Tea Party for Three: Tulle + Toddlers
The older I get, the more I like to create. However, the older I get, the more responsibilities I have. Fabulous, beautiful, rewarding responsibilities, but alas, responsibilities.
I have found that hosting a party is my outlet. However, my mom has urged me to watch my margins and not commit to putting too many on my calendar! Well I listened and decided to throw my oldest sweet pea a "low key" tea party with her input. She wanted a princess tea party but I had to draw the line for my sanity and my budget.
The idea was just to have her closest friends over, set some cute place settings for tea and call it a fun, girly day. That was a GREAT idea until I sat down to write down who to invite limiting it to girls right around her age. Well, my baby girl is blessed to have at least 15 little girls to call friends. So what started as just one humble little party table that would take me about 30 minutes to throw together turned into using my dining room, coffee, and kids table in three different rooms. I had good intentions to start off simple. Things just happen! Sorry mom!
My trick to planning parties is to start out super early (months or weeks ahead) when I have energy or an idea captures my attention. I go on a little frenzy and find discount decor (Homegoods is my go to for inspiration I can afford and return if I change my mind) and then put a short plan together for the event including pulling some pins for food. Food is hard for me. I try so hard to cook and prep but it is always the hardest part of entertaining for me. I have learned to keep it basic.
For toddlers at 10:30 am in the morning I didn't have to have lunch. I found gluten free macaroons and shortbread cookies at Homegoods. I did luke warm tea, lemonade or water for drinks. The only actual prep for food I did was muffins (my adorable babysitter let my daughter make them) and strawberry raisin bread toast (made first thing in the morning). The cake was ordered completely plain from my local bakery (petit fours were way too expensive although so pretty). I found mix and match tea cups and saucers over the course of a few months at Homegoods as well. It took visiting a few locations to get a good variety.
Since I had the party at home and didn't have to pay any fees like I would at another venue, I made the tea cups and tea pots my little girl's heirloom third birthday gift. I was working on a concept Forever Blanket and made that her gift as well as she transitions to a big girl bed. I am so excited to see years and years of parties, afternoon snacks and play dates with both my girls enjoying the adorable tea sets I found.
Everything I found for her party was on sale or clearance. That is my rule in life. I can do things fancy, but they have to be bargains. The best thing about a tea party theme is the ability to dumb it down or make it fancy, depending on your preferences, kids, space, and budget. We've already shared a pot of tea together post birthday. That is the real magic that has transpired since celebrating my little lady...another excuse to spend time with my baby girl who is growing up faster than my heart can follow.
I have one thing left to do though (besides put all this stuff up!). In place of traditional favors, I had each mom address an envelope and since we had a fancy photo booth for the toddlers, I will be sending out a printed photo of each girl as a thank you gift and hopefully, invaluable keepsake. How's that for saying goodbye to material things!
A few things I learned from this experience:
- If you have an affordable photographer in your area, hire them! Last year all I did was try to capture the Puppy Pawty 2nd Birthday since no one in my family is much of a photographer and I feel like I missed the fun. Stephanie Madison Photography did an amazing job! And was so fast!
- Don't overdo food, three year olds don't need a ton of sugar (oops).
- Start setup a week ahead. I laid out the place settings and played with the tulle I found on clearance at Joann's to see where things would go and if I needed anything else.
- Invest in a handmade party dress. I let Isla pick out the color and materials for her dress while at Joann's along with the pattern. My seamstress in house made both girls gorgeous matching dresses sized so they can wear them more than once.
- Use your assets! My mom is an Atlanta event florist. All those gorgeous blooms were actually an entire week old and had been sitting in her flower cooler from an older event. I didn't pay a dime for flowers. Lucky me!!! Thanks mom.
In case you see something that catches your fancy, details at the end of the post!
- Invitations: Designed to print by San Francisco Crafts and printed at Costco
- Dresses: Joann's Tea Length Party Dress Pattern, Tulle from clearance rack except top layer
- Tulle on Tables: Clearance rack at Joann's
- Ribbon chandelier (not sure if pictured): Discount ribbons at Michael's, leftover tulle from dresses, sewing hoop from Joann's
- Tea pots, tea cups and saucers, flower plates, etc. all came from various HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx stores in Atlanta area
- Front Door Wreath: Half off at Michael's
- Photo booth lace: Old curtains from my mom, heirloom chair of my grandmothers
- Photo booth jewelry: My cousin owns an adorable costume jewelry shop called Swell Caroline and let us borrow the pearls and beaded necklaces.
- Cake Flowers: 40% faux flowers from Michaels - spray roses, garden roses and peony cut down off stems. Took 5 minutes to decorate cake and less than $10.
- Flower Crowns: Handmade by my mom's flower shop, www.gingerlilyevents.com