Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet Sixteen Party - On a Budget

Yeah. On a budget.

I'll never be on one of the tv shows about over the top Sweet Sixteen parties. Because frankly, I have other things to spend my meager funds on. Like food. And shelter.

But, man, we had one amazing and fun party last weekend. And we didn't break the bank.

Our Invitations were CUSTOM home by me & my kid. Screamapillar and I spent under three dollars on paper and embellishments, and made 45 invitations. Why 45? Because I'm so very stupid...

The larger group was invited via a facebook event, and that was free. I got pretty lucky, actually, as many of her friends are drama kids who were unable to attend due to a play performance that evening followed by a cast party.

It's not a party until you Decorate. For us this means 47,312,061 curled ribbons hanging from the ceiling. This is skilled labor, because they must be perfectly curled....or not.

Usually, decorating involves an exorbinant amount of balloons as well, but there was an....incident....that prevented me from making it out of the house even once the entire day (okay, I was violently ill and sleeping for much of the day where I wasn't tossing cookies, so it was a really good thing that I wasn't involved in any food prep and that Wren came over to play "auxillary mom" because anyone who had any usable skills was elsewhere on Saturday!). So we used what we had on hand: water balloons. And more ribbon. I did not spend a dime here, as everything was already in the party box. Oh, wait - I did buy a roll of tape.

No comments are necessary on the lameness of my front door. We did our best. And yes, it needs to be painted. I will welcome suggestions as to color. Back to the party commentary, please.

Choose your battles. Yes, I make and decorate great Birthday Cakes. But I knew that I would be cleaning and decorating the house until the last minute, and I was expecting the population of Madagascar to show up, so I cheated and ordered one from Costco. Thank you, Costco. You never disappoint. It was yummy, and cute, and all I had to do was send Hubby to pick it up.

It had the added bonus of being an item that was to be intentionally lit of fire.
Teenagers + Fire = Fun.

Teenage boys eat lots of Food. I know this because I have a lot of experience with teenage boys. They live at my house AND date my daughters. And they eat (so do teenage girls, but they are more discreet and less desperate looking about it). So meager bowls of candy and chips would likely be insufficient for the hoard that was expected to invade my domicile. Solution? Nacho Bar! I worked concessions at the University, and ran concessions for the football games at the high school for a couple years as a choir fundraiser. Nachos were always a big hit without a big outlay of cash. I also had some grapes and carrots with dip - seriously - if I made a veg tray, they would only have eaten the carrots anyway. Then lemonade and water to drink. Oh, and the Yoda Soda (pictured below). They liked it. They were happy. And I was not depelted of funds.

Entertainment was easy. Teenagers are easily amused, and generally can entertain themselves. I helped the process along a bit by making a Very Embarrassing Video of the Screamapillar, which I made the group watch. It was a tremenous success, even though she was completely humiliated.

 Here is the Screamapillar, trying valiantly not to die of embarrassment while all her friends sing along to the music on the video at an alarming decibel level. They also spent some of the time watching Brian Regan videos on NetFlix. Good clean fun.

Games were pretty easy too, and we only managed two of the three we had planned, and they were "awesome," according to the kiddos. First was Cracker Back. The idea here is three fold:

One -- Thread a string through the holes of a saltine cracker.

Note: if you are a boy, claim that your fingers are too oversized and manly and ask the pretty girl next to you for some assistance. This part of the game could almost stand alone. It encourages cooperation between the sexes. And creates an avenue for mild flirtation (which is the desirable underlying element of EVERY game when you are sixteen).

Two -- tie the threaded cracker to your center back beltloop. See Note above as to how this is to be  achieved.

Three: Each person gets a rolled up newspaper, and tries to smack and break everyone else's cracker without getting their own cracker broken.

Additional note: If you have an "outside" you might want to send them there. And do this before it gets too late so your neighbors do not hate you quite as much.

Holy crap, but they loved this game.

Next up? Bigger and Better Scavenger Hunt.
I spent many hours of my youth participating in this very fun waste of time. The rules? Divide into groups. Each group starts with a single paperclip. Travel from house to house. Convince whoever answers the door to give you something "bigger or better" than the paper clip. Go to the next house and trade that item for something "bigger or better." Rinse, and repeat. You can't go to your own house. Items will not be returned. You cannot trade for things that draw breath (house plants okay -- snakes not so much). Be back by the specified time or your group is disqualified.

(this activity offered the added benefit of emptying 40 teenagers from my home for one peaceful hour.)

Before long, these items appeared in my front yard:  propane tank, tire, spinning wheel, gallon of pancake syrup, television set, bicycle frame, and a window pane.

Screamapillar's group was ten minutes late and disqualifed, so we made her be the judge. The had to "sell the product" and convince her why their object was "bigger or better."

One group came back with a person (because I forgot to mention the "breathing" rule) and won for "better," solely because of the "saucy pose" struck by the person brought back. The tv came in first for "bigger" because of it's tremendous weight. Anybody want to haul the other stuff out of my yard, please?

Here's the breakdown:
Invitations $3
Costco cake $17
Nachos w/toppings, veg and drinks $28
Decorations $0.99  
Games $ 2.17 (saltines)
Yoda soda $6
(paper goods already on hand leftover from 'cul-de-sac of fire')
So my party cost $1.27 per invited guest.

*** ascend soapbox ***

Recently, in a nearby city, a mother hosted a birthday party for a six year old. It made the papers.

I can think of a lot better things to do with $32,000, and not one dollar would be spent on spoiling my child and giving them an unrealistic entitlement attitute. Next year, if we play "bigger and better" we (the teenagers and I) discussed how it might also be used to collect a can of food at each house and donate it to the food bank.  Hmmm. Good idea.

*** descend from soapbox ***

 There were some fantastic, right minded teenagers at my house. They didn't ask for much, just some good clean fun. They were polite and well behaved, kind and inclusive of one another. They sang "Happy Birthday" to my daugher very loud, and deliberately off key in different tempos (see photo above). They laughed, they joked, they sang along to the video and seemed to have a great time. They offered thanks as they went out the door. They loved my kid enough to show up.

It was awesome.

1 comment:

Aubrey said...

Happy Birthday to Katie. You are very good at fun...and I'm very impressed with the budget aspect. Awesome party!