Thanks to Oriental Trading Company for inviting us to review their products.
By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Have you ever had to plan a birthday party to take place while on the road? If your child’s birthday falls during one of your travels, it may seem like there’s not much you can do. There’s no sense in renting out a place, or in bringing too much stuff for what is a small gathering at home – wherever “home” may be during your travels. But being away from home and wanting to travel light doesn’t mean you can’t have a festive celebration. With some easy-to-pack products, you can have a “portable party” with little fuss.
Our son’s birthday is in the summer, and this year, we were renting a beach house with friends on the week of his big day. Even though we would have a bigger celebration upon our return home, he also wanted to celebrate on the “official” day. But with a fully loaded car for back-to-back trips, I could not bring too much in the way of decorations that would add to our baggage.
And so I challenged myself to find a road-trip-friendly party stash that I could transport to another location easily. I often turn to Oriental Trading for my party supplies and this time I looked beyond the obvious or standard decorations to make my “portable party” kit. (Bonus points if I could find reusable products!)
It didn’t take me long, and soon I had everything I needed. All my party supplies fit into a very small “regulation size” carry-on suitcase, so this:
Contained all of this, and more:
Using large inflatable decorations, murals, and flat-packed pieces that take up little space en route, when everything was set up it made for a nice presentation. And best of all, I would be able to reuse most of these pieces for future parties or pass them on to a friend. Here is what I used.
Inflatable birthday cake
I know from using our large inflatable decorations at Halloween and Christmas that big decorations such as this make for easy décor. At more than three feet tall and three feet wide at its base, this cake…takes the cake! Unfortunately this is not the kind of inflatable that you just plug in to inflate, so you will need an air pump to fill it up. That said, when it’s done, it’s impressive and makes for great photo opps. As a plus, it’s something we can re-use many times. (Note: this decoration is recommended for indoor use, since it doesn’t come with any tie-down stakes. It also takes a very long time to inflate and deflate: using an electric air pump it still took us a good half-hour to fully inflate this.)
I wouldn’t have much time to decorate a room (the party at the beach house was a surprise for our son) but still I wanted to “fill up” the space, and this large 6’ X 6’ backdrop did just that. Though I used it mostly as a focal point in the decorations, it’s also suitable to use as a background for photo booth-style pictures. I bought the simpler polka dot style ($9.97) but also liked one with a birthday balloon motif. The backdrop comes in two pieces so you also could use it as a tablecloth, if need be. Oriental Trading also has other backdrops in various themes, including popular children’s characters.
While the inflatable cake, backdrop, and a solid-color tablecloth likely would have been enough, I thought some bright hanging decorations would be a nice plus. Oriental Trading has a good selection of paper lanterns, fans, and tissue balls in solid colors and patterns. I used a combination of the brightly colored tissue hanging fans ($11.99 per set) and yellow tissue balls ($12.99 per dozen) to add color and cheer, which made a big difference in the otherwise kind of dark dining room.
Easy alternative to helium balloons
It doesn’t matter what age you are turning – you are never too old for balloons! Balloons are traditional (and cheap!) decorations that never go out of style. The problem with traditional latex balloons is that they will not “float” as the helium-filled Mylar balloons do, but sink to the floor. But the problem with the Mylar balloons is transport: anyone who has ever tried to stuff a bunch of helium-filled balloons in a car to take them somewhere – and still be able to look out the window – knows what a challenge this can be. But there is a super-easy solution to this problem: balloon sticks.
The balloon sticks that we ordered have little cups where you can insert the knotted end of a regular inflated balloon. When you place this cup over the plastic 16-inch stick, you now have a regular-air latex balloon that will stay upright. This makes it easier to create balloon bouquets. And if you have younger guests, the individual balloons-on-a-stick make for easy take-home goodies. While we ordered the white sticks, you also can get them in clear or multi-colored sets. The sets are a good value at $13.99 per pack of 144 stick-and-cup sets. Unfortunately they don’t offer smaller quantities, but these are items you can use year after year or save for other parties.
By the time we got everything we needed, including the tablecloth and balloons, we had spent less than $100, and more than half of it was on items we can use for many years, such as the inflatable cake, backdrop, and balloon sticks. Just as we easily carried all our supplies to the beach house in a small case, packing it back to take home took just a little room. Have you hosted a birthday party on the road? What do you think of our portable party kit? What else would you add to it? Let us know in the comments below!
This is a sponsored post in partnership with Oriental Trading Company. The author was free to select her own items to facilitate the writing of this post, and the opinions expressed here are her own.