I’ve been known to go all out for my kids’ birthdays. They only happen once a year, and I’m a sucker for an incredible photo opp. Sadly, my wallet hasn’t always met my vision, any other moms out there feel that?
This year though, I finally achieved the ultimate birthday party on a budget.
The entertainment and engagement was great from start to finish, everyone loved the food (and it didn’t involve me cooking), and it was the absolute most festive party I’ve ever thrown!
Read on to see how we brought a Hawaiian/ocean party to life with a little Disney inspiration (come on, you knew that was coming!) and a little baby shark as well.
The Food: Island BBQ
Let me start by saying food is an important part of every party and Rumbi Island Grill was a huge hit. I’m not exaggerating when I say my family still won’t stop talking about this island barbecue.
You may think island BBQ is a bold move for a two-year-old’s party, but the kids loved the island mac salad and chicken and the adults dug into pulled pork and veggies. We chose the luau buffet option and it allowed kids to choose their own island ingredients for lunch (there’s also multiple sauces to top your plate with, everything from teriyaki to bali island sauce).
The setup was turn-key: their catering gave us everything party ready–the trays they provided (at no extra charge) had little heaters on the bottom to keep the food warm and also came with the perfect stands on them to make them a little fancy and more accessible. We were so impressed with the service, execution and taste of this delicious food. (We chose the pick-up option from their Recker/McDowell location in Mesa, but they also do delivery if you need.)
Most of all though, it was truly delicious. Everyone absolutely loved it. I got texts days later asking where I had got the food from. It was to die for.
They also gave us a full tray of cookies, and every single guest commented on how delicious they were! The luau buffet option that we had is right around $12 per person and includes two proteins, rice, veggies, island mac and the cookies.
We had two forms of entertainment for this event, both of which I would highly recommend.
To kick off the party, Danica from CreateArt4Kids led the kids through two themed, adorable crafts for the kiddos that fit into our island/Hawaiian vibe.
I won’t lie, I was nervous with so many toddlers and young kids, but Danica was so patient, and all the kids absolutely adored her! She brought all her own materials, and set up quickly.
CreateArt4Kids customized the art projects for the party theme and child’s ages–the thoughtfulness behind the planning and coordination was lovely.
The first craft was a pinecone painted into a pineapple. I was impressed with all the details she thought of ahead of time. She had two different ways to paint the pinecones to accommodate for different age/ability levels.
The second craft was a lei with playful, edible pieces! All of the kids wore them around the party, one kid even showed it to every adult. Danica did a fantastic job planning, creating, and executing her crafts. I would highly recommend her to multiple age/ability levels.
At around $15/child, this was an affordable option as well as festive–we couldn’t have gathered all the supplies, tools, aprons, etc., let alone have a crafty expert to guide the children through the crafts, for less!
Our other form of entertainment came from Fairytale Events. We had Moana and Ariel at our party (you know what a big Disney household we are!).
Both characters were so patient and enthusiastic with all the kids.
They read a story, taught them to hula, and sang happy birthday with us, plus took the time to take a picture with every child. They were absolutely amazing, they even sang parts of their songs. They were incredible at staying in character and their costumes were so lifelike.
There were two very eager kids who wanted to ask them a hundred questions each, and they were so patient and quick with their answers. I will hire them again in the future; they were an absolute delight and the kids are still talking about their new friends Ariel and Moana.
The kids were completely starstruck and were so sad to see them leave at the end of their time, I was glad we had them arrive towards the end of the party so that the kids weren’t sad for long when they had to depart!
The festive feel
I always order an abundance of decorations. This year, I decided to go for the big decoration that is all the rage right now- a balloon garland.
Laurel from Event Mamas AZ came and set up the most beautiful balloon garland, she is a local Mesa mom herself (currently pregnant with baby #4!) and has such a fun story of why she started her business.
Honestly, I spent way less on party decorations then I would have otherwise because the balloon garland took up lots of blank space that I would have felt compelled to decorate.
Laurel matched the colors absolutely perfectly based on one photo of my other party decor. She was so sweet and was excellent in her communication.
She came by hours before the party to set it up, so there was no stress on my end if she would still be hanging it as guests arrived. She did an amazing job. It was definitely the most stunning piece of decor at the party, and my son loved it. Every time he saw it he would smile! I totally get why balloon garlands are trending right now!
We ordered our cake from my favorite Honeybee Cake Co. and it was perfect as always. John wanted a “dinosaur shark cake” and she delivered! We also had our favorite chalk artist at ChalkScript AZ make a beautiful birthday chalkboard with all his favorite things! Overall, it could not have felt more festive!
It’s been a loooooong time since I hosted a party (pre-covid, to be exact!) and these vendors did an incredible job taking some of the host stress off me and we had a great first post-pandemic party!