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!


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!!

Hobby Lobby Weekly Coupon

June 21st, 2010

40% any one item this week at Hobby Lobby!  Check it out here!

Summer Kick-Off Party Tips

June 3rd, 2010

School’s out for summer – for most families – and the kids are ready to relax and have some fun. What better way to reward them for their hard work during the school year, than a fun summer party! Here are some ideas to have a super frugal summer bash.

Every party starts with invitations! If you have a paved porch, sidewalk, or driveway, here’s an adorable idea for invitations. Take sidewalk chalk and write out your invitation. Just write “Summer Kick-Off Party” then where, when, and any other info you might need to include (if you want them to bring food items, water guns, whatever!). Take a digital picture of your artwork and either take it to be printed or upload it straight to your computer and have it printed at your favorite photo center – cheap AND cute!

If you choose to have food, serving hot dogs and hamburgers is pretty cheap and easy. Your guests will be happy to bring sides and condiments. You could have a “best homemade ice-cream” contest – several families bring their own ice-cream and everyone votes on their favorite.  Make lemonade, ice tea, and have lots of water on hand for drinks. You can even put a few drops of essential oils in your water jugs for some flavoring. My favorites are Lemon and Citrus Fresh. (Young Living has the BEST quality oils in my opinion.) Since these are “bulk” items, it will be cheaper than cans/bottles. If you want to save on plastic cups, ask everyone to bring their own re-usable water bottle!

Games may not be necessary, especially if you have a pool, sprinkler, and/or slip-n-slide set up. If you choose to have a few games, a water balloon toss is VERY budget friendly and so much fun! When I was young, we actually had a water balloon fight and we threw the balloons OVER the house! That was a blast. You may not be able to do that, but you could easily have teams and a simple water balloon fight.  Shaving cream fights are also fairly frugal, and LOTS of fun. At the end, you get to hose off the shaving cream! NON-water games can include horseshoes, capture the flag, hide-n-seek, red light green light, a scavenger hunt, ladder golf, volleyball, etc. Summer has SO many options! If you had a large group (30+), I think it would be fun to divide into 3 or 4 teams and have Olympic competitions. Have colored ribbon or even ribbons of fabric ready for each person to wear to show what team they are on. Competitions such as track, volleyball, tug of war, kickball, and many others could be included.

To close out the party, I think something a little more low-key to calm all the kiddos down would be great. I suggest having karaoke or a talent show. You could go all out and have microphones and speakers set up if you want, but you wouldn’t have to. Lawn chairs and/or hay bales make great seating. Set out some citronella candles and some flood lights to light the “stage”.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope these ideas help you in planning your summer party, and as usual…

“Party frugal, party fine!!”


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.