Forgive me, I promised this post a few days ago but Charli came down with Strep battle round 2 and this one “little” illness has thrown our whole week for a loop. Anywho…here goes.
Last weekend we had Miss Madz birthday party. I have always thrown birthday parties for the girls and I have always attempted a budget but at some point have been known to throw the budget out the window with the excuse “she will only turn ___ once.” Parents, especially moms are masters at this excuse. We are great at justifying almost anything for our kiddos. Last year was the first year that I made a budget and actually stuck to it for birthdays and celebrations. Now that I know I can do it and still have a great party, it’s even more of a fun-challenge.
This year, my little-big girl requested a variety of “types of parties” and ultimately landed on a Spa-Party. Not going to lie, I had my reservations about this. I mean, she’s only 5. Although I did understand because that is something that she has seen me and my girlfriends here in Raleigh do for just about every birthday, we go and get our nails done. I agreed to throw a spa-party but I made it very clear it was going to be a kids spa party and there would be no make-up or fancy lotions or anything like that. She agreed and was absolutely excited.
I headed into my favorite store, the Dollar Tree. They have some of the best finds. And this just in, not every Dollar Tree is created equal. They come in different sizes and offer a variety of great products in every store. I headed into my preferred store (a bit better than the local one) and scored big time! Easter baskets served as the footbaths. The nail polish was sold in packs of 2 (score!); they had little pedicure sets I could divvy up, and face tattoos-so fun! Perhaps the best find were the gift bags, 2 for $1 in the pink and purple paired variety. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I was able to use my own Q-tips, cotton balls, serving trays, card stock, and polish remover (just in case) and wound up only spending ..well I’ll save the big reveal for the end 🙂
I opted for e-invites. Madz helped me design it by picking colors and patterns which was super fun for both of us. Then I created a Facebook event and made the header of the event page the top portion “pic” of the invite. This was much easier for people to respond to and I didn’t have to worry about wondering who would or wouldn’t be there.
This was the easiest part. I transformed my dining room into a little day spa. I set up my five dining room chairs against the wall and then brought out the kids Minnie-Mouse table for the “manicure area.” Pushed my dining table against the wall the grab and go snacks . We put out plastic champagne cups for the kiddos to feel that extra bit of “special” ( also a steal on clearance from NYE decorations. A full set for $0.65) Madz and I decorated these with glitter to make them fancy and festive. I used a rolling stand as an entry table with a little Welcome sign and some Thank-you mints; and put on display the “Spa-Cafe Menu.”
My favorite birthday decoration though, that I do every year and costs nothing, is displaying pictures of the girls through the years. Newborn pictures, funny pictures, maternity, etc. Just to share with everyone how much she has grown and it gives me a reason to display those old pictures that have been replaced with newer ones. They are also great conversation pieces with the grown-ups.
I finally got some sense this year. The sicilian in so me tends to overfeed just about everyone and how much do seven little girls really eat? Not to mention this is not budget-friendly. So I decided to get creative, if I was going to think of this as a day-spa it should have a cafe; and what do you do? You order. So I looked through my cabinets and created a spa-friendly menu right from my pantry. The only additional food I had to buy were some maraschino cherries and a 2-liter of ginger ale for the Sweet as Maddie-Ru featured “mocktail.” I had a friend bring some champagne for a grown-up version should we choose to indulge after the nail painting and for kids and adults, this was a huge hit. The menu included hot dogs with cheese, crepes with sunbutter & jelly (because we are a peanut-free household) and my personal favorite grilled cheese triangles with cups of tomato soup. I didn’t have to make a bunch of each just whatever was ordered and it turns out cheesy hot-dogs are a hot commodity for 4-9 year olds. I put out some veggie sticks and made a funfetti dessert dip (whipped cream, yogurt and cake mix) threw some graham crackers out no-muss no-fuss. As for the cake it was all DIY. Madz and I whipped up some cupcakes the night before, frosted with plain white frosting and let the kids go to town decorating at the party. (Tip: if you’ve never made a homemade cake try it. It is very budget friendly! I always have eggs, milk, butter, vanilla, flour, salt and baking powder on hand so it saves me the $1-3 box mix and tastes much better) It was perfect! In regards to the DIY decorations, I should’ve done this a long time ago. Gone are the days of me trying to make some elaborate cake that frankly, I can only guarantee tastes good because I just can’t make it look as good as my standard. I’m telling you never strain over a party again. This totally works!
You guessed it, we painted nails! And let me tell you, these seven little ladies did not move for a good 35 minutes they sat with their little sparkly pink ginger ales and soaked their feet while giggling and loving life. Moms were on nail polish-duty. Painting little fingers and toes and tickling a bit too. We took their order for lunch and then served it to them while they were “soaking” which really made their day. They all felt so special and there was a wonderful moment of bonding, even for the ladies who were helping out of love for Madz and not there with a child of their own. We then pressed on some pretty fun face tattoos, opened presents, decorated some cupcakes and then played for a good hour on what was a much needed spring-like day in Raleigh. It was perfect for everyone. I didn’t have toys strung around the house, the mess was contained, the moms all pitched in so I didn’t have to wear a hostess hat and be on point and we just enjoyed sharing the afternoon making memories.
All-in-all it was a very successful party and to the point, the whole thing cost me $42. What did I learn? Birthday parties do not have to be stressful. They do not need to be expensive and they do not need to wipe out every resource. Kids don’t need big blow-out birthday parties (which I already knew but it was a good reminder). These little girls loved the quality time with their moms and feeling extra-super special. It also took the focus off Madz which was good. I think we underestimate our children. They don’t HAVE to be the center of attention, we make them the center of attention. When really, it means more to simply have fun and be with friends. Not to mention, young or old, who doesn’t like a little pampering? I’m beaming thinking about how much I learned from these little ladies. There was a moment in the fun when I just observed the carefree spirit and listened to their little laughs and giggles..it was perfect. So the next time you are planning a party or an event, try to keep your perspective, keep it simple and remember what it’s really about. I promise that will be your best celebration.