Friday, June 22, 2012

Decorating for a Party on a Dime (First Communion celebration for my family) - Part 1

I am sorry for being absent from my blog for quite a while; a lot has been going on around my house lately. It started with my daughter's First Communion, then in a moment of insanity I decided to partake in my first 5km race, mix in two kids with strep throat, add a dash of a crazy work schedule and squash all that with major outdoor renovation project and you have one woman who feels like she is going to explode!

Well I am happy to say that life seems to be slowing down, so I hope to share some of the projects we have been working on.

For starters, I am going to show you how I managed to prepare for my daughter's first communion celebration on a serious decorating budget. I know, I do everything on a budget, but since we have hired a landscaping company to redo our entire front(I mean rip almost everything from our front yard out and start from scratch), we are now on a really tight budget. I hate paying people to do any work but this was a huge project. I will show you pictures of the front once it is finally done. Our landscaper's 2 1/2 week project plan has been going non-stop since April 23rd. So two months and counting.

Back to my party decorating on a dime! So when we started to prepare for our daughter's First Communion, she picked the colors she wanted to use - light and dark pink and purple. It really reminded me of Easter but it was her choice. I refused to buy any pre-made, over-priced, First Communion decorations, so I ventured over to my favorite inspiration sites...Etsy, Pinterest to see what people were selling. Of course, much of what you can buy for a ridiculous price you can make for next to nothing! So that is what we did.

So I set out to make the following decorations, with a very limited budget:
  • Paper garlands (my cost $0)
  • Tissue pom poms (my cost $5)
  • Fancier plastic table cloths (my cost $1)
  • Cross name art (my cost $1) (Separate post - Decorating for a Party on a Dime - Part 2)
  • Gifts for our guests (my cost $2.50 each) (Separate post - Decorating for a Party on a Dime - Part 3)

Tissue pom poms (in various sizes and colors) - $5 for over 30 pom poms

These tissue pom poms sell on Etsy for various prices, but average at about $4 per large pom pom. I am honestly shocked anyone would buy these on Etsy, not only because of the price but they come closed! Opening these things up is the majority of the work involved in making them!

But I am happy to say, if you know how to make them, you can create large colored pom poms for around $0.25 each and you can make white ones for around $0.20 each! (My Dollar store sells larger packaged of white tissue for $1.)  When you but them in half to make smaller ones, you get double the pom poms - so 2 colored for $0.25.

Materials needed:
  • Tissue paper (various colors)
  • Floral wire or pipe cleaner

These are not new in the crafting world and I have been making them for every party since my daughter was a baby. But for those of you who have not made them before, you will be shocked at how easy they are.

I don't know who the original creator of these is, but you can find full instructions on Martha Stewart's site here.  I make them a little differently then how Martha does it. I use 5 or 6 sheets for the big (full length tissue paper) size and use 4 or 5 sheets for the small (half width/full length tissue paper) size. Tip: be sure to have extra wire/pipe cleaner when you secure the middle so you can hang the pom poms with it. 

My daughter and I made over 30 tissue pom poms in various sizes and colors and hung them all over the main floor of the house. We did some with rounded tips, pointed tips, full length/width of tissue and some half width/full length. You can hang them in clusters or by themselves.

Grand total for all of them was $5 (since I had floral wire on hand).
 I have made them with multiple colors of tissue paper within the same pom pom I.e. I use 1 sheet of green tissue on the outside, then 3 sheets of orange(or pink, purple etc) and two yellows on the inside. Once opened up it looks like a flower. Or you can alternate colors and they look adorable. They are cheap, so play around with them.

Circle and cross garlands - $0 (I had the everything on hand)

These circle garlands sell for $1 per foot on Etsy! I used some cheap paper I had from Michael's, in colors me daughter liked, to make these for nothing. I added some crosses so it was First Communion related, but you can make them with flowers, circles, ovals, or any shape you want.

Materials needed:
  • Paper - cut into desired shape
  • Sewing machine with matching thread

I cut out circles and crosses in various sizes on various colors/patterns using my Cricut. If you don't have a Cricut or Silhouette, you can use some punches or a pair of scissors and make your own shapes.

Once you have a big pile of cut shapes, pull out your sewing machine. Load a thread and bobbin in matching colors, set your stitch to a straight stitch and start sewing. You literally just run your needle right through the middle of the paper and then keep going to make about an inch of thread in between each piece of paper.
You can't mess this craft up! Even if you can't sew a straight line, you don't have to worry about this. To be honest with you, I did not sew a single strand of daughter did them all herself. It took us one evening of cutting and sewing, in front of the TV, and we had more than enough to decorate the house.
We probably made 40 or 50 feet of this garland, so I guess I saved $50 plus shipping.

Lacy edge plastic table cover-$1 each

I got this idea from Cupcakes and Cutlery here. She took a plastic table cover, cut it into strips and stretch the edges to make it look lacy. The result was an amazing ruffle garland. She then did the same thing to the edge of a plastic table cover. So cute and so cheap!

Materials needed:
Plastic table cover from the Dollar Store
Two hands :)

I won't recreate what Cupcakes and Cutlery had to say so here it is:

" Basically you will want to put the plastic in one hand between your thumb and pointer finger and hold the plastic the same way in the other hand right next to the first hand.  And pull your thumbs away from each other.  Give it a test so you can figure out how much and how far you should stretch it.  The good thing about these is that they are never going to come out exactly the same as the last stretch so variety is fine.  Also, you will tear the plastic once in a while.  As long as you haven't torn it clear through to the other side, it is also fine. The tear sort of ruffles as well and blends in."
 It really is adorable and for $1 I could not be happier.

I will have a couple more Decorating for a Party on a Dime posts to share; here is a sneak peak at the next two decorations I made.

Cross Name Art - $1

 Celtic knot etched jars filled with gourmet jelly beans (gifts as the guest)  - $2.50 per guest

Do you have any frugal party decorations you like to use? Do you tend to decorate more or less as your kids get older?

Have a great day!


  1. Stephanie, Thanks for sharing such great ideas. I LOVE your tablecloth trick!
    Tami @ Curb Alert!

  2. Wow, that's a lot of decorating. I guess I save money by not decorating much for celebrations (but then I spend on the food ingredients).

  3. Sorry about my earlier comment. I didn't mean for it to be churlish. And I forgot to say, congratulations to your daughter. I'm sure she appreciated all your effort to make her celebration a special one.

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  5. Decorating for a party on a dime! It is superb share. I was looking for exactly this. Actually at the garden event space I am going to host a DIY bash for my parent’s anniversary so all these tips are definitely going to help me a lot.

  6. This really is my first-time i visit here. I discovered so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the a lot of comments on your articles, I suppose I am not alone having most of the leisure here! Continue the wonderful disfraces alicante

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