Monday, January 10, 2011
"Happy Frugal Birthday to You"
Last week, I discussed with my daughter the idea of reducing spending on my granddaughter's party this year. We were talking about all the ways she has cut spending, plus ways she can further reduce spending. She is facing financial problems. Well, still having financial problems is more like it. But, she is learning what is essential and what is not. Since her daughter may have broken the growth plate in her knee/leg, she was not really into discussing a May party. Plus, she is still worried about her own severe nosebleed and the things she cannot do now because the same thing might occur.
Last year, she invited 20 or so children. Parents and siblings came, also, and stayed. My daughter felt compelled to feed the whole crew pizza and spend an outrageous (for her) amount of money. Usually it is in her small apt, but last year she hoped for no rain and had it in the park with all the attendees not traipsing into her apartment.
She did not mind their being there except she would have felt compelled to clean beforehand...lol.
My Ideas--all eco-friendly and cheap!
Last year? She bought matching paper tablecloth, napkins, cups, loot bags, and a centerpiece. She bought cake, ice cream, candles, gifts for her daughter, pizzas for 30 people, and spent much of her valuable time. This year, the party should be simpler and less costly. With little to buy and less going to a landfill, the party can still be pretty and happy for the birthday girl.
Guests? My daughter quit giving large parties for her older son at about this age. She thinks this is the year that her daughter will not have a huge party. Good!
Tablecloth and napkins? I am willing to buy fabric if I cannot find anything in my stash or elsewhere and make a cloth tablecloth to reuse for her party each year. I might be induced to make reusable napkins!
Decorations? In my dumpster diving past, some days I just looked in a dumpster and found a treasure trove. Balloons for helium were in a neat, clean box behind the store, just waiting to be picked up by me. She can make a balloon flower like the one at the top of this page. This is on a Martha Stewart site, but the balloon flower I originally saw on the Internet had the balloon in the middle just a bit smaller. And, the center balloon will only be on one side of the flower since it will probably be hung on the wall. I think I have paper streamers, too.
Paper plates and cups? What to eat from other than paper? How about free paper that will not be reordered? While working online surveys about six years ago, I was given heavy, decorated paper plates to try that have pink and lavender flowers. Naturally, I did not use them all. After all, there is only one of me. So, I have offered to send them to her. Okay, it will be paper again! Yes, I will have to mail them, but I will mail gifts. The box can be planned so that the plates will fit! I even found the cups to match at a clearance place that is full of broken boxes of merchandise. I can stick them in a flat rate box with presents.
Candles? I have some clearance birthday candles!
Food? How about cake or cupcake and ice cream? She can go retro! (No serving a meal of pizzas.) Since there is always abundant food at children's parties in NYC, she can make it clear to the guests (maybe one or two) that she is only having cake and ice cream. I do get coupons for free food items, so I can always supply coupons to cut down on costs on cake mix or frosting. She works, so she does not have time to mix cakes from scratch anymore. She can use one of my Coke coupons from http://www.mycokerewards.com/ to supply something to drink. Now, I just need plenty of Coke codes. I find cake mixes and frosting for free with sales and coupons. Ooooh, I have some cherry Kool Aid, not my first choice for a drink, but it will be free. Oh, my, I just remembered I have a stash of cupcake papers. My mother gave them to me prior to 1980.
Loot bags? Whhhhhyyyy? If I have to bribe you to come to my party and stay, why bother?...lol. I probably have enough things for favors for her and her little neighbor IF it is really necessary.
I think we can make a $200 party cost less than $10.
Gifts? Since I stock up on sale or thrift clothing in the fall for $1-$3 for spring, in March she gets most of what I have bought for her. Each year, I hold back one outfit to send to be wrapped for her birthday. I can hold back one for daughter to wrap from her. I am sure my daughter will want to buy other gifts, but she can claim one of my outfits.
Now, daughter has said "no big party," so let's see how my alternate, green, money-saving plans work for her. "No big party" was not my idea! Okay, I just don't want you to think I was pressuring her. Okay, so I was nudging a little after she said, "No big party." What else is a mother to do but nudge when the daughter leans a bit?
I know it is a little too early to plan for a May birthday, but the sooner we start, the more frugal we can be. Besides, she is in NYC and I am in Alabama. Coordination is the key.
My daughter is too busy to engage in any crafts for decorating and is too tired to make crafts at the party, even for two children. I was thinking her 16-year-old son could make the flower or at least blow up the balloons.
Not green and frugal?
Considering I have most of the items, yes it is frugal. I rescued those balloons from a trip to the landfill. I will be buying new fabric only if I cannot find thrift fabric. Not using the paper products given to me--cupcake papers and paper plates--is my way of saving them for an occasion that really warrants paper products. This occasion warrants using my pretty paper plates.
Have you cut back on children's parties in any way? Fewer guests? Less lavish food? No loot bags? How green and frugal have you been? Oh, I might even use some of the ideas you send my way.