1--There's no right way to throw a party. Whether it's a kid's birthday or an adult get-together, the most important thing is that people are together having fun. Do the prep that you find fun (decorating--a little or a lot, food, whatever) and pay for--or skip altogether--the other stuff. No need for added stress!
2--Have some kind of activity as guests are arriving. I find this most important for kids' parties, as adults will generally not cause destruction if left un-directed for a few minutes. Our recent favorite is a game called Don't Eat Pete. Here's my blog post about how to play Don't Eat Pete. You can create a game board to match any party theme, and you can make one just by taping pictures onto a piece of paper, skipping the digital design step.
Last year, I created my daughter's Minnie Mouse Birthday party from scratch. I wanted to throw a very nice party, but stay as inexpensive (cheap - haha!) as possible. My best advice for achieving this is to start planning as early as possible. For her September party, I started planning in Feb. or March of last year. This way, I had a plan and knew what I wanted so that I could keep a lookout for sales and cheap prices over the coming months. I made her decorations by hand, and planning ahead of time helped me to have plenty of time to do everything that I wanted to accomplish!!
(Oh my head. 6 MONTHS AHEAD??? Oh, I try... but I'm lucky if I give myself 6 DAYS! Queen of procrastination, right here. Which is why her party looked like THAT and mine... well... you know.)
You probably already know this, but Blissful and Domestic is a fun place to spend some time! You should see her clever ideas for teaching her kids, and having fun with her kids, and sharing her testimony with her kids. There seems to be a theme here... hmmm... This is a mama who seems fearless, people. Fearless. She sews swimsuits, for Heaven's sake! She got some cute ideas for a Fancy Nancy inspired tea party here. She sews and bakes and to top it off, homeschools.
(You know what reading this made me realize? I probably have a ton of stuff in my stash - not just the fabric and placemats - that I could use! Yarn balls and pom poms and glass beads and vases... if I just spent a little more time in the dungeon planning the party, I could probably save a bunch of money AND have a way cuter party...)
And to think. This series was going to be two posts long...