Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How to throw a retro birthday party

Disclaimer: I truly am in awe of mothers who have the time, talents, patience, motivation, and money to throw extravagant, themed birthday parties. I am not one of them.

My daughter turned five this year, and like every other girl born between 2007 and 2011 she requested a Frozen birthday party. Fortunately, in the age of Pinterest, I found literally hundreds of ideas to make her birthday party a success. Unfortunately, I found hundreds of ideas that made me feel like a failure before the invitations were even sent out. Here were some of the birthday parties I found on Pinterest. Keep in mind that these parties were being thrown for CHILDREN between the ages of one to seven.

Admittedly, these are LOVELY parties, but personally, I don't have the patience or the will to throw a Pinterest worthy party. I can't even fathom the cost of these parties. Unfortunately for me, my children have been attending parties like this, so I have to say things like, "I'm sorry Hannah, I don't really have the energy to fill balloons with helium and confetti, along with a handwritten invitation to your party, and personally deliver them to nine different houses. I know when they pop them the invitation will fall out, along with lots of confetti which seems lovely and whimsical but also I don't want their parents to be vacuuming confetti out of their carpet for weeks."

So, if you are wondering how to throw a perfectly fun party for a fraction of the cost of a Pinterest party, look no further. In fact, it may take you back to days gone by to birthday parties of the 80s and 90s, when the object was to celebrate the kid by eating cake that looked and tasted mediocre at best.

1) Buy pre-made invitations, or better yet, print them off the internet. That's what I did. It takes between thirty seconds and five minutes and it will hang on the fridge of the invited for the same amount of time as those extravagant invitations that take three days to make.

2) Cakes can be expensive... unless you buy a mix in a box and make your own frosting. Sure, it might not look like much, but, like the invitations, the cake will be devoured by the five year olds in about thirty seconds and it might taste even better because fondant doesn't taste as delicious as cheap, old fashioned frosting. I thought about doing themed food for about six seconds, but then I remembered I had a one month old baby and I decided cake and ice cream would suffice.
Don't mind the chunks of frosting I tried to smooth over after my two year old got her hands on the cake. The five year olds didn't seem to mind. 
3) Keep the decorations simple. Streamers, balloons, maybe a cardboard cut out? Preferably something you can use for your next kid's birthday (which, in my case, is five weeks later).
My husband made this Olaf by hand. I think he did a pretty good job. Olaf is going to live in my daughters' room now. 
Note the store bought table cloth, plates, cups, and napkins. 

4) Play games. Keep them fun. I went to a gorgeous birthday party recently. It was Pinterest worthy with a capitol P, but there was nothing for the kids to do, so all the lovely decorations and themed food meant nothing for fifteen five year olds who had nothing to occupy them. At Hannah's party we played pin the nose on Olaf, we made snow globes and cut out snowflakes, and we had a snowball fight in July with snowballs purchased from our local Bahama Bucks. Party games are awesome.

5) Do favors, or not. My best friend feels very strongly about party favors, and she always does beautiful, generous favors. My daughters still have their Tinkerbell wings, wand, and jars of glow in the dark pixie dust and they love to play with them. I went to the great effort of going on Amazon to buy prepackaged Frozen favors, and Hannah was happy, so I was happy.

The birthday cost a grand total of $35 dollars to throw, the biggest expense being the mason jars for the snow globes, and the snowballs which cost me a whopping twelve dollars for sixty snowballs. It took a total of two hours to plan and execute, and five minutes to clean up the mess.
While Pinterest parties can be fun and memorable, so can the retro parties of our youth. I think I'll stick to keeping it simple for the birthday parties, and saving my energy and money for her wedding day. 


P & J said...

So funny and so true. Isn't it funny when some of these parties are so over the top with decor but then have nothing for the kids to actually do at their own party? Or when the theme is super trendy like neon color chevrons when you know the kid probably wanted Thomas the Train or something.

Brandee Evarts said...

So true! I think birthday parties can be so over the top. I try to be as frugal, efficient, and practical as possible. My kids are going to like it regardless of if I spent $20 or $2000.
I miss the birthday parties with cake and ice cream at the park. The kids just want to have fun.
I don't need a bunch of little trinket toys cluttering up my house time 5 kids that they play with for a day and then leave all over, so a bottle of bubbles or a homemade snow globe works for me. We still have our Olaf snow globe btw and we love it! We should start an alternative to Pinterest for the sane moms who want it to be cute, but not give us a heart attack. Simple is best!
Honestly, if you do those Pinterest parties for their 5th birthday, what are you going to do for their wedding? Expectations!

Matt and Cori said...

Haha awesome and so true. My sister-in-law gives her kids two options: birthday party and small gift, or bigger gift with no birthday party. But whichever one they choose gets a $50 (I think?) budget. I always thought that was a good idea.