Melissa Newell from My Party Passion knows her way around a budget party. She’s added 42 fantastic parties to our site so far. Because of her expertise, I’ve invited her to be our new budget party contributor. Welcome, Melissa!

Melissa is a big fan of the dollar store. So below are her:


Let’s face it, most of us want to style and host a fabulous birthday party for our children but want to keep the budget within reason. With these items, you can style a terrific party for $15 or LESS

1. Plastic Table Coverings – These are one of my FAVORITE items at the dollar store (although they tend to be thin).  I have used these for table covers, draping them to make a curtain, cutting them in ½ for chair coverings, cutting them up to use as “fluff” into goodie bags.  BONUS TIP:  Grab a few different colors and layer them for a POP look!  

Here I used them as a curtain…

Here I used them as chair covers…

2. Candles  Either the smaller tea lights where you get 10 in a package or the bigger colored candles – all can add ambiance to your event. (Just please remember to keep away from children and flammable items.)

3. Glass Vases – Not just for the obvious flowers, use them to put candy in for your sweets table. Wrap a ribbon around them to add color. Use them to put breadsticks in or other food items or for centerpieces.

Here’s a recent centerpiece I made...

4. Paper Plates, Cups and Napkins – Besides the obvious, I have used the square paper plates on a corkboard for a backdrop.  Also, I’ve used round ones for a craft – I had kids color on them and made masks.

5. Plastic Serving Pieces – I’m loving all the variety of plastic serving pieces that my dollar store is offering these days. Cleanup can be a big hassle sometimes, so I will (not all the time) buy the plastic serving trays and utensils that can be discarded.  BONUS TIP: Remember you can always spruce up your plastic serving trays with a piece of paper on the bottom of them coordinating with your theme like I did here.  

6. Bamboo Skewers – Ah, the tried and true bamboo skewer.  You can usually get a package of 25 or 50 of these babies at the local dollar store. Besides using them to skewer your yummy food, I use them for party picks – adding a paper flower or die cut glued to the top or sticking into a vase with your flowers or here into a pie!

7. Construction paper/tag paper/poster board – I like to use these for making placecards, tags, goodie bag tags, food tents – the possibilities are endless!

8. Crepe Paper – Not just for hanging and twisting over your table. Think out of the box!  Use this inexpensive item to hang behind your dessert or main table for a backdrop. Here I used some to make cute pom poms.

9. Balloons – You don’t need helium for balloons to make an impact!  All the big party planners are using them for backdrops (blown up and pinned to boards). Or you can blow them up and tiethem to your bamboo skewers.  BONUS TIP: Putting a marble in them, blow up and hang from ceiling (marble helps them not to blow all over the place).

10. Picture Frames – The local dollar store has a TON of different frame choices!  I use them not only to display a picture (maybe of the birthday child), but to display signs, and as serving trays. Buy a few of them and use them as a backdrop with coordinating paper. BONUS TIP: Put a pretty patterned paper inside them before using as a tray, adds POP to your table.

11. Brown Paper Bags – You can usually find these in quantities of 10 or 20. These are great for a craft or goodie bags.  Use them for popcorn or snack items that kids can fill themselves.

Here I used them as goodie bags…

12. Clothes Pins – One might ask, clothes pins, huh?  Well I use them for holding the goodie bags shut while attaching a tag with the child’s name on it (see photo above).  You can also use them for hanging up décor from a string above a table.  BONUS TIP:  Use your Washi tape or paint and decorate  the pins before using. 

13. Ribbon – I could probably write an entire blog post on ribbon alone!  Packages, napkin rings, crafting, around glass vases, goodie bags… you name it!

14. Brown Craft Paper or Wrapping Paper – Our dollar store has a good selection of wrapping paper.  I use this for backdrops, wrapping boxes to give items height on my food table, and table coverings (instead of plastic table coverings).  BONUS TIP:  For children’s parties, wrapping paper turned over so the white part is showing is a great way to cover a table. Throw out some crayons and markers and it entertains them while the rest of the party arrives! 

Here I used wrapping paper as my table covering…

15. Themed goodie bag stuffers — We all know we can find fun candies, bubbles, etc. at the dollar store.  But remember, sometimes less is more…Some silly string with a few candy items is all you need for the kids to have fun!

16. Tissue paper — This is my all-time favorite item!  You can find an array of colors at the dollar store!  Making the tissue paper pom poms and flowers for a party adds so much excitement and depth to a backdrop!

Well, there are my top 16 items. I can probably think of 20 more items I use from our local dollar store…but I’ll save that for another post!  With a little creativity and $ 15 (plus tax) in your pocket – you too can throw a FAB birthday party for your little one! 

For additional ideas, visit me at My Party Passion and find me on Facebook or Twitter to check out the parties I have thrown – most are on a tight budget and you would never know!

Thank you, Melissa, for these wonderful tips. I will be visiting my local dollar store with your shopping list in tow. And I can’t wait to read your next budget party post!