How to Throw an Economical Toddler Birthday Party

diy swan birthday party

Happy Tiny Tuesday!! We are so excited to finally get to share Emma Grace’s 4th birthday party with you all! We let Emma Grace pick her birthday party theme this year, and when she said she wanted a swan pool party we got to work! We thought it would be super easy, but it turns out there are a lot more flamingo pool accessories than swans.

Since the bulk of the party would be swimming in the pool with our family and Emma Grace’s friends, we thought it would be fun to do some fun DIY projects for our goodies table. I am all about saving a dollar, so we thought we’d share with you where we splurged and the ways we saved.


  • COOKIES – since we were making our own cake and cupcakes for the party, we wanted to splurge a little on some cute cookies to match our birthday party invitation. We used the fabulous Amy (a long-time friend) of Sift Bake Shoppe. She makes the most beautiful cookies and is a big favorite of my friends and mine for showers and celebrations. She’s incredibly easy to work with and has such a creative mind. We originally planned on giving these away as a favor, but opted to serve them at the party instead and we’re glad we did because they were consumed quickly!
  • “4” CANDLE – I had originally planned on just putting 4 candles on EG’s cake, but she spotted the “4” sparkler at the register of a little boutique a couple weeks prior and I just couldn’t say no.
  • SWAN NAPKIN HOLDERS – I put these in the “splurge” section not because they were necessarily expensive (you can get 100 for $12 here), but because they were unnecessary. My husband wasn’t the biggest fan as he had to help assemble them, but Emma Grace and I thought they were a cute little touch.
  • CUTE INVITATION – this should actually go not the splurge (not necessary) and the save section. It’s a splurge because spending a little more to get a cute invitation maybe isn’t necessary, but it we think it sets the mood of the party and gives your guests a hint of what’s to come. We used CharlyCreates, an adorable Etsy shop, and were so pleased! The reason I say it should be in the save section too, is that we distributed them a little differently this time. The trend seems to be using evites instead of hard copies, so while we ordered hard copies of the invite to send out, we actually ended up just emailing and texting out the PDF and it worked really well! You can order Emma Grace’s exact invitation here.

pink swan party


  • DIY CAKE – in the past we’ve used Whole Foods for our birthday cakes and have been super pleased, but I decided to save a couple bucks by doing it myself this year. The girls and I bought a 6 inch cake pan and got to work. One box of cake ended up making 3 layers so we simply stacked them on top of each other with icing in-between each layer. We used an icing spatula (I think that’s what it’s called) that my MIL had and smoothed out the icing for a more polished look. // We also made our own cupcakes for our guests and used these precious gold cupcake holders to give them some sparkle!
  • DIY BANNER – we knew we needed something to bring a little color to our food table and to make a good backdrop so we opted to make a banner of sorts ourselves. We scoured pinterest for some ideas and decided to try and make our own. So, we went to Walmart and got several folds of fabric, cut them into strips and then tied them onto a birch branch we already had at home. It needed a bit more sass, so we added this gold and pink shimmer banner from Etsy that we had leftover from EG’s first bday party (perks of never throwing anything away). To add the final touches, we grabbed a wooden number “4” from Michael’s and hung it on and then surrounded the banner by pink balloons.
  • SWAN FORKS – this was an idea EG and I found on pinterest. We simply got a bag of pink feathers from Michael’s, hot glued a couple onto each fork, and then tied light pink string around the top to hide the glue. It was probably unnecessary, but made a cute touch and dramatic effect.
  • PLATES + UTENSILS – y’all, let’s be real that these paper plates don’t stand a chance at a pool party for toddlers. So, do like we did and go to your local Dollar store and grab a bunch. It saves money, time, and they end up right in the trash anyway.
  • SWAN FLOATS – now, this should definitely be in “splurge” section, but if you’re a sale shopper, you can find these much cheaper than you can at a retail store. We found ours for $20 each at Home Goods. We did find a white swan for $22 here for you though!
  • KID-FRIENDLY SNACKS – instead of making swan-themed snacks like I wanted to, I decided to go with Emma Grace’s favorite snacks instead at the last minute knowing kids would rather eat Pirate’s Booty as opposed to chocolate covered pretzels.
  • FAKE FLOWERS – real flowers are typically a must in my book, but let’s be real, 4-year-olds don’t give a rip. So, we simply used some fake flowers we had at home and it worked great!

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sift bake shoppe

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Any party that ends up in bathing suits and cupcakes in a good one in my book!