Friday, November 20, 2015

How I threw a birthday party for 50 guests for $15!

Moo turned 3 yesterday. We had her birthday party last weekend, and after spending an embarassingly large amount on food (and printer ink... don't think that one missed me Ogre!) for a Back to the Future Party last month I decided I had my fun and needed to get back to my frugal ways. 


Guests lists are hard for me. I love having people over but more people equals more stress. I tried to keep the guest list limited to family and kids that Moo plays with. Still, the numbers easily add up and I always end up with a bit of anxiety over the possibility of EVERYONE ON THE GUEST LIST coming. Never happens, still, with less than half of the invited in attendance I was expecting nearly 60 to show. Add to that the late RSVPs (we are talking the night before!) and subtract from that the flus and the stomach bugs and you have a nice round 50.
So what to feed 50 mouths?


Inspired by a recent invite to a 2-4pm party I decided to skip the meal (and skip the stress and cost!). I love feeding people but times have been busy and I have kept up with all the new Illness of the Weeks so I needed to go easy on myself

Moo wanted pink frosted cupcakes. I tried to do everything from scratch to save money. Now here is where I should explain that when I say the party cost $15 I am not including the cost of any consumable I already owned. After all, if I own it, chances are I got it for free or cheap. Now, I did need to pick up a few food items: milk (always cheap at CVS with an Extra Care Rewards Card), vanilla (this was super cheap because the Ogre bought it and he doesn't seem to be aware of quality), and powdered sugar (yuck, I just don't keep that on hand). Still we barely used any of the milk and the vanilla will continue to haunt our cupboard for months until we use it up and I can take the Ogre out on an educational field trip to the grocery store where I will teach him how to buy vanilla. Luckily when my attempt at making my own pink dye failed my good friend Pat gave me her stash from the co-op.
I borrowed muffin tins from two of my neighbors and a coworker and Boo and I mixed up 6 dozen chocolate cupcakes the night prior to the party, while Moo and the Ogre did the gf batch for the food snobs, myself included, in attendance.
Saturday morning the Ogre earned another week's stay by mixing up the frosting, then I frosted the cupcakes and did a quick googling of 'DIY Impromptu Cupcake Stand' before creating three stands out of my FiestaWare.
We did set out a couple bowls of snacks for the kids, mainly item from the back of my pantry: goldfish cracker medley. Along with the Ogre's several day long project of slicing and drying over 6 pounds of apples.

For drinks we had juice boxes we had been holding onto for when it made sense (juice boxes rarely make sense!) and leftover liquor from the Coors Light House Party we held, as well as water, that milk (no one EVER drinks the milk at parties) and some soda (already on hand).


If we just let the kids destroy the house, I would've looked really lazy, though they probably would've enjoyed themselves just as much, and honestly they did the planned activity after destroying the house, and then resumed said destruction again after the activity, but at least some of the parents helped get the worst of the areas back in order before their departure and like I said, it was FUN!

So, our $0 activity went something like this:

1.Find a giant box of small holiday village houses behind local store. (REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE!)

2.There is no meaning to them, YET, so get primer/white paint at the Hazardous Waste Site and paint them over, with children's "help" over several afternoons. (REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE!)
3. Gather all your paint supplies, crowd source more if needed, if you don't get enough go to Art Scraps, a local art recycling storefront. (REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE!)

4. Line crowdsourced tables with newspaper or old tarps (RRR!) dress the kids in old grubby shirts or men's button downs (RRR!) and paint away! 

NOW there is meaning to the houses!

The other half of the birthday expense came from goodie bags. That said, the goodie bags only cost roughly 50cents each due to some great clearance I found, combined with items I reviewed for my blog and a bit of product found while urban foraging. Full price the bags would've cost close to $8 each, but, using my thrifty methods, we were able to stuff the no-nonsense Ziplocs with sticker sheets, glow sticks, glitter bath gel, and the stamps and ink for only 50cents. Score!

THE AFTERPARTY!!!Now that the party is over, though Moo was totally confused why 50 people didn't show up on her actual birthdate!, we have been busy using the great consumable birthday gifts that Moo received to thank all those good friends that showed up.  
Thank you, big name party supply store, for the urban foraged decorations!

Time to take a breath... and start planning the next shindig!


  1. I didn't know I was paying rent by mixing frosting. In that case, any time!

  2. I didn't know I was paying rent by mixing frosting. In that case, any time!

  3. That was an entertaining read, as well as giving out ideas on how to save. Moo is just adorable! Happy birthday, Moo!

  4. This really made me giggle!
    Can't wait to read the other posts,