Birthdays in my house are always over the top. I go all out for my three kids because I believe childhood is meant to be fun, and I know I’m not alone in this belief.
I’m pretty sure I have some issues leftover from my childhood and celebrating my birthday five days before Christmas probably didn’t help any. So often people will say to me, “Here’s your birthday AND your Christmas present.” Sigh. Never mind that I never said that to any friend or family member born in June!
Out of my craziness for making birthdays feel extra special, an idea was born. I call it a Deconstructed Party Bag. In a nutshell, a Deconstructed Party Bag (DPB for short) is everything a kid would expect to find in his or her party bag but is not actually in a bag — it’s haphazardly, but thoughtfully, laid out on a table in full view of guests.
I have never been a DIYer and this is about as close as I’m going to get to being ‘crafty.’ I know some moms who sew their own mermaid costumes and lederhosen but I’m not that person, so I do what I can.
What I’m good at is buying things, just ask my husband! And creating Deconstructed Party Bags has a heavy buying component to it. The “bags” are perfect for the non-crafty mom to pull off an amazing birthday for a child.
Below, I will tell you step-by-step how to make your own DPB. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it will impress the hell out of your kids. It’s like a very easy treasure hunt. You hunt for things to buy and the kids hunt for things on the table to put into their party bags.
Although it’s completely doable to collect everything needed for the table in a day or two, I recommend starting about two weeks before the party date in order to discover the most creative items for the guests. Once I’ve let my imagination run free, it’s amazing what I’ve been able to come up with!
Step 1: Ask your child what 2–3 colors they like. Their answer will determine the entire theme for the DPB table.
Step 2: Set a budget for yourself because it’s very easy to go completely overboard (just look at my pictures ;-).
Step 3: Begin the search for age appropriate items that can go on the table. Party City is a great place to start since they have so many options in the specific colors for your theme. But I also found great doodads in the $1 section at Target, and at The Dollar Store.
I list everything you see on these two tables in the notes below. The pink table was for a 16 year old girl and the blue table was for a 14 year old girl. Yes, they’re probably too old for this kind of nonsense but they humored their old mom.
Step 4: Choose what you will use as the tablecloth. In the pink picture, I went to the fabric store and bought bright pink, furry fabric. It was visually stunning. Nobody expects to see pink fur on a table! I didn’t have to hem it or anything so no actual DIY skills were needed other than measuring the table and adding some additional inches to allow the fabric to hang over the table.
One year, I used tulle as the tablecloth and attached beautiful handmade butterflies to the netting.
Step 5: Choose the party bag — and it doesn’t have to be an actual bag. Use your imagination. Why not find something useful like a flower pot or an unfinished wooden box from Michael’s?
On the pink table, I used acrylic boxes I found at Party City, and on the blue table, I chose blue buckets for the guests to fill.
Step 6: On the day of the party, gather all your purchased items that are going on the table and lay them out somewhere so that you can see everything you have. You may decide at this point that you don’t have enough and may need one more trip to the store, or if you’re like me, you’ll see that you have way too much! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve returned party bag stuff so be sure to keep the receipts.
Step 7: If you have a centerpiece, install that first. The centerpiece in the blue/purple/white theme is a white feather boa with purple and silver decorations placed in the middle and filled in with a giant bag of Hershey’s kisses.
Step 8: Place the party bags (or whatever you’re using) in the spots where the kids will be seated.
Step 9: Put all the big items on the table before anything else. You can place them at random spots on the table, or line them up in a more controlled fashion.
Step 10: Fill in around the big items with everything small and/or flexible like glitter, candy, and beaded necklaces.
Step 11: View your handiwork with a sharp eye, and make any changes you need. Now is also the step where you get to stand back and admire all your hard work!
When every birthday guest arrives, they will no doubt immediately be drawn to the table and will look wide-eyed at all the booty. After all the fun and games of the party are over, and the day is winding down, gather the guests around the table and instruct them to fill up their own party bags. I usually tell the kids that everyone gets one of each of the bigger items but the candy is open season. Funny how kids love to hear that!
Deconstructed Party Bags are a greatly anticipated experience by each of my three girls. I think your kids will love this very different idea for a birthday, too.
I don’t see why this unique idea couldn’t be used for an adult party, too. The chosen items would obviously be very different from a child’s party, but you could have a lot of fun picking out things for friends to take home.
Large items to buy for the table: Silly string, stuffed animals, Play-doh or other modeling clay, crowns, squishy animals, bubbles, duct tape, balls that light up, wands, light up wands, body puffs, masks, socks, beaded necklaces and bracelets, candy necklaces, giant sunglasses, lip gloss, nail polish, hand cream, seeds to plant, hair clips, small games, yoyo’s, wind-up toys, decorative fans, Slinky’s, small toy cars, markers, crayons, etc., etc., etc.
Small items to buy to fill in around the big stuff: Hershey’s kisses, chocolate coins, bubble gum balls, Pop Rocks, jelly beans, Smartees, lollipops, colored and shaped glitter, M&Ms, and marbles (if age appropriate).
Anything you dream up, the sky’s the limit!
Day 7 of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge I dared myself to start (and finish).