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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Birthday ideas on a budget: great how-to tips

My daughter recently had her 8th birthday, and although she's a social butterfly, we struggled with what to do for her big day. I didn’t have the time, nor the energy, to plan an extravaganza. And, honestly, I didn’t really have the budget for it either. So what’s a mom to do? Birthday on a Budget, it is!

We decided on a camping themed slumber party. Since I am not a camper, I have no camping supplies. In fact, my idea of camping is the Hilton closest to the woods. I love to sleep with the windows open, and in theory, sleeping out under the stars is great! But I can’t do it. So I hit Pinterest. I searched for “slumber party”. I found a mom who had transformed her back porch into a “tent”. It was gorgeous. She had yards upon yards of tulle strung up with flowers made of out of tulle and all sorts of lanterns. 

 photo IMG_20130907_221412_zps7bfe50ed.jpgThe bad news was, as someone who sews, I know tulle is not only a complete pain to work with, but it’s also expensive.  The good news was I already have a screened in back porch. A pretty decent sized one at that. So, the girls would be safe and bug free. II substituted old sheets for the tulle. I cut them into quarter panels and draped them down the columns and up through the middle to meet at a point by the ceiling fan. I took strands of Christmas lights and ran them down the middle of each section. The girls loved it! In addition to that, my daughter’s Poppy bought some of those huge balloons with the rubber bands on them, I think they’re called Punch Balloons. We blew those up and had them all over the porch too. They were a huge hit and you get 3 for $1 at the Dollar Store!

We had 12 girls total including my daughter. We took one of those big bouncy balls you can get at any store (Target, Kroger, Meijer) for $2.50 and wrote on it. Favorite Food? Band? Singer? Color? Dogs or Cats?, Cake or Cookies? Crush? Future Career? You get the point. When the ball was thrown to one of the girls she had to answer whatever question her right thumb landed on. It was a huge success! The only downside was they all wanted to answer right away. So, there was a lot of “pick me” going on. We even had a dare section so whomever threw the ball got to tell the person who caught the ball what their dare was. One of the girls ended up running down our street yelling, “I love Justin Bieber”. The rest of them thought this was hilarious so they all joined in too. Good thing I warned my neighbors…

Next, it was time to feed them. We didn’t start the party until 7 so most of them came fed, but as one of my friends warned me, they eat nonstop. I made a popcorn bar which went over very well. I popped real popcorn ($1.50/bag) and colored some of it blue and left some normal. I took bowls and filled them with various additives: chocolate chips, Reese’s Pieces, Sno Caps, Twizzler bites, Goobers, and honey roasted peanuts. The girls got to make their own popcorn trail mix. Most of the candies were available at Kroger for $1 a box. So, I spent maybe $10 on the popcorn bar in total. They were all very impressed with the blue popcorn.

After the sun went down I brought them inside to watch Teen Beach Movie. On the invites, I had requested each girl bring a bottle of her favorite color nail polish. I dug a spinner out of one of my daughter’s  games and had them all sit in a circle where we played “Spin the Bottle”. But not the kind we know! They all took turns spinning and whomever the pointer landed on, she got one of her nails painted with the favorite color polish of the girl who won. Each girl let with 10 different colored fingers and toes! They all thought this was fun, but it got out of hand very quickly. It definitely required the most supervision. Not to mention, there were incessant dancing/singing breaks for Teen Beach Movie.

After we watched Teen Beach Movie AND Pitch Perfect we went outside to settle down. While I’m blowing up my air mattress, I sat the girls in a circle and we told scary stories. I started the story and when I stopped, the girl next to me picked up and so on. They enjoyed doing this. My only regret is that I didn’t record it somehow so I could type it up for them. After the first story I had them all get in their sleeping bags for the next one. They started dropping off and a few of them, I had to just cut off and tell them it was time to go to sleep once we got the story over with.

 photo photo3_zpsa873d4a4.jpgI’m sure you’re wondering at this point, where in the hairy heck is the birthday cake? GREAT question. My daughter doesn’t like cake. Hmmm…what does she like? Donuts. She loves donuts. Preferably glazed. So, I called up Jeff of Jeff’s Bakery in Jeffersonville. Man, that’s a lot of Jeff going on there… and found out that he does a Texas glazed donut for $8. This thing is a behemoth. It was at least a foot in circumference. He slathered it with chocolate frosting and wrote Happy Birthday, Katie Grace on the top of it and it was only $8. And delicious. The girls thought it was cool to see this huge donut.  I also had him whip me up some donut holes, which I put on skewers and mixed with fresh fruit. So we had a glazed donut and breakfast kabobs along with sausage bars. Sausage bars aren’t actually bars of sausage, they’re crescent roll dough, sausage, cream cheese, cheddar cheeses, and more crescent roll dough. They are scrumdeliumptious!

 photo photo2_zpse77a4d9c.jpgThe best part of breakfast however, and here’s where I totally cheated, was the pastry plate catered by Adrienne’s. I am SO glad I cheated, because come Sunday morning, I was one worn out mom. If you didn’t know, or haven’t heard of, Adrienne’s & Co. in Jeffersonville, you are absolutely missing out. They are well known for the masterpieces Adrienne creates cake-wise, but most people don’t realize they not only serve a full breakfast and lunch, they also cater. The muffins were bigger than my fist. The cinnamon rolls were huge and delicious. The scones didn’t go over so well with the kids (because they were all fighting over cinnamon rolls) but my grandmother loved them. I cannot thank Adrienne’s enough for making my life simple and edible.

After breakfast was over the girls parents started picking them. We had a lot of fun, but I was exhausted, KG was exhausted, and all the girls from school had volleyball games that afternoon. It was definitely time for a nap! However, we can’t forget the parting gift, now can we? We took brown paper bags (left over from the popcorn bar) and put in a pack of crayons and individual packs of marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers. On the outside my daughter wrote: “Thank you for spending my birthday with me. I had a colorful time! Can’t wait to hang out s’more.  Love, Katie Grace”.

All in all, I’d say the Birthday on a Budget was a huge success. My bank account is thanking me. When all was said and done, I spent less than $75. I also created a Pinterest board where you can see all the ideas that arose, but weren’t implemented. Need some ideas for a birthday party? Check out our list of the best options around Louisville here!

By guest contributor: Heather

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