Asa’s First Birthday – How to save money on a kid’s birthday party.

Goes to show how on top of things I am.  Asa celebrated his first birthday on June 5, 2009.  Turning one is quite a milestone in my book and I knew I wanted to commemorate the occasion with a party fit for a one year old (and his friends since he wouldn’t remember any of it).  I started researching a few months prior and narrowing down my themes.  I wanted something cute and fun but not too old for him.  I finally settled on a bug theme birthday.

Normally we would do the party at our house, but since our backyard was still not kid friendly, we opted for a park. (Hosting at your house, a friends house, or a park is way cheaper then paying for an event venue).

(NOTE: The park we picked was not the one across the street from our house.  It was a 10 minute drive away.  We picked it because: A. The park across the street hosts little league and we didn’t want to compete with them.  B. The park 10 minutes away had a great play area for toddlers and bigger kids.  C. It was free!)

We made our guest list (which was quite large for a one year old) and sent out e-vites (save the planet and party at the same time.  How can that not be a good thing?)

During my research, I decided since it was a bug themed party, I wanted bug themed food.  This also acted as my decor (we were at a park which was also fitting.)  Below are pictures and descriptions of where I got the inspiration for the food as well as other pieces for the party.

The Veggie Garden: I wanted something akin to a garden in your backyard with vegetables flowing freely out.  My husband came up with the idea to use bread to look like mounds of dirt with veggies stuck in or sitting on top of the mounds.

Oh a marching we will go!  Ants on logs are a tried and true classic.  I used both rasins and crasins to simulate black and red ants.  The avocado frog is from Annabel Karamel’s Complete Party Planner.

I loved the idea of doing edible bees and found a few recipes to use, but ultimately, I used one from Danielle’s Place.  The only thing I did differently was freeze them so they would be soft right when the kids started to eat them.  They were delish!

Cheese Worms were another must and so easy to do!  Taste of Home had the idea and I loved it!

Taste of Home had really awesome ideas for delicious, nutritious food that looked like bugs.  I loved the wealth of ideas I found there.  These spiders were a great find.

These ladybugs were tasty and something that the adults loved as much as the kids.

My love of the carved watermelon…I don’t know where I came up with the idea, but I told my husband I wanted this and he really came through

(well, he did part of it.  My girlfriend Gloriane saved it because it was going to get scrapped when it wasn’t turning out great.  She’s the one who thought to put the cloves in for the eyes.)

Burgers and dogs.  No explanation necessary.

We had a mini ice cream sundae bar.  I found some great toppings including Keebler Bug Bites which are graham crackers shaped like bugs, gummy worms, and Lightning Bug Candy.

This is just a random picture of one of the food tables.  Oh!  For drinks we served bug juice and bottled waters (it was the beginning of the summer after all!)  I also made an ice mold ring that I had frozen gummy worms into so we would have bugs in the juice.

My girlfriend Ofelia made this centerpiece which I thought was so cute!  It (obviously) had Asa’s name, bugs and his age. So cute!

Fruit is a great healthy treat that kids and adults love!  I bought a flat of strawberries for about $7 at the Farmers Market before the party.  Great buy!

My husband made the butterfly using cardboard and aluminum foil.  I used bowls to mimic butterfly spots and some pineapples were cut out to be flowers.

My girl Lisa Mays brought this classic- worms in dirt!  It was a big hit with the kids and adults alike.

Cake!  I wanted to do something different then cupcakes (which I love) and just a big cake.  My mom works at Williams Sonoma and got me these great bundt cake pans from there.  One was a caterpillar and the others was an assortment of bugs.  I used the recipes included with the cakes and they came out great!

We decorated them the night before and really had fun with it.  I bought the big leaf plates from Party City to look like a bug on a leaf and we used brown painting paper (from Home Depot) as tablecloths.

So how do you save money on a kids birthday?

  1. Make the food yourself
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask people to bring stuff
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask people to bring a recipe you have already decided to use
    (Note: My general rule on this is that, unless we are having a potluck, I ask only really close people to bring something.  The exception is when someone asks me if they can bring something.  I’m always happy to pass something off to someone else).
  4. Use coupons.  I did not pay full price when at all possible.  Get the discounts while you can!
  5. Reuse what you already have.  We had brown paper from painting our house.  It made sense to use it as a tablecloth for a bug party.
  6. Buy in bulk when it makes sense.  I love Costco and I love a good deal.  We bought our burgers, hot dogs and buns there.  They had great prices!
  7. Use your local Farmers Market.  It saves money.  Especially when you buy seasonal produce.

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