Last Tuesday, Mike and I celebrated our birthdays- he turned 28, and I, 26. I have mentioned, probably at every birthday, my philosophy of birthday celebrations- I'm very much a believer in them. I think people deserve to be pampered one day a year, minimum, where they can feel special and don't have to feel guilty about doing nice things for themselves. As a frugal housewife, I especially enjoy celebrating my birthday, because, while I do get nice things for my kids and husband here and there, I do feel guilty spending money on myself on "frivolous things", anything other than what I really need... but on my birthday, I do end up being less uptight, and not feel guilty for spending on myself.
Essentially, what ends up happening is my husband and I go on two official dates each year- one for our anniversary, and one on our birthday. And we spend money. But even spending money, we try not to go overboard, and try to pick a more frugal option. Like for our anniversary this past year, we had a romantic picnic date, with fancy homemade foods- much cheaper than a restaurant. And I think last year I bought steaks and other fancy foods that we loved and had them at home while my kids slept over at my mom's house.
This year, though, I am tired. I don't want to cook. I want to be pampered, to not have to work hard to prepare for our date, and clean up after. So I was looking into what frugal date options would be in my general area. Ideally I wanted something that wasn't food based, because I am so limited in what I can eat because of my gazzilion and one food restrictions...
I dislike museums, and I finally found something that I wanted to do with Mike on a date that wasn't a fortune- there was this movie that you watch on a moving platform, that makes you feel like you're actually part of the movie. I had that set in my head for weeks... and then two days before our birthday, I called them up and they said they didn't allow pregnant women to go on the ride.
I was really bummed out.
I thought our date was ruined, there was nothing we could do that wouldn't break the bank that wasn't a museum, and was indoors... that they'd actually allow pregnant women to do. (Going to a shooting range crossed my mind, but I was told that they'd absolutely not allow a pregnant woman there...)
Finally, I thought about bowling. I hadn't been bowling in years. Literally. I think the last time I went bowling was when I was 13 or 14 years old.
There's one bowling alley in the city nearest to me, and after checking it out, I found out that the prices were pretty reasonable!
We decided that Mike and I would go out to play a game of bowling, and then after, go out to a decent restaurant that had a variety of gluten free, dairy free, egg free menu options at a very low price.
To keep the cost of our date even lower, we decided to swap babysitting with a friend of ours- the night before our date, I babysat her kids for a few hours while she and her husband were out, and on our birthday, we got free babysitting in exchange. It worked out perfectly!
So, the bowling was great! I was terrible at bowling- I got gutter ball after gutter ball, but I just had a blast anyhow.(I think my total score was 40 something.) And Mike, while he was much better than I was (got more than twice my score) also wasn't so great- it had been years also since he played.
But, as with everything, having a good time while playing a game doesn't mean necessarily being good at the game, it just means being able to laugh at yourself and at your mistakes....
Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at home, but Mike brought my old camera, which is terrible, and takes such blurry pictures. But hey, at least I got something...
After the game, we headed to the restaurant, which, for being a cheapo place, is still much nicer than a fast food joint. The ambiance is pretty nice, as is the decor.
The biggest problem really was that so many people had the same idea to come, so the restaurant was quite a bit packed...
The restaurant's menu is divided according to prices, so Mike and I each picked a meal from the lowest price category- I got beef stroganoff with rice, and he got chicken livers cooked in a cherry and wine sauce, with rice. (The liver was supposed to come with mashed potatoes, but since that had gluten in it, they were happy to replace that with the gluten free rice.)
Mike and I shared our meals. They tasted terrific!
I have to say, though, that the portion sizes were definitely smaller than your portions in the average restaurant. But general restaurant portions are often so huge that you either stuff yourself to finish it all, leave some over and they toss it, or take home your leftovers in a doggy bag. We were happy to pay much less for a smaller meal, leaving satiated but not stuffed.
It was a great date, and a great birthday celebration, and even though we also went bowling and also went out to eat, the total cost of our date was still significantly less than restaurant dates we went on in the past, and that's without factoring in the babysitting...
In addition to our birthday date, my sister took me out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant two weeks ago, and I decided to do something for Mike's birthday with his friends. He's a quieter guy, doesn't like massive affairs, especially not the stresses of preparing for and cleaning up after, so I just decided to do something small. I invited 2 of his friends over for cake, popcorn, and drinks. I got a pack of Smirnoff Ice on sale (2 for the price of 1), made this recipe for gluten free cake (only I used palm shortening instead of butter, and water instead of milk), and frosted it with a simple frosting made from powdered sugar, palm shortening, and a drop of lemon juice, and decorated it with sprinkles and "Happy Birthday" candles I bought for 50 cents at the salvage store the other week. Yes, I could have made it cheaper and/or healthier, by finding a sugar free recipe, using homemade powdered sugar and homemade sprinkles, but, as I said, I am short on energy these days, so I spent a little extra....
For entertainment, we all played Apples to Apples that I bought at Walmart when I was visiting the US in January.
It was a quaint, quiet, low fuss, fun birthday celebration, low key but enjoyable, exactly the type of celebration my husband appreciates best.
For presents... we decided to keep these VERY low cost this year. Mike got me two kitchen tools that I wanted, but didn't need (a garlic press and a spare pizza cutter- he asked me what I wanted and that's what I said) and ended up paying for half with a gift card he had, so paid very little out of pocket. I still am working on getting Mike's gift- I know exactly what I'm getting, and where I'm getting it- I just haven't made it to the store that sells it yet- a travel mug, that I'll be decorating to give it a personal touch (Mike ends up drinking a lot of tea at work all day, and likes travel mugs).
I have to say that this year's birthday celebration(s) was one of my favorite ever. Mike and I will definitely be going back to that restaurant, and we definitely want to go bowling again!
What do you do to celebrate adult's birthdays in your family? Do you keep it low cost, or do you go all out?