Our almost-two-year-old always loved coloring so an art party was the perfect theme for her birthday party. It was such an easy theme since we used every color of the rainbow for decorations. This was a very budget-friendly event with a bunch of "big bang for your buck" DIY projects.
Our daughter was our initial inspiration--we came up with the "art party" theme at a restaurant one day as we were watching her scribble away with her crayons as her tongue was sticking out of the corner of her mouth :) Then I went a little crazy on pinterest and started pinning anything and everything art party/rainbow related!
Everything was rainbow colored! I'm so glad I decided to tone it down with white table cloths and dishes, it would have been a bit overpowering on the eyes otherwise.
There were so many details that went into this to make it budget friendly. Almost everything was DIY.
Activities: We covered the dining room walls with plastic drop cloths used for painting and then used a long roll of butcher paper and taped it to the plastic. We let the toddlers go to town with crayons for the first half of the party and then switched out the crayons for water colors during the second half. They had a blast! After cake and presents, we went outside to enjoy the nice day and played with sidewalk chalk as everyone grabbed their favor buckets and said their goodbyes. With toddlers, this was the most "structure" we could handle!
I LOVE that the polka dot cake came out wonderfully! It was one of those "cross your fingers and hope for the best" moments as we were cutting into it. The cake jars were a favorite among the older guests and the kiddos (of all ages) loved the jello. The streamers on the ceiling had a great visual effect, too.
If you're on a budget, choose an open theme! Since we didn't pigeon-hole ourselves to a very specific theme, we had such an easy time with this party. We didn't have to buy high-priced character plates and everything still had the wow-factor visual effect.