Making a Big Impact.

Making and/or buying décor items can take a lot of time and cost a lot of money, so why not choose items that make a HUGE impact? If you have limited time or a limited budget, make or some big pieces of décor that make your theme pop!

Family and friends who attended Kate's recent Pokemon Party considered it to be the most decorated party I've thrown (which is saying a lot). That's likely due to multiple large-scale décor items I decided to make – some of which were very low cost and/or took little time.

For example, for about $20 and in less than two hours, I made 10 pokeball lanterns! I ordered 10 white lanterns for about $12 from Amazon and used a few colors of acrylic paint, some electrical tape, and some paper circle cutouts to make the Pokeballs. I painted half of the lanterns, using the metal inner frame as a guide, let them dry, added electrical tape around the center, and punched and glue-gunned the circles on the front. I then hung them throughout the house and under the seating tents in groups using small Command hooks and fishing wire, all of which made the Pokeballs appear as if they were floating!

I also made some large-scale Pokemon playing cards to hang behind the food tables – a project that also cost well under $20 but did take a bit more time – about 8 hours. I love to paint, so putting together these pokecards played to my strengths and was really fun. I already had 3 large foam-core boards I had bought on sale a couple years ago, so all I had to buy were some extra acrylic paints, cardstock, and Sharpies. For the painting of the back of the Pokecard (the card in the middle below), I painted the swirly blue background, let it dry, painted the Pokeball (with a "6" instead of a button for Kate's age), and then drew and cut letters and glued them on (I did the yellow letters first, glued them to the light blue cardstock, and then just cut around the yellow letters about a 1/3 of an inch out). For the picture cards, I had Kate choose her favorites – which changed just about daily for the two weeks before I started painting.  Then, I just did a rough sketch and painted away! After the paint dried, I cleaned up the card by outlining the picture with a black Sharpie and adding words using the same. I also added some gold and silver Sharpie to highlight.  Then, all I had to do was hang them up with Command hooks and fishing wire!

But probably the coolest of the high-impact items were the 3 large photo boards I made – for a cost of about $60. As we were planning the party, Kate came up with a bunch of great ideas, including things that I hadn't seen on my various Internet searches. One day she came to me and asked, "Mom, you know those cool boards at carnivals that you can stick your head through and take a picture? Can we make those?" That's my kid! Since this was right up my alley, I said sure! After a couple trips to Home Depot (I still get lost in that place!), I decided to purchase a ½ inch large board for $30 that Home Depot cut into three pieces for me (for free) – about 4 feet by 2½ feet each.  My best friend's dad, Frank, was then nice enough to round the corners, cut out the holes/rectangle for me, and then sand everything down so no one would get splinters. After that, I painted away. All three boards took about 6 hours total since I was constantly moving from board to board – as one was drying, I was working on another. I used the same techniques I had used on the foam core boards and then I topped everything with glitter spray paint. This made the cards sparkle in the sun! I find glitter makes most projects better. My husband then added triangle brackets to the back (thanks, honey!), and they were finished. These looked great, but the best part was taking one of Kate's ideas and bringing it to life!

For previous parties, I've made similar high-impact items – like the 6 foot robots at the Robot Party, the huge cardboard buildings for the Superhero Party, and the painted frames for the Arty Party.

And when I can't think of one large item to make, I try my best to cluster smaller items close together so they have a bigger impact – like the multiple jars of candy for the Candyland Party.

It's easy to spend a bunch of time and money on small things for a party – like straw flags, cup or napkin tags, small banners, etc. These things are great, but when you can't do it all -- or you're not sure if you can -- start with the big stuff, and you'll be sure to have a party that pops!