A few years ago, I ran out of ideas for birthday parties that the girls would enjoy. We’ve done the character visits, the bounce houses, the trips to Chuck E. Cheese’s and Dave and Busters. We drove a few friends to Disneyland and Boomer’s. We have done everything there is to do on a birthday in San Diego and Orange County. Why? And how do I know? Because I have three girls and their birthdays are so close together that whenever one has more than one idea for a birthday, we save it for the next. After all, each child gets to come along for the birthday party for the sibling.
I don’t know when I started doing ‘deconstructed party bags’ but they’ve been a hit from the get-go. In fact, they’re such a hit that my 18-year-old daughter requested one for herself and her friends. I thought I was off duty for her birthday for a deconstructed party bag for her but, no. And if you think finding things for 18-year-olds is hard, you’re right!
What is a deconstructed party bag, you may be asking yourself. It is a group of small items you may put into a parting gift bag for guests, but instead, you lay all the loot on the table and make it pretty to boot. I am not sure at what age you could safely do this DIY but I’m pretty sure I didn’t start doing it until the girls were at least 10 or 11. The idea is that the child should be able to pick up things from the table he/she wants and put them into a vessel to take home. By vessel I mean anything you think would look good on the table. My most recent examples include a small, blue bucket and a clear, plastic container.
If you’re burned out on trying to figure out how to make your child’s next birthday party unique, add this idea to your tool belt.
How to Make Your Own Deconstructed Party Bag
- Ask your son/daughter what color theme they’d like for their birthday at least two weeks prior to the party. Anything shorter than that will result in incredible stress trying to locate the perfect things for the table. I initially asked this question in order to get the right balloons but it then became a challenge to buy things for the table that matched the color theme.
- About two weeks prior to the party, start collecting items for the table that are in the color scheme and that will fit into the party bag. Some good advice is to pick the bag after all the items have been selected to make sure that everything will fit.
- Purchase a table cover in one of the colors the birthday child picked. Or, if you want to be really creative, use something completely unexpected for the table cloth. Recently, I had a vision of a fuzzy pink tablecloth. It started the foundation for the rest of the items bought. I knew it was the right idea for us when I walked into the fabric store, and from across the room I spotted a very hot pink fuzzy remnant on a table. It’s like fate stepped in and told me to go for it. I could almost hear the angels singing. So, yes, you can buy a temporary tablecloth from a fabric store, although this is not the cheapest option. My furry pink selection was over $40. I’m hoping to use it again some day. I decided to go forward with the purchase because turning 18 is a special birthday and I wanted things to be as perfect as possible for the birthday girl.
- Do you have a light fixture above the table? Think about what can be placed on it to become part of the decorations and buy that. I used Mardi Gras beads in one of the pre-selected colors.
- For filler items that will match the color scheme, head to Party City if you have one in your neck of the woods. I bought purple bubble gum, pink bubble gum, pink squishy toys, pink glow bracelets, purple/black/pink/white temporary hair spray, purple/black/pink/black duct tape, candy coins in multiple colors for the theme, Nerds candies, and various other bulk candy that can be bought 15 for $1. I also bought beaded necklaces for decoration and small bottles of bubbles.
- I bought bowls to match the requested colors and inside one of the bowls, I put in Hershey’s kisses on the bottom and the M & Ms that matched everything. I bought both of these items at Party City. The reason for the Hershey’s kisses is that they’re a great filler. Specially colored M & Ms are kind of expensive, whereas a giant bag of kisses is about $10.
On the day of the birthday, I put the tablecloth on the table and then put the goody containers at each spot that a guest will be seated. I also put the colored bowls in their final spots. I then place the largest toys and prizes around the table so that I can then start spreading the candy on the tablecloth. I make sure it’s as even as it can be. My table only holds 6 people so you will have to adjust any suggestions for the size of your table. After all the largest prizes are in place, I then start adding in each candy item–each different kind one at a time. I put all the purple gum balls out, then all the black coins, then all the purple coins, then all the other candy. Finally, I place the necklaces.
After the necklaces and all the items have been placed on the table, I head out to Party City to buy the balloons in the theme colors. My 18-year-old didn’t want any balloons but I did buy them for my youngest and let them float randomly and untethered on the ceiling of the dining room. You can tie them to the chairs or decorate however you’d like with the balloons. I also would recommend some streamers not only because they’re cheap but they fill out a birthday room with more color.
Although all the placement of candy and goodies is random, it should look symmetrical. Each child should have quick access to all the booty from their spot at the table. You don’t want any fights!
And there you have a solution to the dilemma of what can I do differently for my child’s birthday that’s both fun and economical.
If you use my advice to do a Deconstructed Party bag, share your picture below. I’d love to see it! And if you do if for an adult party, definitely share what you did–this idea should never be limited to the wee ones. Adults need to have fun, too!