How I Threw A Monster First Birthday Bash on a Budget


Alexander and Nathan’s first birthday just passed and I was so excited to throw them a party. They don’t have a favorite show or character yet, so I just chose a theme I thought would be cute: little monsters!

I didn’t have a ton of money to spend, but I knew I wanted to do something special and I wanted to invite all of our family and friends. I knew whatever we did would be too big for our house, so we ended up having it in one of the event rooms at Stillman College, where my mother-in-law works (and where James used to work). The room was plenty big enough for all our guests and we got to use it for free.

I started looking for monster-themed decorations and games that I could buy on Etsy or Amazon but everything seemed overpriced. I ended up making almost everything for the party myself with supplies from Dollar Tree, Walmart, and Hobby Lobby. Some ideas came from Pinterest and others were organic. Everything was a big hit and I actually plan to keep everything so that when I go back to teaching, my next classroom can be monster-themed. Here’s everything I did to make the party a success!


I made the invitations using Canva, a popular graphic design app. The app is free, but some of the designs cost money. This design cost me $3 to purchase. I then printed them out for free on cardstock and cut a “bite mark” out of one corner with curvy scissors. So the most expensive part of making the invitations was the stamps to mail them! And for some, they didn’t even go in the mail – I just sent the graphic via text or Facebook message.

The Food:

The menu was mostly handled by my beautiful and wonderful mother-in-law. We served three kinds of sliders (grilled cheese and bacon, chicken parm, and spinach dip), pasta salad, Rotel dip with chips, and meatballs. I ordered 50 cupcakes from Publix, who gave us two free smash cakes for the twins to dig into. I topped each cupcake with a monster cupcake topper I ordered from Amazon (one of the few items I didn’t make myself.)

Fun and Games:

To entertain our tiny guests, I set up three fun areas. One was their cousin’s kiddy table with two bubble machines from Walmart’s party section running. Another was a blow-up pool filled with plastic balls (both of which we already had) to make a baby ball pit. The third was a Feed the Monster Toss Game, which I’ve detailed how I made in the section below!

Birthday T-Shirts:

I started to buy monster birthday shirts on Etsy before remembering we had a friend in Birmingham who had her own shirt shop on Instagram. I definitely wanted to support her business! Her Instagram is @tracyslilmisschicboutique. I DMed her what I wanted and she got them done for us! They were so cute and looked great (plus solved the problem of the guests constantly asking which twin was which!)

Birthday Buttons:

I wanted to wear t-shirts that said “I Survived The First Year With Twins,” but I couldn’t get James to agree to it. It was a little too corny for him, but he did agree to wear a black t-shirt and a button. I made the design for the button on Canva and printed it out for free, and put it in two blank plastic buttons from Michael’s.

The Decorations:

Monster Wreath:

My super crafty, talented friend Lindsay, who just started her own personalized gifts and decor business, Forever Beautiful Gifts, offered to make us a cool decoration for the party. I found a cute monster wreath on Pinterest and after a couple weeks this awesome thing was delivered to my doorstep!

Other than the monster wreath, the props for the photo booth, and the cupcake toppers, I made everything else myself! Here are the crafts, the materials I used, and how I did it! I love crafting so I really enjoyed making everything for the party, and I’m really proud that I didn’t spend a ton of money on the materials. Almost everything came from Dollar Tree or Walmart and the few things I got from Hobby Lobby were on sale or clearance so I didn’t pay full price for anything.

Clip Art for Decorations:

You’ll notice a lot of my decorations have the same little cartoon monsters on them. That’s because the first thing I did was buy a monster clip art pack from TeachersPayTeachers. This included hundreds of different monster designs which I printed out on cardstock for free. I used that clip art on the goody bags, month banner, high chair banners, and wall decorations. It was definitely worth the purchase.

High Chair Banners

The first item I looked up on Etsy, this was pretty much the first thing that made me say, “I could definitely make this for less.” And was the first craft I made.

Solid color ribbon
Googly eyes
Clip art monsters
Colorful paracord string
Single hole punch

1. I used Photoshop to put the words “Nathan/Alexander” “is” and “1” on monsters I had downloaded and printed them out.
2. Punch holes in the top of the monsters with a whole punch.
3. String them along the string with space in between them.
4. Loop the ribbons like this around the string in different color patterns until it’s as full as you want it to look. I used four ribbons in between each monster.
5. Hot glue googly eyes in random spots on the ribbon.

Once we were at the party, I ended up taping the banners to the high chair trays so we could take the trays on and off easily. But there was enough string that I could have tied them both if need be.

Month Banner

This is kind of a first birthday party standard, right? Another thing I knew I had to have but also knew I could easily make myself.

Clip art monster cutouts with months printed or written on them
Photos of baby at each month
Single hole punch

1. I used Photoshop to put each month from Newborn to One Year on different monsters.
2. Punch holes in the top of each monsters with a hole punch.
3. String them along the string.
4. Tape photos of your baby to each month.
5. Find a place to string it that’s a focal point in the room and easy to access because everyone’s going to want to look at it!

Feed the Monster Toss Game

I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was so cute! It took me a couple of fails to get right, but once it was done, my version looked great!


Two medium sized cardboard packing boxes
Colorful wrapping paper
Feather boa from Hobby Lobby (ALWAYS use a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby!)
Styrofoam balls
Googly eyes

1. Assemble the cardboard boxes and tape them shut.
2. Hot glue one box on top of the other.
3. Wrap the boxes (now glued together) in colorful wrapping paper.
4. Cut a mouth shape out of the top of the box. I drew it with a pencil and used a knife to cut it.
5. Cut the feather boa to fit around the mouth.
6. Hot glue the feather boa around the mouth.
7. Glue two large googly eyes to the styrofoam balls to make eyeballs.
8. Glue the eyeballs to the top of the mouth.

I used plastic balls from the ball pit to toss into monster’s mouth. This was a big hit and everyone though it looked really cool!

Candy Centerpieces

This is another craft I found on Pinterest that I decided to recreate that turned out to be really easy and fun to make!

Plastic juice cups
Googly eyes
Hot glue and hot glue gun
Sytrofoam balls (large and medium)
Large bag of Dum Dums
Pipe cleaners

1. Glue googly eyes to each plastic cup.
2. Place the styrofoam all on top of the cup.
3. Starting from the top, stick Dum Dums in the styrofoam ball until it’s completely covered in a dome shape.
4. Glue googly eyes to the tops of Dum Dums at random.
5. Twist pipe cleaners around a pen to make a curly shape.
6. Glue googly eyes to the smaller styrofoam balls and skewer them on the ends of pipe cleaners.
7. Hot glue the pipe cleaner eyes to the top of the Dum Dum dome.

We encouraged the guests to take as many Dum Dums as they liked. By the end, some ended up taking entire cups home and that was fine with us!

Mop Monsters

These were a cute touch that I put on each table next to the candy centerpieces. All materials came from Dollar Tree!

Pipe cleaners
Styrofoam balls
Googly eyes
Car washing mop mitts
Newspaper or other stuffing

1. Twist pipe cleaners around a pen to make a curly shape.
2. Glue googly eyes to the smaller styrofoam balls and skewer them on the ends of the pipe cleaners.
3. Hot glue the pipe cleaner eyes onto the mops.
4. Stuff each mop with some paper to give it a little shape.

Monster Posters

I made these because the room we were hosting the party in was large with drab walls. I wanted a way to put more color on the walls!

Colorful poster boards
Black and white construction paper or poster boards (I used craft foam because it was on clearance at Hobby Lobby for 25 cents a sheet!)
Paper plates
Black craft paint and brush

1. Paint black circles on the back of the paper plates to make eyeballs.
2. Cut the black paper out to make a large mouth shape.
3. Cut the white paper out in triangles to make teeth. They don’t have to be perfect. Monsters look weird, after all!
4. Hot glue the paper plates to the poster board. I alternated between one-eyed and two-eyed monsters.
5. Hot glue the mouth to the poster board.
6. Hot glue the teeth to the mouth.

Monster Photo Booth

The props for the photo booth came from Amazon and were one of the only crafts I didn’t make (partly because by the time I finished this I was all crafted out!)

Large white foam board
Yard stick
Colorful wrapping paper
Styrofoam balls
Google eyes
White poster board
Feather boa

1. Measure the the board two inches in all the way around and draw lines two inches in to know where to cut to make a frame
2. Cut the board out along the lines. I used a kitchen knife. Discard the cut out middle.
3. Wrap the cardboard “frame” in wrapping paper.
4. Cut the middle of the paper out, leaving a few inches around to tape the the inner edges of the frame.
5. Cut white poster board in zig-zags to make teeth.
6. Cut the feather boa to fit around the frame. Hot glue the boa pieces around the inside of the frame.
7. Glue googly eyes to the styrofoam balls.
8. Glue the styrofoam ball eyes to the top of the frame.
9. Glue the poster board teeth to the top of the frame.
10. I added signs to the photo frame so everyone would know where they were when they took the picture! But that’s optional.

Monster Face Wall Decorations:

My original plan was to make these tissue pom monsters I saw on Pinterest but I couldn’t get them to come out right, so I used the materials I had and got creative! These went around the room on the walls.

Colorful tissue poms
Styrofoam balls
Googly eyes
Fuzzy pom poms
Monster mouth clip art (from the pack I purchased on Teachers PayTeachers)
Feather boa (leftover scraps from the photo booth and toss game)
Pipe cleaners


1. Open each pom half way in a “fan” shape.
2. Glue two “fans” together to make a flat circle.
3. Glue googly eyes to the styrofoam balls.
4. Glue fuzzy pom poms to the end of the pipe cleaners.
5. Glue the pipe cleaner antenna to the top of the face.
6. Glue mouths to the tissue paper circle (I placed them in the middle to hide the “seam” where I glued the two fans together.)
7. Glue styrofoam eyes on the circles. I did a variety of one-eyed, two-eyed, and three-eyed monsters.
8. Glue on feather boa pieces as “hair.”

We hung these around the room using clear packing tape.

Monster Footprints

These were by far the easiest to make! I made these to go along the floor to add more color to a boring room.

Colorful construction paper
A shoe and a pencil

1. Trace the shoe.
2. Draw pointy “claw” toes at the top of the tracing.
3. Stack the construction paper and cut out the foot several at a time.

Instead of taping them to the floor we just placed them around a path.

#1 Guestbook

I bought a cardboard number 1 from Hobby Lobby and painted it light blue for their one year photos. When we were done with that, I put it on the gift table with a Sharpie for guests to sign and write messages.

Goody Bags

More use for the monster clip art! I hot glued these to plain white paper lunch bags from Walmart. Each goody bag had a bubble wand, a sheet of monster stickers, a pack of Cheez-Its, and a frosted sugar cookie with candy eyeballs in it.

The finishing touch was adding colorful star-shaped Mylar balloons from Dollar Tree around the room with balloon weights I made out of treat bags and marbles. Altogether, it was a great event! The food was a hit, the room looked really cute and fun, and everyone had a blast. Now to start working on birthday #2!

1 thought on “How I Threw A Monster First Birthday Bash on a Budget”

  • The total layout was impressive, however, I’m even more impressed at the production process! As creative as anything I’ve seen for a kiddie party! Great job!

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