Challenger:  Soiree Event Design

Theme:  Puppy Luv


When asked to take part in the “Love” Designer’s Challenge that centered around Valentine’s Day, I knew right away that I wanted to do a super girly party that my 2 daughters & their 2 BFF’s would LOVE to come to.  When I found out the budget was only $100 I knew too that I must do a theme that my daughters like and in a color palette that I’ve done before since I may have to raid their room to use some of their toys and some of my own items from around the house to pull it off.


Now, my spin on the “Love” theme…

My daughters LOVE puppies!  The theme “Puppy Luv” was born out of my 3 year old’s current complete crush on the 5 puppies from the Disney Air Buddies movie series.  That was my jumping off inspiration point.  Little girls’ idea of “love” is innocent and their love of puppies TOTALLY fit the bill!


The design plan…

I consider myself a “design rebel” and I fought with the urge to do a non-traditional color palette for Valentine’s Day but after deciding on the theme and facing reality on the limited budget, I ended up with the traditional pink, white, black and of course, true to my style…added silver and bling!  The party printables were all custom designed.  I sent a copy of the designs to my girl Lynlee of Lynlee’s Petite Cakes and she created fondant toppers that matched PERFECTLY!  Thanks Lynlee for participating in this challenge with me!


Valentine’s Day is all about love but more importantly, it’s about showing love to others.  I wanted to incorporate a way for the girls to do a community service project as part of the party to show love to others.  I initially came up with the idea to have the girls do a “build-a-bear” type of activity where they would stuff the puppies and make a wish on the star that goes inside (that would have put me way over budget),  and then deliver them to our local hospital’s children’s ward to give to 4 little girls.  However, to meet the budget restriction, I asked each mom if they would be willing to provide a new, unused plush puppy for the girls to accessorize instead.  The girls also made Valentine’s Cards to accompany the puppies, decorated the puppy boxes and after the event, delivered them to our local hospital’s children’s ward.


The other party activities included making Valentine’s Cards for each other and painting and decorating their own puppy houses for their 3 mini plush puppies that they each received as a take home favor.


Instead of my usual candy/sweets bar, the budget forced me to find creative ways to incorporate the sweets and favors into the decor. The cupcakes, that I normally would have displayed on a tower,  were incorporated into the main seated table.  I created “Cupcake Parfaits” and displayed them inside margarita glasses filled with mini-marshmallows.  Our signature Lolli-tags™, personalized with each guest’s names also served as placecards.


For the main seated table, I thought it would too cool for the girls to eat their fav mac-n-cheese out of doggie bowls instead of regular bowls.  So I set out to find white dog bowls and found it at the Dollar Tree!  LOVE THAT!  A pack of rhinestones and I blinged them out to create cool, girly bowls that doubled as a take-home favor!  DOUBLE DUTY!  THAT’S THE WAY TO STRETCH YOUR BUDGET!


The girls other take home favors included:  a pink swirl lollipop, pink snowball cake with custom fondant topper, dog tag with charm, 3 mini stuffed puppies inside a white box, sparkly collar bracelet and their painted puppy house.


I LOVED designing this party so much that I am recreating this event for my Girl Scout Troop’s Valentine’s Party this year.  And, in honor of this challenge, from mid-January through February only, I will be offering my signature “Puppy Luv” printable design collection as a $25 DIY package download from my shop.  The FIRST TIME we have ever offered a DIY package!


Thanks Ebony for this opportunity and for the awesome honor of inspiring others that they too can pull off a $100 event with some creative money saving tips, DIY time and still be able to have custom and personalized elements to make it unique and personal!


See below for tips & tricks to pulling off a FABULOUS Soireé even on a $100 budget!



Free shipping & online coupon codes:

Always signup for email updates from your favorite vendors to keep up to date with promotions and to

take advantage of free shipping offers.  I was able to take advantage of $10 off and free shipping offer from

Oriental Trading.  Also, before I buy anything online, I check my favorite online coupon code source ( to see if there is an active coupon code I can use.


Shop for your next “budget-friendly” event while coupons are available during high-purchase seasons:

I lucked out and was able to take advantage of the MANY sales and coupon opportunities during the Black Friday weekend.  I knew that I was setting up a budget-friendly Valentine’s Day themed event a few months from now and applied any free, % off coupons or gift cards with purchase I received while doing my holiday shopping towards buying the more expensive items that may have busted my budget for the next event.  I was able to purchase for free all of the white boxes with lids from Michaels this way.


Spend the majority of the budget on custom & personalized extras:

Most of us have tablecloths, paper plates, craft supplies, etc that we can use to throw an event.  What we may lack is the creative talent of graphic designers, cake makers and pastry chefs that can really add that high-end WOW factor to your event.  Here, I used the extraordinary talent of Lynlee of Lynee’s Petite Cakes to custom design 8 fondant toppers (4 each of 2 designs) so I could use each set of 4 two different ways for a guest count of 4 girls.  I used them as custom cupcake toppers in the tablescape and snowball cake toppers.  This way I can spend a fraction of the budget on store-bought sweets and then the more $ on the fondant toppers and printables to make them unique, designer and personalized.


All little girls love to see their names printed on things.  It’s that extra special touch that makes your event unique and memorable.  Here I used a set of printables that were graphic designed professionally and then I had to put in the time and effort to DIY everything (do-it-yourself).  Luckily for me, I have all the supplies on hand to produce all the items and when you are on a budget…DIY is the only option.  Most of my clients are very busy, but want that unique touch to their events, so they love that we do all the work for them and we specialize in fully-assembled design printables shipped right to your door.


Stock up on after holiday clearance items for next year’s events:

I do this religiously!  There are some craft & favor items that you know for sure you will can use time and time again for holiday kids’ parties like holiday stickers, papers, ribbon, favors, etc.  I stock up on those items after that holiday when it’s all on clearance and up to 75% off and then have a stash to use for next year’s holiday event which keeps your budget in control!


Use a theme that your children or the host’s child LOVES when working with a tight budget!

Usually if you choose a theme that the child already loves, there’s a good chance that they own lots of gently used toys and decor items that you can use in the event decor and of course give back to the child at the end of the party.  For example, if your child is into Pokemon, most likely they own a bunch of Pokemon figures already that you can use in the party decor…saving your budget!


Buy something once and use it in many different ways!

I do this alot when working with a tight budget.  When favor items come in dozens and I only need 6 (for example), I will find creative ways to use the other 6 favor items in the decor (saving $).  Here, I had to purchase a dozen of the dog charms, so I used 4 charms as decor on the margarita glasses (an idea inspired by HWTM), 4 charms to accessorize the puppies and 4 to dress up plain dog tags as take home favors…ALL FOR $3!

Also, I use decor items as take-home favors A LOT!  Balloons are a great way to do this and save $.  Whenever using balloons, I make sure to have enough on hand to decorate with AND to send home with each guest.  Saving me $ and the trouble of popping all the decor balloons at the end of the event!

Budget Breakdown:

4 white dog bowls $4 Dollar Tree

2 packs rhinestones $6 Walmart

4 cupcakes $3 Albertsons

1 bag mini marshmallows $1 Walmart

dog charms $3 Oriental Trading ($3/dozen)

chenille stems $1 Michaels

4 stuffed animal puppies $0 each girl’s moms bring one

4 white boxes w/lids $0 Michael’s (FREE with holiday $15 off coupon reg. $1.99 ea saved $8)

4 collars $4 Dollar Tree

puppy paper kit $7 Oriental Trading (paper, die cuts)

4 wood puppy houses $12 Michaels’ (used 20% off total purchase coupon.  Reg. $3.99 each)

12 satin bow clips $3

4 snowball cakes $3 Albertsons

4 pink swirl lollipops $4 Oriental Trading $1 each)

4 small white boxes $0 Michaels (FREE with holiday $15 off coupon reg. $1.49 ea saved $6)

4 dog tags (50¢ each) $2 Oriental Trading

12 mini plush puppies $5 Oriental Trading (used a $10 coupon on these.  reg. $15/dozen)

4 sparkly collars $4 Dollar Tree


Custom & Personalized Extras:

8 fondant toppers $13 8 toppers (4 of 2 designs)

Lynlee’s Petite Cakes


Printable package (DIY) $25 includes:  personalized 2.5″ circles, 3″ circles, 5×7 table sign

Soiree-Event Design


Owned & Allowable Free Items:

tables $0 own

4 pink foldup chairs $0 own

1 glass cylinder vase $0 own

4 silver chargers $0 own

pink rocks $0 own

curtain backdrop $0 own

craft supplies $0 own (pencils, markers, stickers, paint & brushes)

tables $0 own

frame $0 own

paper holder & tray $0 own

table linen $0 allowable FREE item

4 glass vases $0 own (allowable FREE item)

4 margarita glasses $0 allowable FREE item

table linen $0 allowable FREE item

4 black plates $0 allowable FREE item


Grand Total:  $100

  1. Great penny pinching tips! A girl after my own heart!

  2. Great idea for the activity! Love that you were able to incorporate spreading love to the community.

  3. Paw-sitively the most adorable thing ever!!! Love all the details, including the dog tags, bowls and graphics, but especially the fun activity that gave back to the community! Congrats, Tonya! Thank you so much for including me! ♥

  4. Noel says:

    You did an awesome job on this creation.

  5. Articia Smith says:

    Your written story is amazing and a great read!
    As always the creativity is off the charts!

  6. Vick says:

    Absolutely Adorable!!!

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