South Shore Breaker

Hosting a memorable party on a budget

- GINA BELL eastcoastm­ @Saltwirene­twork Gina Bell is a mother of three and can be found online at www.eastcoastm­

Two of my three sons have birthdays in July, so summer always puts me in party planning mode.

Summer is also the time of year when many families and friends come together, so it’s the perfect time for celebratio­ns. Today, I’m sharing my best tips for planning a memorable party on a budget.

Décor – When it comes to décor, I like to choose items that go with the party theme.

Start by choosing a cohesive colour scheme and picking up a few things at the dollar store. Streamers and balloons are simple and effective but adding some unique DIY details will make it extra special. For example, use a pool noodle garland to decorate for a pool party or a prize ticket garland for a carnival themed gathering.

Games and activities – Every party needs entertainm­ent, so it’s important to give guests something fun to do. Activities should be based on the ages and interests of the party-goers. Options include crafts, karaoke, a movie, sports, carnival games, bingo, swimming, etc.

Photo booth – In this age of selfies and social media, a photo booth is a fantastic addition to any party. Set up a backdrop (by covering pieces of dollar store foam boards with wrapping paper), set out a basket of props, and let guests be creative. You can also encourage friends and family to use a common hashtag so they can enjoy all the guests’ photos after the party.

Food – Food is the centrepiec­e of any good party and I love serving food that looks as good as it tastes. My favourite tips and tricks are to serve food in a variety of containers and at different heights, colour co-ordinate food, use fun (punny) labels, serve food in individual (single portion) containers, and/or embrace the party theme. For example, set up a concession stand at a carnival themed party, a s’more bar at a camping party or a “Honeydukes Sweet

Shop” at a Harry Potter movie night.

Cake – Every celebratio­n needs a cake or cupcakes and they don’t need to be fancy. They are easy to serve, they add a festive flair to a table and everyone loves dessert. To make a simple homemade cake that is sure to impress, add colourful candies or chocolates and a banner hanging from paper straws.

Party favours – Children love winning prizes and getting treat bags, but adults enjoy receiving free goodies too. I think a good party favour is inexpensiv­e, useful, memorable and goes with the party theme. For example, I hosted a carnival party for my boys and at the end of the party we handed out bags of microwave popcorn with a note that said, “Thank you for popping by.” I think this simple favour would work well for a movie night too.

The pandemic caused the cancellati­on of countless important events, so it’s heartwarmi­ng to see people starting to plan parties again. I hope you get a bit of inspiratio­n from my party planning tips and add a few memorable and budget-friendly DIY details to your summer celebratio­n.

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