Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why I Do My Kids' Parties

Why I do My Kids' Parties.  Alternately titled "How Being A Pack Rat Saves Me Money"
I love love love to do my kids' birthday parties.  I have them choose a theme no less than 4 months in advance.  Knowing ahead of time lets me get on Pinterest, browse clearance sections, borrow things from others, and have the time to make items.  A year before this party I needed new table clothes.  I chose two that I loved for spring/summer (our table is L O N G) that also matched Rosebud's first birthday theme.  Since then I used them for daily dining, as well as 2 more parties.  

 Pinterest is THE place to find party ideas.  There are also a couple of cute sites on my Blogroll that I consult.  Mostly I have to be willing to do lots of work myself.  Thankfully I have a mom who also enjoys creating and always helps out.
 I love coordinating clothing with parties.  I don't often buy my kids new clothes, but it is a fun excuse.  I also sometimes MAKE them.  I didn't make the actual shirt (Wal-Mart $3.88) but I did the pinwheel on the front and the crown.  I made the crown entirely (if memory serves me right) out of stuff I had from previous projects.  SO MUCH of what I use is bits and pieces of former projects.  I'd LOVE to say that all that stuff is nicely's not.  Thankfully I have a knack for remembering things I've used before.  Sometimes I do spend more than I "should" on an item.  The candles on her cake, for example, were originally $4 for the pack.  However, the pack had 24 candles in it.  I believe I have now used (I have saved some of the burnt ones that were still quite tall) these candles on over 5 cakes.  With still several unused and several re-usable.  That means in the end each party will cost less than $1 (probably in the end less than fifty cents) for candles.  I can handle that.  Is it pack-ratty to save them?  Yep.
 Although we always have close family friends (some with children, some without) at our parties, when our kids turn 5, they get an official "friend" party.  I wish I could find pictures of Snug's, but I don't have the time right now.  I spend more on these parties, but that really is their gift.  They get a small gift, but nothing much.  Again, I use, re-use, thrift, clearance, and borrow.  In this picture you can see the mast.  It is made from our clothesline, a free large cardboard tube from JoAnne fabrics, a tablecloth, and a borrowed Jolly Roger.  The brown paper making the bow and covering the table is leftover from when we moved.  The steering wheel I made out of cardboard that came when I had a large picture printed.  I always save cardboard.  So I had to buy the eye patches and bandannas as party prizes-when you consider that everything else was pretty much free that doesn't seem so bad.
 Again, I had theme dress.  The hat and outfit were hand-me-downs from a friend.  The gun and sword he had picked as his souvenir from Disney (when he decided to have a pirate party).  We all dressed in "theme" for this party,our roles were part of a "play" that was the party.  We used clothing we had, stuff we got from Goodwill, and some small pieces of material I bought from the fabric store.
 Cakes get tricky.  This one was from a Betty Crocker recipe site.  Of course I bought the cake and the accessories at ALDI, but the idea came from there.  Where I spent money here was on the small foil wrapped coins.  I got them at Party City and tried not to notice the price.  I think they were like 15 pieces for $1.  That is crazy.

 Certainly she didn't pick her theme, but it was fun anyway.  Again, Pinterest, knowing a LONG time ahead of time, and clearance.  I chose her theme for her second birthday shortly after her first one!  Her shirt was on clearance for around $2 at JcPenney, her skirt (and one to match her cousin for a subsequent party) I believe was $2.50. I had all but one of the ribbon colors in my ribbon collection and made the bows to match.  If I don't have anything to use my 40% off coupon for JoAnne fabrics, I often pick up a roll of grosgrain ribbon.  Comes in handy come party time to have lots to choose from.
 Pinterest.  ALDI.  Enough said.
 This was probably my most challenging, and least favorite cakes to make.  But he LOVED it.  The Transformers were very hard to use, broke after a couple of weeks, and were a huge disappointment.  I wish now I had just bought some sort of cake topper ones.  I didn't,  thinking it would be more fun to give him Transformers he could actually PLAY with afterwards, but that wasn't the case.  Fail.  He had Transformer plates, cups, and napkins that a friend gave me for the kids to just use.  She had them left after a party.  I saved them and when he said he wanted Transformers, I brought them right out!

Our boys have summer birthdays, so often we are out of town and don't do as much of a planned "party".  Instead we're swimming, hiking, at camp, or doing other fun things.  They don't seem to mind.
 This is Rosebud's most recent party.  It was really fun as I remember having at least one Strawberry Shortcake birthday myself.  I was even planning on bringing out my vintage Strawberry Shortcake dolls (because, being a pack rat, I naturally still have them) but TOTALLY forgot.  The plates and napkins that have character print I paid $0.68 for.  That was shipping or tax or something.  Because I had ordered something for my Sunday School class from Oriental Trading Company they called me to do a survey.  Do phone surveys.  They usually come with a reward.  Mine for this was a gift certificate for their online site.  Thus the practically free character serve ware.

The cute buckets/silverware rolls were from a birthday my sister-in-law did for her daughter.  She was kind enough to give me what she had left and I put them to use!
 I love dishes.  When I buy dishes, I buy ones that I like, and that also will be useful for other things.  My "Fiestaware" plates are certainly not.  They're Wal-Mart knock offs.  But I bought them in several festive colors that I can use for different party themes as serving platters.  My cake plate?  $2 at a garage sale.  The green placemat on the table under the cake?  Still from Rosebud's first birthday party and has been used in several.  Sometimes something as little as a placemat makes your table pop.  Many of the other dishes were wedding presents (clear glassware looks nice with pretty much anything) or things I've picked up at garage sales.

Balloons?  Pinterest.  They're red balloons that have cardstock (which I of course have tons on hand from former projects) glued to them and permanent marker "seeds".  Make them the night before, the glue takes a LONG time to dry.
Her apron is a bit droopy here, but she was happy to BE Strawberry Shortcake.  My mom got her the dress at a resale shop and made the apron.  You can't see them in the picture but she has green and white striped adult knee socks that I had bought on clearance after last St. Patty's Day.  I sewed the heel out of them, and on her they were way up her thigh giving the illusion of tights.  Her hat was more money than I'd usually pay for a birthday outfit, but the dear friend who made it sells them for their adoption fund*.  I consider it helping them to adopt AND getting a fun accessory.  Halloween costume for Rosebud?  Check.  

So WHY do I do my kids' parties big?  Because I LOVE it.  Birthdays are special no matter if you have a big bash at a kids' party location, do a simple dinner and cake, or a theme birthday at home.  Every family is different.  I know several people who see my parties as a pain in the neck. Something they'd never ever ever want to plan and do.  Some people think my parties are too expensive (trust me, as I've shown you they are WAY cheaper than they appear), too time consuming (probably true), or too excessive.  I don't think celebrating my kids once a year is too excessive :o)  Overall it is a creative outlet for me and how I show each one they are special.  

Happy Creating!

*If you'd like to order a hat (she has SO SO many styles to choose from, anyone remember LMM's Sock Monkey party hat?) please contact me or leave a comment.  I'll hook you up!


Anonymous said...

I LOVE your parties! These parties create special memories for the children. And I believe they will want to make other people's birthday just as special when they get older. Aunt Cheryl

Anonymous said...

I love kids birthday parties too! It is a lot of work, but I love crafting and getting it all together. Daegen remembers every party she has had and looks forward to it all year. She already has her next 2 themes picked out! Being a pack rat really does help out in the party department. Much to Tony's dismay, I save everything!

You are a super mom and you can tell the love having something done just for them! They are pretty lucky.