This past weekend we celebrated Emily’s 4th birthday. Being a December baby sure is hard because your birthday is always crammed into the festivities. This year we decided to do a separate friend party and family party. Her family party was celebrated this weekend with a holiday brunch at our house following her holiday concert. This took a lot of party planning to make it come together, but it was so wonderful to be sitting down fifteen minutes after everyone arrived to a delicious meal together.
I wanted her table to look very festive and Emily’s favorite color this year is pink. I pulled out a cake stand that I had bought from Goodwill and topped it with vintage-colored ornaments that we had in our holiday supplies already. The cardboard princess hat and pink vinyl tablecloth came from the newly opened Christmas Tree Shoppe ($1 for the hat and $2.99 for the tablecloth). I loved tying in the holiday and birthday elements together.
One thing I did purchase were the cupcakes for the party. Emily wanted pink princess cupcakes with sprinkles and cherries on top. My girlfriend Holly, of Sweet Cakes by Holly, was just launching her cake business in town. There is nothing I love more than work-at-home moms supporting work-at-home moms. Hiring her to do the job gave me the time I needed to pull the other food together AND support another mom doing her business. They were fantastically wonderful and pulled in our theme perfectly! The cupcake stand was found at Walmart for $5 and will be used for her friend birthday party this year too!
Emily got so many princess-y gifts including three princess nightgowns, a princess robe, a Fancy Nancy tutu with feather boa, oodles of girlie books (the favorite being Pinkalicious that was featured in our Top 10 Books to Give), a Madeline doll, a Barbie princess movie, and her very first Barbie.
Here are two of my favorite recipes from our princess birthday brunch…
Perfectly Pink Princess Party Punch
2 liter bottle strawberry-flavored soda (I found this at Walmart)
2 liter (half a bottle) Cherry 7-Up
1 (12 ounce) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1 can pineapple juice
Mix all the ingredients together for the punch. This will fill one large punch bowl or two smaller ones.
Overnight Breakfast Casserole for a Crowd
1 pound sliced ham (lunch meat)
2 teaspoons mustard
½ teaspoon salt
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
8 slices white bread, toasted & cut into cubes
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese
In a medium bowl, mix together mustard, salt, eggs, and milk. Add the ham (cut into cubes), bread cubes, and cheese, and stir to cat evenly. Pour into a greased 9×13″ baking dish. Cover & chill in the refrigerator for eight hours, or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover and bake 60 minutes. Uncover and reduce temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 15-25 minutes or until set.
Things We Did To Keep the Party… On Track
1. Cooking Prep Was Done the Day Before- I opted for overnight breakfast casseroles that could be made and refrigerated until we needed them instead of something that would need to be prepared the morning of the event.
2. I Used the Preset Functions on My Appliances- Take a peek at your stove and see if your stove offers a “Cook/Bake and Hold” option. I set my temperature to bake the casseroles at
350 degrees and then the length of time that they would need to cook. Once the casseroles were cooked, the hold option switches to keep the food warm (ours went down to 170 degrees). I also preset my coffeemaker and timed it to the time I anticipated we would be eating.
Thanks to taking advantage of these preset functions on my appliances, I was able to attend my daughter’s holiday recital and have the food cooking and coffee brewing while we enjoyed her show. If it wasn’t so fresh in my mind all of the prep work from the day before, you would have thought that the food made itself!
3. All of the Prep Was Done in Stages- Hosting a party can be really overwhelming so I always try and break down the prep work over the course of the week. One day is spent party-planning/list-making, the next day is spent shopping for what is needed, another day is spent cleaning & decorating, the last day is the food preparation and wrapping gifts. If you look at the grand picture, it is quite overwhelming. If you look at it in smaller chunks though, it makes it a little easier to manage.
Things We Did To Keep the Party… On Budget
1. We Threw a Reusable & Repurposed Kind of Party- My set of white dishes were put to good use again and I had leftover pink napkins from another party that I used for the big day. We opted for a vinyl tablecloth that will now be used for all of our girl parties ($2.99) and a cheap princess hat that made my daughter so happy.
The centerpiece was made from found items from around the house and gathered together for her table and we used the ultimate centerpiece to finish out the birthday table…the food!
If you are looking for accessories or centerpieces to keep your parties frugal, hit the thrift shops for some amazing items to take your parties to the next level. Our punch bowl was a $2 find (complete with dainty cups), the cake stand was only $1. Mix in those yard sale finds with your fancy dishes and no one will ever know the difference!
2. We Threw a Birthday Brunch- Brunch is the ultimate in frugal eating and one way that I keep my party budgets on track. With almost twenty people in our immediate family, it can be difficult to stay on budget and still throw a great party. Casseroles, coffee, and punch all are frugal food & drink alternatives. We did splurge this year with a baker’s dozen of Panera bagels and by purchasing the cupcakes this year, but by keeping the rest of the food frugal, we stayed within our budget.
3. Party Gifts Were Compliments of Swagbucks- I horde and deposit my Swagbuck points and credit them towards gift cards for Amazon. I got a nice stack of books for our little princess using these points with all of her favorite books that we have to keep checking out from the library. I don’t know anything more frugal than free gifts!
Need more party inspiration? Swing by and see this Nutcracker Ballet Birthday Party from Like Merchant Ships!
How do your birthday bashes on budget and on track in your house? Feel free to share recipes & party-planning tips here!