Thursday, December 3, 2009

How to throw a Frugal Theme Party - Guest Post!

My friend Summer V is fantastic. I'd be willing to bet that a large portion of my readership actually knows her and would agree with me that she's wonderful! Something you may not know about her is that she is a smart cookie! Her mama taught her well, she is super frugal and all about coupons and saving fat cash when she does anything. I've known Summer for 20 years...she is one of my sister's very best friends. Our children are also very close in age so we are in the same season of life. (Our oldest two are 11 months apart and are younger two are 3 months apart.)

When I first read her post about their Frugal Pirate Party I knew I had to share it with you folks but I wanted to get her permission first. Now that I have permission - here is Summer!

I have been so excited about sharing the fun we had at Daniel’s Pirate Party. It truly was a blast… me at least….and if I, an adult, can find it fabulous, I would hope birth to 5 year olds could agree.
Anyway, rather than just giving a recap, I thought I would join in for the first time posting for Frugal Fridays, in which I would explain how we threw a super fun party for super cheap.

1. Choose a Theme Early

When you know how you are going to celebrate your little one, you can share your theme with others. When they are in the know, your friends and family can pick up odds and ends on sale as they find them, not to mention yourself. When we shared our pirate idea, my loving sister-in-law picked up a great “Beware of Pirates” sign that marked our house and welcomed our guests.

2. Bake and Make What You Can:

Now, I am by no means an Ace of Cakes, but I can surely make (somewhat) aesthetically pleasing, edible products. And when you compare what it will cost you to celebrate with a home made cake over a store bought one, home made is the only way to go. Cake mix is about a buck and you can make a whole cake or 24-26 cupcakes out of that. With cupcakes, you can typically measure better if you are making enough to feed your guests. Plus, you wipe out needing more paper plates and silverware to eat dessert! If you make your own frosting, you are saving even more, which is what I did.

(Carol Here - Just a note. In October I bought my daughter a "Princess Cake" because she was DYING for it and I didn't think I could do it I saved enough money elsewhere I splurged...24 cupcakes together as a cake? $20.00!!!)

Since my aforementioned cake making skills are basic, I have begun the tradition of letting my little one decorate his own cake, on which I will put his candles. He put on the sprinkles and placed the objects where he chose, and if/when it looks poor, you can just blame it on your kid :O)

Don’t just think about making food either. Think about making all sorts of things. For instance, in keeping with the Pirate theme, we had a treasure hunt. I made a little treasure map in a matter of minutes. The birthday boy opened this up, with his guests right beside, and we went on journey to find those treasures!

And if you are highly skilled—or know someone that is (hence the photo of my lovely pirate boat engineer, Amanda, in the photo below)—you can construct an elaborate decoration for the kids to play in/on to help their little imaginations. —note their Pirate hook fingers :-)

3. Recycle and Re-purpose What You Can:

If your kid is choosing the theme, you most likely have toys around the house that will go along with said theme. I scoured the house for Daniel’s pirate items which were stuck on his cake and set around the food table, etc. to add to the decor.

Other items we found and used—the big box that our new recliner came in became our pirate ship. The old Halloween decorations from my mom became the skull on the front of the ship. A wooden decorative box became our treasure chest. An old pinata that , for some really odd reason, had been at my mom’s since high school, was just perfect for our event. I even filled the pinata with Daniel’s Halloween candy because, let’s face it, your kid only needs so much. Now, I know this is something that not all folks can do, for my little one happens to have a birthday that follows close suit to trick-or-treating, but you can always keep a look out for candy deals.

Decorations from birthdays past can be very effective in helping for your current party. Even if you do not have any from the past, choose solid color accents to your theme and you can save leftovers for the next celebration. A few Pirate stickers (bought off e-bay at a steal) and you can spice up most any decor, such as your solid colored plastic cups, old birthday blowers, etc.
4. Shop the Sales and Look for Clearance:

One of our local mega marts had some Pirate birthday gear, and since I knew my theme early, I had been keeping my eye on them, waiting for prices to drop. Being that a clearance is almost always in sight for those type of items, I just kept waiting. Sure enough, they were clearanced down to fifty and seventy five cents an item, so I bought invitations, which came with thank you notes, a table cloth, and napkins. And you know what, that same said sister-in-law, being she knew our theme, called me when she found them on sale, but I already had them!

Being that we have a deep freeze in our garage, I was able to buy our hot dogs and buns ahead of time, free or nearly free with coupons and BOGO sales. I just sat them out the morning of our party and they were perfect for eating that afternoon. I don’t think anyone noticed; they pretty much ate it all.
Even our own little Pirate was decked out in clearanced gear for his big day. Since Halloween was over, costumes were 90% off, hence him donning such a great Pirate costume.

(See the birthday boy badge? I made that by cutting out a skull off of an extra invite.)

I also got our littlest a skeleton outfit for $1.80, all thanks to sales!
Even though these party favors (hat, patch, and hook combo; jumbo coloring book ) were not on sale or clearanced, they came from a store where everything in it is a dollar, so it does not get much better than that.
The skull and cross bone cupcake papers and toppers are another sale item after Halloween. Good deals!

5. Borrow What You Can:

Did someone else you know have a party of the same theme? I am sure he or she would let you borrow the leftover items. With that said, I borrowed my get-up from my cousin, who wore it the year before at a Halloween party. Everything my brother is wearing was just re-purposed from around his house, including the peg leg :O)

6. Let Other People Help
Friends and Family are always looking for a way to contribute. If someone asks if they can bring something to the party, take them up on it. An extra 2 liter never hurt. My mother brought some baked beans to the party to go with our hot dogs. I had given her a couple of cans I had bought and she put them with some of her own, but the biggest help was that I did not have to spend time making or worrying about them.

All in all, it was a splendid time. I *love* the fact Daniel is still talking about the treasure hunt with his friends. He retells all the steps each time we see the field, giving me details about the candy and how it busted open. So fun.

My Father-in-law had an emergency appendectomy, so he, along with my mother-in-law, were not able to make it to the celebration. Instead of having them miss out completely, we used Skype and had them join in on all the fun for a few moments.

Thank you Summer for all of the fantastic ideas!! Remember - these ideas don't have to apply only to a Pirate party. This would work for any theme!


Flying Giggles and Lollipops said...

So many great ideas, looks like fun!

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