Do you ‘utter-ly’ love milk & cookies?  My 2-year old son, Max, does!  And what better way to celebrate our little cookie monster’s birthday than with a sweet milk & cookies party!

Ready for the best news?  Using Anders Ruff’s darling ‘Vintage Milk & Cookies’ printable set, the party prep was simple & inexpensive,  & the clean-up was quick! I gave myself a little challenge for this event & pulled off the party prep & planning in a matter of days and with a very limited budget.  You can too!

{Doesn’t the birthday boy look excited to be wearing his custom shirt by Sweet Threads Clothing Co. ?}

{FIVE TIPS FOR EASY & BUDGET FRIENDLY PARTY PLANNING}:

I’m sharing some of my favorite tips & tricks for tying an event together with minimal effort, but without sacrificing style or breaking the bank.

First:  Choose a theme!  Choosing a theme early in the planning process helps to eliminate a great deal of stress as it narrows down much of the decision making process.  Invitations, activities, decor, party favors, food & color scheme will naturally coordinate with the chosen theme. Once you’ve decided on a theme, a plan can start to take shape!

As you can see, I chose a darling vintage milk & cookies theme.  With my son’s current cookie obsession, this theme fit perfectly!  The printable invitation & graphics package we chose from Anders Ruff, set the feel of our theme & the color palette.  That is the beauty of using printable graphics!  They help stylishly and effortlessly guide both the overall feeling of an event & also help tie in the fun little details that will knock your guests’ socks off!  Lucky for you, Anders Ruff offers printable invitations and party packages in dozens of very unique and popular themes!

‘Moo’-ving right along…  After last year’s big ‘First Bee Day’ Celebration (seen here), it was nice to keep things simple.   Max’s grandparents were excited to receive this adorable invitation, perfectly customized for his sweet celebration.  The invitation sets the stage for your event & is the first glimpse of your chosen theme that your guests will have!

Second:  Take inventory!  With your chosen theme in mind, before heading out to shop for your event, look around your house to see what you already have that can be used as is or even repurposed.  You will be amazed by what you already have that you can use.  Here are a few things I discovered in my home:

  • An antique white farm style beadboard side table from my office was used as the focal point for our dessert display

  • A cherry wood sofa table was used to display additional cookies

  • Ikea jars with metal lids were dressed up with Anders Ruff printable flat labels and housed several yummy varieties of cookies.

  • Wood letters that spell MAX–leftover from last year’s party– got a fresh coat of paint and gave a nice pop of color to our main dessert bar.

  • Old Starbucks Frappacino bottles (donated by a friend) had their labels removed and were sterilized to resemble vintage milk bottles.
  • Remnants of burlap fabric were used to cover tables & wrap milk bottles.  {Look how cute the bottles look with a few simple Anders Ruff printable embellishments!  2″ party logos were attached to handmade paper rosettes & party flags were attached to darling striped straws!}

  • Twine & clothes pins were used to hang our birthday bunting made by attaching printable banner elements from the printable ‘Vintage Milk & Cookies’ package to more handmade rosettes.

  • A round glass vase was transformed into a cookie jar (and provided the inspiration for my cookie jar favors) using custom chocolate brown vinyl lettering from A&E Design Works.  (Stay tuned for a cookie jar tutorial.)

  • Tablecloths & serving stands/platters were all things I already owned and just had to be washed and set in place.  {The gorgeous platter, cake stand and tiered stands you see here are part of a beautiful collection from Willow House with Angie Bytnar.}

  • Craft paper was used for wrapping gifts.
  • Leftover paper shred was utilized for lining cookie trays and embellishing a party hat for the guest of honor.

Once you’ve gathered things you may be able to use from your ‘at home’ inventory, make a short list of obvious supplies you may need to either borrow or purchase to carry out your theme. (Color coordinating paper plates, cupcake liners, napkins, etc…)

Third:  Window Shop! I love shopping for party inspiration and am always amazed by some of the incredible things there are for purchase that can cut down on my prep time and help pull off my vision.  Inspiration can come from just about anywhere!  I generally like to start at the local dollar store to see what items from my list they may have.  (I usually find quite a bit there!)  Of course, craft stores, such as JoAnn, Michaels and Hobby Lobby are a must.  Purchases made at these locations can be great, especially if you utilize the plethora of coupons that can be pulled from local newspapers or printed from online.  Thrift stores, grocery stores and discount stores like Ross & TJ Maxx are also full of great party finds.  Typically, I go from store to store with my notepad & pen & make notes about the things I see.  I generally don’t buy anything on my first trip, and try to discipline myself into just jotting down specs about possibilities.  This keeps me from overbuying and/or spending too much on items that I may find cheaper at other stores.  (Of course, if there is an incredible sale or a must-have item that has low inventory, you may consider purchasing it on the spot, especially if there is a good return policy.)

For this particular party, I found the following things from the Dollar Store:

  • small glass bowls that would be fashioned into my take home cookie jar party favors
  • cookies (Famous Amos for filling the cookie jars, fudge striped cookies, etc…)

Fourth:  Purposefully Shop.  With your notes in hand, return to the stores where you found the greatest deals for the items needed.  Be sure to consider which things best meet both your party vision and your budget restrictions.  (It’s always a good idea to save receipts in case you don’t end up using something or find an unexpected deal at a future date.)  Anything you couldn’t find locally, may now be purchased online.

I found several fun prop items already on sale at Michaels & JoAnns and was able to use additional money saving coupons.  I also scored a few clearance items at Target.  Things I purchased included:

  • Hay bales for the dining table centerpiece and dessert table

  • Galvanized bucket and milk jugs for displaying cookies & milk.

  • Mini wooden crates for each place setting & for the dessert bar.
  • Large wooden crates for adding height/levels to my display and a rustic touch.
  • Ceramic cows & milk cartons for a touch of whimsy.

Fifth:  Simplify Food/Dessert Prep. Unless you absolutely love slaving away in the kitchen, give yourself permission to purchase some of the food/desserts.  It’s a good rule of thumb to opt for a few tried & true homemade items that are crowd pleasers & also make for a great presentation.  Then,  fill in the rest of the needed food/desserts with some prepared store bought items that require minimal prep & mostly need some simple styling/arranging.  From those purchased items, I like to splurge on 2-3 specialty/gourmet items for that added WOW factor.  These specialty items generally serve two purposes–they act as a dessert & due to their custom nature, also usually function as part of the decor too!

How did I do this for our ‘Milk & Cookies’ party?  By sticking to a simple ‘milk & cookies’ theme, it meant I didn’t need to do a huge dessert table.    I chose a couple of favorite recipes we’d make–my husband’s whoopie pies and my Oreo truffles.

From Costco & Walmart, we purchased some prepackaged cookies and found fun ways to arrange them.

 

Our fun ‘splurge’/ gourmet items were these gorgeous cookies from Sweet Goosie Girl   and CookieXchange, as well as incredible fondant cupcake toppers from Fondant Flinger, all of which were custom designed to coordinate with both the colors of our event and the printable graphic package.

We kept our party favors simple & edible too, and by coordinating them with the party colors, we got twice the bang for our buck because they served as part of the decor until they were taken home by guests!

  •  Cute chocolate and white striped sacks with coordinating party printables were available for take away treats.  Family members loved being able to select a few extra cookie favorites to take home for later.

  • Guests also got to take home the mini cookie jar favors from their place setting.

We had a wonderful day celebrating one sweet little boy.

Vendor Credits:
Event Styling:  Jen Carver, Banner Events
Printable Graphic Designs:  Anders Ruff Custom Designs
Invitation here:
Party Printables here:
Custom Shirt:  Sweet Threads Clothing Co.
Custom Milk Bottle Cookies:  Sweet Goosie Girl
Custom Monogram Cookies:  CookieXchange
Custom Fondant Cupcake Toppers:  Fondant Flinger
Custom Vinyl (for cookie jar favors):  A&E Design Works
Striped Straws/Cupcake Liners/Polka Dot Balloons/striped sacks:  Smidge and Pinch & Hey Yo Yo
Servingware:  Willow House with Angie Bytnar

Photography:  Mi Vida Photography by Rebecca Pierce

Supply Resources:
Michaels:  hay bales, sm./lg. wooden crates, terra cotta saucers, galvanized metal milk jugs & container
JoAnns:  striped fabric, burlap, wood knobs, jute, ribbon
Dollar Tree:  glass bowls (for cookie jar favors)
Target:  ceramic cows & milk carton

 

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Wife. Mother of 4. Party planning addict. Official treat taster. Lover of Halloween. Football fanatic. Anders Ruff Guest Blogger.




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23 Responses to “A Sweet Milk & Cookies Party”
  1. ADORABLE party!! Thanks for making me a part of it!! Such a sweet theme :)

  2. Megan says:

    What an amazing party! Everything looks fun and delicious. Megan

  3. Angie says:

    I like your “frugal” ideas, but it still seems awfully expensive. Do you know how much approximately you spent in total? It all looks amazing!

    • Jen Carver says:

      Hi Angie~ It’s been over a month since I tallied my receipts, but I believe it was right around $150. That includes the helium tank (that still has helium leftover) and lots of extra cookies (I purposely over bought/over made so I could use the leftover cookies for Teacher Appreciation the same week), as well as several ‘props’ that I will use again and again in the future. Please note: some items were donated & therefore not included in my out-of-pocket expenditures. However, there are items that I paid full price for that I may have been able to find cheaper and/or purchased with a coupon had I been prepared. (The majority of items I was able to purchase with a coupon, but a few items from JoAnns/Michaels were purchased on the spot due to convenience and not enough coupons in hand.)

  4. Rachel says:

    Amazing job, Jen! Every single detail was thoughtfully designed.

  5. Lisa says:

    This is a great party theme! The colors are my favorite, I think. Everything is simple yet all together they make a fantastic presentation!

  6. Rena says:

    Great tips and a wonderful party!!!

  7. Mrs. Turner says:

    Hello!

    What a CUTE party! LOVE the theme and all the pretty colors! I have all girls which means tons and ons of pink in this house,so seeing this cute party (and your adorable Birthday boy)was a real treat! :)

    I was wondering – did you have a lot of guests at the party? We don’t have any family in our state, and haven’t really made close friends yet either…any ideas for what to do if you have a small bday party? (it’s just the 5 of us typically).

    Again, thanks for sharing!

    • Jen Carver says:

      Hi~ Thank you for your sweet comments! This particular birthday party was small too–just our family of 6 and 2 grandparents that were able to come. In the past, we’ve invited a family or two from our neighborhood to come enjoy the day with us as a sort of ‘get-to-know-you’ opportunity. Other times, we’ve just enjoyed our family. A small group doesn’t have to equate to a dull party. I think it actually allows you to do more fun and personal sorts of things that a large group doesn’t.

      • Mrs. Turner says:

        Thanks so much Jen!

        It’s great to know that we aren’t the *only* family out there who has small/intimate birthdays!! Most everything you see on the internet these days are parties filled with 20-30 guests.

        In the past I have always gotten our girls all gussied up for their birthdays! We let them pick their ‘theme’ and we go from there. Then the night before their birthday my hubby and I get our entire dining room decorated so they have a surprise in the morning. It’s made for wonderful reactions early in the morning :)

        Plus I believe it has really, really drawn us closer as a family because all three sisters are very involved in each birthday! Then after photos, opening presents and of course having cake we usually head out for a special day together. For example; just last week was our daughters 4th bday. She choose a cupcake theme – so we had lots of cute cupcakes and I found the most beautiful cupcake dress from Dillards for $15!! After her party we all packed in the car and stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge for a night.

        So you are right, bdays don’t have to be huge gatherings to make lasting memories! :)

        By the way – I LOVE the cookies and milk party! Too cute and everything looked super yummy! The next bday is the family is mine, right by Halloween! To top it off I will be turning the big
        3-0!! Ahhhh!!! lol I will be looking across your blog for insperation for future parties that’s for sure!!!!

        Thanks again for your sweet comment!

  8. Kerri says:

    Love this theme and colors! Also love the amount of details you included on how to plan this party from start to finish instead of it being just photos. How did you create the backdrop? Is it just a board covered in fabric?

  9. Heather says:

    Such an adorable party! Curious about what size the poster on your backdrop is?

  10. Shana says:

    Love the cookies and milk idea, it’s super cute! I am planning a cookie party for my soon to be two-year-old and am having trouble finding low cost cookie jars. You mentioned you made yours using an idea base, Can you share how you made the lids?

    • Jen Carver says:

      Hi the lids are made from a terra cotta saucer (the things you put underneath a terra cotta pot so that the water doesn’t leak out on your floor our counter) and a wooden ball. I purchased both items at JoAnn and Michaels craft stores. I hot glued the wooden ball to the top of the saucer and then painted the lid (on the outside only).

  11. Ellie Davis says:

    Do you have a tutorial for how you made the paper rosettes for the banner and little signs? Would love to not have to reinvent the wheel

  12. Tiffany says:

    I am so happy to have found this theme as I was searching for the perfect theme for my 1 year old. Your team was so helpful and accommodating to answering questions both before I purchased the templates for this party (in pink) and afterwards. As an event planner myself, I am a firm believer in word of mouth, and you have officially been promoted as my new “go to”. I have passed along your site to so many people, and I cannot wait for the next party! Thank you for sharing your craft and talent!

  13. I would love to win this like all. My grandson would really have a great time. He does already on his pass 2 birthdays. But this is truly something.He would love the balloons. My grandson would really love it all. Good luck to all who enters and god bless to each and everyone.

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