The Look For Less: (Get Your Party for Less) Hire a Pro Party Planner

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pink candy bar

Tonya Coleman here from Soireé Event Design, and I’m back with the “Look for Less” series sharing how you can get a fabulous high-end designer party for less by hiring a professional party planner.  That may sound backwards, but believe me, I am breaking down my daughter’s “Kitty-licious” Party to show you exactly how much every single item cost to put this party together AND how you can get an entire party for less while hiring someone else to do it for you!

All over the web are fabulous parties, either real or styled that don’t tell you how much it exactly costs to recreate. Money and budgets are something people rarely want to talk about, but today I’m pulling back the veil and giving you a real look into how much it really costs to put together one of these designer parties.

Let’s breakdown my recent Kitty party I did for my own daughter’s 10th birthday party. Yes, I am a professional party planner and own almost all of the decor used in this party, but if I were the average mom that does not have a warehouse full of party props and supplies, and saw this fabulous party online and wanted to duplicate it, this is the real breakdown of what it would cost to purchase every single item I used.

milk and cookies bar

kitty party activity


pink milk


*View more photos in the full party recap here



Party for 8 guests

Printables: $132
DIY printables package: $55 (
printing: $25 (Staples)
fancy paper punch: $17 (TomKat Studio)
circle paper punch: $17 (TomKat Studio)
jumbo circle paper punch: $18 (Michaels)

Dining Table: $539
1 table 6′: $68 (Costco)
2 custom pink leopard velboa fur tablecloths: $40 ($20 each
8 pink folding chairs: $80 ($9.99 each Target)
2 denim runners: $42 ($21 each
2 led crystal trees: $180 ($90 each: Shop Wild Things)
1 plush Aurora stuffed animal: $15 (
4 white plastic cat bowls: $4 (Dollar Tree)
1 pack pink rhinestone stickers: $3 (Walmart)
8 silver chargers with bling: $29 ($3.60 each CV linens)
1 pack of premium plastic clear dinner plates: $10 (16 ct. Party City)
8 mini dessert glasses: $30 (Pier 1 imports)
8 bling sticks: $8 (Made by a Princess)
300 pcs pink acrylic rocks: $15 (Efavor Mart)
3 packs of 12″ round pink leopard print cake boards: $15 ($5/pack Michaels)

Beauty Bar: $710
2 tables (4′): $60 ($30 each Walmart)
2 custom pink cheetah tablecloths: $40
1 denim runner: $21
2 led crystal trees: $180 ($90 each Shop Wild Things)
1 directors chair: $50 (Pier 1)
1 fuzzy pillow: $10 (Michaels)
1 full length mirror: $80 (HomeGoods)
1 5×7 pink shag rug: $30 (Walmart)
1 mirror on front of display cosmetic case: $15 Michaels
8 black cosmetic cases: $160 ($20 each from surplus store)
1 stemmed pillar candle holder: $8 (HomeGoods)
8 packs glow in dark necklaces: $7 ($1/pack Michaels)
8 pink striped paper cups: $6 (20/pack Creative Kids)
1 bag of Starburst: $3 (Target)
8 pink cosmetic bags: $8 ($1 each Michaels)
8 bling compact mirrors: $8 ($1 each Dollar Tree)
8 black headbands with cheetah bows: $24 ($3 each Halo Heaven)

Breakfast Bar: $126
1 pink plush cat bed: $30
2 plush Aurora stuffed animals: $30
1 silver 8×10 frame: $10 (Walmart)
2 white ceramic trays: $10 (TJ Maxx)
3 glass carafes: $3 (Dollar Tree)
3 fancy stemmed glasses: $12 ($4 each TJ Maxx)
2 boxes frozen pancakes: $4 (Target)
4 packs frozen smoothie mix: $7 (Target)
2 packs mini muffins: $4 (Target)
1 pack plastic cups: $2 (Target)
1 pack pink striped paper straws: $5 (TomKat Studio Shop)
1 pack plastic reflections silver cutlery: $2 (Target)
1 pack white paper plates: $1 (Dollar Tree)
3 containers of jelly: $6 (Target)

Candy Bar: $293
1 round resin table: $20 (Walmart)
1 custom pink cheetah tablecloth: $20
1 crystal tree: $90 (Shop Wild Things)
1 plastic riser: $21 (eFavor Mart) $6 + $7 + $8
1 black cosmetic case: $20
8 cotton candy bags with labels: $32 (
6 custom cookies: $24 ($4 each: Sugar Cravings)
1 pack cello bags: $3 (Michaels)
2 white serving trays: $16 (TJ Maxx)
1 round glass bowl: $1 (Dollar Tree)
1 sparkly pink frame: $6 (online)
8 Shimmer Gumballs in 8 Clear Candy Tubes: $24 ($3 each: TomKat Studio Shop)
8 pink lollipops: $2 (Dollar Tree)
8 pop rocks: $2 (Dollar Tree)
1 pack of Jolly Rancher lollipops: $2 (Target)
8 pink striped paper cups: cost already accounted for above
1 pack Jolly Ranchers: $3 (Target)
2 glass square vases: $6 (Ikea)
2 styrofoam disks: $1 (Dollar Tree)

Dress Up Bar: $246
1 wire 3 tiered stand: $40 (Beverly’s)
2 wire frame dress forms: $50 ($25 each Craigslist)
1 table (4′): $30 (Walmart)
2 fancy stemmed glasses: $8 ($4 each)
1 silver 8×10 frame: $10 (Walmart)
1 plush Aurora stuffed animal: $15
1 pack Color Freedom fabric markers: $10 ($10/pack of 10 Creative Kids)
8 white tank tops: $40 ($5 each Target)
8 cheetah tutus: $32 ($3 each Halo Heaven)
Kitty Collar Activity:
1 spool ribbon: $3 (Michaels)
4 packs of bling buckle sliders: $6 (Hobby Lobby)
16 velcro tabs: $2 (Dollar Tree)

Favor Bar: $151
2 silver tables: $50 ($25 each Target clearance)
1 sunburst mirror: $25 (Michaels)
1 free-standing shepherds hook: $10 (Michaels)
1 glass horizontal vase: $10 (Michaels)
1 5×7 sign holder: $8 (Staples)
8 denim bags: $16 (Oriental Trading)
8 notebooks: $8 (Dollar Tree)
Custom monogrammed buttons:
8 plastic buttons: $3 (Michaels)
printable favor monogram labels: $20 (
1 sheet scrapbook paper: $1 (Michaels)

Cake: $66
1 Strawberry Passion ice cream cake: $28 (ColdStone Creamery)
3 bling sticks: $3 (Made by a Princess)
1 lb bag of large pink shimmer gumballs: $7 (TomKat Studio)
2 pawprint custom cookies: $8 ($4 each: Sugar Cravings)
white cake stand: $20

Cookies & Milk Bar: $143
8 white plastic cat bowls: $8 (Dollar Tree)
2 pack pink rhinestone stickers: $6 (Walmart)
24 custom cookies: $96 ($4 each: Sugar Cravings)
1 gallon strawberry milk: $3 (Target)
12 glass mini dessert glasses: $30 (Pier 1 Imports)
pink striped paper straws: cost already accounted for above

Nail Bar: $197
1 storage trunk: $44 (Walmart)
1 custom pink cheetah tablecloth: $20
4 pink floor pillows: $84 ($21 each Walmart)
1 white serving tray: $10 (TJ Maxx)
1 5×7 sign holder: $8 (Staples)
1 round black bowl: $3 (Target)
6 bottles of nail polish: $12 ($2 each Walmart)
2 packs nail stickers: $6 ($3 each Walmart)
assorted manicure supplies: $10

Activities: $65
Glitter Tattoo painter: $65
1 hour

Now let’s add up all the costs AND add in 24 hours of your time that I estimated at the minimum wage hourly rate. Your time is worth atleast that…right? All those hours spent on Pinterest searching for ideas, online and driving around town looking for all the items and vendors you’ll use, hours of crafting decor, assembling printables and of course the time spent on setup and breakdown of all the decor.

Cost to purchase all the decor items: $2,000
** does not include shipping or tax
Cost to purchase all consumable items: $700
24 hours of time @ $7.25 min wage: $174

This comparison is based on if the party planner already owns all of the decor items. If the party planner does not own the items already, their fees may increase to cover purchase of additional items. The party planner fee below is only an estimated average and may be higher or lower in your area.

Cost to RENT all the decor items: $500 (25% of retail)
Cost to purchase all consumable items: $700
Party planner’s average fee: $600

SAVINGS: $1,074

I hope sharing the real cost of a designer party was helpful in seeing just how pricey some of these featured parties you see all over the web actually are and to give a realistic picture of the value in hiring a professional party planner when you want to achieve some of these high-end looking events for less. There are many other ways to get a Look for Less alternative like making some of the items yourself or using some of your own personal decor. But for those busy moms out there who don’t have time to craft or the space to store all the decor after the party, hiring a professional party planner to do it all for you and take it all back with them allows you to actually enjoy your party, let the planner do all the work and save you money! WIN-WIN-WIN!


Want more “Look for Less” tips and party inspiration? Click over to my blog “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Party Planning” for more party inspiration and tips!



– Event Styling & Photography: Soiree Event Design
– “Kitty-licious” Printables: Soiree Event Design Shop

POSTED BY:tonyaTONYA COLEMAN is a busy mother of 4 that ”LOVE LOVE LOVES” design & events! She has more than 10 years of experience in the entertainment business with a very successful graphic design studio & has been designing events for the past 5 years.

23 responses to “The Look For Less: (Get Your Party for Less) Hire a Pro Party Planner”

  1. Talia Foster says:

    Very nice article! I thank you for providing a btaliasreakdown of the cost for everything.

  2. This is spot on. If you want to have a party at this caliber, it costs money. Hiring a party planner can definitely save you money because they know where to find it, where to buy it, how to make it and in some cases, how to bake it. A lot of times they have the stuff already and rent it to you for cheaper or the same price as a rental shop. Get the party for less and hire someone to do it for you (and then you can enjoy the party too!)

  3. Perfectly stated! Parties are not free – they do have a cost involved but more often what you are paying for is the most intangeable aspect of the whole process — your ability to host and enjoy your guests and let someone else take on all the worry, the stress and the WORK involved! It is A LOT of work but when you leave it to the folks that know how to do it, its work that isnt overwhelming. As both a planner AND someone who has her own parties — it is the most valuable aspect of hiring a planner. The ability to breathe and anjoy the event and be crowned as the one who knows how to throw a party! :)

  4. Nicole says:

    Beautiful party Tonya and your breakdown is so incredibly useful! But most important is the explanation as to why hiring an event planner is more effective than going without. Thank you!

  5. Shannon De Atley-Johnson says:

    As a fellow party planner, I thank you for breaking this down. So many people think they can just do it themselves. They can, but because they don’t have the connections, the inventory or the know how, many times they pay double, and in some cases triple what a planner could do it for. I think this will help people have realistic expectations of what a party of that caliber actually costs. I meet with so many people that have unreal expectations of what they can get for the budget they have. Thank you for sharing this with everyone!

  6. Deborah Thompson says:

    THANK YOU so much for posting this! The costs add up quickly, and investing in a planner is certainly worth it!!!!

  7. Jocelyn says:

    I think you forgot to add things like tape, glue dots etc. My printing runs me way more than that. Add gas, time, etc. And it gets even higher. Your break down is great! It shows why hiring an event planner is so worth every dime!!!

  8. Blanca says:

    Great way of breaking down the cost and comparing it to a professional party planner. Hiring a party planner is the way to go if you want to have a great party that you can enjoy as well. Beautiful party btw :)

  9. Sonya Crebshaw says:

    Thank you sooooo much for posting this! As the resident “family/friend” party planner who is looking to move into charging for events, this is such a great itemized list. People just do not understand the value/cost that goes into a designer party. Great post!!!

  10. Leslie says:

    Love this post!! Thanks for sharing

  11. NJWedPlanner (@SamanthaRenee29) says:

    I love this! Nice for the average person to see the cost breakdown. Fabulous job on the party too!

  12. Sandra says:

    Thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you! Many potential clients want a high end party but don’t know and or don’t want to pay the price for one. In addition, some think that we planners and stylists shouldn’t be compensated for our time. This article was spot on!

  13. Miranda Beltran says:

    Spot on Tonya!! You hit this one out of the park!! Now maybe people will see and realize what exactly goes into one of these parties that they find on Pinterest and think they can be easily recreated for next to nothing! This party was AMAZING! Loved every detail!(:

  14. Giselle says:

    I absolutely LOVE this post and cannot thank you enough for it!!! I am going to use it for future reference as a guide!!! Soooo honest and spot on!!! Thank you !!!!

  15. Shameka says:

    Excellent! Thanks you so much for posting this because your feature provides an excellent cost benefit analysis of hiring a party planner, the money and time saved by hiring a planner is priceless!!!

  16. Silvia L. says:

    Thank you for such an amazing and detailed breakdown on the “REAL” costs of having completely customized party. It’s time that people realize the time, expense and sometimes experience (trying to replicate a look, may not always turn out to be as easy it looks-where the party planner will have tricks to pulling it together) to designing and executing such parties.

  17. […] less expensive to just hire a professional party planner.  If you missed the original post, you can see it here.  Please be sure to leave a comment on that post letting me know what you […]

  18. stephanie says:

    Wow love this theme. That is crazy how everything adds up so quickly. But seriously I think this could of cost less. But hey if someone is willing to pay for it….why not. Love those cookies:)

  19. Lots of great points made! Thanks for outlining the details.

  20. Lisa says:

    I think you have a great service for people who have never hosted a party. Anyone crazy enough to actually spend that much on a party would love this. I’ve never spent over $300 on a hosted party including food and decorations, I always considered that a normal amount. I charge $800 for my service (nowhere near where you live) and that’s $500 service fee and $300 for décor and food. Then again, I never thought of floor pillows!

  21. To arrange a party it will be more cost effective and time saving to hire a party planner. All the posts and photos are too good of this blog. Thanks for sharing your experience…..

  22. Mindy Jollie says:

    I had no idea that you could end up saving money on a party by hiring a planner. My daughter's birthday is coming up and I wanted to throw her a special party that she would enjoy. Having a professional do all of the work will take out a lot of the stress as well as maybe end up in saving money in the end as well!

  23. Monisha says:

    An Excellent post Tonya. Most of the time ppl do not realize that hiring a birthday organiser can save them a lot of money and also time and there is all kind of stress at the last moment. hiring a planner is definitely worth the money.