Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Being a crafty mama

While I haven't spent a ton of time doing crafty stuff lately, it did occur to me that I've had 3 boys with birthdays and I did all the cooking, baking and decorating for them, which has to count for something on the craftiness scale! So I thought I'd do a little blog entry showing the cakes I made and a few of the ideas I had for decorations and invitations on a shoestring budget.

Austin's 12th birthday: I typically make a cake using a Wilton cake pan for the kids and I always let them pick what character they would like. This year Aus sat down at the computer with me and we browsed eBay for interesting cake pans. (This is a great place to buy a gently used pan, many times for a fraction of the cost it would cost you at the store and also a great way to find old/retired pans!)

Austin's got a thing for old cartoons, so this year he picked a Popeye theme. We found the pan for around $6. I bought up several cake mixes and frostings on sale for $1 each at the store (these keep in your pantry for several months, so if you have birthdays coming up, it's a good money saver to buy them all at once and get them at the discounted price!)

I bought a giant box of postcard stationery at Sam's Club for $7.99 to be used as invitations (there were 400 in the package so I will get several parties worth out of them!). We went online to look for clipart images to use and made up invitations for what works out to be $.02 a piece (before postage).

Aus's decorations were simple, he is afterall, not a kid anymore ;) We went to the dollar store and bought streamers in colors that coordinated with the cake colors, a sturdy plastic table cloth (which held up through 3 parties!) and a "Happy Birthday" banner (which also survived all 3 parties and is good to go for next year).

We bought some silly string for he and his buddies to mess around with in lieu of "favor bags" and we invited his 4 best buds to a sleep over after the party. Since his birthday is just days before Halloween, my husband took them all to a locally famous haunted hayride after the traditional cake and presents with family and then they ran around in the dark spraying the living daylights out of each other with the silly sting and played guitar hero until the wee hours of the morning!

Here is Austin's cake:

For Aidan's birthday we had a Thomas the Tank Engine theme. Again, I went on eBay, found the cake pan for about $8 and hit the dollar store for party favors and decorating supplies. Finding a good dollar store has really been helpful to me- the one I shop at has all sorts of toys intended as party favors so they come in 4 or 8 packs for just a $1 each. I loaded up on everything Thomas and train related I could, from stickers to wooden train whistles to mini frisbees and pencils.

While I was there I also bought up everything "Cars" related because that was Avery's theme and I wasn't sure they'd still have it when I came back for it in January.

I took Aidan to the craft store and we purchased inexpensive paper bags with sturdy handles for $.59 each and a giant package of foam stickers in a train theme for $.99. I shopped at Michael's- they put a 40% off coupon in their weekly flier (as does AC Moore and both stores will take the other's coupon- just FYI!)

We came home and I printed out each kids' name in a large, fancy font from the computer and we glued them onto the bags and then embellished with some glitter glue I bought at a Buy One/Get One Crayola sale at AC Moore a few months prior (also using the 40% off coupon).

Aidan had a blast coloring on the bags and decorating them with stickers for his friends. The bags are cheaper and bigger than those flimsy plastic "themed" bags you can buy at retail stores, so they can hold more substancial favors (such as the large wooden whistle I put in these).

Here is Aidan's cake: (sorry I forgot to take a picture before I cut it!)

Last, for Avery's party we had a Cars theme. He has been on a Lightning McQueen kick since we purchased the movie last spring so it only seemed appropriate. I did the same thing for his favor bags: glitter glue, foam stickers, dollar store toys.

I paid around $14 for his cake pan but it turned out really cute!

Oh and I just found a photo that shows the favor bags from Avery's party:

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