I made a promise to myself months before the first birthday of my son, Donovan, that I would try my best not to get so stressed out party planning that my only memories of my child’s birthday were negative.
In keeping with that promise for his second birthday, I started planning an airplane-themed birthday party with the goals of making sure my son, husband and I enjoyed the day and that the cost came in under $500.
I’m proud to say that with a guest list of 20 adults and their littles, we ended up spending about $485, and that includes the $50 we spent on pizza and treats for a separate celebration at Donovan’s daycare.
The cost breakdown was about $260 on the venue and entertainment, $80 for party favors and snacks, $70 on a gift and $25 on custom passport thank you cards. His outfit, a navy blazer, caramel-colored cargo pants and a pilot’s hat, were gifts from my mom. In case you’re wondering how pulled off everything else, we aligned our budget with our priorities.
Location was priority No. 1 for this airplane-themed birthday party.
Our venue pretty much had to do all the heavy lifting on account of my naturally elevated stress levels. It had to communicate our airplane theme, handle decorations, entertain the kiddos and exist somewhere other than our house (per the mister’s request).
I didn’t want to do any cooking, cleaning or entertaining, so I searched high and low and ended up going with the very first place I found, the Delta Flight Museum.
Imagine wide, open warehouses, two levels of aircraft and plane artifacts and even a Boeing 747 outside for guests to board. It was perfect and if not for the fact it doesn’t contain an actual party room, I would have booked the venue immediately. Instead, I scoured the web for alternatives before accepting that I just wouldn’t be able to top a flight museum for an airplane-themed birthday party, and it didn’t hurt that this one only charges $10 for adults and is free for children under 5-years-old.
Guest experience was priority No. 2.
The kids were easy. I’ve learned that all a 2-year-old really needs to be happy are friends and enough space to run free with them. Just in case they were hungry, I also decorated kraft boxes as mini suitcases and packed them with peanuts, candy, juice boxes, sandwiches and for kicks, DIY paper airplanes.
Adults were a bit trickier. I wanted to properly thank them for supporting Donovan, but I also was slightly limited in that the venue’s free-flowing form meant people would seldom be in the same place at the same time. The best I could do was to properly greet guests, thank them for coming and pre-write thank you cards to hand out (a brilliant idea from a friend of mine).
A gift was priority No. 3.
Luckily, our son is pretty easy to please. He loves planes, books about planes, things that roll and throwing/ banging things that roll. So I figured a wagon would kill two birds, and it did. Donovan loves being pulled in that thing, and it served the practical need of fitting us with a mobile party room for storage.
An airplane-themed cake was priority No. 4.
Barely a priority at all, a cake just isn’t something I care a whole lot about for the toddler age group. My family and I passed out supermarket cupcakes to guests on their way out, and we did an intimate gathering for immediate family at our house to open gifts and sing happy birthday.
The cake for that was also a supermarket purchase, and all the sweets were leftovers from Donovan’s school party. I did splurge on $6 airplane candles for a little pizazz, but in large part, I stuck to my priorities. Birthday favorites for some like printed invitations just didn’t make the cut. Blame the millennial inside me.
What truly made our airplane-themed birthday party a success: our people.
Having all our friends and immediate family there was the most important aspect of Donovan’s party. My husband and I wanted everyone who is a part of our village to be welcomed to celebrate our son’s birthday with us. These are the people that support us on special occasions and every day, and no party would be a party without them.
All in all, I think Donovan’s day was a success. It surely was for the birthday boy, and by success I mean he didn’t throw a single tantrum. He explored wildly and smiled frequently.