Entertaining Children’s Birthday Parties

August 10, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Parties · 1 Comment 

Children’s birthday parties are always a big to-do with lots of ice cream and cake, and pretty party dresses. Then all the food has gone and you have 15 kids to entertainment! Doing this frugally could be a problem, but here are some few tips frugal moms can use when organizing a child’s birthday party that will alleviate the “What do we do now?” blues

1. Buy a large bag of balloons, but don’t blow them up until you’re ready to use them. Blow them up in front of the kids and watch their faces light up as they fight to be the first to get hold of a balloon. Let them toss the balloons around and have their own fun. But be prepared for lots of popping!

2. Check the local library for teaching DVDs. This could be anything from dancing to painting and anything in between. Sit the kids in front of the DVD with the needed supplies and see how long it takes them to join in. (Provide smocks if the video teaches something messy.)

3. Play games like musical chairs, or pin the tail on the donkey. Or try pass the package.

Wrap a small treat inside a small box, then place that inside another box with a little bit bigger prize and wrap it. Place that box inside another box with an even bigger prize and wrap that one until you have a large package filled with enough smaller packages for each child to get one.

Have the children stand in a circle. Play some music and let them pass the package around. Then suddenly stop the music. Whoever is holding the package gets to unwrap one layer and then they’re out of the game. The prizes don’t have to be expensive. The children will love the surprise of it no matter what it is.

4. Give them each a pack of colored pencils and hold a contest challenging the kids to draw something specific like a zoo filled with animals. Let the other kids vote for a winner who gets a small prize.

5. If the group is all girls, give them a selection of bright beads in a variety of colors and some thin elastic. Have them string their beads into bracelets or necklaces and tie the elastic in a knot so they can slip it on and off easily. Trim the ends with scissors.

6. Buy a set of face paints at the dollar store and paint each child’s face in a design of his or her choice. This is always a favorite, especially with very young children.

7. If you’re having a theme party, find a movie that goes well with the theme. Some movies are more obvious, like Spider Man if you have a Spider Man theme, but don’t be afraid to get creative. For instance, play Cinderella for a princess theme, or Finding Nemo for a deep sea theme.

8. Also look for crafts that go along with the theme. If you’re throwing a knight-themed party, have the kids make swords out of cardboard and tin foil. This is also a great way to recycle old cereal boxes, shoe boxes, etc.

9. If you live near a park or wooded area, take the kids outside and hold a scavenger hunt. Make a list of things they can find like specific flowers or leaves. Give a prize to the one who collects all their items first.

10. Either buy a toy bubble machine or small bottles of bubbles and watch the kids go crazy blowing and popping them. It’s amazing how much fun kids make with something as simple as bubbles.

11. Buy a plain, inexpensive baseball cap or T-shirt for each child and let them decorate their own. They can use almost anything such as glitter, stencils, paints, jewels, crayons, or beads. This is a great craft and activity because then the children get to take something that they made home with them.

Children’s parties can be a lot of fun for a little cost. Get creative and use your imagination to find ways for the kids to use theirs!

Frugal Party Theme: Hobo Holiday

July 1, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Parties · 2 Comments 

You may be too young to remember how romantic the life of a hobo seemed to people at one time. The idea of being able to travel wherever you wanted, never have to work and simply enjoy life was a dream to many. Hobos were the forerunners to today’s homeless, yet hobos often chose their lifestyle, and there was just something attractive about their freedom.

Hobos had a look of their own. They often donned worn out clothing with colorful patches, old hats, and shoes with holes. They always – in the dreamer’s eye, at least – carried a “pack,” which was simply a large bandana or other cloth tied to the end of a stick and filled with all their worldly goods.

If you like parties and you love the idea of “dressing up,” you’ll love hosting a Hobo Holiday! It’s simple, inexpensive, and a lot of fun for everyone involved. This makes a great Halloween Alternative for churches as well as an easy all-occasion party.

THEME: A party where everyone dresses up like a hobo, plays games, shares stories, and enjoys some simple food.

INVITATIONS: Include a graphic of a hobo carrying his pack on the front (you can find several by searching online for “free hobo clipart”). Include the party details (Where and When the party will be held, How to get there, What to bring or not to bring, etc.) on the inside.

DECORATIONS: Few decorations are needed since the idea of a Hobo Holiday is simplicity itself.This is one party that is best held outdoors, and ideally, in the evening when it’s cool. Include a safe place for a campfire and place some large rocks or tree stumps around the fire ring to serve as seats.

PARTY FAVORS: Possibilities include bright bandanas for everyone, or a Polaroid photo of each guest. Again, the entire theme is simplicity so elaborate favors aren’t necessary.

FOOD: Serve Hobo Stew. You, as host, provide the meat (chunks of beef stew meat are best), and everyone else brings a can of something to “throw in the pot” (green beans, corn, potatoes, etc.). Make coffee and iced tea to drink. Include thick slices of Italian or French bread and a simple cake (unfrosted is great), or cookies.

GAMES AND ACTIVITIES: A Hobo Holiday works best in the evening so you can enjoy the campfire. Campfire conversations, and sitting around the campfire telling stories are part of the charm. If you know someone who plays a harmonica or guitar, invite them to bring it and lead in simple songs. You can also play games such as Charades that don’t require props or game pieces.

A Hobo Holiday is a lot of fun for a very small price. And it works well for all ages. Even senior adults can dress up as hobos and enjoy the simple activities. Add other creative ideas of your own to make this a great party for everyone you invite.

Frugal Party Theme: I’m Your Biggest Fan Birthday Party

June 23, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Parties · Comments Off on Frugal Party Theme: I’m Your Biggest Fan Birthday Party 

While birthday parties should be extravagant celebrations of the life of your loved one, they don’t have to be extravagantly expensive by any means! A little creativity goes a long way in making a great celebration using homemade decorations, games and more.

THEME: A birthday party where everyone shares memories and stories about the person who is having a birthday, and does their best to make them feel extra special on their “special day.”

INVITATIONS: Scan a photo of the person whose birthday you’re celebrating. Write “Come Celebrate NAME!” above the photo. Include the birthday party details (Where and When it will be held, How to get there, What to bring or not to bring, etc.) on the inside. Be sure and tell guests if the party is a surprise so they (hopefully!) won’t spill the beans!

DECORATIONS: Copy photos of the birthday girl or guy and make a collage. Hang streamers and balloons. Write HAPPY BIRTHDAY in bright letters on copy paper, or print them (one per page) on the computer and hang on the wall. Make pin-back buttons (you can get the forms for about 50¢ each) with a birthday photo and the words “I’m a Fan of NAME!” and have everyone wear one. Cut out crown shapes from cardstock, tape them together and make party hats for everyone to wear.

PARTY FAVORS: Create colorful bookmarks on the computer using the birthday photos or other colorful graphics. Print, cut out and cover with clear contact paper. You can even punch a hole in the top and add a ribbon or yarn bow.

• Buy packs of pencils or erasers, miniature notepads, balloons, plastic tops or rings, mazes and similar items at the dollar store. Add some “penny candy” – the kind that comes in large bags with hundreds of individual pieces – and fill a treat bag for each guest. For the bags themselves, you can use plastic zipper bags. Or if you’re hosting a children’s party, especially, have the kids decorate a brown lunch bag. Provide crayons, washable markers, and stickers. This makes a fun activity as well.

FOOD: Serve the birthday star’s favorite foods. Be sure to include cake and ice cream! For a frugal cake, bake your own. To decorate, tape a craft stick or clean popsicle stick to the back of a photo of the birthday girl or guy and insert in one corner. Write Happy Birthday in big, bold letters and add candles.

GAMES AND ACTIVITIES: Buy an inexpensive journal at the dollar store and set on a table with a pen. Encourage everyone to write some memories and greetings for the birthday person. If you have time, you can even pass the book around and get the memories in advance, then have someone read them at the party.

• Take an 8″ x 10″ photo and some funny mustaches cut from black construction paper and play “Pin the Mustache on NAME.”

• Save your yogurt containers and fill them with homemade play dough. Let everyone use the dough to make a sculpture of the birthday person. Give a prize for the best one, then let the guests take their dough home as part of their treat bag.

• Buy some inexpensive items like small stuffed animals, small toys, make-up for girls, etc. and hide them around the house or yard so guests can hunt for them. Whoever finds the item gets to keep it.

There are many ways you can have a terrific party for a child or adult without spending a fortune. Add your own creative ideas to these and make this party one the recipient will remember forever.

Frugal Parties: Lots of Fun for Little Cash

June 16, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Parties · Comments Off on Frugal Parties: Lots of Fun for Little Cash 

If you love to entertain and get together with friends, but feel you can’t afford it with the economic downturn, take heart. Here are eight ideas to create low-cost gatherings that will help you have fun without spending a fortune.

1. Organize a Progressive Dinner

Get together with a few of your friends and plan a progressive dinner where each hostess provides one aspect of the meal at her home. Consider appetizers, soup and salad, main course, dessert, and coffee. This will involve five homes and require five hostesses. You can adapt this as needed, but the idea is that each hostess prepares only her portion of the meal.

Guests gather at the “appetizers” home. They enjoy the food, fellowship for a few minutes, then move to the “soup and salad” home where they do the same. The dinner progresses around the circuit, ending at the “coffee” home from which everyone departs. Both the cost and the hostess work is minimal, but this is a very enjoyable party for everyone involved.

2. Throw a Potluck

While there was a time when the hostess was required by etiquette to provide everything, and that may still be true for certain settings, having guests bring a dish is a totally acceptable option for entertaining. You can set a menu or take true potluck, whichever you choose. The focus is on friends and fellowship, after all, not on elaborate meals.

3. Keep it Simple

Want to do it all yourself? Then opt for something inexpensive such as grilled hot dogs and chili, tacos, homemade pizza, spaghetti and salad, etc. Add a dessert and coffee, and you’ve got it made.

4. Host a Morning Brunch or an Afternoon Tea

Who says a party has to be held in the evening? A Saturday morning brunch or afternoon tea may better suit your needs and either one can be less expensive than an evening meal.

Opt for nut breads, fruits and a simple quiche if you’re doing a brunch; or cookies and a variety of flavored teas for the afternoon. Either of these options work especially well for women’s groups. Decorate with romantic lace and vintage tea cups. You can even ask everyone to wear white gloves.

5. Play Dress Up

IWho says costume parties are only for Halloween? Almost everyone loves to dress up, so host a costume party any time of the year! Make it even more fun by choosing a theme centered around a holiday or special event. For instance, have everyone dress in patriotic costumes for the Fourth of the July, or only in green for St. Patrick’s Day.

6. Have a Come Exactly as You Are Party

Have fun and share some laughs by hosting a “Come Exactly as You Are Party.” Send out invitations that include the date for your party, but don’t tell anyone the time. When the day arrives, call your guests and say “It’s Time to Party!” Guests have to come exactly as they are right then. They can’t change clothes, add make-up or even comb their hair!

7. Split the Costs

You can go beyond a simple potluck by splitting all party costs with another family, or even two or more families. Everyone can pitch in and share all expenses involved and you can throw a really nice shindig without breaking anyone’s piggybank. This is especially nice for sports teams, clubs, and similar groups, though it’s a great idea for friends or family as well.

8. Ask for a Carry-In Dish Instead of Gifts

When a friend and her husband who were going through some tough financial times wanted to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary recently, they invited everyone they knew to bring a dish for the reception rather than a gift. After 25 years of marriage, they certainly didn’t need the gifts, and the food made for a great party with very little expense.

There are a lot of ways you can celebrate without it costing you a lot. Use some of these ideas or get creative and come up with your own. But don’t let a small budget stop you from entertaining and having a party!

Cheap Party Food – Cold Pasta Salad

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Cheap Party Food – Cold Pasta Salad 

by Angela Tyler

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve been invited to a party and realize you don’t have a meal to bring. Not only that, but the party starts in an hour. What should you do?

You have four options:

1. Don’t go, and miss out on a really fun time.
2. Show up empty-handed and explain red-faced that you forgot.
3. Grab an empty casserole dish and head to the deli. Order your food and have them put it right into your casserole dish. Yes, I’ve gone this. It’s expensive but it works. If you get asked for the recipe, just wink and say “It’s Grandma’s secret recipe”.
4. Whip up a big batch of pasta salad for only a few dollars, and have plenty left over to eat for lunch during the week. You will save money and look good showing up at the party with a great dish.

Pasta salad is truly one of the easiest meals to prepare. All you need are noodles and salad dressing. You can use pretty much any salad dressing on the market – the standards like Italian, Ranch, or, if you’re ambitious, your favorite homemade dressing.

Now for the fun part. Cook the noodles, following package directions and then drain. Pour the dressing on while the noodles are warm so they will absorb all that good oily flavor.

Look around your kitchen to see if you have any of the following ingredients:

Fresh veggies – carrots, broccoli, green onions
Frozen vegetables – frozen peas are wonderful in pasta salad
Cubed or shredded cheese
Garbanzo beans (also known as Chick Peas)
Black Olives

Toss in whatever you can find. It’s an ‘everything goes’ type of recipe. Bring more dressing with you in case you need to add it later, and voila! You’re done.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can bring some cherry tomatoes, parmesan cheese, bacon bits or sunflower seeds as toppings. It’s all good.

The next time you are invited to a party, don’t panic. Just grab these instructions and whip up a meal in minutes. Enjoy!

Are you a mom who’d rather play than cook? If so, you won’t want to miss www.freequickrecipes.com. And, if frugal cooking is your thing, then check out http://www.freequickrecipes.com/frugal-cooking.php

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