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Birthday Party

October 18th, 2012 at 11:32 am

We are usually pretty low key about Daisy's birthday. We have a family dinner (includes some extended family), cake, ice cream and presents. Daisy likes to decorate cakes and usually decorates her own each year. That's about the extent of it. But this year was a big number birthday - Daisy has entered the teenage years. She wanted to have a Star Wars themed-party, and so we did. She drew up a guest list and we invited everyone on it. I thought, we're less than two weeks away from party date – we'll probably get about half of our guests. We had over 20 guests, not including adults who stayed. The only two invitees that didn't come now live in another state.

This can't really be a post about how to do a Star Wars party on a budget, because I spent way too much money on it. But we had fun, and I learned some things that could help me in the future.

The internet is full of Star Wars party ideas, and we borrowed a few. One idea, not specific to Star Wars parties, was to focus party decorations on a wall behind the table where most of the food will be placed. We covered the wall with black paper and attached glow-in-the-dark stars to it. I made a banner, using a Star Wars font, that said "Happy Birthday Daisy". We also decorated ceilings with black streamers and silver balloons. The limited, yet focused, decorations worked well.

The kids (mostly girls, plus a couple of younger boys) came dressed in costume. That provided excitement for this particular event. We played three party games – two were Star Wars themed. One is the game where you get a Star Wars character name taped to your back and you have to figure out who that character is. The other was a Death Star piñata (soccer ball piñata painted gray – we attempted to make a piñata but it was a failure. I did several piñatas in my youth but I must have lost my touch). Dinner followed activities. Our dinner was a make-your-own burrito bar ("Greedo Burritos") and lime punch ("Yoda Soda"), and some cut up vegetables. Then cake and presents, and that was the party.

What I learned:
I used the "Ellen's Kitchen" website to calculate how much food to make. When do I ever cook for 30? But I added too much extra to Ellen's excellent calculations. Running out at the last minute, and overbuying, really sunk my budget.

Start earlier – much, much earlier. I think our original piñata would have worked if we’d started on it earlier. The balloon I bought to make the piñata center cost $10. (Yes, it’s a rubber balloon – but it's huge – I think 36” in diameter if you blow it up all the way. Special purchase at the party store.) That $10 was basically wasted.

If the party is huge, enlist help in advance. Some of the adults who stayed helped out - a lot - maybe even too much. But it's more pleasant to help out a lot if you know in advance you are going to do that. I did not ask for any specific help from Mr. H, but he did dishes after dinner and vacuumed after everyone left.

In order to keep myself out of financial denial, I wrote down all expenses on a spreadsheet. It wasn't pretty but I'm glad I did it. If I had a spending plan first, expenses would probably have come in under the budgeted amount.

Something I already knew:
We can host a lot of people in our house (1200 sq ft) if we can use the back yard and everyone is kept busy with engaging activities.

Our party was basically pretty simple – party games, food and presents. Oh, and costumes. With fun guests and a good theme, I think it was a good party.

6 Responses to “Birthday Party”

  1. snafu Says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Daisy! Thank you for the outline, what worked, what didn't, what you learned so that the rest of us can benefit from your experience. We did [Cnd] Thanksgiving for 10 a few weeks ago. Experience has taught me to start preparing for major events as early as possible as something will always take longer than expected or fail to turn out and need to be re-done. I blow the budget every year but have mostly learned to stick with quantities the 'experts' recommend. Food prices this year are startling. I bought a frozen turkey on sale a couple of days after Thanksgiving for Christmas dinner as it was a remarkably good price.

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    Congrats on what sounds like a fun, successful event! And thanks for sharing your thought process; very valuable indeed. We have several parties coming in the next 6 months and I need to make sure we're prepared for them all.

  3. ThriftoRama Says:

    Geesh. I wish someone would throw me a Star Wars birthday party! I can't complain, we had a star wars wedding cake, complete with Princess Leia and Han Solo on top. It's cool your girl loves Star Wars!@

  4. creditcardfree Says:

    Those parties can be exhausting, but it is usually fun and something the kids won't forget! We did the guess a character on your back at a Halloween party one year. It was a hit.

  5. Looking Forward Says:

    That sounds like a lot of fun!!

    Happy 13th birthday Daisy!

  6. Jerry Says:

    Sounds like a terrific party! Starting earlier definitely leads to fewer headaches, as well as some insurance that you can divide the labor a little bit. Still, if it was a success for the kids, and you learned something from the experience, then it was a success for you, as well! Smile HBD to your daughter...
    Jerry

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