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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birthday on a Budget: The Wrap-Up

We were finally able to have Emma's birthday party last Saturday. No snowstorm was going to keep us from it this time! The birthday girl was a star, and everyone had a wonderful evening. Let's start with a few pictures from the big event.

The birthday girl with her cake

The Candy Land cake

The silly birthday girl herself

All in all, we spent just over $100 for a party that was planned for about 20 people (all adults except the birthday girl and one baby cousin). The weather made our party smaller, but the budget was for 20 people. The $100 included gifts, food, decorations, balloons, and paper goods.

Here are a few ways that I was able to keep costs under control and still splurge on some fun things.

Plan, plan, plan.... Then plan a little more.
I had to start early to save. In fact, had I planned ahead a little more, I could have probably cut our budget in half. I had to plan to redeem my Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards. I had to get my Amazon order placed in time for paper goods, balloons, and gifts to arrive.

I also watched the CVS ad for a pop sale. Getting pop for almost-free allowed me to spend our money on more fun things. Planning paid off.

I kept it pretty simple.
Our menu consisted of two kinds of soups, LOTS of crackers (scored for almost-free over the past few months), Panera bread with spinach dip (courtesy of my parents), a veggie tray, cake, ice cream, and candy (more on candy later).

I used what we already had.
I was able to use our regular soup bowls, silverware, and tablecloths. I printed some images to go on the cake. I also used a $25 gift card that I won to help defray some of the costs.

There are couple of things that I would do differently next time.

Plan, plan, plan a little more.
I could have gotten better deals on the food had I done more shopping in January. I also could have spent less out-of-pocket on the paper goods, gifts, and balloons I got through Amazon. But I didn't redeem all of my Swagbucks in time to order everything. I used some Swagbucks gift cards and paid some out-of-pocket.

Choose a simpler theme.
I tried to steer Emma toward a theme that was something she's currently interested in. Right now, she would spend the entire day playing board games, and Candy Land is a favorite. It sounded like an easy theme to run with. However, once we chose it, I had a hard time finding plates, cups, napkins, etc. in the Candy Land theme. I ended up having to pay shipping, and I always try to avoid that with Amazon.

This theme also made for a rather expensive cake. I wanted to do it up right with candy all over it, and I did. But we ended up not eating all of the candy (with much thanks from our dentist), and I overbought. I only used a few pieces out of several bags of candy. I was wishing we had a bulk food store! Emma loved the cake, but a simpler theme would have saved some cash in the cake decorating department.


Overall, I'm pleased with what we spent. This is the first time that I've ever tracked our expenses for a birthday party. I usually spend $20 here and $30 there without paying attention. Now I have a better idea of what to budget for next year's 6th birthday bash!

For more great frugal ideas, stop by Frugal Friday hosted by Life As MOM.


Cas said...

I think you did a great job! I am certainly going to take your advice to heart...since we are on a budget and I have a party for my son this Nov. Thank you very much!

katy said...

Happy Birthday to Emma! She looks adorable. I love the cake.

Budget Wise Home said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that birthday cake. It is so creative and you really made it look like the board game. Thanks for sharing such a fun ideas. I think I'm going to use it for an upcoming birthday.