As I am preparing to participate in Life As Mom's Birthday Cake Round Up, I have been thinking a lot about birthday parties. One of the reasons that I make the cake for the kid's party is that it is immensely cheaper than purchasing one from the store (unless of course it is a first birthday and then you can get some sweet deals, like a free DQ birthday cake, at least at my store).
Every birthday party that we have thrown has had a theme. Some chosen by the parents others by the kids. We try to stick with the theme from invitation to party.
Once the theme is chosen, the next two challenges are usually the invitations and the cake (look for this post next week).
Here are the themes from the past few years for birthday parties:
Cars - Lightnin' McQueen
We make our own invitations, because it is fun and cheaper than purchasing the preprinted ones at the store. Some of our invitations have been pretty basic, dropping some clip art in next to the party details. We did this for the two first birthday parties - monkeys and elephants. But, we have also done some pretty fun invitations over the years for these parties. For my son's third birthday party, the theme was airplanes. We created a mocked up airline ticket/boarding pass and sent that to our guests. The year we did the space theme, we invited our guests with a letter to join our son on a mission to have a great birthday and included Special Access badges. For our Wiggle's party, we created mocked up tickets for a Wiggly Birthday Party and sent them from TicketFaster. Of course, we carry the theme into our return address labels, using the "logo" from the letters included with the "tickets" to the big event.
When it comes to the party itself, I have found that it is best to stick with solid color plates and napkins. For the Wiggles party, we had Blue, Yellow, Purple and Red plates and napkins. It helped carry the theme through the party without breaking the budget on "official" Wiggles paper products. Now, if I can find a themed party wear, I will often splurge on the napkins and pair them with the solid colored party wear. When we did the Lightnin' McQueen party, we had red and black plates, Lightnin' napkins and used black and white checked crepe paper for decorating.
Another way to keep kid's birthdays in budget is to host it at your house and make the food yourself. For our summer parties, we tend to cook out. We pick up a bag of premade burgers and some hot dogs. I make some accompanying sides and voila! party. In the winter, we opt for something that can easily be made to feed a crowd inside...frequently, this has been turkey - a big Thanksgiving style meal with all the trimmings, yum!.
I should put the disclaimer that to date, all of our parties have been just family and friends of the family. Those guests have children, but we haven't yet thrown a full-blown kid's party with friends. I am sure that we will probably have a party like that in the future, but I still think we can keep it on a reasonable budget. The oldest is in Kindergarten this year, so I am sure that soon his friends will start to have parties and he will want to follow suit.
Check back next week for the cake piece of Kid's Birthday Parties.
For more tips and tricks, check out Works For Me Wednesday over at Rocks in my Dryer.