Monday, October 26, 2009

How to Have a Birthday Party on a Budget

Back in March I blogged that it was possible to throw a fun kids' birthday party and not break the bank. In keeping with that theme, I recently embarked on another birthday party adventure for one of my Things.

Yes, October signals the start of another birthday season here at the Thing household. All three things, their crafty mom and dad, and many of the grandparents, cousins and aunts and uncles all have birthdays falling between October and March. Since Thing 1 had his first "real" birthday party when he turned four I felt that it was only fair that Thing 2 get a birthday party for his fourth birthday as well.

Using my previously-posted bullet points, I will now outline for you once again how it is entirely possible to have a fabulous birthday party on a budget.

1. Use home-made or online invitations. Although I had big dreams of hand-stamping stunning and adorable Halloween-themed birthday invitations, I had to succumb to the realities of life once again and toss that idea out with the trash. That being said, I did my invitations online through evite and I was able to put together something really cute and totally Halloween oriented. Evite is fabulous for organizing your whole party and makes it so easy to figure out how many kids are coming (not to mention it is ridiculously easy for parents to RSVP online). My luck being what it is, all ten kids replied that they were coming.

2. Make Your Own Cake. I am not a cake-making expert, I have never taken a cake-making course, nor do I have any innate sense of how to decorate a cake. But after purchasing a few birthay cakes from the Cake Shop around the corner from us, I knew that there had to be a more affordable way to end up with annual birthday cakes for three kids. (Not that the Cake Shop cakes aren't to die for - they are - and I can assure you when I am back at work and we are once again a two income family that I will be indulging in more cakes from them!) After attempting this back in March, I figured it was not going to be that hard to create a Halloween birthday cake.

I purchased a pumpkin cake mold for $8 at Bulk Barn. I figured with three kids, one of whom was born a couple days before Halloween, that I would certainly make back the cost of the cake mold in no time at all. And it doubles as a pumpkin-shaped chip bowl. Oh, yes it does.

I mean, it is seriously a simple cake but Thing 2 was flabbergasted and brimming with joy as I pulled it out and placed it before him as the "Happy Birthday" chorus hit the room. I whipped up a basic chocolate cake, iced it in chocolate icing, squirted on some orange icing and then stuck on a few candy pumpkins I'd also picked up at the Bulk Barn.

And, voila. A cake for $15 instead of $50.


3. Plan Party Activities That Don't Cost Money. I googled a bunch of Halloween party kids' games and literally found more than I could possibly have carried out in one afternoon. We played Pin the Mouth on the Jack-o-Lantern (self-explanatory), Bobbing for Marshmallows (where the kids each tried to suck a marshmallow out of a bin of water using a straw), Who's the Ghost (where the kids all close their eyes while one child is pulled out and covered in a white sheet - they all then open their eyes and have to guess who the ghost is!), Simon Says, and a few other simple games. Since the party was a Halloween costume party, we held a Costume Parade and handed out awards to each of the participants (which were hand-made and decorated by Thing 1 and Thing 2).

4. Keep food and decorations inexpensive. We decided to have an afternoon party, from 1:00 - 3:30, freeing me from having to offer up lunch food to a huge group of kids in my very small home. We served basic snacks, choice of two drinks, and the birthday cake.

Most of the decorations for the party I already had on hand from Halloweens past or from my teaching supplies, and everything else I bought came to less than $20 . . . streamers, a few helium balloons, etc. The best money I spent by far was $2.00 for a bag of "spider web" stuff and plastic spiders. This stuff looks spectacular and really cool - it stretches like crazy and is easy to stick to anything. It was ALL over the house - filled our whole basement, over several sections of our living and dining rooms, and what I had left I stretched across the front of the house near our entryway.

5. Don't go crazy on the loot bags. Keep it simple. Don't send home a lot of crap with the kids. Although I didn't get a photo of the bags I sent home this time around, I used plain cellophane bags and stuck in one box of Smarties, a Halloween pencil and eraser, a skull ring and a deck of tiny Halloween pumpkin playing cards . . . all the kids seemed thrilled (but then again, perhaps they are not old enough yet to complain about the loot bags!).

See? All in all, totally possible to throw your little one a birthday party and stay on a budget!

16 comments:

Loukia said...

Looks like a lot of fun - and the cake looks awesome, too! Way to go! What a fun party!

Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

Wow! What a great sounding and looking party!

I bet all the kids had a wonderful time... and you didn't break your back or the bank!

Love the candle-blowing out picture! Too cute :)

-Andrea

Donna M said...

What a fun day for the newest 4 year old! Everything looked wonderful and I am very impressed with your cake decorating!! Looks like everyone had a great time!

Chantal said...

My boys love it when I make them a home made cake. They get disappointed if I don't have time. Those are great party ideas.

Anti-Supermom said...

I'm taking inspiration (and notes) from you for Henry's. It looks like it was a fabulous hit!

expatswede said...

Congrats to the new little 4-yo! Fab tips on how to save money, will have to keep these in mind. We're not doing parties for our kids yet, but next year will be different, so...

Love the look of your blog, super nice!

the Preppy Princess said...

Oh wow, you did such an incredible job, it all looks amazing! The spider webs are too cool, and that cake is awesome! I want to come next time, puh-leeze...?!

Grins & Giggles,
tp

BeachMama said...

Happy Birthday to the little Thing! You did a fabulous job. A costume party is so fun and that alone makes it a great time for the kids. Great tips on keeping it less expensive.

debra said...

Great ideas! The cake turned out really cute.

Lisa said...

From one Party Mummy to another, I say, You go girl! LOVED this! :)

Jenny said...

What great ideas! The afternoon party is definitely a winner...love the last picture...so cute!

Rebecca said...

great ideas! I have my sons b'day coming up and will be doing a simple get together ;)

Elaine A. said...

You're so good at this party thing. Now that we have an Oct. b-day maybe I can steal some of these ideas! Great job Mommy!

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