Kids and pools: a classic combination. Throw in a monster truck theme, and you have the perfect party! The mom-in-charge also has some great tips on keeping costs down with minimal effort. Affordable AND easy? NICE.

When Clarissa was planning the pool party for her little boy’s birthday, she had a few guiding principles she wanted to follow: stick to a budget and stick to a plan. “I just wanted something simple,” she explained. “I knew all the kids would be more interested in swimming, so I didn’t want to have to pack a lot of stuff.”

The first step in the process: carrying the theme through to the paper products. Invitations are great for introducing the party theme to your guests! Clarissa knew just what to do to keep it original AND affordable. “I used Etsy for the invitations, Happy Birthday banner, and the tops of the favor bags. You can buy the images from Etsy and the seller sends you the file to print. I printed everything out on cardstock to be more durable.”

The aquatic center only cost $60 to rent table space, a real deal. She added a couple more folding tables, all of which she decorated in inexpensive plastic tablecloths (also good for repelling pool water) and monster truck plates and napkins from Walmart to match the theme. And for those plates: pizzas picked up from a local pizzeria and dessert goodies styled perfectly for the party.

Clarissa has some great tips for keeping the food costs down as well. “I bought the rice crispy treats, cut them in half, and added red, yellow, and green M&Ms.” These tasty little stoplights are a fun example of buying a product that is already made and customizing it to your theme. This saves time over baking everything yourself.


Those delicious cupcakes with chocolate curls for dirt topped with miniature monster trucks? You guessed it! Also from Walmart.


The cookies also come with a tip for customizing and stretching your dollar: don’t be afraid to mix and match. “The (number three and tire) cookies came from a small local shop,” says Clarissa. “The white cookies came from Walmart in the 4th of July baked goods.” Yep, bet you couldn’t even tell!


Rounding everything out for the party were the favor bags filled with candy. As Clarissa puts it, candy is never cheap… unless you buy it at the right time. Her final tip for saving money: look for specials after a major holiday. Candy lasts longer, so you can buy it early at a discount and use it later for your party.

After all the smiles and happy squeals (some of them from the adults about those desserts, YUM) this was definitely an awesome party that people will remember. And, YES, all done on a budget of less than $200! Now that’s a GREAT party.

Thanks for the tips and story, Clarissa!