Saturday, February 26, 2011

How To Throw A Birthday Party When You've Got Ten Bucks To Do It With. Literally.


I'm not usually a sucker for Mommy guilt.

I know my limitations, know what I'm capable of, and don't feel bad for saying no. So when Camden came to me two weeks ago, with a pen in hand, ready to make his birthday party guest list, I was a steel fortress. I went though the whole shpeel: how (despite all the photos from scrapbooks that show otherwise) I'm not into the the every-year-we-have-to-have-a-party thing. I know all the other kids at school do bowling alleys or roller skating or mini golf for there massive celebrations, but those families don't have 4 other children. And, I added, those mothers always seem to be yelling more than me. "Do you know why your Mommy doesn't lose it...more frequently?" I asked. "Because I don't get sucked into chaos like that."

I presented the plan: we'd do the same thing that we do 95% of the time for everyone else: He could pick a spot to go out for dinner as a family and we'd do cake and ice cream.
"Oh, I was kinda hoping that this year I could have a party," he said quietly. "It would be my first one....."

My mind scrambled to remember all the hoopla's we've had over the last decade- surely he was wrong. What about-? Remember that -?


After all this time and all the parties we have had... some way...some how.... little Cam Cam had been overlooked. Every stinkin' year. The feeling of my cold, hard heart breaking was almost unbearable.

We're both gonna to need therapy for this one.


Here's the mission: a party that's low key, low budget, low stress. Cheap and Easy. The same way my husband describes me.

The invites: leftover printed cardstock-y stuff that was in the file cabinet from forever ago. Since our color printer has been out of ink for months (or years), the details are colored in with markers.
Here's something that I've discovered: kids don't care about decorations. Especially boys. All the foof and the fuss.....that's for the adults, not the kids. They just want it to look like a party. Which, thankfully, doesn't take much. A few pieces of scrap construction paper,

cut into triangles by the boys. We punched two holes on either side just like this banner and strung 'em onto thin ribbon from the craft box. Throw in a bag of balloons and some curling ribbon and it's party time.
I hate those little favor 4 packs o' crap they sell in the party aisles. Not the idea, so much, because who doesn't love one stop shopping? But as a parent it kills me to throw away all those parachute guys and ball mazes and kazoos that somebody paid money for within 5 minutes of getting home because they're already broken.

Enter whatever is on sale for a buck. Mini bags of Oreos, Chips Ahoy Cookies, or these boy pleasers: Laffy Taffy. A blue plastic table cover gets topped with a square of wrapping paper for instant (free) pattern.

There's a long extensive list of things I stink at: moving clothes into the dryer. Taking the magic eraser out of shower once I'm done cleaning with it. Decorating cakes. Luckily I *can* manage cupcakes with punched out circles and number stickers taped to a toothpick.

I didn't even cover up the back and you know what? Not one 3rd grader even noticed.

Recap of the Dollar Tree Shopping List:
- tablecover
-bag of balloons
-bag of birthday plates
- bag of water balloons
-5 bags of candy
TOTAL= $9 plus tax
And one Happy Birthday Boy.


  1. Good for you! I put WAY too much into my daughter's parties (thus far my preschool boy has had just one party, so I'm not counting his!) and you are absolutely right--the all-consuming effort really is for me...and I readily admit it--and I *do* admit it while I'm sweating over every last detail. For some reason I'm not capable of letting go. I have this problem with a lot of things. I should work on it--just look at your son's face, he looks pretty darn happy to me! :)

    ~ Sarah

  2. Looks adorable! That last picture of him is so cute. I love party planning but not spending the money for it, I should probably take a cue from you and dial it down a bit. (I've already decided no handsewn favors this year, lol.)

  3. I always did inexpensive parties for my kids. I used legos as table decorations and made games, themes and such. They will never forget about them. You did a great job, why waste money on junk???

  4. Great job! YAY! So glad you have the pictures to remember it by!

    happy Birthday Camden!!

  5. Thank you for the ideas, seriously, we are planning for our daughters party and yikes! It can get to be too much very quickly. It looks like you made an awesome party and Camden looks very happy :)

  6. Amen, sistah! The look on your son's face says it all. :)

  7. thank you! this is so great! i always stress myself out for parties. i needed this. yay for the dollar tree!

  8. I. love. your. blog.
    I so wish you lived down the street, we would have so much fun.
    Oh and my hubby describes me as Cheap and Easy too. Brings a tear to my eye when I hear him call me that.....

  9. Wow, good for you! I always stress about birthdays WAY too much. I have begun a blog about my journey to happiness. One part of that journey is eliminating stress and worrying about others. Seeing as how my daughter has a birthday soon your post really hits the mark! Thank you for showing a thrifty way to have a party; and still look amazing! Come visit me at my new blog. Maybe you have other words of wisdom for me ;)

  10. He's face says therapy may be put off for a few more years?

  11. This may be one of my favorite posts. I tend to want to go all out for home parties because I feel like they are getting gypped (sp?) when I don't give a big exciting laser tag party. But NO ONE CARES! Last year I threw Halle the cutest party with a theme and colors and only candy that matched the decor and homemade decorations. It was adorable. Did the girls notice? No. Did the parents even come in the house far enough to see it? No. Did I completely waste my time and money? Aargh yes. But it was really cute.

  12. I love it. This is totally how I do birthday parties for Ginny. I did kind of go crazy making her cake this last time, but only because she had been talking about this castle cake for MONTHS. Next year we're back to cupcakes, though. And I recycle the same decorations from year to year. People are beginning to notice, but I don't care, and I'm pretty sure they don't either.

  13. once again.. fabulous. I always go over the top ridiculous, my husband has yet to stop me. LOL! but I cant help it.. it genetics. LOL...

  14. I love your party ideas and I'm sure that your son had a great time with his friends. My five-year-old (soon to be six) has never had a "friend" party, but it may happen for the first time this summer. If I can work up the energy. Maybe next year. How about once a decade? Is that adequate?

  15. I just found your blog. I read your family blog too. I think it's funny and clever that you only post pics as the blog post sometimes.
    I also live in DFW (McKinney) and also LDS :)

  16. I am so taking tips from you on parties! I have 5 kids too and need to watch the moola on the parties. My oldest is almost 18 so i don't even wanna think about that party.

    Thanks for that banner idea!

  17. Awesome birthday on a budget! You did great! Jackie

  18. Just in the nick of time, I read this great blog because next week is big sister's birthday and we just admitted one brother to the family. Beckie and I were trying to figure out how to Keep It Simple Stupid but have fun. It's so crazy it MIGHT JUST WORK! Bravo, Rebecca!!

  19. Precious! My kids always ask for parties at home with regular old party games- and it's a blast!

  20. so stealing the ideas for the bday banner and the cupcake toppers! i made a cupcake tower that we use for everyone's bday. if i am feeling really motivated i even change the color of ribbon around it. sarah even used it for a school project!

  21. Greetings from Southern California

    I am your newest follower. I invite you to visit my blog and follow me if you want too.

    God bless you :-)


  22. i love it..! im cheap and easy too :) ahah.

  23. Seriously. Your pretty darn funny. Liked the site. Your officially in my fav's now. Congrats :)


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