Easter and Halloween takes me roughly 10 hours. This includes baking time for cupcakes, filling eggs, setting up the house (both the evening before and morning of), cutting out cute little palettes that nobody cared about, and last minute food prep, etc. Happy Daddy is invaluable with last minute grocery store runs, making sure I’ve eaten something besides cupcake batter and diet coke, yard set up, and putting out all the food while I run around having a last minute panic attack.
Our parties are definitely a labor of love, and while they cause some stress during the few days before, on the whole I really enjoy doing them. Geekling and I have chatted in the past about maybe not doing them, since when I get stressed I tend to be a yeller, but he happily told me after this latest one that it was worth mommy being cranky AND having to clean his room. I take that as mighty high praise.
So that’s our version of the Easter Egg Hunt, hope you guys enjoyed, and I look forward to sharing the craziness that is a birthday party around these parts soon.