to save money, the best way is to go to Evite.com. It's easy, free, you can keep track of RSVP's, you can send messages to the guests in case of updates needed. For example, we were going to celebrate Will's birthday party at a park, but that day it was going to be 100 degrees so we decided to switch it to our place, we have a big common open area with patio furniture and people were going to be able to go to the pool for a swim. If we had send printed invitations I would've had to email, text or phone each individual to make sure they knew about the change of location, with Evite.com I was able to send everyone a general message.
Pick a theme (before you send out the invitations)
We picked Mickey Mouse because Will loves him and also because there are tons of ideas on the Internet about this theme and there are more options for this theme at places like Walmart and Target, although we found nothing at the Dollar Tree or 99 cents store unfortunately. We bought the table cloths, the plates and napkins at Target and we used red cups and forks we had left from last year's party. Evite had a Mickey Mouse themed invitation so that was great!
Pick the food.
We choose hot dogs because that seemed to go well with the MM theme and because it was affordable and everyone likes them. We did a hot dog bar, chips and dips and a fruit salad. Most of the food we got at Costco and it was very inexpensive. We did smal bowls with things to put on top of the hot dog: chopped olives, blue cheese sauce/dressing, cheese, show string potato chips, onions and the regular condiments. You can add as much as you want.
Pick the cake and sweet treats.
You can do a small cake and other sweet treats, or a bigger cake, depending on the number of guests. Our cake turned out to be huge, because we made the oreo pops and bought cupcakes from Pavilions (10 x 5.99 and you can ask the color of frosting you want, we went with red and added a cupcake topper with MM head we found at Michael's) so the kids were full by the time we gave them cake.
We also had a bowl full of M&Ms.
Pick decorations, try to save as much money on this end.
Target, Walmart, etc. We did tons and tons of balloons, we bought cheap decorations from Target and we decorated the cake stand with crepe paper from Target as well.
For the Hot dog bar I bought some clip art from Etsy for $2, it was the condiments labels and the Hot Diggty Hot Dog bar signed and I printed it at Staples for .59 cents each page. It turned out super cute and I don't think it was too much money.
We bought black, yellow and red paper at Michael's, the big sheet one like poster paper? I can't figure out the name, and we made hats with MM ears and headbands with ears for everyone to wear. I think it added a really nice touch for little money.
We bought red paper bags at Party City for a few cents each.
We bought candy and toys at Party City as well. We had to buy for 10 boys and girls so we got:
5 Mickey Mouse packs of pencils
5 Minnie Mouse packs of pencils - I beliebe these were no more than .50 cents each.
5 MM red cameras
5 MM pink cameras
5 pink bubble bottles
5 red and 5 pink chocolate coins, 15 for a dollar.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse candy boxes.
I added two white buttons to the goody bags and my mom added 2 black ears to them. Adorable.
If you see people are wandering and don't know what to do, then by all means open presents, or plan some games to have up your sleeve. I took Will's toys out and all the kids were playing and sharing (some not so much, but there was enough for everyone) and when they got tired my bro in law and hubby set up a baby theater in the living room and most littles ended up on the sofa watching Paw Patrol while the adults talked outside. It was super fun and chill.