Moving houses this year, coupled with all four of my kids being in school, has done a number on my bank account! All of the random school t-shirt orders and field trips and kids outgrowing the shoes I bought like two weeks ago have combined to make the wiggle room in our budget non-existent.
Naturally, two of our children have birthdays this month and have been looking forward to having a fun birthday party for months. My oldest son celebrated his ninth birthday and my oldest daughter will be celebrated her sixth. Although we’ve done joint birthday parties for them before (their birthdays are only three days apart), I had planned on letting them have separate parties this year. Imagine my surprise when they asked to have their party together this year! They thought having one big party with lots of people (their combined friends) would be fun, and my budget-weary brain seized the opportunity to streamline party costs. Their only specific requests were to have separate invitations and separate cakes, which I happily agreed to do.
They decided on a Western-Themed birthday party, partly because both love horses and going to rodeos. Luckily we live out in a rural area on acreage which lends itself to this kind of party, but it could also easily be done in a backyard. Using things that are handy and easily accessible are key when planning any kind of event, cost-effectively, and with some brainstorming and browsing online for ideas I managed to throw a fun double birthday party with about 50 people in attendance… for under $125.
Invitations- Browsing on Etsy, I found so many SUPER cute Rodeo-Themed digital invitations, by where I would pay the creator of the invitation design to personalize it with my party’s details with prices ranging between $10 and $25, and then email it to me so I could pay to have them printed elsewhere. Because my children wanted separate invitations, I did NOT want to pay a digital file price twice and then pay $20 or more to have them printed on cardstock at a local print shop. I briefly considered printing them at home but realized that I would have to replace my expensive printer cartridge to do it. Instead, I took inspiration from things I had seen online and designed invitations for them using a free designing website I use frequently for creating blog graphics, Canva.com. It took me an hour or so to get them just like I wanted them to look, and I uploaded them as pictures to a pharmacy photo website. After finding a coupon online for that website, I paid $7.77 for 40 cute, custom-designed invitations… and picked them up the next day. My kids were thrilled.
Party Favors- As a mom, I’m not a big fan of goody-bags because I hate adding new stuff to our ever-growing tiny toy collection around here, and therefore avoid giving them at my kids’ parties. Instead, I decided to make stick horses for each child out of pool noodles. Being that this is the end of the summer I knew that finding pool noodles on clearance would be a safe bet. I was able to get a box of 45 pool noodles for $0.50 apiece at Dollar Tree. After buying patterned masking tape, felt, googly eyes, and circular stickers, I have invested about $1 into each pool noodle. These were SIMPLE to make and didn’t take a ton of time.
Decorations- The Dollar section at Target had cute cardboard pennant banners and burlap adhesive letters that go along with the outdoorsy, rustic look that I’m going for with the decorations, so I bought two banners and two sets of letters for a total of $5. I also created this Rodeo sign out of drapery pinch pleat clips, the cardboard flaps from the box the pool noodles came in, chalkboard paint and chalk. The stick horse corral was made from the rest of the pool noodle box, a little bit of spray paint I had left over from something else, chalkboard paint and chalk.
Rodeo Games for a party are simple and, thankfully, don’t require a ton of preparation, clean up, or decoration.
1) Boot/Shoe Scramble- All of the kids take off their shoes and boots which are then placed in a huge, mixed-up pile a good distance away from the start line. The kids are all lined up, side-by, side, at the starting line then race to the pile of shoes when the whistle blows. They must find their own shoes, put them on, and race back to the starting line. This can be done in heats if you have a lot of kids and the heat winners can race against each other.
2) Rope the Steer- I’m borrowing a real roping dummy from a friend, but you could take a stick horse and secure it somehow and accomplish the same thing. Each child, one at a time, will be given a hula hoop to throw around the dummy’s neck. If they ring his neck they get back in line, and once the line gets back to the first person, the dummy is moved farther away to be roped again. This goes on until there is a winner.
3) Stick Horse Race- Using the stick horses I made for them, the kids will do a relay-type race using the stick horses.
4) Target Practice- Using water guns the kids will try to knock over three empty coke cans before the person on the other team. Older kids stand farther away from the cans than the younger ones.
Party Menu consisted of hot dogs, individual bags of chips, soft drinks, and birthday cupcakes. My husband grilled the hotdogs a little before the party guests arrived and were kept warm in the oven until it was time to eat. Originally I promised the Birthday Kids their own birthday cakes, with the intention of having a gifted friend make them, but as I keep saying, I’m currently on a squeaky-tight budget. I’ve opted to do cupcakes instead, and have separate cupcake trees. My daughter asked for strawberry cupcakes, and my son needs Gluten-Free, so we used a GF Betty Crocker Vanilla cake mix. The cupcakes were iced in white with little boot and hat cupcake toppers that I picked up at Hobby Lobby.
Having a fun, memorable party doesn’t mean that you must spend a fortune to do it… Budget Birthday Parties rock. The pictures from this party is priceless, and I think that my children as well as their guests had an absolute blast at the Rodeo Party. Sometimes a lack of funds can be a great reason to get creative, and using what we have around us to create the ideas we get from online websites like Pinterest is fulfilling and fun. It was a lot of work, but the kids all had a fantastic time, and I enjoyed seeing them have so much fun with their friends. And I didn’t scar our bank account for life.