Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Party On A Budget?

Birthday season is kicking off here in our household. My little guy is turning 3 next week. Which brings me to a great challenge - party planning frugally! Now granted, in the past, if we've had people over or birthday parties, I just buy whatever. Sales and coupons go on the back burner because party planning is not my thing. Buying all the stuff, making sure everything is in order and actually relaxing is not something I do.

But this year, I'm determined to do it. Birthday parties and coupons can and can mix! I do have some issues though...

- For starters, I don't have an oven. It will probably get hooked up soon but not before birthday extravaganza. Normally my toaster oven works fine for normal cooking of us - but yeah - it wouldn't cut it for party preparations.

- I like doing nothing. I usually buy stuff already like fruit and vegetable platters already done. More expensive? Sure! But I mentally tell myself it's worth it.

- I usually buy a pre-made birthday cake. Sure, I'd like to make my own cake or cupcakes, but decorating isn't my thing. If I tried to decorate a cake or cupcakes, I'm sure it would look like I went up to the local elementary school and asked a 3rd grade class to do it for me.

- I always offer a meal. I know the "cheap" way would be to not do this, but people come from all over - so I feel the need to feed them. But believe me - it's usually not all that good anyways! ;) ha ha!

- About 3 months ago, I found goodie bags and some fillers on clearance at Target. I thought "yeah! This is great!" So I bought I can't find them. I'm thinking I left them in the plastic bag and thought it was trash so tossed it. I just can't think of anywhere else they all might be. Oops.

Here are some things I have learned or will try to stick with this year:

- I'm feeding about 20 - not 200. I always overbuy for these things. Not a little but a lot.

- I don't need 12 different things out there. I think I usually have a lot of variety but I don't need all that stuff.

- Most people aren't as addicted to soda like me. I always have a ton of soda - and hardly anyone drinks it. Water bottles go fast though.

- I'm more gracious and more thankful when people offer to bring things. Usually when someone offers, I just say "no, no! I got it all!" But I'm more happy to have people bring things this year (just my immediate family - I'm not telling friends to bring stuff!!)

Have you learned anything good about party planning frugally? Life will be good when we can just have a bowling birthday party!


Anonymous said...

Last year I posted on Swapsavers about my frugal taco party, I invite our families so we are feeding around 20 people. It was in Sept so we used tomatoes from the garden. to help cut the budget. By all means make your cake or cupcakes yourself! This will trim at least $20-$25 off, they have cake decorating stores that sell cut little whatnots to put on your cake. Save them from year to year to reuse, I still have ballerinas and cheerleaders to put on cake tops!Tacos go far, sloppy Joes go far, no oven necessary but you do need a cooktop, use your slowcooker to keep warm. No oven, have a family member bring cake or cupcakes! Don't give in to the store, you can do it.

Patty said...

I go cheap and do not save a meal, and I know my mom is usually more than happy to bring things. Last year, she brought the cake. It had Elmo and Big Bird on it which made Paige happy and that my mom was the one to make Paige happy, well that made my mom happy. I too was happy not having to buy and or make a cake!

BabiesandBargains said...

This year I am going to try to have my party at 2 and just offer cake and desserts. It will be very cheap! I also make my own cakes and my friend helps me decorate. I am going to buy a few balloons and print out some characther stuff off the internet and color it and hang it throughout the house.

The Sensible Organizer said...

I stopped doing goodie bags a long time ago. What I do now is find one "larger" favor for each kid. Sometimes I will give the girls and boys something different. I don't know who started the goodie bag thing but they are always filled with junk that gets thrown away or worse just adds to clutter. I would rather spend 2 or 3 dollars on one item and sometimes I even find items at the dollar store. Some ideas I have done are gift certificate for an ice cream, hair items, mathbox cars, nerf balls, craft items, nail polish (from a manicure themed party I did). If you still want to go the goodie bag route there is a place in Norwood called Dart Sales that has all that stuff cheap.

Anonymous said...

Hey Becky,
I just had a big party and it was so reasonable....
I had my sister pick up a sheet cake at Stop and Shop as part of her birthday present. I made my own crudite and fruit platter for 10 bucks total (which was fresher than the premade), served homemade baked penne for the adults (made in the microwave) and hot dogs for the kids with chips. For the penne, you combine 2 lbs of cooked, one small container of ricotta mixed with 2 eggs ricotta and a jar of Prego - cover with foil and bake at 350 for 50 minutes). Have a friend bake it and you can heat it up in your microwave. Round it out with garlic bread and a salad and you can feed 20 people for under $35 total (including paperplates and napkins - on sale for BOGO at Party City! Good luck, Ilene

Kristie Kay's Blog said...

this sounds so great to have a party and not worry about how much it costs if you follow your "guidelines"

BECKY! said...

Thanks for all the tips ladies! I do like the one about not doing goodie bags and buying one "better" thing for the kids. I agree - most things in goodie bags are garbage. No offense friends!! ;) I do love putting together goodie bags though.

I've decided to do an Easter Egg hunt as our "goodie bags" - A.C. Moore has the plastic eggs on sale this week and tonight (Sunday) you can get 20% off your entire purchase. I'm going to fill with some candy, maybe small raisin boxes, some random goodies I picked up at Target. I just hope the kids get a good variety! Maybe they'll have to swap eggs after the fact if one ends up with all jelly beans and the other ends up with all temporary tattoos! ;)

I'm going to do cupcakes here. I can "bake" 6 at a time in the toaster oven. And we're going to do deli sandwiches (but only because we have a meat market nearby that has great prices on quality meat). I'll see how we do!

If you're local and do Roche Bros - Tribe Hummus is on sale at there this week for $1. There are coupons at for .55/1 - which double! Which means free hummus or possibly a 10 cent money maker!