Friday, September 17, 2010

Throwing a Party on a Budget

A couple weekends ago, we celebrated my daughter's 2nd birthday with a Goldfish-themed party.  We are on a limited budget, but decided to throw a party anyway.  Now I understand that a birthday party for a two-year-old is definitely not a necessity, but planning her birthday parties is a lot of fun for me.  It's almost like my hobby, but I only get to do it once a year, so I take advantage of it!  Even on a limited budget, it is possible to have a fun party!  Here are some ways I was able to save money:

1. You don't need to provide a whole meal.  I knew we wouldn't be able to afford to feed everyone lunch, so we started her party at 2 in the afternoon and had snacks, drinks, and dessert.  For a few weeks leading up to her party, I watched the grocery ads for good deals on snack foods and drinks (i.e. 2-liter bottles of soda, chips, pretzels, Goldfish Crackers - a must for a Goldfish party!).  I was able to combine some of the sales with coupons I had to get much of the food quite inexpensively.  If your budget is really tight, you can have a dessert party and just provide various baked goods.  Just make sure you mention this in the invitation, so your guests know to eat before they come.

2. Make your own veggie platter.  I wanted something healthier than just chips and crackers, so I made my own veggie platter.  By making my own, I was able to save quite a bit of money.  I bought carrots, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, broccoli, and a cucumber.  Again, I scoped the grocery ads the week of her party to see where I could get veggies at a low price.  I cut all the veggies the morning of her party, so that I wouldn't be rushing around at the last minute to get it done.  With the veggies, I served Ranch dressing that I had in my pantry and homemade hummus

3. Make as much as you can yourself.  I didn't have to buy a whole lot for her party, because I made a lot of things myself.  For invitations, I cut fish out of yellow constructions paper.  On one side, I wrote, "Swim on over to Hannah's 2nd Birthday Party!"  On the other side were all the details - location, time, date, etc.  For even cheaper invitations, you can always opt for the free method and use an invitation website like Evite.

I also made the party favors myself.  Favors aren't a necessity, but since I was able to make them with things I already had on hand, I went for it!  I made goldfish sugar cookies and packaged them in cellophane bags, then tied them with a ribbon.  I didn't have a fish cookie cutter, but my sister did, so she let me borrow it.  However, even that wasn't the exact shape I wanted, but I was able to adapt it to make it what I wanted.  The cookie cutter had fins on it, but since I was going for the Goldfish Cracker look, which doesn't have fins, I simply cut the fins off the dough after I had cut the cookies.  Voila!  A simple fix!

4. Make your own cake.  Cakes can be expensive - especially if you want it to have a specific theme.  Making your own cake will save a lot of money.  Your cake doesn't have to be extravagant or fancy; a simple cake will do.  In a future post, we'll be writing about how to make cakes at home along with some of our favorite cake recipes!

5. Use things you already have on hand.  I like to stock up on things when they're on sale or clearance.  After Easter, I bought a few bags of Dark Chocolate (yum!) M&M's on clearance.  They were only about 25 cents each and I knew I'd be able to use them, whether it be for company, in baking, or just to eat.  I pulled out a bag for Hannah's party and no one seemed to mind that they were pastel!  Also, I wanted to have a Goldfish Cracker "buffet" with several different flavors of Goldfish.  I wasn't sure how I was going to serve them, since I don't have any nice little bowls (let alone 6 of them!).  One day, it hit me!  For our wedding, we had little vases that looked like fish bowls with little fish swimming around in them and flowers in the top. I thought it would be cute to serve the Goldfish in little "fish bowls."   I still had one vase from our wedding and I was hoping I'd be able to find more at a decent price, so the hunt began!  I knew the vases from the wedding were from Michael's, so that's where I started.  I couldn't find anything online, but I was able to find them at the store and they were only $1 each!  I was thrilled, so I bought a few more and the Goldfish looked so cute in them!

6. Be creative.  In addition to the cookies for favors, I wanted to make some smaller goldfish sugar cookies to serve at the party.  I didn't have a small fish cookie cutter, so I made one!  I'll post how I did that in the near future, so be on the lookout!


Dan, Jane, and Colin said...

You guys rock! I appreciate the party post as I was just thinking the other day about planning for Colin's next birthday. It couldn't hurt to start now (since it's in December), so I keep within a budget. Thank you thank you for all your tips and tricks!

Crystal Malek said...

What a great idea! I love the cookies in the cellophane bags. A local bakery sells cookies like those for $7.99/dozen! I so love the cake too, and the mini cake for the birthday girl, I assume. I think I'll use this idea for my boys birthday's in April, (one will turn 1, the other 3.) That'll be perfect for them, and do share how you made a cookie cutter!

rachelamunrud said...

Just wanted you to know that I, too, am reading your blog faithfully. It's been so encouraging to me to see that I CAN make healthy meals without breaking the bank or feeling overwhelmed by the difficulty of cooking.Thanks!

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