In the months approaching my 30th birthday, people kept asking if I had any party plans. There was plenty of excitement around the idea, but in reality, I had no idea how I would be celebrating my 3-0. I decided to get on Pinterest to find inspiration for birthday dinner party ideas. The idea that I came up with was to host a summer dinner party with my friends. I had pretty high hopes, but a lot of the ideas cost a ton of money to execute. With a zero dollar budget, it felt pretty impossible.
As it was getting closer to the date, I thought about the feeling that I wanted to carry with me from my 30th birthday. If you read my previous post about living with intention, you know that I strive to do things with a purpose. I wanted to create an unforgettable evening that I could look back on and love. I wanted to host a dinner party where my friends could enjoy an evening of good food and conversation. In my vision, there would be Billie Holiday playing in the background, and patio lights strung to set the mood.
So, how did I host the birthday dinner party of my dreams without a massive budget to hire a full team of professionals?
I GOT CREATIVE WITH WHAT I HAD.
8 Ways You Can Host The Birthday Dinner Party of Your Dreams By Getting Creative With Things You Have:
1. USE ITEMS FROM YOUR LIVING SPACE
I used pillows from my living room and candles that I had around the house. We used glassware, cutlery, napkins, and plates from my kitchen. I bought a few items to fill in what I didn’t have for my guest list. We had white plates in our kitchen that paired well with the look that I was going for. If you have mix-matched plates, that can have a really cool look as well. I used my own serving bowls to add functional decor. We also had real silverware that Joel's Grandma had given us, so I used that by mixing the dinner forks with dessert forks so that we had enough for all of the guests.
2. CREATE YOUR OWN TABLE
I wanted one table that everyone could sit under for a family-style dinner. We bought two large pieces of wood from the hardware store. We nailed them to several support beams underneath the table. As a result, the table was easy to breakdown but gave plenty of support. After the party, we repurposed the wood and built shelves in our shed. An alternative is to set wood pallets on the ground. You can lay blankets around it and frame it with pillows. There are plenty of options if you are willing to get creative and think outside of the box.
3. USE YOUR OWN CHAIRS
4. DESIGN YOUR OWN INVITATIONS
Once I discovered that you can send Paperless Post invitations for free, that is the only way that I send invites. It’s eco-friendly and easy to customize. You can design your invitation in Canva by using the recommended sizing dimensions from Paperless Post. Next, upload it to the Paperless Post website. If you remove the envelope and background, it’s completely free to send.
5. MAKE YOUR OWN PLACE CARDS
I tore pieces of watercolor paper that I could fold over and write in the guests' names in pencil. Using a pencil gives me a bit more control and is easier to erase if I need to start over. If you need inspiration on lettering styles, get on Pinterest!
6. USE LIGHTING TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
The correct lighting sets the tone for the evening. We have patio lights hanging over our deck. I paired these with candles and the ambiance was magical.
7. MAKE YOUR OWN CAKE
There are so many recipes for delicious cakes that making your own cake is easy. You can make it the day before, but keep it in the fridge overnight. I made my own cake and topped it with firework candles to celebrate my July 3rd birthday. It was a hit. I used cupcake liners to save money on cake plates by creating fun bite-sized pieces. The guests loved this idea. Everyone thought it was the perfect addition without overindulging after the crab dinner. You can use compostable cupcake liners if you want to add an eco-friendly touch.
8. GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR DRINKS
I bought Blood Orange Italian Soda from Trader Joe's and different flavors of La Croix for a fun alternative to water. We had some alcohol and glass pitchers of water as well. The variety of options besides just alcohol and water added a fun element to pair with our meal.
3 Affordable Items to Elevate the Look Of Your Party
You can buy textured, colorful taper candles to add dimension to your table. I used a mix of beeswax, pink, and white candles in slightly different textures and heights. I paired them with these holders and used the gold candle holders from my dining room table.
2. TABLE RUNNER
A table runner centers the look of your table, literally. It adds texture, volume, and creates a frame for the rest of your decor. I added a linen runner on top of the wood table and it elevated the entire look.
If you don’t want to use your own glassware and plates, Bamboo is a stylish alternative. I love the look of natural wood and the natural look of bamboo pairs perfectly with any modern dinner party. If you have a compost pile, you can toss the bamboo plates and cutlery right on top. Be sure to have a small bin to make it easy for everyone to toss them in one location for you to compost later on.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON WHICH ITEMS TO SPLURGE ON?
When it comes to splurging, choose the most important items on your list and prioritize those in the budget.
If there was one thing that I wanted to get myself for my birthday, it was a beautiful flower arrangement. I wanted a huge piece to center the dinner table. Amanda Burnette designed my centerpiece, and it brought the scene together for a romantic mood. The arrangement was $185. However, you can buy flowers from your local market and put them in a beautiful arrangement. I have included links to give you inspiration, materials, and DIY tutorials.
As someone who loves food, I don't mess with the quality when I am hosting a gathering. I love crab and have always wanted to host my own seafood boil. We decided to have a crab boil paired with corn, sausage, and potatoes. We put french bread and a fresh salad on the table as well. The amount of crab that we needed for 16 people was about $160. The sides that you include are going to add a lot to your menu. Guests are looking to have a good time, eat good food, and have the drink of their choice. They don’t need to feel overstuffed leaving the party and should feel as if they had the right amount of food.
I have included a downloadable guide with a step by step party planning checklist for you to plan and create your own birthday dinner party of your dreams. Grab a copy and leave a comment below sharing with me the theme of your party!