Friday, July 24, 2009

Ellie Party: the breakdown

Angie requested that I share how much creating the Ellie party was. It is amazing how much birthday you can do for a little bit!

I know that I am in the dark completely about how much people spend on birthdays - let's see how I did this time around:

* Invitations: scrapbook paper and elephant tags/cutouts: $4.00
* Crepe paper to create circus tent: $2
* Paper lanterns: $2
* Skirts: 3 yards fabric at $5/yard minus $10 coupon = $5; I also bought some elastic for less than $2 so we'll go with $7 on this for all five skirts. I already had the popcorn boxes that I gave these in and they were a gift - so we'll call that free.
* Gift: denim skirt: $1/Wal-Mart clearance and tank: $1/Wal-Mart clearance; play cash register: $4 from Goodwill (still in Target packaging); Emily made a pillowcase from leftover fabric listed above - no additional costs
* Paper Trays: $1 (scrapbook paper)
* Cotton Candy: $1.50 each x 6 = $9
* Food for dinner: corndogs, peanuts for game, etc... about $5
* Table decor: all free
* Music: free
* Felt and craft foam for games: $3 (or less)
* Cake: one box cake mix - less than $1, homemade icing: $1 or so

Total spent: $41.00

Not bad considering it included special favors of skirts and cotton candy and the gifts for the birthday girl! What do you think - is that high or did I do ok?

Oh, and she asked about when I started planning this party. On our road trip to my Dad's marathon - my aunt took a driving shift and I sat down with my notebook and just started brainstorming. So, I guess it has been about four or five weeks that I've been working on pulling this together.

Do you have a set birthday budget? How do you decide what theme to go with? Thanks so much for all the sweet comments yesterday! Have a great weekend!


Christy said...

I think considering some people spend thousands of dollars on birthday parties, you did awesome! I always like the way you try to reuse things and make things work from limited resources.

MH in OH said...

Wow, I too am impressed by the creativity and loveliness in this party. I love the idea of the skirts for little girls, but am wondering if you have any similarly wonderful ideas for favors for little BOYS?
Thanks, M

Monica Wilkinson said...

M - Since I'm just entering the boy birthday season of life - I know that this is an area I haven't really even explored yet.

Lately, I've thought of having a cowboy or police party (David is a police officer and I was thinking how fun it would be to be able to take the guests for a ride in the police car!)

Boy favors? What about a cape for them to run around and be a super hero? That is the only one that comes to mind at this very moment - will be thinking about that!


Wendi said...

My goal is to spend $50 or less on a birthday party. The cost really depends on if I make the cake or not. I have a wonderful family friend that makes a huge, beautiful cake for $30.

As far as boy themes...

for the cowboy party you could make all the little boys a vest.

for a baseball theme all the party guest could receive a matching "team" shirt.

I think an evening pj party would be fun also. All the kids could receive matching pj bottoms. Then when they fall asleep on the way home from exhaustion they are all ready for bed!

Planning kid parties are so much fun!

Bevy @ Treasured Up and Pondered said...

No, I don't have a budget per say for birthday parties. I have tons of inspiration but then it hasn't gotten really far. My kids are only two and about to turn one. So. they "don't really remember" their birthday's yet.
I have a question for you. And I hope you hear my heart when I ask this - because this is where I go in my thoughts. I love theme parties like this, but does it feel like; "Oh, how am I going to 'top' this one for next year?, and If I do this for one, do I need to do the same (expenditure, ideas, size, etc.) for all of the children in the family?". I think, really my question is "How do you keep it seemingly fair?"

I also want to add, that I think you're resourcefullness is amazing. You think like me in that - How can I reuse this in a creative way to save a buck or two?

Sheri said...

That is GREAT Monica!

Mom said...

Wow -- I think you did great! Some people (including me!) spend more than that just on the gift(s)! Well done! :) Love you, Mom

Unknown said...

You did wonderful on the cost of your party!!! I think I spend too much on food by inviting the families of the does one go about letting a family know that it is a drop-off party for the invited child ONLY??? I usually just end up inviting the families because I'm not sure how to make it clear that it is just the children invited...does that make sense? :)

Monica Wilkinson said...

Bevy - great thoughts. I do hear your heart, because this is where my mind goes too. In fact, I was thinking similar thoughts that day!

Just this week I've wondered about these thoughts myself.

A few thoughts I've had are:

* They are only this little for a very short time. And, these little parties will only be fun while they are so little.

* Perhaps we need to set an age limit on how long we will do this? I saw a commenter yesterday say that they only do b'day parties until their children are ten and then a sweet sixteen party. Food for thought...

* We do limit the number of children. So far, I've let them invite the number of children that goes with their age - so Rachel was allowed to invite three children since she was three years old.

I'll have to ask my husband for further guidance on this - but it is definitely something I think we should be sensitive to and seeking the Lord's guidance on.

Any other thoughts on this?


Mrs. K said...

I think you did great with your budget, especially since it included gifts and goodies for the guests.

All three of my boys' birthdays are in July and I try to do a different "party" for each of them. We usually only have family over but my oldest son has had a few parties with friends.

In the past I have always let my children choose what kind of cake/theme they want. But this will be the fourth year in a row I've done some sort of VeggieTales cake for my soon to be six year old. And my just-turned eight year old wanted knights this year. It has been very difficult to find things to go along with these two themes. So I've already told them that next year I'm surprising them with their themes/cakes.

By the way, yesterday you asked about our special birthday memories. I remember one year I picked out pink plates that had panda bears on them and the panda bear wore a sailors hat. My mom made a cake to match and my brother fashioned a sailors hat out of paper.

I think it's important to include siblings and I love that you had Emily help make the pillowcase.

I know I'm droning on but one gift idea I read on a blog was instead of a tangible gift the parents gave each child a trip. I think it was a day trip when they were younger but as they got older it was an overnight. They were homeschoolers and it was always neat to see where the children chose to go. A concert for a music lover. A trip to Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood home for the history buff. I keep hinting to the grandparents this would be so much better than toys that get broken but so far it's been a no go.

Thanks for sharing and tell Miss Rachel happy birthday. My youngest just turned three on July 6th :o)

Debra said...

Great job Monica! I try to spend less than $50 - sometimes it happens - sometimes it doesn't but I don't think I have spent more than $100.

They call me mommy asked about inviting/ not inviting families. Unfortunately it's hard. I like to think that if I address the invitation 'Susie Smith' as opposed to 'The Smith Family' they will get that only Susie is invited (with Mom staying if the kids are young) but I can tell you from experience that doesn't always work. One thing that has helped: talk to the parent and say 'it's fine if you just want to drop Mary off, you don't have to stay.' Kind of a hint that the whole crew isn't invited.

I think communication is the key. Sometimes just being honest/blunt works. :) If you want to invite families but want to keep costs down write on the invitation: come for cake & ice cream. Less expensive than serving lunch or dinner. I always try to say if we are serving a meal so the guest know.

Jamie and Emily said...

Hi, I came across your blog when I was doing a search for baby shower ideas... and I just have to say, I love your blog! You have such wonderful creative ideas and I have been very inspired! =) I too am a Christian mother of 3, (ages 6,4, and 3 months)so I can relate to much of what you post... keep up the great job! =)


Davonne said...

We have a $50 party budget, not including gifts. We have a LOT of family and friends that come, so we have to have a lot of food and goody bags :-)

Since most of our party budget goes to food and drinks, we keep decorations and such minimal.

I am really impressed that you only spent $41 on everything!

And I agree about junky goody bags, which is what I usually pass out since I don't know what else to do, but I LOVE your idea of a small gift for each child instead of a goody bag.

Stacey said...

You did GREAT! I don't think that I have ever done that well. Thank you for the inspiration to try a party theme outside of the box that comes in from Party Express.

Elise said...

I don't have a set budget. I do sometimes tend to go overboard on stuff like food, but I like to feed people. :)
I could see most of the pricing until I got to the food portion, how did you serve that at about $5-coupons, bogo's?? Do you feed the adults??
Love it!! You'll have to swing my way and check out my Mom's birthday picnic. I thought about you while I was getting it ready!!
Mrs. K, I think that blog you are talking about is Pleasant View Schoolhouse. I've read about them giving the children trips. While I like the idea, that wouldn't be in our budget. I have thought of asking my oldest if he would prefer an outing{zoo, aquarium, etc.} instead of a party.

MrsCoach said...

Here where we are everyone has their party somewhere (as in a venue...gymnastics gym party, indoor pool party, play "Gymboree" party), so the budget without gifts is $200+. I have had my childrens parties both out at a place and at home. I have found that I spend almost as much as I do having it somewhere as I do at home. Food, activities, decorations add up, and the extra $30-50 is worth it to not have to clean before/after and entertain them all on my own. (Especially with one being a week before Tgiving and the other a week before Christmas...too hectic!!) This year our budget is $200 for each child (not incl. present)

Anna Carter (Horvath) said...


A suggestion for a knight-themed party - a breast plate made of construction paper with the knight crest (the boys all serve the same King), and then at this age it's easy to introduce nails, hammers, and paint to make play swords out of ply wood. They would play for hours with that.


Fabulous work! I love reading your blog for how creative you are, but also your servant's heart. Very inspiring.

Thanks for sharing!


It's a Mom Thing said...

What a precious party! Love everything about it, including the price. But the best part is that I'm sure it made Rachel feel so, so special!

Anna said...

I think the amount you spent was much lower than normal. The skirts were such a cute idea. Most of the things that we get in party favor bags ends up in the trash before a week has passed.

We do parties very low key. We might have a few neighbors over for birthday cake, and that is it. The kids seem to have just as much fun, and there is no stress.

One thing that we have done before is to skip the party and go somewhere fun as a family. For example, on my daughters second birthday we were traveling, and we all went to the Baltimore Zoo together.