How To Have A Candyland Sweet 16 For (Way) Less}

How to Have a Candyland Sweet 16 For (Way) Less


Blake E. Kritzberg

Can we blame it all on MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, like writers like to do? Not really, but the truth is that this formerly modest party has morphed into something bigger. Maybe you’re like me and can hardly remember your 16th — mine sure wasn’t a big deal — but look around today and it’s not out of the question to spend thousands on this event, not even counting the Mary-Kate & Ashley ideal of the car in a big, bright bow.

You may think the pricey event I’m describing is over-the-top, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many parents are amping up their daughter’s sweet 16 with an event rental, a DJ, and a couture-style cake. Once you splash out for all these, you need a photographer to capture them. And you can’t have a ballroom party without linens … or florals. And on and on.

If this $10,000 specter doesn’t match up with your current economic reality, but your daughter wants a memorable Candyland Sweet 16, not to worry — you can still have a cute one at home, for much, much less. Here’s how to get in scads of sugary sweetness for very little cash.

The Personalized Invitations.

Pricey: A high-style Candyland invite starts with something sweet — and personalized — in a box. Have these made, and you’re looking at $5 or $6 minimum each, mailed.

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Cheap: If you do it yourself, you can order personalized wrappers off eBay, wrap chocolate bars yourself, and package in cute little boxes or bags from Papermart. (Have the wrappers pre-printed with all the party info.) Or, hand out Whirlypops personalized with handsome card stock rounds. Make these yourself on a printer, and cut into perfect discs with a $12 craft-store circle cutter. Save even more by handing these out to friends, skipping the post office. Savings: $4 an invite.

The Super-Sweet Decor.

Pricey: Hire a venue and a four-hour DJ. Rent linens with candy-colored sashes and overlays. The tables need a focal point, so hire a florist to dye roses in bright candy colors and arrange in high-flying trumpet vases (no, I am not making this up).

Cheap: Turn your home and entryway into a virtual Candyland with clever decorations that play with scale. Your secret weapons: foam board, cellophane, balloons and paper lanterns. Even the craft-impaired, like me, can make great garlands out of giant “candies”: two paper plates glued together and covered with a cellophane wrapper. Check the web for more inflatable candy, and eBay for candy-themed balloons (they’re legion). With foam board and dowels, you can easily pull together a great lollipop forest to spiff up the lawn. Amazing “cotton candy” centerpieces are simple to craft. Savings: $6000 and up.

The Main Meal.

Pricey: Catered. It’s not like you can serve your guests veggie trays in a ballroom — you’ve got to at least give them passed hors d’oeuvres.

Cheap: Pizza. Believe it or not, your guests will eventually get a little sugared-out. Recharge their taste buds with lots of salty, fatty, tomato-y pizza. Savings: $20 per person and up, plus, get it delivered and save yourself the hassle.

The Dazzling Dessert.

Pricey: A three-tier Candyland dream cake with brightly fondant icing.

Cheap: Cupcakes are hot! And they don’t call for a degree in structural engineering, unlike the cakes. Make them yourself with super-bright frosting in different colors (use gel coloring). For that high-end look, just pipe on the frosting with a large star tip. Then prop a pretty piece of stick candy (lollipop, swizzle stick, rock candy) into each completed creation. Done? Now place all your lovely cuppies on a tiered pastry stand. If you don’t have a stand, make one with thrifted plates you’ve glued together with sturdy wine glasses or candleholders in between (use Plumber’s Goop to cement). Savings: $300 and up.

The Proof of the Great Time Had by All.

Pricey: A professional photographer to capture the Queen of the Day, and a photo booth to amuse her minions.

Cheap: Maybe you really do want a photographer to memorialize your lovely daughter. Scan Craig’s List for talented snappers who want to pad their portfolio, and who’ll shoot some pics ahead of time for cheap. As for your guests, create a simple backdrop (sheets), provide some props (boas, pink wigs and giant lollis), get out your digital camera and go to town. A photo printer and some gift frames to display the goods will thrill your girls. Savings: $1000 and up.

Want more? Check out our super-useful guide for pulling off a

Candyland Theme Sweet 16

that’ll leave you financially whole. And for a hot selection of

Sweet 16 party favors

, please visit us at FavorIdeas.

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How to Have a Candyland Sweet 16 For (Way) Less


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