Sunday, July 19, 2009

How to Have A Princess Party From Scratch And On A Budget

My daughter turned three years old yesterday and we have a new home so we decided to give our friends an excuse to come over by throwing a party for her birthday. I didn't really set a budget because I bought items over a few months time and I was a bit worried that I hadn't really saved any money by having the party at home. But when I sat down to do the math, I was pleased that even though I felt I had "splurged" on a few items, the cost of the party was way less than having it elsewhere (and just as much fun!).

Here is what I did:

1) Planned Ahead: Ella loves the Disney movie "Enchanted" so when I saw that Hallmark was discontinuing their "Enchanted" line of party ware, I snatched it up. That said, Ella was more enamored by the balloons than all the Giselle gear! I picked up cake mixes and frosting on sale with coupons months ahead of time. I planned my menu weeks in advance as items went on sale and adjusted as needed.

2) Decorations and Tableware: I ordered the "Enchanted" decorations (a sign, some dangling things, plates, napkins and a table cloth) at a huge discount, but the first thing Ella noticed were the balloons from Wal-Mart! Usually, I stick with one package of themed napkins and plates for cake only and mix in a matching color, like pink for this party. But this year I got Chinet for about $.15 a pack thanks to a coupon so I just used those. I bought a gigantic pack of colored cups at Sam's a few months ago. I knew I could use the pink for Ella and the blue/green/orange for my son's first birthday in November.

3) Food: Our menu consisted of two pizza braids and one chicken braid. The dough was made from scratch. The cheese and chicken were purchased and frozen when they were on sale. I also served raw veggies with homemade Ranch-style dip (a bunch of spices mixed together then stirred in to a container of sour cream) and a big bowl of fruit. I just bought whatever was on sale this week for the fruit and veggies! Drinks were water, sweet tea and lemonade.

4) Party Bags: Wal-Mart has a GREAT new aisle of party bag treats! I bought magic wands (for the girls), sun glasses, and bouncy balls (for the boys) for CHEAP. I found glow sticks at Michaels -- 15 in a canister for $1.00. I threw in some extra stickers and tattoos I had around from previous crafting expenditures. That was it! I try to stay away from candy in the bags.

5) Activities: I used a Michaels 50% off coupon to get a package of paper crowns half-off. I picked up some princess/prince stickers for $1. I did spend some money for stick on gems through Oriental Trading, but I have a ton left that I'll use for other things. Some kids made crowns, others did not. They were really too busy playing! After Easter I picked up a huge canister of princess themed eggs and we had a "Dragon Egg" hunt. The kids LOVED it!

6) The Cake: I made a rainbow cake using a Duncan Hines cake mix. Instead of using the diet soda/cake mix concoction, I doctored up the cake mixes. To each box of the mix I added 1 package of vanilla pudding, 1 small container of vanilla yogurt, one extra egg and substituted milk for the water. I let the cakes cool, covered. The cake was beyond moist and the flavor was much more intense than a normal box cake mix. I also purchased a crown and some toy rings as decorations.

In total, it looks like I spent about a quarter of the cost of party at Chuck E. Cheese or the children museum and I have items "left over" for later (the extra cups, the extra stick on gems, etc). Looking at my list, I think I could easily have shaved off even more money (like sticking to just balloons and streamers!) and Ella would not have noticed. I had some issues with my pizza and chicken braids (tried to bake them all at once in a gas oven that I am not friends with yet -- OY!), but thankfully our friends are very kind and gracious people!! I'm really looking forward to more entertaining in our new home and to doing it from scratch and on a budget!

2 Thoughts From Others:

maygan said...

It sounds awesome and I bet everyone had a blast!! The dragon egg hunt idea sounds super cool, what a great use for leftover/extra Easter eggs!

shopannies said...

sounds like a wonderful party

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