One of our favorite things to do during the summer is to have friends over. It’s a win – win for everyone, our kids get a play date, we get to talk to other adults, everyone eats and we all have a good time. But hosting a lot of people at once can feel so overwhelming at times that you’re probably left wondering if you should even go through the trouble.
I’ve been hosting people for so long now that I’ve come out with 8 essentials tips to throw a stress-free play date, cook-our or birthday party at home. These tips not only allow me to host a stress-free party but also a party where I don’t have to prepare every single detail and that is affordable! Most importantly, these tips allow me to throw parties I can enjoy too since I’m doing excessive amounts of prep.
For this post, I partnered with Disney Parks and hosted a #NowMoreThanEver Disney play date. This means Disney was kind enough to send us the party supplies, like plates, cups, napkins, a table cloth, game ideas and a piñata. We also got some other goodies from the party sponsors: a beautiful Belle princess dress as well as a Belle doll from Jakks Pacific and a Minnie pillow from Pillow Pets.
This play date was truly stress-free and I prepared for the entire thing in one day! The week before we hosted this party we were out of town. This means when I got back I had one day to get everything I needed for this party and throw something that would be fun! To keep in simple, I did most of our shopping at Michael’s, Five Below and Costco and also got a few items on Amazon ahead of time that I knew I wouldn’t find in those stores. And then I followed these tips…
8 tips to host a stress-free party that doesn’t break the bank:
Host your party outdoors
If you have a yard then utilize it for every get-together. This way your guests will only come inside to use the restroom and your house will remain clean. This is even more important if you have little ones because a lot of little kids together can make a huge mess. I am speaking from experience here – haha!
A great way to keep little ones busy is to create different stations throughout the yard. For each party I host I have different types of stations. I stock up for the stations depending on what’s on sale when I go shopping and that’s why they’re not always the same. I usually go to Michael’s, Five Below or the Dollar Store and stock up on fun craft and activities for the party.
For this party we had the following stations:
I got party masks to color (these are always at Michael’s) and a giant PJ Masks coloring pad since the theme for our party was all things Disney.
This is really fun for the little ones but it can get messy so make sure you set this up on the grass or an area that’s easy to clean. Put your tattoos in one container and then place 2 bowls with water along with 4 sponges.
Tell the kids to dip the sponge in the bowl of water and then place on top of the tattoo for a few seconds. Warning: you might end up with some kids covered in tattoos. Haha! Our go-to tattoos for parties are these from Melissa and Doug. For this party I also got a few that were Disney themed.
Princess station and Sticker station:
Since this was a Disney play date, I also set up a princess station with fake crowns and jewelry that I got on sale during an Amazon lightening deal. We also had princess and PJ Mask stickers as well as squishies on this station that I got at Five below.
Play dough station:
For this play date I did something different. I set up a play dough station and after seeing how much the kids loved it, this is going to become a permanent addition to all our parties. I got the play dough on clearance at Marshall’s and I already had most play dough toys. I ended up getting a few more Disney themed play dough toys since this was a Disney play date.
This was the most used station of the party and the kids loved it! Keep in mind that whatever play dough you use for this will probably be unusable after your party.
Host your party between meal times
We have hosted parties during lunch time in the past and while it’s doable to do stress-free, it is a lot more work. If you want to keep things easy, host your party in between meals times, 2pm-5pm is a great time!
For our #NowMoreThanEver Disney play date we weren’t planning on serving food but earlier that day I decided that I would order pizza half-way through the party. Ordering pizza allowed things to be a lot more simpler!
However, if you want to cook the meal, my go-to is to grill chicken drumsticks and breast strips, make a huge salad, and cook a huge bag of organic green beans from Costco. I also buy the pre-assembled Mac and cheese from Costco and bake that for our guests. Keep in mind that this comes in an aluminum pan and I advise against baking your food in aluminum foil. You can simply transfer the Mac and cheese to a glass pyrex.
Serve simple healthy snacks
Our parties tend to have party snacks but with a healthy twist! I shop for most of our food items at Costco since I can get organic foods in bulk at a lower cost.
Here are some simple things you can serve:
Keep in mind most are from Costco but can be found elsewhere:
- Veggies: baby carrots, celery and cucumber sticks
- Fruit: berries and watermelon
- Organic chips with organic dips: If you have a Costco near by check out their organic dips, they are big and very affordable
- Nuts: buy them in bulk and serve them in small bowls placed through your table
- Organic snacks: I get whatever organic snacks I find in bulk at Costco. For our Disney play date I got coconut balls and Aussie bites.
As far as drinks we serve:
- Water flavored with fruit: I add slices of orange or strawberry and mint. We run fast out because the kids love it so I make sure to have extra in the fridge. You can also refill the same jar with water.
- Honest Kids juices
- LaCroix (instead of Soda)
- Beer for the adults
Use store-bought decorations
If you love making your own decorations, then you should definitively do that. But if this is something you dread, keep it simple by getting a few balloons and decorations that match your party’s theme. By having your party outside you won’t have many areas for decorations, which will make it easier.
If you don’t want to decorate your entire yard, you can set up a theme table with decorations and place the food on it.
Make an almost candy-free but fun filled piñata
Disney sent us an Elena of Avalor piñata for this party and I was so excited about it! I grew up in Costa Rica where piñatas are part of every party!
Since we like to avoid candy, I keep candy to a minimum in piñata. I usually add a big bag of organic lollipops and organic gummy snacks. The rest of the piñata is filled with little toys (you can get them in bulk on Amazon or Walmart) and other treat like Cliff bars or fruit leather.
Skip the useless toys and crappy candy on goodie bags
Although we don’t give out goodie bags for play dates or cookouts we did for this Disney play date because I wanted the kids to have something to take home. I have the same rule for goodie bags as I do for piñatas, I don’t put a lot of candy and the candy I do put it is organic. The rest of the bag is filled with little toys or one bigger toy.
For this play date I got little Disney coloring kits from Five below for each kid. They got to choose between the options you see on the picture. And I also got a little slime and squishy ball for each kid. Instead of having goodie bags for each kid, I had all the toys in a bucket and let the kids pick out one of each.
Let go of perfection
I am a perfectionist and I used to work so hard when I hosted a large group of people that I started dreading it. It was so much work and I barely enjoyed myself. With time I realized not every food has to be cooked or baked by me, not all decorations have to be handmade and not every minute of the party has to be planned.
You are hosting this party for your own enjoyment too and the moment you start feeling stressed out, you should take a step back and remind yourself to keep it simple.
Your guests are there to be with you and have a good time. A good time happens when you’re chatting and spending time together!
Sometimes we think we need to have amazing decorations, tons of activities and everything looking perfect but that is only something you should do if it brings you joy and you have the time for it. If you don’t like doing these things or don’t have much time to prepare your party, follow the tips on this post and keep it simple!
This party might not pass the Pinterest party standard but our guests had such a great time and so did I! I was able to chat with our friends, the kids played a lot, they loved all the stations and some of our close friends even ended up staying for dinner because we were having such a good time.
So let go of perfection, prepare your party in a way that’s enjoyable and make sure you too have a good time!