Thursday, September 17, 2009

Birthday Ideas For the Frugally Minded!

I recently talked about how my second son just turned 2. We like parties. We like having people over and all that junk. We don't do it often, but when we do, we try to have fun. I know a big "frugal" way of throwing birthday parties is to keep it simple and just serve cake. We like food though. We like to eat it. We like our friends to eat it. So we serve it. Just a thing we like to do.

Originally we weren't going to go all "gung-ho" party. We were just going to hang out. I decided on a dinosaur theme, but just figured I'd throw a plastic dinosaur on a cake or something. Well I must have gotten bored or something because I started creating these dinosaur creations for the kids to do. When we sent out the invite - we "only" invited 9 groups of people. So 9 friends, their spouses and children (all but 2 have 2 children). We were kind of shocked when every single person replied with a "yes." We figured at least 2 or 3 wouldn't be able to make it. So then I thought "Oh man - what am I going to do with 18 kids in my backyard?" So here is a sampling of what we did:

We had some plaster work done on our house in the past year. The plasterer left this big roll of paper after one of the jobs. I glued a "Happy Birthday" banner to it (came as a 2 pack at the dollar store). Then I printed off simple dinosaurs off the internet and had the kids color them. Then they glued them on the banner.

This was my first dinosaur creation. I drew a simple dinosaur for "Pin-The-Tail On The Dinosaur". Then I painted it with the basic paint that my kids have. Then I cut out simple tails from construction paper (we have a TON because of the Staples "Buy 1, Get 2 Free" sale).
I decided to make party hats. This is my 3 year-old, Ben modeling his while coloring his dinosaur. These were fun to make but a little time consuming. I Googled "homemade dinosaur party hats" - and I got THIS LINK. I modified the directions some to make them not as big. If you have older kids, they can actually make them there at the party - but dealing with mostly 3 year olds, I knew that would pretty much be a disaster.
I did contemplate just buying a cake. But with a stash of cake mixes and frostings in the house (and with them on sale at Shaw's this past week too!) - I just couldn't buy a cake when I had the means to make my own. I Googled "Dinosaur Cake" and came across the Coolest Homemade Cakes website. They have pictures and ideas for every cake imaginable. So I got inspired. My cake mixes were .50 cents ea (Betty Crocker) and frosting was $1 ea. I used 2 cake mixes and 2 tubs of frosting. $3.00 for a cake to feed 16 cake eating kids and 17 adults. There were leftovers too.
I filled a 2 cup Pyrex Measuring cup about 2/3 full of batter. This made the "volcano". I also made two cupcakes that were "little hills". I put the remainder of the batter in an 11X18 (I think - a step up from a 9 X 13) pan. My husband decided that he really wanted to decorate the cake. So I let him. He added some blue food coloring to some of the white frosting to make a river. I added cocoa to some of the frosting to make the "volcano". We put green food coloring in the rest of the frosting to make the grass. Then I took some confectioner's sugar, a tiny bit of milk, and some red food coloring to make some lava. We have more toy dinosaurs than we know what to do with so we just threw five of them on the cake.
Here is the birthday boy with his homemade party hat and homemade birthday cake. The kids seem to all like the cake. They were all obsessed with the volcano, so after cutting it, I took the volcano and cut little pieces off and gave each kid who wanted some volcano a piece. It's amazing how happy this made most of them!

Another cheap way to make our backyard more festive was balloons. I grabbed a pack of 25 at the dollar store. We blew them up and just attached them to our clothes line with clothes pins. It was pretty festive! Well I liked it! ;)

This was the mother of all birthday creations. I made a dinosaur pinata. I made it too strong, but it did the job. I really had this obsession with having a pinata for some unknown reason. I used brown grocery bags, paper mached it (very easy glue recipe - 1 part flour to 5 parts water. Add a tablespoon of salt. Heat, bring to boil for a little bit and then let cool for just a couple minutes. Work your strips of newspaper with it).

I couldn't justify spending $16 on one of these things (and $16 is Unfilled). I used 4 toilet paper rolls for the legs. I painted it red when it was done and then I used a 2 pack of red streamers from the dollar store. I didn't need to do the pom poms, butI had them in my house. I used some hot glue to attach the legs. Total spent was $1. I bought 5 bags of basic candy at the dollar store (it wasn't expired! - just basics - Tootsie Rolls, Dum Dum Pops, Smarties and my favorite, Chick-O-Stick).

Now overall, it did take a few hours to make this. I personally enjoyed it though. If paper mache isn't your thing (or painting or glueing cut up streamers to paper mache), then you're probably better off just dropping the $16 than "wasting" your time.

Here it is hanging and the kids like it.

When it finally gets dumped, the kids went crazy!
Overall, I think it was a good time. I think I might have planned a little too much for the kids - but that's okay. I had fun putting it all together - and the good thing was that most of the stuff I used was just stuff I had laying around my house. Another thing I did for the kids, since it was dinosaur themed, was just round up all of my sons' dinosaurs and put them outside in a bin. I think a lot of the kids played with them.


MaryAnne said...

I LOVE your cake! And great idea to use a grocery bag to make a pinata!

lana said...

The question on every moms mind is - can a cheap birthday party be possible? Ebay and both have helped me throw cute cheap parties. Good luck!