Before I started this blog, I entertained the idea of dishing out advice in every post. I figured that I’ve learned quite a bit over the years, and that my experiences (raising both girls and boys, going through planned and unplanned pregnancies, giving birth at home and in hospital, and testing out a number of both old school text book and attachment parenting practices) qualified me to tell other people what to do. Thankfully, I quickly realised that I have no desire to preach to anyone, that I’d rather share my own authentic experiences and let people judge me accordingly. And so this blog was created: a collection of posts in which I have openly admitted that I’m a pretty sucky mother at times, and that some days I’d rather not get out of bed. The truth will set you free, right?
Today’s post, however, is going to be slightly different, because I’m pretty confident I am a genius. Okay, maybe not a full blown genius, but definitely a mum genius. You see, despite my Debbie Downer, party-pooper tendencies, I threw my kid a party on Friday. You might be thinking I’m crazy (I did only just blog about my decision to not throw parties for my kids anymore), but it was all very spontaneous, very cheap, and very, very easy. So I basically feel like I owe it to the world to share how I managed to pull it off. You can thank me in the comments section…
How I threw a stress-free birthday party for less than $20:
* I literally decided to go ahead with the party a couple of days before it took place. This meant I didn’t have weeks (or months) to think about it and get myself all worked up. I kept my cool. I did not emotionally invest in the event, and I did not bother hyping the kids up about it. This worked in my favour, as low expectations meant the kids had more fun than they’d anticipated.
* I invited only two guests. If you have multiple children, you definitely don’t need to invite a whole gang of friends to make a party. Adding two extras to the mix took our kiddie count up to six, which felt busy and exciting, but was super easy to manage.
* I threw an after-school party. This meant that instead of feeding the guests an entire meal (have you noticed that kids eat bugger all at parties anyway?), I only had to provide a few snacks. It also meant I didn’t have to deal with parents coming in and out, dropping kids off and wanting to hang around, because I picked all the kids up from school myself. Easy peasy.
* I did not set a theme. You know what sucks up a lot of time and money? Themes. I mean, aren’t birthday parties automatically themed anyway? Is “Birthday” not a theme? You don’t see people throwing Super Hero Christmas parties, right? Birthday parties needn’t be any different.
* I did not make the cake. Why spend hours baking and decorating when you can get cheapo cupcakes from the supermarket bakery. I got a six pack of red velvet cupcakes for $3 and shoved a Birthday Girl candle in one of them. Voila! Birthday cake!
* I used what I had on hand. The tablecloth was an old sheet. The balloons and banners and plates were leftover birthday junk I found tucked away in a cupboard. Had I not had them, I would’ve just used regular dinner plates, and I may have created a handmade birthday sign. Though I probably wouldn’t have. We’ve got a lightbox, after all.
* I kept it all very 1990s. The kids came in from school, sat at the table, ate some food, sang Happy Birthday, and then moved onto the games. They played pass the parcel (there was one prize only, and I did not rig it so the birthday girl won – welcome to the real world, kids), pin the tail on the donkey (I had a felt version of the game that I found at Kmart two years ago for less than $4), and musical cushions. The prizes for the latter games were sheets of stickers and mini chocolates that I already had lying around. No money spent. Yes!
* When the games were over I left the kids to it. Half of them wanted to keep dancing to the soundtrack I’d put together for them (which took all of two minutes to compile – thanks YouTube for your “create playlist” feature), the other half wanted to go and play. So they did that and I cleaned up the kitchen – not that there was much of a mess because all the food came straight out of a packet…
All up I spent a total of maybe $19. I bought the $3 cupcakes, and spent $3 on the pass the parcel prize. The rest of the afternoon tea cost me around $12, and that included fruit juice, a bag of potato chips, a family-size bag of lollies, a packet of chocolate biscuits, and a snack pack of plain cookies (which I gave to the kids to enjoy later on, rather than sending them home with goodie bags packed full of crappy, plastic toys). I actually could’ve fed at least two extra kids too – there was still heaps of food leftover.
I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, but I am here to assure you that parties don’t have to cost hundreds of dollars. They don’t have to be themed. They do not require bouncy castles, professional face painters, and a stash of gifts to hand out to every child who showed up. The year is 2016, and I successfully pulled off a birthday party for less than $20. I’m more than a little proud of myself for that. Let me know if you’re going to do the same!
– Fern xxx
Oh and in case you’re interested, I shared the story of how my daughter came into the world over on my YouTube channel. It’s full of drama (the exact opposite of what birth should be), but light on graphic detail, so unless you find birth stories triggering, you should be fine to watch it…