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J.Starr's 5 Secrets: How to Host a Creative, Yet Cost Effective Party

(Our Invite)

Full disclosure, one of the hardest things for me to do is “be normal,” when it comes to hosting special gatherings.  It’s a huge challenge for me and really places me SMACK dab in the middle of the “professional” me and the “personal me.”

 You see as a Wedding Planner I work with beautiful details, extraordinary images, and magical moments.  I’m in the business of making people’s most expensive day come to life.  Often times it’s hard for me not to put this pressure on myself when it comes to my personal life events (birthdays, dinner parties, themed events, etc).  But yet, at the core of who I am…I believe so strongly in entertaining and celebrating with family and friends on a regular basis.   The struggle is REAL, ask those that know me well.

 Nowadays, we’re about to have child #3, and I’ve been making big investments in my growing business.  This makes our “entertaining budget” more limited.  But you know what? …that’s where the real creativity lies…it’s just about digging for it.

I often hear from my sweet clients a similar story.  They’ve invested so much money into their Wedding Day, that they feel stretched when it comes to their Bridal Shower, Bachelorette Party, and Rehearsal Dinner.  Yet, they still feel huge amounts of pressure about making them look so beautiful.   
Please allow me to share: 

 J.Starr's 5 Secrets:
 How to Host a Creative, Yet Cost Effective Party.   

(Me and My Lumberjack Crew)

1.)    Choose a FUN Theme. 
Choose a theme that automatically lends itself to creating a fun atmosphere.  This takes an enormous amount of pressure off of providing lavish and grand décor.   A theme forces you to really pin point your direction, and allows you to get silly with your ideas
For our Baby Shower Celebration, I chose the theme,  “The Great Outdoors." Not only was this a fairly easy concept to pull off, the theme also "hints" at the name of our Baby Boy to Be. 
All in all, I believe we spent a total of $150.00 for the décor.  That includes the invitation, signage, the rope and twine, and the paper products for the food.  Everything else you will see in the post was borrowed or we already owned. (like I said we do a lot of entertaining). 

2.)    Be Resourceful

 I love a fun entryway. I think it really helps to enhance the guest experience. Again, you don't have to be "glam" by any just have to "paint the picture." 
Think about borrowing items for your décor.  Who can you ask? We borrowed a ton of décor from my parents.  My dad is big time camper and hunter, so he had tons of gear.  Have fun with this part of the process, it's amazing how many options there are for event décor once you start thinking of ideas. 

I love a good "Warm Welcome." From the moment your guests step foot onsite at your event they need to feel welcomed and excited. A simple way to do with is with signage and props.  It's a great way to get your guests excited about what's to come next! 
And yes, that's a "real" bear's head.  Just one of my Dad's many hunting trophies. 

This pretty display was one of my favorite areas of the party.  It hung in our front "formal" room that guests first walked into.  Between my mom and myself we already owned all the wood balls, the wreath, and framed signs.  The only thing that I bought was the prints of the plaid deer heads which we found online and had printed at Costco.  The boxwood greenery that was tucked into the wreath came from my mom's backyard. 

We did preset a mini photo area (predetermined by where the "best light" would be in our backyard at the time of the day).  We had a prop table set up with various props from my dad's camping shed.  My mom had found the cute wood sign at an antique shop and I added the "Happy Campers" saying to it with...get this, white out. 
3.)    Make it Personal
I'm a big fan of photos and storytelling.  We hung a plaid and burlap banner in our front room.  The banner included photos of my pregnancy. An ultrasound photo, the photo we snapped just moments after finding out that we're having a boy, the photo of the moment we revealed "the sex" to my parents, the photo we snapped right after I broke the news to Justin...and so on.  Guests love knowing the stories, behind the story.  It's a fun way to share your most special moments with your loved ones. 

We also decorated using framed photos of my Dad and my Brother's hunting "wins." Along with many props from my Mom.  A very simple tablescape greeted everyone as they entered.

Yep, you guessed it.  Those are our tents and our Christmas trees. (yes, I display three each year ~ just love me, okay?) And those wood stumps were found on the side of the road, and the pinecones came from some neighborhood yards. 

Also, as much as I LOVE dressing up for theme parties...sometimes guests do not.  Choosing a theme that doesn't require your guests to have to go out and buy something specific for the party, makes it easier.  I'm quite certain most of our attendees, sported some camping wear that was already found in their closets. 

The food was so much fun! At least for me, as I didn't have to prepare any of it. Yes, we hosted our Shower Celebration, but a group of my best girlfriends + my mom Co Hosted.  They provided all of the food and beverages.  And yes of course, it was all "on theme."    
4.)    Create an Experience

And with some white twinkle lights, ropes strung with burlap and plaid, and a few more camping chairs and props...we felt like we were at a real campout.  For our party we wanted to be able to invite all of our close family and friends of all ages...and this concept made for a fun and family friendly environment. 

Happy Campers

Arizona Sunset

One of my favorite quotes:
"May this House Always Be Too Small to Hold All of Our Family & Friends." 

5.) Have Fun

Have Fun!  Yes, isn't having fun what it's all about?  I think as a host it's important to always include a few "activities" to keep your guests attention engaged. Have you heard of the "Newlywed Game?" It's often a big hit at Wedding Receptions...this was the same idea, but with the twist being "Parenthood."  "Who's most likely to lose a child?", Who's the better disciplinarian? Who was ready to have the 3rd Child first?". 

The Desserts!  One of my creative Co Hosts made these darling little desserts and the kiddos went NUTS for them!  They were practically knocking down the baby gate trying to get to this display as she was setting it up.  It was such a fun way to continue the theme.
So again, to's not always about having a huge budget, or having loads of time to plan and's just about making it happen!
1.) Choose a FUN Theme

2.) Be Resourceful
3.) Make it Personal
4.) Create and Experience
5.) Have Fun!

Don't put too much pressure on yourself.  I know this is often the reason why people don't like to "host." Just remember at the end of the day it's about creating memories with people you love.  People simply enjoy good times and being together. 

With Style and Sincerity,

Jennifer Starr
J.Starr Stylized Weddings