Monday, January 18, 2010

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget, Or, "Princess Party on a Budget"

Michaela Byrd celebrated her second birthday with family earlier in the month, but we waited until this past Saturday to throw a party.

I needed just a little bit of time after the holidays to get the house back together before having a bunch of toddlers and preschoolers over to destroy everything again.

If you're expecting to see a party worthy of a feature on Birthday Girl or The Creative Party Place, you might be more than slightly disappointed.

While I personally love (!) reading about blow-out birthday parties with picture perfect details, I just can't justify hiring a *real* Princess to come and serenade my two year old or renting a giant blow-up bouncy castle for a kid who may or may not snap a spindly little arm trying to keep up with her big sister. This party was about creating pretty memories for my little one without blowing up our bank account.

After some deliberation, Michaela Byrd told me she wanted to have a "Pincess" party this year. As luck would have it, a trip to the local Dollar Tree revealed a small selection of Princess themed decorations.

I cut up a "Pin the Crown" game from DT (Dollar Tree) and used it as a wall decoration behind Birthday Girl's chair. We hung a DT banner under that and another in the Kitchen window.

I used things we had on hand for other decorations:

Tissue paper pom pom in the Addition (made after 11:30 Friday night, which explains why I forgot to cut out the curved ends...oops)

Boas from the dress up trunk to dress up the chandelier in the Dining room:

We recycled the homemade "Pin the Flower on Ariel" from Natalie's party, and the kids had a blast playing that and Hullabaloo:

Watching a 2 year old open presents is usually uneventful. They don't really get excited about much.
Michaela Byrd would stoically take a gift out of the bag, say "Open!" and then move on to the next thing.

But everyone got excited when it was time for snacks!

The kitchen table was decorated with more DT finds, and a tutu from the dress up trunk.

I'm not particularly a fan of character-themed parties, but clearly my girls are. (Natalie loved her Ariel party in December.) Michaela Byrd spotted some Disney Princess plates and napkins at Target, and they magically made their way into our cart along with some crowns from the Dollar Spot.

We had one little boy guest who was such a good sport about all the girlieness. He had a sword at his place setting, which he promptly swung in the air.

If you'd like the recipe for the cupcakes and to see how I like to do icing, come back tomorrow!
Happy Birthday to you!

After we hosed all the icing off the kids, they had a blast playing with the new gifts and dismantling the house.

The girls took home simple goody bags with a lollipop ring, some Princess stickers, and some chocolate hearts. The little man got a soft football.

Does this look like the face of a child who was deprived of a fun party?

Striving to "keep up with the Joneses" turns my girls' birthdays into a competition, when it should be about them and celebrating their special day. This year, I chose to focus on creating a memorable time for them on their birthdays--in a way that's within our family's means. I can still enjoy reading about other families' bashes...I just try not to let myself feel bad for not spending $400 to rent an elephant for the kids to ride on.

All in all, I probably spent less than thirty dollars on this party, and the kids had a blast. What more can I hope for?

Linking to
Victory of the Week party
A Soft Place to Land
The CSI Project

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  1. Great job Amanda! I am queen of the birthday party, and everyone thinks I spend a fortune, but I don't! It is all about creativity and fun and The Dollar Tree! Seems to me you've got it down! What a sweet princess party! Obviously, your little princess felt loved and special; you can see it in her big ol' grin! (PS- I may steal your tissue paper pom pom idea...hope that's okay!)

  2. What a great little girl birthday party :)
    Good job!

  3. Thanks for stopping by! MB's party looks so sweet and fun- that's totally what I have in mind for Maria's party in early April. I'm so with you- all the picture-perfect details (while lovely)are for the moms, not the 2-year-olds! BTW- that poodle dress is sooo cute!

  4. We used to do "major" parties when the boys were little. I DO NOT miss those days. We've spent up to $1000 for a bday party. What the heck were we thinking?!?! Now the boys just want a sleepover with a few friends which is easy and CHEAP. Happy Birthday Michaela. Looks like she had a wonderful party!

  5. Looks like the party was a success! I no longer have parties outside the home. We have parties here in the house and they are always awesome! Honestly I only throw 2 a year now. I have a Halloween party and a Fourth of July BBQ Bash here. I make the kids a special dinner and cake on their birhtdays. I only invite the inlaws and a friend or two. House parties are great. I play all the old time games with them. Musical Chairs, Freeze, hot potato, donut dunking, etc. This Halloween we even played Bingo. Kids had a blast. You don't need to spend tons of money to make kids happy. It's the parents that feel they need to.

  6. Super cute! We've never done the big fancy go-all-out (meaning over $50-60) party either. Love Dollar Tree for party supplies.

  7. Awesome!! Now I have ideas on how to do a "princess" party for Ivy, who will be 3 in March. She just looked over my shoulder and said, "I want that Mommy, I want Cinderella at my birfday."

    At least I know I can do it on the cheap!!

  8. Looks like it was a super fun party! I swore that when my daughter turned two back in September, that I wouldn't have a big party...but I did anyway. was on a budget. I don't see spending so much money on a 2 year old's birthday party.

  9. Great job! I love homemade birthday parties and HATE the no thought Chuck E Cheese style parties. After Indy's big Indiana Jones b-day blow out this past year, I've had so many people ask me for help on their kiddos parties. Mr. HH and I did everything, down to sewing the messenger bags, braiding the whips, pasting random archeological photos in small IJ style journals and making "torches" out of empty toilet paper rolls and raffia. It was time consuming and a lot of work, but worth every minute and it didn't cost a fortune. We had a great time doing it and Indy STILL talks about the party, even 6 months later. He's been planning this years party since the day after the last one. Sigh.
    Good for you for doing a wonderful old school party and not trying to "keep up with the Joneses" (except Indiana of course).

  10. I wish I had a little girl to call "princess", "punkin", "daddy's girl", etc. God bless you and your little girls. And ESPECIALLY God bless your husband for putting up with 3 women!!!! lol

  11. What a lovely party. I love the picture of MB in her chair, just adorable. So nice to have Prince Charming there to protect those lovely princeses. Looks like everyone had a blast. I Loved the way you decorated the light.

  12. Oh my goodness, this is so cute and she looks so happy! I laughed at "Watching a 2 year old open presents is usually uneventful" - its so true!

  13. What a lucky little princess. You did an amazing job! The cupcakes are adorable!!

  14. WAY TO GO! This is a great thing for you to get on a soapbox about. It just breaks my heart to see young parents obviously spending more than they can really afford for parties--when what the kids really want to do is to play with their friends. For awhile, every single party my youngest got invited to was either a "destination" party--usually to an expensive recreational spot--or else a home party with expensive accoutrements. Thank goodness, every time he went to one of these parties, he always said, "But we never have enough time just to play!"

    WHY do so many parents get caught up in making things complicated and expensive? I'm proud of you for showing how you can make things really fun and exactly what kids want without breaking the bank.

    By the way, that Michaela Byrd. What a cutie patootie!

  15. Very cute! Turned out great :) Im getting ready to plan a 1st birthday in March & a 6th birthday in April!

  16. It looked like a fun party for a lovely princess! Isn't Dollar Tree a great place to shop? My daughter-in-law can't eat candy so I shopped there for fun junk for her Christmas stocking.

  17. I love all the decorations you found! And I noticed you used the "blank wall" as a nice backdrop ;-) My boys received that Hullaballo game for Christmas but I haven't even taken it out of the box. I was actually thinking about taking it back to the store, but perhaps I should give it a try. I'll have to talk with you about it and see if you think my kids would like it. If you ever end up needing a princess castle 3-D cake pan you're welcome to borrow it. (I had it for a friend's daughter...and EVENTUALLY I WILL USE IT FOR MY OWN DAUGHTER!!!) :)

  18. Oh my daughter would LOVE that party! I may steal a few ideas for later!


  19. Oh so cute! I need a girl. I am so sick of Star Wars.


  20. i've been thinking all afternoon about what a good mommie/mommy/mom you are. your girls will never remember or know how much money you spent for their parties (until they are pre-teens) but they'll remember the sparkle, & helping to plan & that you give them a really fun day.

    how did we live before dollar tree? it's made it totally cool to spend nothing. i started to say i wish we'd had dollar tree when i was a little girl but i guess we did, only it was called kresgee's 5 & 10 & things really did cost 5 cents & 10 cents.

    great job on the party!

  21. What a beautiful princess party! So many girly touches! Looks like fun! My daughter would have been in heaven. It is definitely not necessary to go in debt over a birthday party! The kids simply do not care about all the fanciness! Great job!

  22. Don't feel guilty for doing what is right. Keeping up with the Jones' or the Smiths or whomever is harmful for the kids, let me tell you. Land marks, 16 or 18, 21 throw a big bash! My boys are 22 and 27. They went to private school and some of the parties were ridiculously expensive. I did just like you, what I could with what I had. When it came time for the bash, they really appreciated it and never forgot them either. Plus living within ones means is a fine value to teach. Beautiful party and daughter! You are so blessed.

  23. Everything looked darling! :) You're so right, kids' parties should be about the memories, not major money. We've usually done simple but fun parties at home, or just family parties, and our kids have never been deprived of a great day! The birthday girl is too cute & loving those cupcakes--Yum! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Yea! A *real* mom with a realistic budget throws a party! What's more-her kids have a fantastic time! Everything looks great!

  25. What an adorble little girl. You sure showed how to have a fantastic party and still stay on budget.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm glad you did. I am off to do some exporing around your blog.

  26. So cute! My daughter wants a princess party and you had some great ideas!

  27. Cute party! My niece would LOVE the theme!

  28. You had the right idea is about the kids, not the money you put into it. My girls are two as well, and I thought the same thing when it came time for their party. You did a great job, and happy birthday to the little one!

  29. Everything looks so cute! I'm throwing a Princess themed bridal shower and I picked up several of those tiaras from Target to use as centerpieces.

  30. I have two boys, so a pink princess party is so fun for me to look at! Great job!

  31. Every girl needs a Princess Party and you gave her a great one. Good for you!

  32. Too cute! I too hit up the Dollar Tree for L's 2nd b-day party haha:) My favorite place!

  33. Everything looks fabulous Amanda! I bet she was in princess Heaven!

  34. What a beautifully decorated party. I love everything you have done.

  35. All the frilly details are perfect for any little girl to feel like a princess. Nice work Amanda, and yes, I want one of those cupcakes. FedEx to CA?

    Thanks for linking up your victory for VOTW @ Design-Aholic. Make sure to come back again, I can't wait to see what you have next!


  36. The images look perfect!!!!! I would have to do the same thing with no princess stuff in my house either. Disney Princess Party Supplies


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