My Daughters' Fun and Frugal Last Minute Birthday Party

My life has been rather busy and full lately, all with good things, fortunately, but still very full. For that reason, things don't always happen as promptly as I would like them to happen, which is why my daughters, whose birthdays were in December and March, finally had a birthday party today, the first of May. Better late than never, right?

A little while back I was at a discount store, looking for ideas for things to do for my girls birthday party. I was on the lookout for girly girl things, because both of them are as girly as they come (pink and princess and makeup and doll and ballerina obsessed), but most of the craft stuff I saw either didn't speak to me, were too expensive, or weren't the types of things my kids would enjoy. I saw these little pink rolling pins being sold for 40 cents each, so decided to purchase 10 of them and pink modeling clay (4 for $2.25 each) and use that as the activity for the party. I set it aside and honestly forgot about it, until I rediscovered it recently.

My daughter Anneliese was supposed to have her birthday party in school today (the teacher was also running really late with celebrations this year) so I decided that if I'm anyhow making a birthday cake for the school party, I might as well hit two birds with one stone, and make a birthday party at home for their friends the same day. The hardest part about making a birthday party, in my books, is making the cake, mixing the batter, waiting for it to cool, making the frosting, making the food coloring, frosting it, etc... and making two cakes didn't seem like it would be any harder than making one. So I messaged everyone yesterday, to see if they could come to a birthday party today, and they all were able to!
So I made the cakes... and then found out from Anneliese's teacher that she made a mistake when telling me the date of the school birthday party, it's next week and not today... So that cake went into the freezer, but I still planned and put together today's birthday party from one day to the next. And as I didn't want to go back out to the store to buy anything (because of time as well as money), I was looking for ideas of activities to do with the girls that could be done with things I had already around the house. I turned to Facebook, and so many people gave me good ideas, many that I didn't end up using but had in the back of my mind to pull out in case I needed more activities.

We started the game with a little "egg race", you know, where you hold an egg on a spoon in your mouth and race with it? Only instead of eggs, we used marshmallows. Saved myself a lot of a mess, and everyone enjoyed. After doing a race a few times with the marshmallows, I also had the girls "spin like a ballerina" while trying to reach the finish line.
After that, we played Red Rover for a little while.

Someone on a Facebook group suggested making an obstacle course with things I had in the house already, so I made one in our back yard, and it involved climbing up a step stool, swinging in a hammock, walking along a stone wall, spinning on a circle, walking across a "tightrope", using "stepping stones", crawling under a chair, etc... Everyone had a turn, and some kids enjoyed it so much that after the party was over, they went back to do the obstacle course again.

After that, we sat around the table and I taught the girls how to make a ballerina out of their modeling clay. They rolled snakes for the arms and legs, rolled balls for the head, rolled out parts for the body and tutu. I love that everyone's came out differently, depending on how old the girls were (we had kids between the ages of 4 and 8), their personality, and their dexterity. They all had a great time.

After finishing the projects, the girls' ballerinas were put on disposable plates to make them easier to take home. They also took home the rolling pins as party favors. Everyone washed up well and we all enjoyed cake.

Anneliese requested that I make a vanilla cake, and my friend Louise recommended a terrific gluten free vanilla cake recipe which I'll be sharing here soon. The frosting was a plain buttercream frosting with beet food coloring to dye it pink. I used a lighter pink for the top of the cake and a slightly darker pink for the sides, which I blended into the top to give it a gradient look. I used an even darker pink frosting to decorate it by piping it through a plastic bag with the corner cut off.

Everyone loved the birthday cake, none of the kids knew it was gluten free. There was not even a single bite left by the time the party was over, and not because I made a small cake, but because everyone really enjoyed it. (Yes, the recipe was requested by some of the moms that tasted it.)

Other than what I previously mentioned, I also served some snacks. I bought chips, doritos, and a puffed peanut and corn snack, all on sale and also put out cucumber wheels. Drinks were water and apple juice.

This entire birthday party's costs are hard to guestimate, because the largest expense was the birthday cake (because I didn't make my own flour mix, since I was on a tight schedule) and the cost for that was split for the birthday party in school as well... So for both birthday parties together, the cost was as follows: $15 for the cake, $13 for the activities, $8.50 for snacks, or $36.50 for the entire thing. Not bad for a party that everyone enjoyed and got pulled together within less than 24 hours!

Just to give ideas for other people, other games I was planning on using for the party but didn't get around to using them were musical chairs, limbo, freeze dancing, pass the parcel, etc... 

I want to say thank you to everyone who gave me suggestions of what to do for the party; I couldn't have done it without you!

What types of games and activities do you generally do at little girls parties? What is your budget usually for birthday parties?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. It sounds like a super party. Simply fun.

  2. Great party, wish I had these ideas when mine was little. I just always got pizza and had a pool party where my parents were members. My daughter always loved a pinata, so every year I made sure to have one filled with candy. I think small toys would have been a better idea and better on the teeth. Wish you had a Dollar Tree store, lots of party items for cheap. Keep up the great work, I might not always comment, but I love reading your blog.

  3. It sounds really fun. Our boys generally had simple birthday parties and they enjoyed them. One year their grandmother gifted them a tablet. Yes them. They did not share a birthday, but she decided to give them a common gift that year. She was a teacher and wanted them to share something they both liked. We thought they would get into fights, but they amazed us. They shared, played together, made music on it and most importantly took good care of the device. It was fun to watch them play games( or by taking turns on the device! Thank you for sharing - hope the year ahead is wonderful. It brought back old memories!

  4. Lovely ideas! I love the clay activity, making ballerinas! Super belated happy birthdays to your daughters!

  5. Great ideas, very funny and I like those ideas. I will apply your recipe to get a meaningful birthday party, I hope they will like it, thank you very much !!! LOL

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