Wesley Turns 7!

This middle child turned 7 on Sunday. SEVEN. 

This guy had his actual day of celebration all planned out. I convinced him to pace out some of the fun, so we still owe him a dinner at Olive Garden. 

We did take him to get the coveted “Birthday Pancake” as seen on TV from IHOP. Turns out those specific pancakes were no longer on the menu, for it was a limited time special that he saw and desired months ago, but all it is really is sprinkles and whipped cream so they made for him anyway. 

HHe actually didn’t eat but one pancake from his kids meal, cause he ate the eggs and bacon. It sure was a lot of food!

We then went to church and after I taught our youth, I came home while the rest of our crew stayed for the second portion of church. Because Wesley’s birthday always seems to get lost in the end of school, our anniversary, and our church VBS, we didn’t decide to celebrate his birthday on his birthday until three days before. For better or for worse, he has had his “theme” in mind for months, so he didn’t have to think about things much. I had heard his plan for some time but hadn’t done anything about it. 

Regardless, we were able to pull off a fun celebration, complete with an anti-gravity “Reese’s” themed cake and cupcakes, family, pizza balls, silly string, and tons of fruit. 


He enjoyed his day, he loved all his gifts, and he’s another year older, just like that! 

 So that’s his day!  

 Side notes: I didn’t take any pictures with our good camera, just my phone, and I regret that. Also, as I’ve typed this on my phone, I’ve had to stop about 34 times thanks to Hazel, so now I suddenly remember why this blog isn’t updated much anymore ūüėĚ).

One Full Year

Right around noon today, our sweet Hazel will have officially been in our lives for one full year.

Today is truly something special.

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Hazel, we are so glad God decided to let us have you, and that he saw fit to let us keep you, even when the odds said you shouldn’t have survived momma’s wreck. Even without that fact, you would be an amazing daughter, but there is truly something special about you, dear one. You are a fierce little girl that will overcome anything. Your laugh is infectious, and your curiosity is exhausting. We can’t believe how much you have grown and changed in one year’s time, from hair to bald to hair again, and everything growth change in between. You are the first child of ours to walk¬†before her first birthday, even if still a bit shaky, and honestly that comes as no surprise. Likely you will always be a trailblazer. There is so much love for you little girl, from those near and those far, those present and those gone. Your story has only begun and it is already a lovely one. We can’t wait to see what the next chapters hold, but please go a little slower as you fill up the pages :)

hazel collage 1 hazel collage 2IMG_7478 IMG_7645 IMG_7668*Very pretty photo credits go to our two photographer friends from college, Simply M Photography and Alison Weakley Photography. 

Pokemon 8th Birthday

Daniel turned 8 in November! It seems so wild to think that it is almost a whole decade since I became a mom. Seems like just the other day I was treading the trenches of motherhood for the first time to this not-so-little-anymore first born son.

Unfortunately, the week of his party, our whole family, sans Hazel, shared a stomach bug. It was quite disastrous. As if my sleep wasn’t on low enough levels as is, the throwing up of all family members at all hours of the night didn’t help me get rested. Although we all recovered in time, there was still just a whirlwind of things left to do or clean before we had guests, so we considered canceling his party.

It was the saddest little conversation ever. Big crocodile tears welled up in his eyes. He put his head down on his knees and his eyes leaked, even though he tried to will them not to do it. He looked at me and said, “I told you to have my party on my real birthday!” to which I replied, “Daniel, that was a week night. No one would have been able to come.” His next step in defending his party was to say, “Well, you already sent the invitations in the mail, so you have to have it!” It was a sound argument there.

So, in doing due diligence, we consulted the family that was invited, and most seemed fine with still coming, and they even offered to help get some last minute things together for him. With that kind of spirit, we kept the party as scheduled. The only real loss was a few “extra” ideas I had to make it extra special, along with having a fully coherent brain at the time of the party, which was reflected in the lack of pictures that I would have normally taken.

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My son had some big plans for the birthday cake. He wanted it to be a Pokeball that when cut open Pokemon characters would fall out of in massive amounts. That character part wasn’t going to happen, at least not from me, so he settled with just having a Pokeball as the cake. Thanks to my friend Alison, I learned that they make some edible sugar sheet paper that could serve as the black lines, and thankfully she just gave me some to use for my cake. A bit of red coloring later, it was a decent looking product. ¬†I was very pleased with how it turned out.

The decorations were pretty simple:

a) some repurposed yellow paper lanterns from his 7th Lego birthday that received Pikachu faces of happy, sad, and angry, which were eventually secured high

b) a goodwill find of a Pokemon sheet to serve as the table cloth

c) a few themed plates rotated with Pikachu yellow plates

c) a clearenced birthday sign that I stuck some Pikachu stickers on to fit the theme and

d) a nice #8 for the middle

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We played a quick game with Daniel’s cousin and one of his best little buddies from school that were in attendance. They had to “find and catch” the proper Pokemons that had been assigned to them.

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We then moved inside to open some birthday presents! He was thrilled with all the items he was given. Thomas and I were so worn out from the days that preceded the party that we completely forgot to give him the present we got him! It was fine though cause it just meant a few days later when I remembered he had another gift to unwrap.

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Overall, it was simple. He had fun, and that was the most important thing for the day. I am glad that we did not postpone, for his sake, and for the fact it might have been next to never that we could figure out another date that worked for most everyone.

We love you, son! So happy to celebrate the beginning of your 8th year of life.

(Little Sister was as cute as could be and was worn out after all the celebrating! The crazy part is, SHE is the next immediate family birthday for our little crew. I am trying to to think about that fact too much!)

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A #5 Stars Wars Party

Welsey requested a Star Wars party this year. The boys are pretty obsessed these days. All I hear is “That happened to Anakin with a scrape.” “Bobo Fett wasn’t afraid then” (yes, Bobo….they say it wrong). “Darth Vader has a red light saber” and just about anything and everything in between. They’ve helped to get their cousin, Cason, hooked on Star Wars, and his poor parents don’t know anything about it. We are contemplating arranging classes for Cason’s dad on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that he can learn some things form Thomas. Then, Cason won’t have to hear “You’ll have to ask Thomas, son. We just don’t know” anymore from his parents. Basically, it is serious stuff around the V Family home. Star Wars shall not be taken lightly. We’ve done our best to follow the important parenting obligations noted in this Star Wars PSA¬†we discovered through my friend Jennifer. Take heed to that Jar-Jar portion though folks. We didn’t intervene with Wesley soon enough, I must admits.¬†DSC_0013

 

Anyway, when Wesley finally decided on this theme, it wasn’t much of a surprise, since our house is full of paraphernalia, I knew decorating would be super easy. ¬†Grab the Darth Vader costume from the dress up bin, snag the Star Wars banks, display some material, and decor is a perfect fit.

 

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I did purchase the disposable table wear at Party City on half-off. I suppose some people think Star Wars isn’t cool and the products earned a discount? Maybe it’s because in the not too distant future the new movies will be out? Who knows, really. I am just pleased that the clearance worked in my favor.DSC_0005

 

After seeing some super neat looking cookies on Pinterest, I asked an old friend of mine to¬†recreate them in a sugar cookie version. We settled on a price of “you make me some cookies, I’ll give you some of my Thirty-One items” and the result was in my favor, I do believe. Thank goodness for talented friends! Yes, my friend Liz really did make those. Yes, they look totally awesome. Yes, they tasted delicious. And if you don’t know what they represent, you have failed at life. Maybe you should attend the classes with Cason’s dad.¬†DSC_0011

 

 

Along with the amazing cookies, I decided to add a cake. In my mind, after I baked it up, I was going to develop the Death Star. It was a grand and ambitious goal my friends. I made the yummy cream cheese icing and tinted it the right color. I geared up pipe lines onto the cake, in order to make it resemble the ship. Then, I realized that I am no cake decorator. I looked at it and decided just put the glass lid on the cake stand. I asked Thomas if it looked ridiculous due to the now somewhat disgusting looking color of the icing (which was never really a great match from the start, to be honest) and he said it was fine. The next morning, Welsey said, “I know what you did Momma. You made me the Death Star!” Turns out, I succeeded after all, even if I didn’t really do much.

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I also blew up some balloons and strung them across our opening between the living room and kitchen areas. I printed out Storm Troopers and made the birthday banner that I had hoped for in my mind. It was super easy and looked pretty good too, if I may say so myself.

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The cousins played light sabers outside, we sang happy birthday, Wesley opened his gifts, and we chowed down on some pizza too.

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All in all, it was a fun little event for our birthday boy. I am amazed what this little guy can do—how he can switch from rough and tough to soft and sweet. He can read pretty well, but he will not really let you know it. He loves art and drawing, coloring each and every day, often multiple times a day. Don’t mess with his sister, or there will be a price to pay. For that matter, don’t mess with his momma either. He’s loyal to the end, once he decides you’re worth it. His heart is big, and he shares and does the right thing, even when you would least expect it. I can’t believe all that he has to offer the world, even at a young age. I’m proud of you, sweet Wesley……May the Force be with you.

 

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(and a secret picture I took, which blesses my heart—–daddy with son, working on the Lego box we got him)

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Daniel’s #7 Lego Birthday Party

Each boy talks about and plans his birthday throughout the year. We aren’t really ones to buy our kids toys other than birthdays and Christmas, so the “I would like that for my birthday” goes on all year long. They also contemplate what kind of birthday theme they will have when their big day comes. Much like their Halloween costumes, they seem to change their minds and adjust the plan a million times. Eventually, I have to make them decide, and often I will coax them towards a theme that I know I can pull off or find items for easily. Eventually, for his 7th birthday, Daniel decided on Legos. Once it was finally a go, I got to planning, and being that my ability to go and get what I needed for the celebration was drastically different than years past (thank you car wreck, no car, and 6 month driving restriction!), most things had to be even more easily accessible than in the past. Thankfully we have more than enough Legos on hand.

I found via the web some great ideas and put Thomas to work constructing with the kiddos those items. In prime Lego nerd form, Thomas replied to most images I showed him with “Yeah, we can do that……but better.” It is with that mindset that the castle cupcake holder was fashioned:

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Those awesome looking Lego men are edible! Thanks to a Lego man mold purchased a few years back when Thomas and I visited NYC’s Lego store, yummy white chocolate dyed yellow pieces were born.

Decorating was pretty easy, and thanks to two more homemade Lego designs by my boys, we had a #7 sign and a silverware/napkin holder.

DSC_0010DSC_0008I took square yellow plates and drew faces on them to replicate the Lego man. All the faces were different, and it was really cute to me (although not sanitary) when Wesley shuffled through every single one to find the exact plate that he wanted. The orange Lego brick was a bit more of a challenge to make than I had anticipated. I blame this on my lack of patience and geometry. Regardless, when finished, it looked pretty decent, so I was okay with it.

Daniel was in charge of making the Lego faces for his banner in the living room. He did a great job and was very creative with the faces he crafted.

DSC_0013When the guests first arrived, we played a game of Lego bingo to pass the time while the meatballs I had made finished in the oven. I found the Bingo sheets here from some mom that did a much better job than I could have done creating one. The concept was good, but being that we don’t have a color printer, it was a tad harder for the kids to get a good visual of each character, so there was a bit more hunting for the figure than I had expected, thus a little parental assistance was needed.

DSC_0019DSC_0020I had intended to buy one Lego mini-figure to have a prize, but I was never able to get around to it. It worked out for the best, being that the birthday boy won.

After Bingo, we moved on to the food! I had meatball subs for Daniel, cause it happens to be one of his favorites. I had not used the specific meatball/sauce recipe that I decided upon for the party before, but I am pleased to say everyone seemed to enjoy them, especially Daniel, and he was who I was out to please.

DSC_0023There was also sandwich meat and PBJ ingredients for those not big on meatballs. Fruit, veggies, chips, and cupcakes/cake rounded out the goodies for event. Being that we had a party during prime eating time so Thomas could get in a full Saturday of work, I wanted to make sure everyone was well fed. Mission accomplished, I do believe.

DSC_0021After everyone was done eating, we moved straight into singing Happy Birthday to the Birthday Boy and then immediately into gifts. The cupcakes were ready for all right at the start, but the Lego cake was cut and served to those that wanted it while the kids huddled together and ooohed and ahhhed over presents.

DSC_0026DSC_0036DSC_0028Daniel received some very thoughtful gifts, such as a Bible, Legos, art supplies, and a new wii game. He also received some money from my brother Damien that was creatively delivered in different increments and in various envelopes/cards.¬† It was funny to see Daniel’s brain try and keep up with the amount (he’s still in a stage where paper money is all the same, whether it be a $1 or a $20, so his cousin, that is 2 years older, was a bit more excited about it all, for understood the amounts better!).

Each kiddo, before leaving, was given a small goodie bag containing candy, a bouncy ball, slime, and for my niece Jenna only, since she was the only little girl, a beaded necklace.

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He truly seemed to have a good birthday, and I hope he enjoyed all the small details that I tried to give him in order to make it memorable. Sometimes, I am very full aware that the birthday details are all about me as mom. Those details, however, are important to me, being that it is a way I can show my extra care and love for him. I made him the Lego man shirt and was glad when he was excited about it and wanted to wear it.

I enjoyed throwing random Legos into a glass container I had while also strategically placing some in certain places/spaces for fun.

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I simply loved seeing Daniel happy and having so many family members and dear friends in one spot, all in celebration of the birth of my first born.

7th bday familyHappy 7th Birthday, Daniel. May you be blessed with many, many, many more days of celebration to come.

Turning 3, Super Hero Style

I can’t believe I let the whole month of June finish out before posting about my sweet Wesley’s birthday and party. In fact, I let the whole month of June go with only posting once! I promise to do better here in July. In keeping with that, let me tell you a little about my second son’s big day!

On his actual birthday, he immediately began asking for his cake when he woke up in the morning. I guess when you turn 3 you don’t think it is a birthday until you blow out a candle or something. In an attempt to appease, I made him pumpkin muffins for breakfast. This boy just *loves* them and they are pretty simple to create, just some pumpkin and coconut oil and a few other things and they are ready to bake. He also got to open a gift from his Uncle John, still with the “sleepies” in his eyes, as I use to say when growing up (and he has shorts on, promise. The boys are just real big now days about sleeping with no shirt).

That night, the family went out to eat at Chili’s. If we are going to eat out, we tend to eat here, only because they very frequently send e-mails out with TWO free Kids’ meals with an adult entree. They have some pretty healthy choices, and if I order something (we will sometimes go when Thomas is at work), both kids get to order a meal—for free! They had a coupon out available for use on Wesley’s actual birthday, so that is just what we did. While there, he got to open a present from us, a Spiderman toy and an Avengers shirt. He was so excited about each and had to put them to use right away. The shirt he wore in was taken off and his new one was put in its place. The server saw that we were celebrating our little man, and since Wesley was very eager to tell everyone “I 3 today!” the waiter¬† helped us celebrate by bringing out a brownie with ice cream–for free! We had a good time and Wesley was very happy.

There was a little gap between his actual birthday and the big celebration, but when it finally arrived, Wesley was pumped. We did a general super hero theme, which made planning and staging really simple, for any super hero worked! I had found a load of Batman supplies at a consignment sale for $5 and then I found Spiderman stuff clearenced out at Target, so we got all his themed items for a great price. I intended to do so much more in celebration but my time couldn’t catch up with my plans. So, I did the best I could for my little man, and since he is 3, it was plain perfect.

Everyone was asked to “help us save the day” and wear a Super Hero shirt.

I blew up some balloons and had Thomas cut out some bats and we made a cool Batman balloon banner (and it is still up—I liked it :O)

I had big plans of making all these super cookies look like Captain America shields but I realized after about 5 of them that I am not enough of a meticulous or type A person, so the rest of them just ended up being solid, bright colors. At least a few looked great, right?

I got all goofy and put colors in the lemonade and named them Super Hero names. Daniel assisted by coloring the labels, for he was really persistent about contributing to the celebration, much of which was officially assembled while Wesley napped.

The table was decked out with fruit, veggies, olives (a Wesley favorite), chips and salsa, and what were self-acknowledged some of the best cupcakes I have personally ever made. They were soooo good. Thomas also grilled hamburgers for us. He is always so good about making the main course food!

We opened gifts right away, for who wants to make a newly 3 year old wait?

You can see Wesley with the shield my brother brought and the cape my mom wore, while arriving as Captain America and Batman. Whether they intended to or not, Wesley got to keep them, for there was no way he was letting those two items out of his sight.

He later spent 20 minutes jumping off our ottoman yelling “To The Bat Cave!!” or “BATMAN!” while throwing his arms out and spreading wide the cape. It was pretty stinkin’ hilarious–and cute (and yes, we had a wardrobe change—because his Aunt Chelle and Uncle Austin got him a shirt he had to put on immediately!)

To the Bat Cave!

All in all, it was a great little event. We kept it pretty simple, just ran around the yard playing with toys, no official games. The birthday boy was happy, and that makes me happy, so I will call it a success!

My kids consistently refuse to cooperate with pictures, so it seems, and my nephew has this unending need to do bunny ears in every photo, but this is pretty genuine and true to form, so I like it.
The little “I can’t believe you were this tiny 3 years ago!” set-up, along with the plates and napkins,
Happy Birthday, Wesley Reesse! Enjoy being 3!
Holy smokes, it’s Batman! Or maybe just Daniel…..
Our sweet neighbors with their thanks for coming gifts–a Spiderman cup, Spidey paper with markers, suckers, and Captain America tattoos.
Aunt Chelle and Grandma help to prepare Wesley for his jumps!
Last minute shot, to prove Thomas was at the event!
Daniel took this of me and Elizabeth. Great shot, Daniel!

Toy Story #2 Party

Well, since the month of June is coming to a close, I wanted to go ahead and make sure I at least got my sweet boy’s birthday documented during the actual birth month, so let’s take a look at Wesley’s special day.

To welcome guests to the party, I decorated the front door with expo markers and a poster of Buzz and Woody. The inside of the door also had a poster where we played “pin the badge on Woody.” My niece Jenna won the contest, but only Wesley, Jenna, and Daniel played. The other kids didn’t want to do it, for whatever reason.

Wesley was pretty excited to see his decorations, espcially Buzz flying in the sky:

I love how he looks so tiny next to the table of goodies. (side note: I *almost* had a heart attack when Wesley nearly pulled the tower of cupcakes down, onto himself, just moments before the party was to start. You can ask my sister-in-law for confirmation of that fact. Fortunately, they just wiggled over to one side and then toppled back to even rather than smothering him in homemade chocolate icing.)

I made gift bags for all the kiddos that had fun goodies inside, along with giving each a Woody painting set. All the Toy Story decorations were mainly taken from the boys’ toy stash, and it was fun thinking of ways and places to use them. For example, each cupcake had a toy soldier on top. The below decoration was my favorite, although I think the concept of it was lost on all the kid guests, being that most have only seen Toy Story 3, not the first one, which is what this set-up references.

My friend Pat gave me a birthday kit that she picked up at work on sale, so we used some of the gift bags as popcorn bags at the celebration. We also used the birthday banner that was included, along with a few other goodies. Isn’t she so thoughtful? Pat totally knows I am a dork when it comes to parties and that I love a good deal, so it was a perfect fit.

We kept it low key structure wise, opening the gifts first so everyone could play with them, using the bubble machine inside, and allowing the kids to eat cupcakes before we actually sang to Wesley. It’s just easier that way. This meant that when it came time to actually sing and blow out the candles, Wesley already had chocolate on his face from his cupcake, which he did not eat but only licked the chocolate off of and then discarded randomly next to the couch. See exhibit a, to the right, for proof, as well as the image below.

I love how happy he looks about his cake and everyone singing. I had to help him blow out the candle, but later, on his actual birthday yet after his party, he blew it out without a problem all on his own.

It was great to have family and friends come to celebrate the life of our little one.We even played outside some so Wesley could put some of his new toys to use. No one stayed outside too long though because it was hot!

It is unbelievable how much he is growing, how much he is learning, and just how much we love this little wild and crazy son of ours. Happy 2nd Birthday Wesley! May God give you many, many more years of celebrations.


Turning 4, Mickey Mouse Style

As I showed you in the sneak peek, Daniel had himself a little Mickey Mouse party. To say it was fun for us as parents would be an understatement. It was such a wonderful time. I just love celebrating my children and their life on this earth!

We opted for  a Mickey Mouse celebration due to one of my favorite stores having the MM party supplies on clearance. It was a starting place and we just added fun items from there. I will say that having a trademarked character as our theme was harder to obtain cheap and cute items for than our general pirate theme last year. One good thing, however, about a MM theme party is that you can pretty much just make 3 black circles and you are spot on for additional decorations (see the MM 4 sign that I made using black paper plates). I, with limited ability to cut straight and write straight, was able to make things work well, along with the additional help of the hubby!

For starters, Mousketeers were given mouse ears made out of a stiff felt and hot glued to headbands. Girls were given ones with bows! This was an extremely more frugal way to obtain MM ears, I am sure, for the headbands came in a pack of 5 for a buck and the felt was 32 cents a sheet, of which I bought 3. After I told him what to do, Thomas actually made them the night before our celebration. It was that easy!

I kept in mind things that Daniel would love to have at his party, so we had a popcorn station. Everyone seemed to love this idea, for there was not a piece left at the end of the party. I let adult party-goers take home a popcorn tub. These were located in a dollar clearance section, so they were a frugal addition that made a huge improvement over just having all the popcorn stashed in a big bowl. That *huge* balloon was found on sale for 2 dollars. I did have to pay to get helium from our local grocery story, which was also 2 bucks, but the added price was still cheaper than they generally run anywhere else.

If your children have ever watched an episode of MM or read a new MM book, you must be aware of the “Toodles” that helps the Mousketeers accomplish a mission. Thomas and I, again the night before, created a Toodles and thought out some Mousektools for the kids to use to help solve the problem of the missing gifts. It was such a fun time running around outside watching Daniel and his friends gain back control of his gifts, even from the grasp of a giant monster!

Opening presents was such a special time, for my little boy showed how sweet his heart truly is. He became just as excited about his “mail” as he did any gift he received. What 4 year old enjoys cards so much? He also would smile and laugh about the gift, and then, when told who actually gave it to him, he thought we were saying it was their gift, not his, so he would say “Oh sorry!” and try to give it back to the person, never losing his smile. In fact, he had been given a gift the day before his party by a family friend and when we woke up on his party day, we asked him if he was excited about gifts. His reply was “I already got my gift yesterday! I only need one.” He even told my brother, when he was questioning him about what he wanted for his birthday, that he “had plenty of toys” and did not need any more. We did *not* tell him to say that. In fact, I think all kids should get to open gifts on their birthday, and I do not like when parents say not to bring gifts to their child’s party. Keep it cheap, certainly! Not have any? NO way! Alas, he has such a good spirit and he spoke his heart and acted so kind.(take note of Daniel with the only gift he has ever requested, of which he has been requesting when asked about his birthday: “the biggest gun ever”)

The MM cookies were yummy, even if they were a bit exhausting for Mommy to make! The company was even better, and I am so glad that our friends and family made time to come and celebrate with us. Just look at all the fun we had:

I am so proud of my little boy making it another year, and I pray God grants him many, many, many more birthdays to come!

A Sneak Peek

A special little boy I know is turning 4 and will be having a fun celebration. And just like last year, here is a hint, and a sneak peek, into Daniel’s big day:

Something tells me we’re going to have a “hot-dog, hot-dog, hot-diggity dog” day. I can not wait! I promise to update you after the big event, too. I wonder if it will be as much of a hit as our #3 pirate party?

Our (Frugal) Pirate Party

I have been so excited about sharing the fun we had at Daniel’s Pirate Party. It truly was a blast…..to me at least….and if I, an adult, can find it fabulous, I would hope birth to 5 year olds could agree.

Anyway, rather than just giving a recap, I thought I would join in for the first time posting for Frugal Fridays, in which I would explain how we threw a super fun party for super cheap.

1. Choose a Theme Early

When you know how you are going to celebrate your little one, you can share your theme with others. When they are in the know, your friends and family can pick up odds and ends on sale as they find them, not to mention yourself. When we shared our pirate idea, my loving sister-in-law picked up a great “Beware of Pirates” sign that marked our house and welcomed our guests:

2. Bake and Make What You Can:

Now, I am by no means an Ace of Cakes, but I can surely make (somewhat) aesthetically pleasing, edible products. And when you compare what it will cost you to celebrate with a home made cake over a store bought one, home made is the only way to go. Cake mix is about a buck and you can make  a whole cake or 24-26 cupcakes out of that. With cupcakes, you can typically measure better if you are making enough to feed your guests. Plus, you wipe out needing more paper plates and silverware to eat dessert! If you make your own frosting, you are saving even more, which is what I did. Since my aforementioned cake making skills are basic, I have begun the tradition of letting my little one decorate his own cake, on which I will put his candles. He put on the sprinkles and placed the objects where he chose, and if/when it looks poor, you can just blame it on your kid :O)

Don’t just think about making food either. Think about making all sorts of things. For instance, in keeping with the Pirate theme, we had a treasure hunt. I made a little treasure map in a matter of minutes. The birthday boy opened this up, with his guests right beside, and we went on journey to find those treasures!

And if you are highly skilled—or know someone that is (hence the photo of my lovely pirate boat engineer, Amanda, in the photo below)—you can construct an elaborate decoration for the kids to play in/on to help their little imaginations. —note their Pirate hook fingers :-)—

3. Recycle and Re-purpose What You Can:

If your kid is choosing the theme, you most likely have toys around the house that will go along with said theme. I scoured the house for Daniel’s pirate items which were stuck on his cake and set around the food table, etc. to add to the decor. Other items we found and used—the big box that our new recliner came in became our pirate ship. The old Halloween decorations from my mom became the skull on the front of the ship. A wooden decorative box became our treasure chest. An old pinata that , for some really odd reason, had been at my mom’s since high school, was just perfect for our event. I even filled the pinata with Daniel’s Halloween candy because, let’s face it, your kid only needs so much. Now, I know this is something that not all folks can do, for my little one happens to have a birthday that follows close suit to trick-or-treating, but you can always keep a look out for candy deals.

Decorations from birthdays past can be very effective in helping for your current party. Even if you do not have any from the past, choose solid color accents to your theme and you can save leftovers for the next celebration. A few Pirate stickers (bought off e-bay at a steal) and you can spice up most any decor, such as your solid colored plastic cups, old birthday blowers, etc.

4. Shop the Sales and Look for Clearance:

One of our local mega marts had some Pirate birthday gear, and since I knew my theme early,  I had been keeping my eye on them, waiting for prices to drop. Being that a clearance is almost always in sight for those type of items, I just kept waiting. Sure enough, they were clearanced down to fifty and seventy five cents an item, so I bought invitations, which came with thank you notes, a table cloth, and napkins. And you know what, that same said sister-in-law, being she knew our theme, called me when she found them on sale, but I already had them!

Being that we have a deep freeze in our garage, I was able to buy our hot dogs and buns ahead of time, free or nearly free with coupons and BOGO sales. I just sat them out the morning of our party and they were perfect for eating that afternoon. I don’t think anyone noticed; they pretty much ate it all.

Even our own little Pirate was decked out in clearanced gear for his big day. Since Halloween was over, costumes were 90% off, hence him donning such a great Pirate costume.  (See the birthday boy badge? I made that by cutting out a skull off of an extra invite.)

I also got our littlest a skeleton outfit for $1.80, all thanks to sales!

Even though these party favors (hat, patch, and hook combo; jumbo coloring book ) were not on sale or clearanced, they came from a store where everything in it is a dollar, so it does not get much better than that.  The skull and cross bone cupcake papers and toppers are another sale item after Halloween. Good deals!

5. Borrow What You Can:

Did someone else you know have a party of the same theme? I am sure he or she would let you borrow the leftover items. With that said, I borrowed my get-up from my cousin, who wore it the year before at a Halloween party. Everything my brother is wearing was just re-purposed from around his house, including the peg leg :O)6. Let Other People Help

Friends and Family are always looking for a way to contribute. If someone asks if they can bring something to the party, take them up on it. An extra 2 liter never hurt. My mother brought some baked beans to the party to go with our hot dogs. I had given her a couple of cans I had bought and she put them with some of her own, but the biggest help was that I did not have to spend time making or worrying about them.

All in all, it was a splendid time. I *love* the fact Daniel is still talking about the treasure hunt with his friends. He retells all the steps each time we see the field, giving me details about the candy and how it busted open. So fun.

My Father-in-law had an emergency appendectomy, so he, along with my mother-in-law, were not able to make it to the celebration. Instead of having them miss out completely, we used Skype and had them join in on all the fun for a few moments.