budget-friendly christmas birthday party

This year, I thought it would be fun to plan a surprise party for our oldest daughter, who’s birthday is only a few days before Christmas.  This was actually the first time I’ve planned a surprise party for one of our kids – so fun!  Anyone with a Christmas baby knows it’s not always easy planning a birthday bash during the busy holiday season.  Wanted to share with your how I pulled-off  a simple and fun birthday celebration.

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THE THEME – Nutcracker

Just like designing a room, one simple item can inspire the whole look or theme of a party.  My sweet friend, Leslie, gave us this beautiful Nutcracker theatre cupcake kit as a gift last week.   As I looked at these intricately designed paper characters, I felt inspired to make this the theme of my daughter’s party.  Plus it seemed fitting since she just had her first performance in the Nutcracker this year.  In fact, most of our guests were my ballet students who all danced in the Nutcracker!  

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These characters are meant to be put on cupcakes, but I decided setting up the Nutcracker cast on the cake would be adorable!  I snapped a quick shot with my phone during the party – totally forgot to style and shoot ahead of time.

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THE CRAFT:  Personalized Canvas Art

I’ve noticed there is nothing girls love more than to huddle up and enjoy plenty of laughter and chatter.  That being said, what better way to start a party than by making a fun craft together!  I preset an art table for our guests to craft it out and make a personalized canvas they could hang in their room.  I set out bowls of chocolate cookies, chocolate bars, and kettle corn on the table to keep the vibe festive and fun.  The girls LOVED this.   

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Kids do so much on electronics these days, so I wanted to be sure this party was about real togetherness and creativity.  I love to encourage activities that inspire imagination, creative expression, and invention.  This craft was SUPER easy, inexpensive, and so fun to pull together.  I loved picking out the paper patterns.  

Supplies needed:  A monogram free printable from here, printer, scissors, a small canvas, mod podge, decorative paper, and an applicator sponge to paint on the mod podge.

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How to make:  Have your artists cut up decorative paper and create their backdrop for the monogram or letter.  Be sure to have them generously coat their paper in the Mod Podge on the front and back so it sticks properly.  Apply their letter as the last step.  Allow canvases to dry for a few hours.

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Loved seeing everyone’s own style come out in their artwork – each design was so different.

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I propped up all the canvases to dry – they were so pretty!

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Over in the kitchen, I set up a hot chocolate bar by framing this free printable next to a big jar of marshmallows, candy canes, and hot chocolate.  Also wanted to make the fancy hot chocolate party sticks with labels, but ran out of time.  #realitymoment

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THE PARTY FAVORS:  Nutcrackers, lipgloss, and sweets.

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I popped the treats into a clear goody bag with shredded paper then stapled the top with stripey, decorative paper that I cut on diagonal into strips.  Found the nutcrackers at the Dollar General, the paper at Michael’s, and the lipgloss set on sale over here at Target.  I thought the lipgloss added a girly touch and holiday color.  Of course the name “Elf” was perfect for the bags!


The night before the party, my youngest daughter helped me secretly assemble the treat bags – she loved filling the bags and deciding which wooden nutcracker went best with which color lipgloss.  I think I see a future stylist.  Such a simple and cute party favor.

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The favors were a big hit – these are the leftover guys.  Oops, forgot to photograph the basket when it was full.  

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After they finished their craft, our guest of honor opened her gifts (which were placed under the tree), ate cake, and watched the movie “Elf” in front of the fire.

This party was incredibly fun, festive, and super affordable.  Since I tied the birthday theme into my existing Christmas decorations, it saved on the budget and enhanced the birthday aesthetic.  Aside from food, which was minimal, this was the breakdown of our party expenses.

  • Art supplies:  $50
  • Treat bags:  $30
  • Cake:  $17
  • Balloons:  $12

Total party expense:  $100

When it comes to hosting a birthday party around the holidays, I say go for it and work with a Christmas theme – just be sure to bring in some special touches that gives your soiree that magical feel.  I was thrilled to see how happy our daughter was celebrating with all her besties.  And proud that we actually pulled off the surprise!

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Back next with more holiday ideas!

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  1. Dana says:

    What fun! So happy you were able to pull off the surprise for your oldER daughter – my hubby has a Xmas birthday. I always try to make it special.

  2. kayce ughes says:

    So perfect! and ELF lipgloss…so fun!

  3. Lisa says:

    Such a great party and so affordable! I always try to encourage creativity and unplugging too, easier said than done with my kids. You have inspired me to get crafty with them.

  4. So much fun!

    So much fun!
    Unique ideas and a memorable party.

  5. Pat Burns says:

    First, I have to tell you how incredibly much I enjoy your blog…..truly LOVE it!!!!!!
    Secondly, Congrats on pulling off a great surprise party for your older daughter. Surprises do make the best parties.
    Thirdly, I would love to know the name and manufacturer of both fabrics featured on the furniture in these birthday pics.

  6. CArolyn says:

    What a great party you gave them! I’m impressed with the way you morphed the theme .

  7. Crissy says:

    What a beautiful and fun party….. love it all!

  8. Oh my heavens the most brilliant, sweet, cute birthday party idea for girls! If I have a girl next time I can’t wait to do this! What perfect fun. You genius.

  9. Julie says:

    Cute idea! Very creative and personal, perfect! I am trying hard to look closely at your decor…any chance you will share a glimpse into your home? I know I’m not the only one wanting to see ;) I love your kitchen – of what I can see. It’s beautiful! Thanks, Seleta and Happy New Year!

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  • Simply Me

    SeletaI‘m Seleta, a city girl living the beach life with my family. A former TV personality turned designer, I love to share the sparkly side of life. Read more here.
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