1st Birthday – Ball Theme

June 21st, 2012

I know we are way overdue for a visit to my roots as a party planning blog. My littlest just turned ONE year old a week ago and we had a small but special party. I originally wanted a Gnome theme because I’m a little crazy for gnomes and mushrooms right now. Then, I decided I should go with something more special to Baby Boy. Of course, he’s not into much besides Mama, nursing, and anything he can put in his mouth, but he does LOVE balls. I found the perfect plates and napkins at one of the dollar stores in town. They also had cute invitations, a great table cloth, table centerpiece, and even a great high chair decoration set. I bought 2 decorative boxes to put candy in beside the cake in the Target dollar aisles.

I purchased a 3D ball pan second-hand from a friend. I figured this was an investment of sorts and I’m sure to use it again with 3 boys. I made the 3D ball and also two 9×9 cakes to stack. I placed the ball on top of the stacked 9×9 cakes and used straws to keep it together. Usually I made my own icing, but I was a little stressed and ended up buying the icing and then coloring it myself. It definitely wasn’t my best cake/icing work, but it was cute and special. Hubby brought pizza home from Little Caesars (great price!) and we had veggies, dip, and chips. I also had circle candies in little decorative boxes by the cake.

My husband made a banner for the birthday boy at work. He also made his birthday shirt. We had mainly family at the party and then one other family with a boy close to Amos’ age. It really was a wonderful first Birthday party. He got great gifts, mostly the little grab and go type foods for babies and clothes (which we desperately needed!). His big toy from Mommy and Daddy was a ball pit. We had 100 balls already and I bought about 250 more from local moms for $6 total. The pit is a small blow up pool. It works perfectly!!

We all had a great time and more importantly, Amos seemed to have as good of a time as a ONE year old can have. I say it was a WIN and definitely shows that you do not have to spend a lot of money to have a good party!


Cowboy Joe’s 2nd Birthday

December 8th, 2010

I’ve been terribly behind on posting. So sorry, readers!

My youngest just turned 2 recently. It’s hard to believe! I decided to do a cowboy theme this year. It basically started when I found cowboy themed invitations on clearance at Hobby Lobby. They were just so cute and I loved the idea.

I spend the next few months planning the party in my head and staying on the lookout for cheap party decorations. Once again, our dollar store came through big time. They had plates, napkins, balloons, cowboy hats, and much more. You just can’t beat that! I got the plates, napkins, balloons, and one extra cowboy hat for one of the kiddos that didn’t have one already.

About a month before the party, I finally started working on my cupcake toppers. I was searching Etsy (my favorite site EVER) for ideas and saw the cutest little cutouts glued to wooden skewers that were stuck in the cupcakes. I thought, “I can do that.”  So, a trip to Hobby Lobby and Walmart and I had the skewers (actually, I used the flat craft sticks and washed them off beforehand) and the cardstock. I used a cowboy book we got from the library and traced a hat, horse, steer head, and boots on some cardboard as my templates. Then I used those to trace onto 3 different colors of cardstock. It wasn’t hard, but it was tedious. Of course, then I had to cut them all out and… well…. I think maybe next time it just *might* be worth it to pay someone else for them. I had a blister on my finger.   BUT… the finished products were adorable, so… I was happy. It also helped that everyone just adored the toppers. Yay.

For the party, I had downloaded several different “cowboy” songs including “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” (too perfect!), “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, “Bonanza”, “Come Little Donkey”, and “Back in the Saddle Again” (my kids’ favorite). I had these playing in the background. I also found little Cowboy themed clay figures for the kids to paint. I didn’t get pictures while we were painting. Boo. I do have a picture of the finished products. Some of which just look like they fell in cow poo.. but.. that’s okay.

For the meal, we had chili, hot dogs, chips, and a few other sides. I had some empty jars (I keep random stuff like that..) to put the plasticware in. I found two bandanas in the wardrobe and I tied them around the jars. It turned out really cute. I also painted Joe a special bib for the occasion. For the take-home gifts, I had found some small paperback books about a cowboy and his horse for .33 each. (Awesome) I put that in with a couple pencils in a bag. Not much, but the kids all loved their books!

Overall, it was a minimalist kind of party, but it was fun and cute. There’s just not much to really describe. So this entry will be short and sweet.  Here are some pictures to spice it up a little.

Thanks for reading!


6 Year Old Monster Truck Birthday Party

September 20th, 2010

Saturday was my son’s 6th birthday party. It was a crazy day. We had the party planned before we got our soccer schedule. Something to think about before I plan a party next year! We not only had soccer games Saturday morning, but pictures also! My 3 yr old had pictures at 8:30, my son had pictures at 9:20, 3 yr old had a game at 9:45, and my son had a game at 10. Top top it off, only one of us (between my husband and I) could go to the fields because of needing to get ready for the party. I ended up taking them out there and my mom helped (thank you!) – it was still crazy. We had to leave about 10 minutes into my son’s game, but at least his coaches put him out first so he could play a little.

We made it to the house with a little time to spare and change clothes for the party. My husband had followed my list I made him and had a lot of the decorations out and other things ready. The party was out back in the beautiful shade by the swingset. As people came up to the house there was a “stop light” like this one on our mailbox:

These are super easy to make. Just take a box from a soda 12-pack, cut off the top, blow up 3 balloons (red, yellow, and green) very small, and tape them inside the box in order.  Viola! A stoplight! We also had Monster Truck napkins, and checkered flag table cloths from the Party store.

Out back, we had a pile of dirt with dollar store monster trucks and tiny cars to “smash” waiting – total of about $5. This was a hit with the little boys and even the oldest kids (girls included) played with it at one time or another! Even better, we needed to fill some holes in the yard, so the dirt was really no extra cost!!

The kids also played on the swingset – and broke in the brand new disc swing installed the night before. We also have 2 other plastic climbers that were enjoyed by all ages. They had a blast!

After playing some, we set out the sandwich fixings, chips, grapes, and olive/pickle tray to eat on. All of this was my son’s choice of food for his party. It was probably just about as cheap as you can get for a party with this many people. We spend right about $100 for all the food, but we have half the cheese and lunch meat still leftover. I always overestimate on food! Anyway, it was the perfect lunch for the hot day!

The kids finished eating and went back to playing some more. Up in that last picture, you’ll notice the kids crowded around a small picnic table. You might be wondering what’s going on there. Well, a month or so ago, Walgreen’s summer stuff went 50% off. While cruising the aisle (because who can resist stuff that’s 50% off?), I saw a bubble machine and a large bottle of bubbles. I just knew our birthday parties would be oh so much better with that bubble machine. So, I splurged an extra $6.50 or so and bought the machine and extra bubbles. It was SO worth it, even for this one party. The kids went WILD!

After playing with the bubbles for a while, I set out the cakes. I started out making the Monster Truck cake. I found a racecar shaped cake pan at a garage sale for $1.50 (still had the $14 original sticker on it!). I baked it, along with a 9×13 cake. I cut a little here and added a little there and came up with the photo you see below (far right). Not the best, but it looked Monster Truck-ish! I had so much cake leftover, that I decided to throw together the first cake you see with the “scraps” and crumbled the brownies I had left on top. The monster truck on top was part of his gift, so I just stuck it up there. We got some pictures of my son with one of the cakes, and then with some of the kids. I wish I would have gone ahead and had all the kids come up for a picture. I think I’ll do that for future parties. It was too windy for the candles to stay lit, so we improvised. My son pushed the Monster Truck off the cake instead. Leave it to him and his friends to come up with that idea!  Happy 6th Birthday!!

Monster Truck Birthday Party Plans

September 9th, 2010

My son’s 6 year Birthday Party is coming up next weekend. He wants a Monster Truck Party. I’m a little excited about how it *SHOULD* turn out. I found a car cake pan at a garage sale for $1.50. I’m going to tweak it a little and use it for the top half of the Monster Truck. He originally wanted the Grave Digger, but I’m not a fan of black icing, so we’ll be doing his favorite colors instead. I might even throw a fake name and number on there.

I hope to get some checkered flag table cloth off the roll at the party store. I have napkins already but I think (yeah, I kind of need to take inventory) I have plates, but I’m fairly sure I need cups and silverware.  I bought little plastic monster trucks from the dollar store and I plan to get a dirt or sand pile for the kids to drive the trucks in/on. Maybe I’ll make some cardboard ramps/buildings for them to plan on and destroy!

The birthday boy wants to have a sandwich bar – easy enough! We’ll definitely “buy in bulk” for that and hopefully get a good deal that way. I know there are probably several things I’m forgetting right now. I’m overwhelmed right now with this birthday party and my 10 year highschool reunion the next weekend. It wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t offered to do the decor for the reunion! I’m just doing the center pieces, but…. we decided to do pictures and I haven’t received very many to go through. Oh well, I will have to improvise!

I’ll post again after the Birthday Bash and let you know how it went!



Hobby Lobby-Ad This Week

September 9th, 2010

Hobby Lobby’s ad this week shows art supplies and craft supplies on sale. This is a great time to get any of those items you’ve been needing for projects for yourself or for your kids. Also, it’s not too early to start thinking about Halloween costumes!!


Hobby Lobby Weekly Coupon! -40% Regular Priced Item

August 16th, 2010

Here is this week’s coupon – I love it when they have this one!

Bundle of Birthdays

August 10th, 2010

And so it begins. The turn of the calendar to August gets my brain going a thousand different directions. As I’ve mentioned before, all 3 of my children have birthdays at the end of the year. September, November, and December – boom, boom, boom. It’s chaos, but a good chaos.

If you’ve read my post “Getting Started”, you will know that I start as early as possible when preparing for parties. As soon as I have an idea of what my kids want, I start looking for little things that I can use. I actually started buying things back in July. The September birthday is to be Monster Trucks, and the November party is a Cowboy theme. We’re still trying to decide on the December one, it’s for my only girl – hence still trying to decide – haha!  On one of our few trips to Hobby Lobby in July, I came across invitations that were on clearance and packs of 6 Cowboy themed figures that can be painted. We did this for my first son’s 2nd birthday and it was a big hit. They weren’t on sale, but I splurged since it will be a main activity AND something for remembrance sake. We still have the figures from my first son’s party in the kids’ rooms.

I was also very excited to find Cowboy theme materials at a local dollar store. They had plates, napkins, hats, and tons more. You can’t beat $1!  I always try to keep my eye out for goody/treat bag items. I strongly dislike those cheap plastic “toys” that some treat bags have. I know they are super cheap, but to me, it’s a waste because they break after 2 second and then the parents are left with whiny upset kids because their mini yo-yo fell apart or the lid to their tiny treasure chest won’t stay on. I would MUCH rather spend a couple extra dollars (if that) and get things that can actually come in handy and will last at least a few days if not more. I often go for the pocket notepads, pencils, a sheet of stickers, and the 4 packs of crayons. So far for this year’s birthdays, I’ve found a pack of pencils with fire on them for the Monster Truck party and several packs of “generic” pencils for the other parties (they were $1 per pack of 8). I even found  books about a Cowboy (paperback) in the clearance section at a bargain bookstore for about .20 each! Talk about a GREAT treat! That should last a LONG time!

I figured out my game plan on making the Monster Truck cake today. My son wanted the Grave Digger originally, but… well, have you ever tried to make black icing – or even cover a cake in black? I don’t care for fondant and you can hardly make icing black enough before you start staining people’s teeth for life. I smoothly convinced my boy to let me make a Monster Truck in his favorite colors and let him choose the name for it. Bazinga! We now are going to make “Fast Racer” in blue, yellow, and red.

I’m still thinking about games for  both parties and haven’t come up with anything yet. If you have any tips, please send them my way! I also would love decoration ideas. The Monster Truck party will be outdoors hopefully, but the Cowboy will be inside.

Okay, well, that’s the update on Frugal Party Planning in my “neck of the woods”. Please share your adventures!


50th Anniversary Party

July 28th, 2010

I just want to first say thanks to my readers for being patient while I’ve been on vacation!  I’m glad to be back.

Part of my vacation was spend getting ready for and celebrating my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was wonderful! I was so glad that I was able to help put the anniversary party together. I was especially happy that I was able to be there for this special moment.

I wanted to share some of the things we did with this party for you all. I’ve been anxiously waiting to share these tips until after I had pictures to share as well.

The party was a little difficult to put together since it was out of state for mom and I. We were trying to plan something 7 hours away! We didn’t know what the room (we rented a room) looked like or anything – We just had to go on descriptions from my Aunts.  My Aunts were in charge of inviting everyone, and they made some phone calls to friends and family. They also put a note and picture in their local paper about it. Mom and I started thinking about the table decorations. We ended up borrowing white fabric table cloths from a friend – we’ve used these at many showers (she keeps them in pristine condition – I don’t know how she does it).  My Aunt was able to borrow hurricanes from a friend for the tables.

Once we had a basic idea down of what we wanted to do, Mom and I started bouncing ideas back and forth on what to put in the hurricanes. We wanted something inexpensive. We also were looking for something with maybe gold or white coloring. Ideas such as sand, marbles, and candles were mentioned, but nothing really stood out to us. Finally, we were somewhere looking around and we saw some packages of smooth stones and we knew we had found our thing. The stones just fit perfect with the my grandparents’ style. It also reminded me of river stones – the same ones found at the river they loved to canoe. Mom did some hunting and found medium sized bags of stones at a dollar store. Each bag was enough for one hurricane. Mom also found white pillar candles to go in the rocks for a good price as well.

I know Mom picked up things along the course of several weeks it seemed. If she found something that might help with decorating, she would get it. I know she found a couple plastic table cloths with gold designs – just in case we needed them. She also found some gold ribbon. Mom was in charge of the cake for the party. She decided to do cupcakes. We were going to have to travel with the cake, and these travel SO much easier! We wanted to have flower tops and a friend taught mom a really easy way to make marshmallow fondant roses. We sat down one night and make 122 roses one night and froze them. Then, a few days before we left, I helped her bake the cupcakes. We baked 12o cupcakes in 5 different flavors. Mom had gold foil wrappers for the cupcakes and before we poured the batter for each batch, she marked a single letter on the bottom for the flavor (V-vanilla, S-strawberry,etc). We borrowed a few cupcake caddies to help transport them all. Mom arrived at my Grandparent’s house before I did and she iced them the next morning. We used the “Plastic Wrap” Method to transport the frosting and make it easier to ice 120 cupcakes. You can see the method here. It worked great and I think it’s Mom’s new favorite thing. I saw the cupcakes when I arrived and they looked beautiful.

When it came time to decorate and put things together the night before the party, my Aunts, mom, and I all went to the rental room. We spend about 3 hours getting things ready. We had fruit, vegetables, sweets, and sandwiches to cut up, and a room to decorate! We started with the tables, moving them around and placing table cloths. We put together the hurricanes – which turned out beautiful. We twisted some gold ribbon down the lengths of the tables and it almost looked like a gold river running down the tables. My husband and I had taken turns typing the story, told by my Grandma – of how her and Grandpa met and their lives up until now. We printed one for every 2 tables and place it in a plastic protector.  For the front room, we had a sign-in table, complete with a family tree with Grandpa and Grandma at the top on down to great-grandchildren that my Husband put together. Placed on the table, there was the sign-in book (a leather bound book Dad had on hand – we decoupaged a copy of Grandpa and Grandma’s wedding picture to the front), and several take-home cards of “What Happened In the 1960s” (put together myself – you can search for the year online and print a copy of what happened – I printed several and pasted them to scrapbook paper).

After signing in, the visitors of the party would come into the room to see the tables and off to the left, they would see the DVD playing. The DVD was “Through the Years”, put together by me. There were over 252 pictures and at least 5 different requested songs. It really turned out beautiful and it was the highlight of the party -along with the story papers. Everyone stood around and talked about the pictures for a long time. I’m  glad – it was a joy to put together!

At the back of the room on the left was the food table and drinks. To the far right, the cake table could be seen. It was decorated with a white table cloth on the bottom and a gold plastic table cloth on top – gathered at the edges and tied with a single balloon on each corner. Grandma’s punch bowl was filled with Cream Soda punch – which makes a beautiful golden color and is SO delicious. Then to the right of that, was the cake (well, cupcakes!). We borrowed a cupcake stand from a good friend. Her husband built it for her and it has been used many times – it’s perfect for nice parties. There are 4 wooden square tiers and then we put 40 cupcakes around the bottom tier on the tabletop. It held all 120 cupcakes. For the top, we bought the 50th anniversary topper (on sale!) at Hobby Lobby and placed it on an upside down cup to raise it up a little. It was gorgeous.

I can’t think of anything I’ve left out. Overall, the party turned out perfect, I think. Grandpa and Grandma were happy and everyone enjoyed it so much.

Enjoy the pictures!

~~”Party frugal, party fine!”


Question & Answer Session

July 5th, 2010

Between blogs and friends, I get asked for suggestions and ideas fairly often. I thought it might be nice to share some of those with you.

QMy daughter is getting married soon and wants to give her hostesses an inexpensive but nice gift. Do any of you have any ideas or what you gave?

A: I would think a good gift for someone willing to be a hostess would be something to use at future showers. For example, a unique crystal serving dish (if you have an old time pottery nearby, they have stuff like this), pretty serving spoons/forks, small serving spatulas,nice tongs for odd shaped appetizers, or a gift certificate for a kitchen store nearby.

Q: We are having a combined diaper shower for TWO of the women at church. One had a girl and the other a boy. I am doing ONE invitation for both. I need ideas of how to do that.

A: A sweet boy/girl theme could be a knight and princess theme – with a castle and all the works. Maybe you could make a diaper castle (instead of a diaper cake – it seems like it would work in my head – haha!) Another one could be an Under-the-sea theme since that’s pretty unisex.
Are you wondering how to word the invitations?
Here’s an idea:
With Babies These Two Families Are Blessed
Help Them Celebrate As a Guest
We Invite You To A Diaper Shower,
For (insert mom name) and (insert mom name), the Moms of the Hour

Q: We will be having a play room in the new house and I want to do it in some sort of theme with hand painted murals. I want it to be something that my daughter can grow with and I also want it to be gender neutral in case we had a boy sometime down the road. So far the ideas I have come up with are under the sea, farm animals, the zoo, jungle. Any ideas?

A: We had (well.. have – but it’s covered now) a Curious George mural in our nursery (now my daughter’s room).. it’s CUTE!
Ideas for you –
Island of Misfit Toys, A Toy Box and “old timey” toys, Outer Space, Treasure Map, Castle with Knights and Princesses, Noah’s Ark

Q: Any suggestions on planning a simple fishing themed party for a 4 yr old?

A: Sure!

Cake ideas – Fish (make two layer 9×23 and cut out fish shape), Hook & Worm (same concept, cut out shape)

Decor Ideas – Buy cheap lures and hang them from strings all over the room, Find fish cut-outs to hang

Game Ideas – Let’s Go Fishing (Get a thick dowel rod and attach a string and a clothespin. Have a large board set up (like a wall) and then stand in front of it with their “fishing pole”, You (or another adult) will be behind it and when they put their line over behind the board, you hook a prize onto the pole and then give a tug and they pull it out. The prizes can be anything fairly lightweight from dollar store, stickers, or even just paper fish cutouts and have different sizes or something

Favors – The dollar stores often have this magnetic fishing pole and fish. It’s cute, but I don’t remember the “age limit”

Food – Cut sandwiches to a fish shape, Goldfish crackers to munch on.

Q: I need suggestions for a Star Wars party for an 8 year old, please!
A:  My son had a Star Wars party on his 5th birthday.
Here are some ideas to help you along:
1) Yoda Soda – lime sherbert with sprite
2) Home Made Light Sabers – buy funoodles (the kind for the pool), cut them halfway on length, cover one end with silver duct tape.. Voila… Have the kids knock over stuff or fight each other with them
3) Pretzel Sabers – get those long thick pretzel sticks, dip them in colored yogurt or white chocolate, cover one end with foil . Yummy and cool!
4) Get into Character – print out Star Wars character masks and put them together for the kids to wear when they are ‘fighting’

Q: I’m hostessing a baby shower, and I have NO idea what to do. I need your best baby shower ideas – from your shower, ones you’ve hostessed, or ones you’ve attended.
Food, Decorations, Games, Invitations, Other Ideas?
A:Food: BBQ Weenies, sausage balls, fruit tray with dip, veggie tray (spice it up by layering veggies including some ppl don’t usually use like the green onion stems, those little corn cob looking things, and okra), cake or cupcakes – of course, punch, Real ham on biscuits (nom nom)
Decorations: Depends on sex of baby and/or colors. We typically don’t decorate much but the table.
Games: Melted candy bars in the diaper (guess the candy bar – gross but fun) ; guess the baby food (overdone sometimes); guess size of mothers belly (use either toilet paper or string); name the animal baby (ex: cow/calf, goat/kid)
Invitations: Depends on colors/theme. I’ve done a bear shaped invitation. We’ve had invitations with a clothesline holding baby clothes and it had REAL tiny clothespins on it. We’ve had a diaper cover invitation. Simple ones with ribbon.
A. My favorite thing to do is have a door prize. Buy thank you notes and pass out the envelopes for everyone to put their name and address on. Draw an envelope for the door prize. This is a great game AND helps the mom when she has to send out thank yous!
B. I’ve done scrapbook pages for the mom. I supplied paper, scissors, glue, ribbon, and stickers and each team (of about 3-5) made a scrapbook page (with blank spots for pictures) and the mom chose a winner
C. Have a baby hooded bath towel and let everyone sign it with a sharpie. I got one of these at my first shower and I STILL use it! (and the names are still visible! – 5 yrs later!)

Q:  I need some ideas! I’m helping a friend’s little girl for our Homeschool Fair- she is doing a table setting and her theme is Charlotte’s Web.
We can make stuff for the table, or buy it. We need to make figurines, decorations, come up with items for the menu, etc.  It needs to stay in line with things from the book.
A: For the menu: dessert could be vanilla ice cream with Runts sprinkled on top because wilbur was the runt; spaghetti resembles a spider web or hay and
a stew resembles “slop”
Decorations: A mini pitchfork would make a cute fork for your serving utensils, as would a shovel for a spoon. You might be able to get a cheap fork and bend the prongs to match the pitch fork shape. you could wrap the handle with “wood” colored fabric or even black electrical tape , or craft foam would work as well. You could have a “bucket” shaped glass. Your placemat could have a picture of a barn, the plate can look like a spider web and a coaster could look like Charlotte

That’s all I have to share for now. I hope you enjoyed the ideas and suggestions here. Maybe something here will be useful to you in the near future. I hope so. I invite you to send in your questions! Just visit my contact page to send them. I love sharing tips and ideas with other frugal party planners.

Hobby Lobby Weekly Coupon

June 27th, 2010

Here is this week’s coupon for Hobby Lobby. Get 50% off 3-D embellishments by the Paper Studio. There is no quantity limit. 3-D embellishments are great for thank you notes, invitations, and decorations!

  • 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.