The most recent event we planned was an over-the-top [yet tightly budgeted] 25th birthday party celebration situated atop a Jersey City Observatory overlooking Manhattan - it was truly something out of a dream and a theme we've never seen done before. So let's break down the details:
"A Quarter of Kaity" was the official theme name, but more specifically, it was a celebration of the birthday girl's favorite things from her first 25 years of living. The idea was simple: come dressed as one of her favorite things, and enjoy decor, refreshments, music + activities inspired by those same favorites.
The color palette: favorite colors (pinks, blues, purples, silvers)
The refreshments: favorite snacks (culture cookies, macarons, Taco Bell, Doritos, etc.)
The drinks: favorite beverages (pitchers of green tea shots + cosmopolitans, peach ciders, Dr. Pepper, shirley temple fountain + more)
The guests: favorite people dressed as favorite things (from Forrest Gump to tacos to Audrey Hepburn)
The below vision board served as the official North Star for the party's details:
The invitations + party signage was custom made by Disco Frank on Canva using hand selected elements and the theme's color palette.
Most of the party decor was DIY, aside from the tablecloths and balloons. We set up multiple tables for sitting, some for drinking games and food, and of course, had a section dedicated to projecting some of the birthday girl's favorite movies. Notably, the photobooth backdrop, vinyl food stands, and drink stirrers as outlined below.
The photo backdrop was created from hundreds of cut up tablecloth strips hand tied to chicken-wire netting and hung up on a backdrop stand using zip ties. The entire thing took a little over a month to create and totalled about $100 in materials. It made for some incredible pictures, especially those taken with the 35mm film camera.
When the birthday girl consider herself a bit of an old soul, you can't NOT have food stands made from recycled vinyls to showcase her favorite snacks on. We made these easily by buying a bundle of recycled records from eBay for $10 and hot glueing plastic cups to their underside.
What better way to mix your punch bowl drinks than with a disco ball + tinsel drink stirrer inspired by the birthday girl's favorite sparkly things. We made these by hot gluing disco ball ornaments and tinsel garland to silver straws from the dollar store. It was an easy way + affordable way to [literally] add disco to the details.
The venue was one of the more difficult things to nail down, especially at a budget in the desired location, but we ended up striking gold on a whim when we learned that the birthday girl's boyfriend's apartment property management would allow residents the opportunity to rent their community spaces out for a portion of the cost of a typical party venue. We ended up choosing this absolute gold mine of a space atop one of their buildings that featured floor to ceiling windows, sweeping views of the city, pristine facilities that included an industrial ice maker + refrigerators, the table + chair rentals and a doorman - all included for the $600/6 hour rental price.
When the original party back in January was cancelled on behalf of the monster snow storm that blew through, the management company was more than accommodating to waive their cancellation fee and help us rebook 2 months later at no additional cost or lost deposit. The icing on the cake was when we were greeted by a double rainbow when it came time to set up the venue on the day of the party - truly, the details that make all the difference.
Planning for Disaster:
As previously mentioned, it's not a party if it goes off without a hitch. We battled the weatherly elements, malfunctioning music and a broken shirley temple fountain. These things happen, but by baking in extra time for set-up and take-down, negotiating flexible contracts, and focusing on the details that really mattered, we were able to throw the successful party of the birthday girl's dreams and create lifelong memories.
The birthday girl was strapped for cash as her party came at the same time as she moved into an unfurnished apartment, so we knew we had to keep spend at a minimal while still packing a punch. Including her two outfits changes + dress tailoring ($400), the venue itself ($600), decor + accessories ($250) and food + alcohol ($450), we were able to keep total costs below the birthday girl's budget of $2,000 - which was no easy feat for a 65+ attendee event. Most importantly, it was an event that she'll never forget, filled with all of her favorite things and favorite people - many of which are captured in the party portfolio below: