Saturday, May 21, 2011

Birthday Party on a Budget: What I've Been Up to Lately...

As you've probably noticed, I've been a little "quiet" lately...  My sweet little princess turned 3 this last week, and between celebrating like a proper princess should, and getting ready for those celebrations, I've been a little busy!!  I thought I'd share a few highlights from our "budget birthday party" as well as a few birthday freebies that she thoroughly enjoyed!!  So here goes:

The BIG day: Since her birthday fell in the middle of the week, we celebrated that day (for FREE) as a family and planned her party for the weekend.  First, we headed to Toys'R'Us.  I had signed her up for their birthday club (for FREE), and about a week before her birthday she received a card in the mail from Geoffrey with a coupon card for $3 off a $3 or more purchase.  They have a ton of toys for $3 or less (they have a rather large dollar section!!).  She had a blast searching for just the right thing!  When you go to Toys'R'Us on your birthday, you get a balloon and a "crown" as well as a special Birthday greeting played overhead.  She thought it was the coolest.  The best part for me:  It was FREE!!

Next, we went to Barnes and Noble.  Why?  I had signed Little Miss up for the Kids Club.  You get coupons periodically throughout the year, but for your child's birthday, they get a coupon for a FREE cookie or cupcake.  She also LOVES to play with the Thomas the Train set they have in the children's area.  It was lots of yum and fun!

That wasn't all.  Our final stop was a Chuck E. Cheese's.  I had also signed up on their site, and on your child's birthday, they get 20 FREE tokens.  We had almost an hour of fun with those 20 tokens and she won enough tickets to bring a little souvenier home, as well.

Her birthday was a hit.

So...for the party: Every year I ask our Little Miss what she'd like for a party theme.  This year it was a no-brainer.  She is obsessed with the cartoon character Caillou.  We even visited the "Party Store" hoping she'd pick something a little more generic to give us more options for party supplies, and such.  She wouldn't have Caillou it was!  (You could use these ideas for any themed party...)

The first thing I did was search for Caillou Birthday Party items online and holy smokes, the prices were outrageous!  So, I decided to get crafty and illicit some help from my soon to be three-year-old...

I started by saving the cardboard toilet paper rolls...every party needs some decorations, right??  What did I do with them?  Well, my Little Miss helped me cut out colored construction paper (in our party colors, of course) to cover the rolls and then she picked out pictures online which I printed and cut out for her to glue to the rolls.  I cut strips of construction paper and we "crimped" them by folding them accordion style.  I punched holes in the sides, and threaded some yarn that I had laying around the house through them to make cute little windsocks to hang around at our party.  I think they turned out super cute...what do you think?

I needed something a little bigger to really wow her.  Ponies in the back yard, clowns, inflatables...they didn't match our theme or our budget!!  I made life-sized cut outs of Caillou and his little sister, Rosie, for decoration and photo ops.  I used the grid method.  Not an artist?  Neither am I.  This method makes it super easy!!  I painted my "art work" with acrylic paints that I had left over from other projects (You could purchase bottles of it for as low as $0.39 at Michaels when it's on sale...around $0.60 regular price) and cut him out.  He's the size of an average 3 year-old (as you can see, my 3 year-old is NOT average sized...).

Since I didn't want to spend the money on plates, napkins, and cups with Caillou on them that I found online (no one in town had anything "Caillou"), I opted to just go with a color pallet that matched our other Caillou decorations.  Our plates were red and blue ($0.97 for 20 at Walmart), our cups were red (about $1.50 for 20 at Walmart), and our napkins were striped in red, blue, green, and yellow (I splurged...$2 for 20, but cheaper than buying 100 napkins that I wouldn't need).  I bought inexpensive white plastic silverware at Walmart (I saved by only purchasing spoons and forks as we didn't need knives) and a $0.97 yellow, plastic tablecloth to add a little color.  Over all, I spent less than $10 for all of the "tableware".

Another area that gets costly when throwing a Birthday Bash is the cake.  I'm no Betty Crocker, but I know how to use a cake mix!  I bought a mix for $0.97 and made Little Miss's Birthday Cake.  I am not good at smoothing buttercream icing, so I prefer to make fondant.  Most people are intimidated, but I have a recipe that I found online with super easy instructions on how to make and use fondant.  It really is for the beginner "cake artist"!  The fun thing about fondant is that you can mold it like clay.  I made a fondant Caillou to sit on top of the cake.  He's not perfect, but he did the trick!

Our Little Miss was thrilled with her Caillou Birthday Party, and I was thrilled with the price!  I hope this (long) blog entry gives you some ideas to help you plan your next birthday party!

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