Okay, let's face it. Birthday parties are expensive. Too expensive. Especially when you just want to have a special day celebrating your child. So, Rob and I set a very tight budget for Will's birthday and almost made a game of how much we could do within that budget. We ended up going a little bit over, but we still had an awesome celebration for our little Will for a very reasonable price.
I downloaded a DIY party kit from a shop on Etsy. They send you everything you need in a PDF file. Granted, it was a lot of work cutting everything out, but the whole kit was $15. So, we spent $15 on all of the decorations except for the balloon wreaths which I made for only $3 each. I usually go all out on food, but we cut way back and only did hot dogs and sandwiches. I made the cake myself and I served food that I was able to get on sale with coupons.
I had planned on doing a watermelon bowl, but watermelons were expensive and raspberries were on sale. I had a lot of coupons for dip-n-dot ice cream, so we went with that instead of the regular ice cream that we normally use for parties. I typically fill coolers with canned soda, but I got 2 liters for 99 cents each, and so on and so forth. That kind of adjusting and not quite doing what I would have liked to do, but going with sale items saved us a lot of money.
Rob and I also made a train for Will out of cardboard. We downloaded plans, grabbed some old boxes, and voila! The kids loved it and we just spent some money on cheap paint samples from the paint store. Again, it took a lot of time, but I would rather spend time than money any day.
And the best part? Doing something special for our William. I would do anything in the world for him, so just having close friends over to share in how much he means to us means more than anything.
I sent out these invitations a few weeks ago. They came in the PDF file that I downloaded. I printed them out and cut them and there you go. Same with the envelopes. I had never cut my own envelopes, but there's a first time for everything.
And a little extra on the back glues on with my glue gun. Very very homemade. Maybe a little to much. :-) But fun nonetheless.
I always have to set up a little area honoring the birthday boy or girl. I have Will's ridiculously up to date scrapbook there. Seriously. It is complete through May 2011. I may have a touch of OCD when it comes to scrapbooks. And in the middle is the video we do each year for the birthday boy/girl. I glue CD sleeves to the backs of their scrapbooks each year and then put their videos in the sleeves.
A birthday banner I printed out and then strung with some ribbon I had in my craft box.
When I scrapbook I always have tons of leftover pictures that I never use, so I recycled them into this cute little 2 to hang on our wall.
Tags for all of the cups. I think they were better in theory than practicality, but it was a cute idea.
The perfectionist in me doesn't see the cuteness in the picture. All I can see is that some napkins weren't turned the right way. Grrr.... But still, chew chew? Come on! Too cute.
Sandwiches for the little tykes using the train cutter I use at home to make Will's Sandwiches.
My train cake. It looked a little better in my head than it did on the platter, but I had fun making it. I used angel food cake and pound cake as the train cars because I thought they would frost easier. It honestly didn't taste as good as regular cake, but I wanted to avoid crumbs.
A balloon wreath hanging on an inside door in our kitchen.
And another one on the front door welcoming guests.
Rob made the train tracks to invite guests into the house.
And finally, the best part. The train Rob and I made out of cardboard for Will. He LOVED it!! Rob and I had a blast pulling it out of the garage a night when the kids were in bed. It took us a week to make it and paint it, but it was such a fun project to work on.
And here's the birthday boy himself enjoying his new digs. I wish I had a video camera on when he first saw it. His gasp of delight was worth every second we spent on it.
A better shot of the train with all of the cars as the birthday guests started to arrive. Please pardon the dead grass. Sigh.... my husband and I may be creative, but please don't call on us to work in your yard. You will be very disappointed.
Side note. I really love that Will has different friends than Bennett. Of course she knew everyone there and adored them, but I kept the party small and only invited specific friends and adults that Will loved. Some were his best friends (Rachel, Levi, Ridley, Brooke, etc....) and some were adults that he talks about and wants to see (Mrs. Shelby, Aunt Mary, Uncle Terry, etc....) It was awesome having friends here that truly love my little boy and that he loves in return.
Bennett was so happy to see the party guests as well.
Here is sweet little Rachel checking out the digs. Will loves his best buddy and her Mom, Mrs. Krista. He wants to go see them all the time.
This isn't Will. This is Ainsley. Just in case you were confused.
Fisher and Carter checking out the digs. They are unsure of their findings.
Our attempt to get all of the kids in the train did not work so well. So, here are some of them clearly looking happy at the thought of a group shot.
Of course Bennett and Levi found each other right away and attempted to ride off into the sunset in the Webster express.
Brooke enjoying the ball pit we set up for the little ones.
Can someone please tell Crosby to stop growing up? I cannot talk about how much older he looks in the picture. I love this shot of him and his beautiful Mommy.
Daddy with the birthday boy.
Dinner time! Thank you Levi for being the only one to actually smile for the camera.
Time for gifts. Will wasn't too sure about opening his presents, but fortunately he had a lot of little helpers.
This is looking promising....
.....but opening gifts is a lot of hard work. I'm pooped.
Cake time!! The kids were just a teensy bit excited. I really need to post the video of them jumping up and down and screaming for cake!
My parents joined us from Alabama on Skype so they could be a part of the festivities. Sniff.... snifff... It's hard being so far away from home.
Levi says, "Enough with the skyping business. Let's eat cake!"
Will got extremely shy when we were singing to him. Bennett though this was hysterical. I don't think she's ever had a shy day in her life.
This train cake was a hit with the kids. Again, the texture and type of cake I chose to make didn't work the best, but the kids loved choosing which train car they wanted. Definitely a blast.
Love these friends who are my family in Kansas.
Here is "Aunt Mary" and "Uncle Terry" with the birthday boy. They truly are our family here in Kansas and I really don't know what we would have done the past few years without them. My children adore them and think of them as their family members.
We were shocked that Will let Terry feed him. He stopped letting us feed him at 12 months. Seriously. So Terry kind of rocked here.
Enjoying cake and ice cream on the back porch.
What??? Is Levi in the train car with another woman? What is this? Bennett may need to step up her game.
But can you blame him? Look at beautiful Ridley. She's a sweet one, that's for sure.
My daughter dragged her horses outside, of course, and insisted they take train rides. Here's Will taking a break from a long evening by petting Beauty.
Me and my girls. Love you ladies!
Rob with our dear friend, Terry Haines.
As the party was winding down, even the babies were getting in the action. Walker decided he needed a ride on the Webster Express.
I posted this picture on here for two reasons. 1- Levi is STILL in the train car with Ridley. Bennett should be getting nervous. 2- The horse looks like he wants to kill someone.
Final jumps on our brand new bounce house. Thank you Craig's List.
And final swings on the hammock for Caleb and Fisher.
Train whistles to thank everyone for coming to the party.
And final hugs from Mommy.
What a wonderful evening. A very fun party that was done on a very tight budget using coupons, sale ads, my own craft supplies, and a lot of time. But we had a blast doing it.
I have to end by saying that when we moved here, I was 3 months pregnant with Will. I had only met a few people by the time he was born and it was a time that was very transitional and a little lonely. So it meant so much to have a home filled with people who loved my little boy and who wanted to be here to celebrate him. I teared up watching him play with his friends and hug the adults who love him. There isn't a better feeling in the world.
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