An Old-Fashioned Birthday BBQ Bash

This weekend we celebrated Ethan’s 8th birthday with a good old-fashioned birthday BBQ bash for our family.  I have so many new recipes and ideas to showcase from this party, but today I wanted to share with you some of the decorations and strategies that I took to save money and make this birthday special. Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting the new recipes that I used and tips for creating the dishes in your home.

We greeted our guests with this beautiful birthday wreath that was featured in our notebook and recreated in our home from How Does She. It can be created in about a half hour and requires zero craft skills. Everyone commented on how cute it was and it will be put away on a shelf until the next birthday. It took about $13 in supplies and I am sure we will get every dollar out of this wreath. Isn’t it adorable? I have a real adoration for anything that can become a part of our yearly traditions and the kids loved that this let everyone know we were in celebration mode.

One investment that I made into our future parties was a set of burger baskets. I found these at Gordon’s Food Service ($14.99 for 12) and I purchased one package of delicatessen paper ($4.99 for 500 sheets) for my family celebrations. I really am not a fan of paper plates and one time use party products.  I also hate the bulk of heavy dishes when you have an outdoor party. These seemed like a great  alternative and are a little studier than paper plates. I admit it is also a nod to my love of all things diner and retro. We can use these all summer long and everyone seemed to really love this idea!

When you are on a party budget, you have to evaluate every aspect of food preparation. A vegetable tray that is pre-made can be purchased for between $10-12, but making a vegetable tray at home cost about $5 in supplies. I saved a deli platter from a catered party that I had hosted and added to to my own party supplies. This sturdy tray has been reused multiple times and adds a more professional element to my party without the added expenditure.

Buying corn that has already been cleaned and is ready to go can save time, but it can add quite a bit to the party budget if you are trying to stay within your budget constraints and have many mouths to feed. With a little effort and time, preparing the corn yourself can shave an easy $5 off of your budget.

Drinks can also add a lot to a party budget and that is why we usually rely on a big batch of birthday punch to save on this category.  It is easy to spend $20 or more on the drink budget, but with one great batch of punch and a little decaf coffee for the dessert hour, I can spend $6 in supplies that will serve fifteen people with plenty of refills. Now that is a huge savings!

I will admit the cake process can be intimidating for me and many other moms. I took a cake decorating class and found the process to be a little…tedious. When I have more time, perhaps I will pick it back up. This year, I gave my son all of my cookbooks and he and his sister spent a Saturday morning flipping through them and selecting the most perfect birthday cake. To my surprise, he selected an easy chocolate bundt cake that he said would be, “the most perfect cake ever.” Do you think sometimes we put more pressure on ourselves as mothers than necessary?

This cake cost about $4 in supplies and still wowed everyone without the labor of homemade frosting and perfectly piped decorations. It was so simple, in fact, that I added a berry cake (another $4 in supplies) so our guests had two cake options. Both of them were perfection and cost a mere $8 versus two bakery cakes that would cost $15 to $25 each. Hurray for saving money and hurray for easy cakes! (recipes coming soon)

Thanks to waiting until after the fourth of July this year (instead of having a patriotic party like last year), we were able to take advantage of clearance party supplies to create the wreath and for the paper products that we did have to buy. A little ribbon added to a cake platter ties our theme in beautifully and we were able to take advantage of those clearance tables!

Does this look like the face of a child who has had the worst celebration ever because of his mother’s cheapness?

Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

Birthday Party Punch

2 liter bottle fruit punch flavored soda or 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.


Perfectly Pulled Pork Sandwiches (Adapted from All Recipes)

1 (4 pound) Boston butt (or pork shoulder)
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle root beer
1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite barbecue sauce
8 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

Place the pork meat  in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily (I cooked for eight hours).  Shred the meat and drain the root beer from the slow cooker. Stir in barbecue sauce and toss gently. Serve over hamburger buns.

Many more recipes to come…

Published July 13, 2010 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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