My daughter Scout’s birthday party was a very simple, last minute celebration that was pulled together on a shoestring. Like every little girl she wanted a dinosaur party. Wait, what? Yeah, a green dinosaur party, so… hmmm. Actually technically it was a “scary dinosaur, T-Rex party”. I was corrected on many an occasion.
Being the crazy over-commiter I am – the concept of just chucking together a party in less than a week made me break out in a cold sweat. But then I remember that most people don’t make, craft, blog and plan every little detail and I actually just needed to get over myself.
How to plan a last minute party
1. Create a Pinterest pinboard and limit yourself to 30 mins to get ideas. Only pin things you can do easily and that you can afford. Make it snappy – let the wine-inspired Pinterest deep-dives happen on a boring Friday night, now is not the time.
2. Decide exactly what you are going to do. Keeping to a colour theme can really help draw everything together, but don’t be too strict. I went with black and green (loosely)
3. Lock it in. We all know what happens when something changes direction at the last minute.
4. Schedule what you are going to do and when then write it down. Like this: Wednesday – freeze dino eggs, Thursday – bake and freeze cake, Friday morning – make cupcakes, etc.
5. Try to get everything done before the morning of the party. Do this and you may actually be able to put on some make-up or brush your hair before the guests arrive.
6. Oh yeah, outsource. If you have awesome parents that stay over the night before and take the kids to the park that morning so you can get it all done – that’s awesome. If not then think about what you can outsource. Can a friend bring food instead of a gift?
Put things in the lollie bags that are individually wrapped and not melty so you can just make them and tuck them away in the cupboard days or weeks before the party. Kids can do this themselves. Scout was only three and she made sure there was one of each lolly, toy dinosaur, balloon and sticker in each bag with minimal supervision from me.
We decided on Sunday that we were going to have a party in 7 days so we went out that day, bought everything we needed from a cheap shop and had the bags made that afternoon. I bought brown paper bags, some black contact, a circle cutter and some neon builders’ twine. Simple. If you keep the lolly bag colours within the party theme, they can be part of the decoration and flesh out the table.
Decorations and Food
Focus on decorating one table and leave it at that. It creates a great focal point and takes minimal time and effort. Our table consisted of a tablecloth, the world’s most simple cake, party popcorn, green jelly with a little chocolate ‘dinosaur egg’ in the middle, party hats, the lolly bags, a balloon backdrop inspired by the AMAZING Pink Ronnie and a bunch of dinosaur toys from the toy box.
I’m guilty of going a tad overboard when it comes to party baking but sometimes, when you get up at 5am to create cake pops that take about 15 minutes per-pop and you see some kid take a bite, get sidetracked then leave it stuck to a napkin you can get a bit, well, stabby.
Since having two kids I actually couldn’t be assed. So no crazy fondant, layer cake for Scouty-pants. I made the cake Wednesday, chucked it in the freezer then iced it on Saturday night. This is a great way to go as you can actually make and freeze it up to a month before the party (so long as it’s sealed well in glad wrap.)
Buying plastic toys to decorate your cake is the best cheat’s way out. The dinosaur had a party hat on, inspired by Bleubird’s boy’s cake and the added mini bunting, inspired by this cake, was made by me. It would have been really simple to buy some pre-rolled fondant to use as icing but although it would have given it a professional look, no one likes eating fondant so I just whipped up some butter cream.
Try this: Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting Recipe
Oh yeah and for the cake USE PACKET MIX PEOPLE! Kids don’t care about your white chocolate ganache – I promise you that!
Choose simple party activities. We did a pinata (not made by me – shock horror) and some frozen dinosaur eggs for the kids to break open on the ground. I just put dinosaur figurines ($3 for 15 for the discount shop) in a muffin tray and filled it with water then bunged it in the freezer.
There was also pass-the-parcel. I did it the cheat’s way because as the party was last minute we had no Idea how many kids were coming when we were putting it together. It’s just a box full of individual packages that can be passed around, no layers, no remembering where you’re at, etc. Thanks to my sister for that priceless little tip.
There you have it, a super quick, super easy last minute dinosaur party that cost hardly anything. Here is the birthday girl, hiding in her bedroom with her pinata winnings. Birthdays are full on! Happy birthday, little lady. We love you even more than you love dinosaurs.
This party is a modified version of a post that first appeared on Patchwork Cactus.
More dinosaur fun:
- DIY Plywood Dinosaur Art: Bam!!!
- Play to Go: Dinosaurs and Other Portable Play Tub Ideas
- Small Worlds: Dinosaur Play Time
Images: Barbara O’Reilly