Friday, July 13, 2012

Birthday Celebrations on Small Budgets

I marvel at the moms I know who give great themed birthday parties year after year and I truly appreciate that my children are included in those celebrations.  But as I'm getting worn out older and wiser, I realize I'm not the gal that is naturally able to pull off such events.  And that's okay.  I'll try to embrace who I am and most of all, enjoy my children, on their birthdays.  Sometimes when we have had parties I spent so much time and energy on the party itself that I feel like the birthday child got the leftovers of my attention.  I also realized that as a child I never had a big birthday party with friends and I haven't been in any way scarred from that.  As our family has grown, simple celebrations seem to make more sense for us.   But that doesn't mean we don't celebrate.  Instead, I'm trying to build in traditions that I know I can execute consistently for each child's birthday.  Here are some components of our birthday celebrations.

Snapping a photo of the birthday child by their gifts with their name and age in Scrabble tiles. Our birthday spot has become the corner of our kitchen next to our china cabinet.

Hanging the birthday banner.  I made a birthday banner a couple years ago using scrapbook paper and our home printer.  I chose an aqua blue and a font that could work well for a boy or girl.  Then I laminated each letter at Mardel.  {Tip: In our area, Mardel has the best price on laminating at 25cents/linear foot, and their machine is about 3' wide, making laminated crafty or educational things totally economical.} We hang the banner on the finials of our curtain rods across the living room windows. The banner is hung on a long ribbon or string appropriate to the child (girly or boyish trying to match the cake or napkins) with clothespins.  And once the birthday week is over, we take it down, put away the ribbon to use again and store the laminated letters in a ziploc bag until the next birthday. It takes no space at all in our kitchen cabinet.

Serving the child their dinner and treat or cake of choice.  I can usually make these from items we have normally stocked in our panty and freezer, but if not, I'm willing to buy a couple ingredients to accommodate their requests.   Depending on our grocery budget that month, I might give them a choice of 3 or 4 different kinds of cake or dessert which I know I already have the supplies for.

Using what we have to decorate the cake or make the atmosphere more festive.  Small toys washed well are a fun addition to an otherwise plainly frosted cake. Legos, miniature figures, Little People,  letter blocks, etc. are easy to incorporate. Bright paper napkins (often from Target clearance or the big packs from IKEA), drinks served in fancier glasses, fresh flowers set out, balloons blown up or a colorful tablecloth, add a little punch to the birthday dinner.

Wrapping gifts up nicely with basic supplies.  I never run out to buy wrapping supplies for a specific event, but keep a reasonable supply of paper and bags and ribbons on hand which can be used for almost any need. I usually replenish the supply of wrapping paper after Christmas when it is drastically discounted and go for the colors and prints I can use all year, solid red, silver, gold or kraft paper and plaids or prints that are not Christmasy when paired with a contrasting ribbon.

Writing homemade cards to the child.  The cards I make are usually simple but we do take the time to write at length what the child means to us, how we see them growing and excelling in certain areas and communicating our love for them.

Doing special activities as opportunities arise. Last year my husband was offered free tickets to a Rockies game on our son's birthday. He went with the kids who were old enough to enjoy it and I know it was a memorable time for our son who loves baseball. Another time, a free family fun festival was happening on the day before our daughter's birthday and we all had a great time.  We've also used our zoo membership to have fun family birthday outings there.

Keeping parties smallish and simple when we do host them. Do a few special things and keep them busy with fun activities. Activities that have gone over well here are paper airplane folding and flying contests, water balloons on the trampoline, making folders and bookmarks using scrapbook supplies, jumping on the trampoline and just having free play time. I admit I need to do better and plan more activities than I think we'll have time for.  Some guests seem to need more entertainment than we are accustomed to.

Singing to the child.  This is pretty standard, but adds to the day.

I'll bet our celebrations will change over time and as our kids get older, but for right now these simple and frugal celebrations really suit us.

What are your favorite ways to celebrate with children?

Linking up to Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.

1 comment:

Miss G said...

This is a really fun post Rachel! Thanks for sharing. Could we see a pic of your birthday banner too? Sounds cute. Kelly