KIDDOS: Throwin' a Girly Birthday Party on a (very tight) Budget

Two days after I got laid off my baby girl turned one. Two weeks later my older daughter turned five. While we didn't exactly plan to have two April babies (July must be my fertile month), it turns out that both our children will be forced to have joint birthday celebrations for at least a few years to come. We had just sent out invitations to 40 friends and family the day before my layoff and needless to say, when the party rolled around, we weren't in that much of a celebratory mood, nor was our recently shocked budget.

I'm not really into big, elaborate kids parties of any kind, and love making much of the necessary birthday needs by hand when possible. Also, since we are abiding by The Compact this year, it made the party even more of a challenge to plan. Especially when Lucy decided on a Tinkerbell party theme. My mom saved the day there, as she purchased Tinkerbell plates, napkins, a tablecloth and happy birthday banner, since she wanted to contribute and knows about both The Compact and The Layoff. I decided to mix it up with some other cute, whimsical decorations I had around the house. I made each girl a birthday crown out of recycled cereal boxes, decorated with vintage rick-rack, Contac paper, and fabric scraps; Lucy's had a "5" on it and Alice's a "1."The decorative highlight, however, was the handmade fabric banners their Auntie Crystal, a retro mama with amazing sewing skills, whipped up for the party. I LOVE THEM, and plan to reuse them for years to come, keeping them in good enough shape to pass on when Alice and Lucy are moms themselves. My parents made me this cake from an early 1970s Baker's Coconut cookbook for my first birthday. I recreated a version of it for Lucy's first birthday party in Minneapolis and again for Alice's first. I also made the cupcakes for Lucy's birthday, complete with the bright feather toppers from items found in our various craft tubs. Since it was an afternoon party we didn't spend a lot on food; the night before I hit Costco for a veggie tray, fruit platter, tortilla chips and a tub of their delicious seven layer Mexican dip. We got our extended family to contribute beer and I bought a box of wine for the adults. For games, we filled plastic Easter eggs, which I already had a ton of, with candy and gum and hid them all over the yard. I had purchased a reindeer pinata at Christmastime for cheap, and retrofitted her to be a spring fawn and filled her with candy too. Each of the kids at the party got a brown paper sack for all their candy, and that operated as their treat/party bags. The weather was lovely, so we all sat around the yard chatting, eating, drinking, and watching the kids thoroughly enjoy themselves, which is what kids' birthday parties are all about, right? And all for a little time, ingenuity, and less than $100.