Thursday, March 29, 2012

Under $50 Construction Party!

CAUTION- This is a LONG post with lots of pictures... I hope you enjoy it!

As I mentioned in my last post, LM turned 3!  He is obsessed with anything construction- specifically diggers.  I went with Diggers as the theme for his party.  I am super cheap and wanted to do the majority of the party with my computer, things we had around the house and a small amount of food.
Here is my break down per kid
  • apron 9x .77
  • hard hat 9x .50
  • crayons.  4x .30 (bought crayons on sale for .30 in fall school supply sales.  I split the boxes in two)
  • 1/2 pack of card stock- already had
  • 1/2 pack of sticker paper- 5.00 (coupon for staples and still have paper left)
  • kinkos 2.99 (enlarged clipart)
  • paper bags and brown paper (already had)
  • Rubber duckies 12 @$6.35 
  • 2x 24 pack @ $1.49
  • floral foam 3.00
  • duck tape 3.00
  • black plastic table cloths- 4x .80
  • about 4$ at dollar store for random things
  • Balloons 1 dozen 6.00
  • sticks for cake toppers - free from coffee shop - I asked and they gave them to me
  •  food
    • I kept it cheap by making my own subs and cutting my own apples.
    • The chips, dip and salsa were free by using coupons
    • The soda and fruit boxes were free with coupons
    • I already had the water but probably spent 1.50 for the case.
GRAND TOTAL: $46.17ish... I add the ish because I didn't track how much it was to make the subs.... but I did 4 subs for about 3:50 a sub total (estimate).  The day I bought the subs and fixings I worked a buy 20 of certain items and get $5 off from your bill.  I did this with 40 items that I needed so that I could pretty much pay for the subs this way.

I also paid about .5 for all of the plates and cups because I bought them after Halloween on sale.  I didn't have enough of the largest size for the adults so I had to pull some out of my everyday stash (from target and totally matched the colors!)

I really wanted to keep the entire party under $75.  I am sure I am missing several items but I think I totally did a cute party for my son for under $50.  Here is how I did it!

The Greeting
LM's shirt.  I drew some circles in Word, added a number and printed it out on some t-shirt transfer paper I had from last years party. I ironed it onto an old white t-shirt.  This way I always know how old he was at this party.  Simple and easy to toss when it gets dirty.

When the kids came in the door, LM lead them to a check in station where he gave each kid a hard hat with their name and a Home Depot apron to wear.   All of the adults were VERY surprised that all of the kids kept their apron on the entire time and for the most part kept their hats on as well. 

The front of the hats had LM's logo and the specific kid's name on the back.

These were simple and easy to do.  I made the happy birthday banner myself on the computer and used twine to tie it together.  I used close pins to attach it to the blinds.
I pulled all of the diggers we had in the house and used them on the table as decorations and to hold the plates and napkins.  I also made little signs for the table that said Dig In and stuck them on the containers (dollar spot at Target and Big Lots).  I covered all of the tables with black plastic table cloths (under a dollar at Wally World) and took yellow duck tape (40% off at Hobby Lobby) to tape road lines down the table.  I then added a couple of balloons and that was it for decorations.  Super simple to set up and super simple to clean!


The food was designed to be simple.  We had:
  • sub sandwiches with fixings on the side that I made that morning cut into smaller sections for the kids
  • apple slices and peanut butter dip
  • chips and salsa
  • chips and dip
  • water, soda and juice boxes

Of course, it was a freezing cold day, so we had to move the party inside.  I set the house up in stations.  Each station was defined by some brown paper taped to the appropriate place.

There was a Pound It Station where the kids hammered golf tees into floral foam.  This was a HUGE surprise hit with the kids.  Super cheap.  I think the blocks were 3 for about $3 at WallyWorld and my husband had a handful of old golf tees that he contributed.  This station also had some crayons on it so they could draw if they wanted.

The next station was Build It.  Where the kids could build towers with blocks and knock them down... always fun for toddlers.
We also had a Dig It Station.  This about gave my husband a heart attack when he saw it.  But I reassured him that it would clean up easily.  Originally this was supposed to be sand, but when we moved it inside, I ran out and purchased a cheap bag of rice.  All of the kids LOVED this sensory box as well.
 Lastly we did play one organized game.  Pin the bucket on the crane.  I took a piece of clip art and had it blown up at Kinkos.  The kids took turns pinning the bucket on the crane.  As it turns out it was the first time any of them had every worn a blindfold so we didn't spin them.  It was very entertaining for the adults to watch.
Cake and Kids eating area
I have a big foyer in my house and so I set the kids table up there so that no one had to be worried about spills and crumbs.  It was odd when everyone walked in and saw this, but worth it for the peace of mind.  Don't you love the box of diapers by the door ready to go home with one of the younger brothers?  It is ALL in the details people!
I used caution tape to keep the kids out of the office on the right.
At each kids place setting was a "coloring book" I made from some printable pages from the Tonka website.  I reduced their size so I could get 2 to a page and made a simple cover.  They also got a customized box of crayons that uses the Bulldozing Logo (repetition is good).  The template for the crayon box can be found at Chica and Jo.  It is free!  As it turns out, they didn't use theses during the party because they were so busy with the stations.
I am not a big cake person- too hard to serve and I thought that cupcakes would be easy to make and I could do it ahead of time.  A few weeks prior to the party I had a cupcake sampling at our couples poker game (don't judge me) and the overwhelming choice was this chocolate King Arthur recipe with this chocolate King Arthur frosting.  I used a ziplock bag to pipe the frosting on the cupcakes and made toppers to go along with the construction theme. I didn't get a picture of the cupcakes with the toppers on them, but here are the toppers.

Here are some pictures of LM eating his....

Swag Bags
If I had known that the kids were not going to use their coloring books, I would have skipped the swag bags.  Alas I didn't know this so I made swag bags.  One of my pet peeves are  bags filled with candy and cheap toys.  We had great swag!  
On the front there was a sticker with the word crew on it and on the back holding it shut there was a thank you sticker.
The bags are plain lunch sacks.
Inside each bag was:
  • small construction themed rubber duckie
  • 4 construction themed silly bands
  • bubbles with custom labels (printed on sticker paper)

 So leaving the party, each kid got their apron, hat, coloring book, crayons, swag bag and a balloon.  We didn't plan for the balloon, but the kids were going crazy about them so each one got one!  

How did it go?
The feedback from the parents was that all of the kids had fun.  I think that almost every kid cried at some point, but that is the age.  

I also really appreciate the help I got from the parents.  They seemed to enjoy the station idea and enjoyed getting down on their hands and knees to play with the kids.  How many were there- There was a total of 6 kids and one younger sibling.  We prepped for 7 kids and another sibling, but they got sick at the last moment.  Almost every kid had two parents there so we had lots of help.  The kids are all kids that we play with so it was a super comfortable and casual feel to the party.  This is because we are friends with all of the kids and their parents. I really wish we could have had it outside, but with a Feb. 25th birthday, it can't always be that way!

Final Thoughts
I worked on this party from Halloween (cheap theme colors) to the day of the party the last weekend in February.  I did a ton on my computer and used many materials that I had at home.  I spent a lot of time on Pinterest- a rabbit hole in itself to search for ideas from other people.  I tried to put my own spin on just about everything.  Here is my party ideas board if you would like to see what inspired me.  I am thinking that next year will be a dinosaur theme- so I can start collecting things this Easter (see how twisted my mind is!!!). If I forgot to give anyone credit, I am truly sorry.  Just send me a shout out and I will add the credit to my post.

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