A Party for Practically Nothin'

Why is it that birthday parties always end up costing more time, energy and money then you planned?  I think that sometimes, as moms, we get caught up in the "Pinterest -Perfect" mindset - meaning that everything has to look and be perfect in order for anyone to have fun.  I, too, get caught up in the "cute-ness" when I steal ideas from google searches and pinterest posts.  I think it is important to remember that birthday parties are "Parties" and parties are supposed to be fun, especially when it comes to our kids.

My oldest son turned 9 a couple of weeks ago.  When he told me that he wanted an "army party," I wasn't sure what to do.  All I knew was that I was going to have to get creative if I didn't want to spend a fortune.  So, I sat down at my kitchen table with a pen and made a list of categories I would need to cover for the party:
  • Invitations
  • Cake & other Refreshments
  • Goodie Bags for Guests
  • Decorations
  • Activities
Then, I went online and did a google search for "army birthday" and about a million images popped up.  I wrote down what I liked in each category and then when to work on each thing 1 at a time.

Invitations:  I designed my invitation in a program I had on my computer by copying ideas and text from other invites I saw online.  The total design took me 30 minutes to complete.  (I like to do things like this, so that was fine with me.  If graphic design is not your hobby, there were lots of ideas online that were ready to print.)  I uploaded the image to Costco online and had 10 copies printed.  Here's how they turned out:

The invitations cost me $2.53 and 30 minutes of my time.

Cake and Refreshments:  I decided that I wanted cupcakes, and I didn't want to pay the current rate for a box of chocolate cake mix, so I made the cupcakes and the frosting from scratch.  I used simple recipes from Betty Crocker's cookbook and cooked them in camoflage cupcake wrappers.

Cost of Cake:  $0.35
Cost of Wrappers: $0.97
Chocolate Sprinkles & Frosting: $1.00
Army Men:  $2.25

1 Hour of my Time:  30 minutes to make and bake the cupcakes, and make the frosting.  15 minutes to cool the cupcakes, and 15 minutes to decorate them.

Goodie Bags for Guests:  I like to give the kids that come to the party a little something to take home.  Because of the army theme, I thought it might be fun to pack their sacks full of snacks and items that you might need if you were hiding out in a bunker.  So Here's a list of items I used for the goodie bags:
  • Brown Paper Lunch sacks ($2.00 for 100 ct.) - I already had some in my pantry.
  • Star tags for top (Free - Made from supplies I had)
  • Handi-Snacks cheese and cracker packs ($0.20 each)
  • Trailmix ($0.20 each)
  • 2 Grenade Water Balloons ($0.97 for 30 ct package)
  • Glow Stick Bracelet ($1.00 for 5 ct package)
Gathering supplies, making tags, and putting them together took me 30 minutes.

Decorations:  I wanted to keep it simple, so I went to the dollar store and purchased the following:

1 gold table cloth
1 package gold utensils
1 package of small paper plates (camo print)
1 package of napkins (camp print)

I used red plastic cups that I have in my kitchen to match the red star on the invites.  I then purchased 1/4 yard of camo print fabric from the store in 2 different colors to use for "camando" headbands.  I cut it into strips and placed one on each plate.  I used the rest for a table runner.  The green placemat under cupcake plate is one I had already.

Activities:  This is the fun part!  Adam and I decided that we should have a water battle.  I picked up 2 recliner boxes from a furniture store nearby.  The first box I cut in half to make each team a "home base."  The other box I cut into 4 pieces and made "bunkers" between the bases so the boys could "duck and cover."

Each base had a bucket/pool to use as a water source, a bowl of grenade water balloons (the same kind I put in the goodie bags) and 5 water cannons.  I borrowed the guns from a couple of friends so that each boy had their own.

When the boys arrived, we did refreshments and presents first.  Then I explained the rules and boundaries for the water battle.  Then, the boys took over!  They had so much fun.  I had planned 30 minutes for the water fight, but they didn't want to stop.  They played for an hour or so!  Some of the boy got creative with the bunker boxes and the other resources they were given.

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Tags: birthday  party ideas  fun  family  kids  army party 

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