Have A Wonderful Memorial Day

May 30th, 2010

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day. Take a moment to remember the men and women who died while serving our country.

Don’t forget to come back and tell me about your frugal Memorial Day parties!

Hobby Lobby Printable Coupon – Hurry!

May 28th, 2010

Click Here to print a “40% off any item” coupon for Hobby Lobby. What better way to save money on your party than a coupon? Hurry! It expires May 29th!

Mystery Dinner Party Tips

May 28th, 2010

I’m not very familiar with Mystery Dinner parties, but I wanted to include them here for those that have them (or wish to, like me!). I asked a friend, who’s thrown several of these parties herself, if she would share some tips and suggestions for my blog. She happily obliged! So here you go:

These types of parties can easily become “not-frugal”, because often the game is purchased online. We have done 10 or 12 of these through the years and I buy the boxed sets online. They can be pricey — $30 to $80 sometimes. The box includes all the necessary items for the story — and the story itself. Each character has a booklet of facts and dialogue to guide them through the pre-written mystery.

Once the box is purchased, however, the rest is fun and can be quite frugal! I like all the characters to come in costume, so my family typically heads into our own closets, Goodwill, and yard sales. Last party we had, the costume suggestion for one of our women was 1950s style cat-eye glasses…the lady who was playing that part took a tissue box and cut out the frames for the glasses, used some black spray paint she had in the garage and put some rhinestone stickers on the corner of the frames for a little bling. They cost her nothing and looked REAL — awesome!

I decorate my home with the theme of the mystery. A few we’ve done are: a western wagon train, a few luaus, chinese, italian cafe, and 1950s. I keep any decorations that I make or purchase because I use them over and over. I Bought a 1950s house phone at a flea market along with some black vinyl record albums for decorations. For that party, I found some plates straight from the 1950s in our Goodwill and they were so cool and so “awful” that I bought those — I think I paid $1.25 for the set.

I keep my eye open all the time for things we might use in the future, and then I store them in the party-spot in the garage! I use the internet to look up pictures and then try to recreate them on my own cheaply/free. One thing I’ve noticed on these themed dinners — the aura/atmosphere can be created by using a lot of things I already own.

  • If I am doing an italian themed party, I am not going to go out and buy a red and white checked table cloth…I have red table clothes already and I use them for free. Also, a huge loaf of italian bread, some tomatoes, a green pepper, a small bundle of fresh garlic cloves, and a jar of olive oil displayed in a basket I already own makes a beautiful centerpiece. The items came out of my pantry, yet were much prettier, more frugal, and more authentic than buying crepe paper, crunchy pre-made decorations.
  • I have a lot of greenery in my house and when we are having a party, I rearrange my own things — bringing things into the one room of the party from all over my house. It makes a full and complete look and it all “seems” new when in a different context.

Having a computer, printer, and sewing machine around is invaluable to me. To add to the atmosphere of our parties, we often have music. I don’t buy CDs anymore –I have my son-in-law get the free stuff on the internet and we play it right from the computer. I use my sewing machine to reproduce things cheaply. For example, I use two flat white bed sheets as drop cloths when I am painting or doing a messy project, however, if I need an apron or some other kind of decoration for a party, those sheets can be sewn into a bunch of different things. Last year, I bought four full curtain panels at a yard sale — full length, perfect condition, bleached muslin type thick fabric. They are plain and boring and the lady didn’t want them anymore. Perfect condition and huge! She asked $1 per panel and I bought them on the spot. I have them in my sewing bin and I have no idea yet what I will do with them, but it is good quality heavy fabric and I have 8 or 10 yards of it! I can just imagine all the costume and decor for parties I can produce out of that!!

All these things, I keep in mind when trying to be frugal.


I hope you enjoy her tips!  I loved reading them, and I look forward to being able to have one of these parties sometime.


Cutting Costs: Invitations

May 25th, 2010

Invitations for parties/events can get expensive. There are several options for invitations, and for the most part, making your own is going to be the cheapest option. Other options include ordering online/catalog, or purchasing a basic layout and printing the details (whether at home or at a printing place).

Aside from usually being cheapest, making your own invitations allows you to design a style to best go with your party’s decor. It also can be fun if you enjoy crafting as much as I do.

This post will be dedicated to handmade/homemade invitations. I will add pictures as I receive them. Please see my contact page to send in your pictures.

 Wedding Shower Invitations

Getting Started…

May 22nd, 2010

Some Tips On Planning a Frugal Party:

  • Know What You’re Doing – Of course you know what you’re doing. You’re planning a party!  But it’s more than that..

Have you ever heard of the 5 W’s?  Who, What, When, Where, and Why?? I remember this from my school days. It had something to do with retelling stories at the time. Right now, we’re using it for the basic organization of our party, except I’m switching the Why and What.

  1. Who is the party for?   Simple enough.
  2. Why are you having a party?  birthday, graduation, wedding, etc
  3. When is the party?   Sometimes this is easy to answer, and sometimes it’s not. Start with your “Who” first when deciding this, then branch out from there to others that will be invited/included. Give yourself  (and others that might be helping) time to get the party together. When deciding the time, take into consideration meals and whether you wish to provide for one or not.
  4. Where is the party?  This is probably the hardest question to answer. Do you have it in your home? Do you rent a space? Do you have it inside or outside?
  5. What kind of party? We know why we’re having the party. Let’s say it’s a wedding shower, for example. Is it a fancy wedding shower? Is it for couples? Is it for women only? Is it more of a “come as you are” shower?
  • Make A List – Whether mental or physical, a list will help you get a feel of what you will need and what you have available for your party. Be sure to list the most important things and then have a list of things that you can add if you have time.
  • Start Early – As soon as you have your list, you can start  looking for any items you need. I suggest checking sales papers of craft stores in your area. Stop by the dollar stores about once a week or so (or ask when they get new shipments) and check the dollar aisles in your favorite stores. Don’t be afraid to borrow items from family members/friends. Be sure to take care of the items, though!  Check out books from your local library for ideas in decorations, games, and other things. Search online for ideas. Check here first :)
  • Think Outside The Box – Maybe you need centerpieces for a wedding or a shower, instead of going for the sometimes pricey globes or hurricanes, try using drinking glasses instead (and then give them to the guest of honor as a gift!!). You can also recycle empty jars (jam jars would be pretty), tin cans, or glass bottles to use as beautiful centerpieces! Re-purposing items you have around the house and/or items you would normally toss is a GREAT way to cut cost.
  • Mix n’ Match – Don’t buy the Princess (first thing that came to my mind) invitations, cups, napkins, plates, table cover, etc etc etc.  Buy the plates and find matching napkins or vice versa. That alone will save you quite a bit! Make your own invitations and decorations.
  • Don’t Go Overboard – This includes almost too many things to name. Don’t buy so many decorations that you don’t even have room to hang/place them.  If you planned your party to include a meal, keep it simple. Search for cheap meals for large groups. Make the food yourself, or call around to different places to compare prices. Pizza is usually pretty cheap to serve. Add some chips and drinks and you have your meal. If your party is for a large group, like a couples wedding shower, don’t be afraid to ask others to bring in food. Don’t plan too many games/activities. 1-3 games should be enough for any sized group. For large groups, sometimes it’s hard to get everyone together for a game, so keep that in mind.
  • Remain Focused – Don’t get so caught up in the “stuff” that you forget the “why”. Make sure your guest of honor feels, well, honored!
  • Check Your List – Do you have all the “important” stuff done?  Maybe even some of the “not as important stuff”? GREAT!
  • Have Fun!! – You did it! You successfully planned/organized your party. Now relax. Enjoy the compliments of a job well done and the satisfaction of a party done frugally!!

Rachel S.

  • About

    Blue Willow is our homeschool name, chosen for the beautiful willow tree in our yard and the Bluegrass state we live in. Homestyle is defined as "involving the home or family" and "domestic". Here you will find stories about our life as a family and tips from me, a mommy of four. I will talk about a variety of things that pertain to our family and other things I'm passionate about. I do hope you enjoy.