Sunday, December 11, 2011

Parties on a Budget

My youngest, Ivy, turned one this past week.  Both times, I have boo-hooed on my kids' first birthdays.  Babies' births were not that long ago, and then they go and have a major milestone.  Who do they think they are?  They have an actual age in years.  It's not right. On the other hand, with the turning of one comes a little relief from infant challenges.  Parent life isn't that much easier, but the dilemmas evolve into at least a new set of problems.

But, I digress.  This year we were especially budget conscious as day approached.  Here were the guidelines I gave myself for Ivy's party that others may find useful.  And, not just for kids birthdays.

1.  Be selective in who is invited.  You're not being elitist or "clique-y;" this is motivated by good reasons.  If you want to have a party that includes everyone you know, you're entitled to it.  But, a short list is an easy way to save money.  More guests mean more food and more pressure for extra details (like decorating) to be just right.  I would rather have a small party and the ability for some decor and favors than a large party with no decorations and favors.  Have you noticed when making guest lists, there is a snowball effect?  "If I invite ____, I will also need to invite  ____ and ____."  For Ivy's celebration we invited family.  Easy enough.

2.  Make the food yourself.  This is a strategy used by moms since the beginning of time, but I almost chickened out.  Cooking for a crowd can be intimidating.  Really the guideline is to make food that is within your abilities.  With the vast number of online recipes, a recipe for you exists.  Please see pics below of my cupcakes.  They were far from perfect, but edible.  They thankfully didn't require great decorating skills.

3. Use what you already have.  As a frequent kid party attendee, I think this option is overlooked.  Your child's beloved toys could easily serve as a successful party them.  Use them as deco.  I love that some toys like sock monkeys and teddy bears can be staged in many different ways--draped in boas, wearing stickers of a favorite sports team, etc.  Since (for better or worse) Ivy is a December baby, I incorporated mini trees.  I also covered a canvas, which is normally a tulip painting, with party decorations.

Hope these ideas will help someone else.  Here are some pics that marked the day.  Ivy is so special to me.

I was inspired by these cupcakes and the fact that Ivy has made our world so colorful and beautiful.  I covered this canvas with a plastic tablecloth.  Next time, I will use a cheap sheet, though.  The paper balloons came from a party store, and her name was written in unrolled cotton ball "clouds."
I had these small trees on hand, which I believe came from a dollar store.  The table cloth was quite colorful.  With older children, it would be fun to use white paper and crayons for guests to color on.

Our kitchen bar was topped with a brightly striped sheet.  We displayed candle holders (already owned) tied with rainbow ribbon, tie-dye pattern paper plates and napkins, cupcakes on cake stands, favor tree--colorful lollipops tied on with ribbon, pink lemonade and multi-color cups (not shown).  Guests also ate rainbow sherbet. 
This is my very first time making cupcakes, ok?  Go easy.  The cake and icing were lemon flavored and embellished with marshmallow clouds and rainbows made from Airhead Xtremes.  If I could do this over again, I would let the Airheads get stale.  You read right.  When fresh, they're a bit too pliable.  Some rainbows leaned like the Tower of Pisa.  Most were alright but frustrating to work with.
Ivy ate not one, but two cupcakes.  As we were posing for a family photo, she decided to share a huge cupcake clump with her brother.  I had to intercept.  You'll notice she's barefoot, which is because I gave in and let her do her own thing on her birthday.  That child never wants to wear shoes.  Florida kid.
Check out my ruffles.  Thanks, Aunt Wendy.

One other day of cake at Thanksgiving.  Yes, I like it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my so cute! You have the most beautiful familiy ever :)