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How To Throw A College Bedroom Decorating On A Budget

Last night, I hosted my daughter’s college bedroom decorating party, and everyone had a great time. If you haven’t heard about this phenomenon before, because I certainly never did, your child’s friends bring items matching the color of your son or daughter’s intended college.

what to bring to a college decorating party

So, for example, Natalie will be attending SUNY Oneonta. Their primary colors are red, white, and black. The majority of children brought snacks like:

  • Doritos
  • Coca Cola
  • Kit-Kats
  • Fruit Loops
  • Lucky Charms
college bedroom decorating party

You catch the drift. They head to the grocery store or to Target and pick up one item to bring that has the primary color as the overarching theme. Then, all the friends place these items on your child’s bed. In the end, it is a very cute idea and a great kickoff event for the college season.

Truthfully, I think it was a special evening for everyone and a great excuse to get together on a Thursday night for a bunch of seniors in a safe environment. Here are some of my thoughts and ways I think you can save money in the long run.

red streamers door

Buy A Party Pack

I went to Party City and started picking up individual sets of streamers, balloon kits, wigs, etc. Then I passed a $22 all-in-one party kit and dumped my entire cart on the floor. Ok, I didn’t quite do that, but you catch my drift.

You just need a few things hanging off the ceiling and streaming across from one edge to the next. One party pack will get you everything you need. The SHOW STOPPER for the room was the streaming wall hangers. They were $5 each and I bought 3 of them. One for each of her windows and then one for the main door. I thought that would really spruce up the space with minimal effort. It did.

suny oneonta college decorating party


I told my husband to figure out the balloons because I had no clue what to do. We ended up getting one S and one O. I didn’t want to pay for the entire word – ONEONTA. Truth be told, my daughter has a tiny room, and I thought the cost was unnecessary. The first two letters of SUNY Oneonta were FINE! She was very happy.

We also grabbed a handful of black, white, and red balloons. The cost was reasonable.

suny oneonta gear

Biggest Cost Will Be College Gear

You will spend the majority of your money on college gear from the main campus store. We purchased:

  • water bottle
  • sweatpants
  • sweatshirts
  • backpack
  • stuffed animal
  • key chain
  • stickers
  • banner for wall

That was excessive. I know that. I also bought two t-shirts for the grandparents to wear. She is my firstborn going to college. I went overboard. But you could just get your child one t-shirt and one sweatshirt to save in this department.

Plan In Advance Because Your Season Matters

It’s the Easter season right now. That means that everything in stores is PASTEL. I couldn’t find a RED CANDLE if my life depended on it. I was hoping to get a few lifestyle pieces that Natalie could actually use throughout the year. LOL! Everything was soft hues of either yellow, orange, or green.

If I had the foresight, I would have made all my purchases online the week before. But that is not who I am as a person. I am drowning in events at the moment. I’m planning:

  • my cousin’s bridal shower
  • my cousin’s bachelorette party
  • my daughter’s prom picture party day
  • my daughter’s prom night
  • my daughter’s SECOND prom night for another school
  • some secret thing I’m doing that I can’t mention (but it’s happening today, THANK GOD – so that will be over soon)
  • a trip to Myrtle beach with all of my daughter’s friends
  • my son’s bday party

So, if you can get a picture of how stressed I’ve been over the last few weeks – you still don’t quite grasp it. I get through every single day with an ounce of life left in me. I didn’t think about planning ahead. I just thought I could handle it all the day of. ROOKIE MISTAKE.

red comforter big lots

Shop for your colors online and give yourself ample TIME to DO IT! By the grace of GOD, I found a red bedspread in Big Lots, but that was after visiting 6 STORES. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? One click on Amazon 7 days ago would have saved my life.

Order Less Food Than You Think You Will Need

I ended up asking Natalie’s friends to arrive at 6:30. I told everyone that I would have pizza, but that was after dinner. Let’s get serious. Hardly anyone ate. And if I’m being honest, this group of kids never really does!

If you think you need 5 pies of pizza, just order 3. It will be fine. Teen girls don’t eat a lot. And even the boys! I thought they would devour at least two or three slices each? Not the case.

how to throw a bedroom decorating party

ALSO – do not have ANY SNACKS! These kids are bringing ALL THE SNACKS OMG. If they want to open up one of the seven million bags of Doritos, let them.

I’m sure there are moms who put out full spreads and order dessert tables with picture walls for these events, but it’s not needed. Relax and let the kids take over.

As a follow-up, a lot of kids ended up bringing desserts! They know what they are doing. Have pizza on hand and call it a day.

Heal Your Inner Child

I’m going to say something controversial. Sometimes when my kids get extra, it angers me as someone who grew up in a pretty dysfunctional home. Let me be clear – I never WANTED for food or shelter. I’m not saying I was deprived of basic needs, but something like this party would have never occurred in my life. It LITERALLY would have been beyond my mother’s capacity.

Like, how can I put this? I would never have even asked my mother to drive me to a friend’s house for a play date. That would have been too much for her. I was never given money to get food after school. I was never offered homework help. She didn’t even know any of my friends’ names if they didn’t live on my block. I was never given anything… extra. Is that clear? She only did what she had to do because that was all she was capable of doing at the time.

We didn’t have a lot. We had enough. And my mother was surviving her own life. I understand that now as a woman. However, I resented so much of my life growing up because I didn’t understand the WHYS. As a human, my mother had to deal with one blow after another while still managing me. It took me 30 years to see that. I’m still working through it.

So, when I’m running around and frantically looking for RED SHEETS because my daughter NEEDS them for her COLLEGE BEDROOM DECORATING PARTY – as if that is a real thing – I get so PISSED that things like this actually EXIST. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m just mourning a part of my life that I can’t heal or if I just know in my heart that none of this really matters.

But maybe it does matter. Maybe for kids who grow up in safe, normal homes, things like this just happen, and they happen because they can happen, and they are so lucky for it. They don’t live with alcoholics. They don’t have to worry about locking their bedroom doors at night. They just sleep soundly and peacefully and dream about how many friends they can fit into their bedrooms for their college parties. And that’s ok because it’s real life for them.

So, if you are someone who is like me, someone who carries a little too much with them but no one can really see any of it, it’s ok to feel conflicted about doing stuff like this. Because these parties are freaking STUPID, but kids deserve stupid things in their lives, and if we are in a great place, as parents, to give them lasting memories, then give them as many as you can.

We grow up to be better than the people before us if it is in our power. It’s our job to give our kids everything our parents couldn’t give us – even though they wanted to. And If that means streamers and balloons and a fucking Oneonta sweatshirt today – then I’m in.


Thursday 9th of March 2023

My daughter committed to Oneonta, we are doing her bed party next month and just so happen to come across your blog.

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