As a single parent, money is more than tight. So, when I called McDonald's to confirm my daughter's 5th birthday party and found out that the manager had been fired and they were no longer doing any birthday parties, I had to do some quick thinking. I had 24 hours and $10 in the bank! It was a 5:15 p.m. party. My daughter wants a sleep over. My solution? A pretend sleepover!
I made up new invitations on my computer and printed them out explaining the new details. Each little girl was to wear her pajamas to the party and bring her favorite teddy bear. I made sure they were passed out the next day at school. At the party, there would be a craft time, a dress-up teddy time, pizza/presents/cake time, and finally a story time.
On Friday night, I scrounged around my house thinking up ideas for decorations with the U.W.Y.H (Use What You Have) motto in mind. In my basement, I found cardboard boxes in need of being broken down. I also found some Elmer's Glue in my daughter's craft box along with some of those plastic pellets with which to make sun catchers and four huge containers of glitter I'd picked up at Christmas time for 99 cents a piece at Odd Jobs.
I cut out five crescent moons (nose included) and 12 big stars from the cardboard, along with 20 smaller stars for the girls to decorate at the party. Then, my daughter, my Mom, and I sat down and glued glitter onto both sides of the moons and large stars. We then found some kite string attached to a broken kite (don't we all have those someplace in the house?) and tied a length of string to be hung from the ceiling the following day for decorations.
I had some left over silver balloons from New Year's Eve, which were then blown up and placed around the house. We hung the moons and stars from the ceiling along with the balloons with a staple gun I found in my junk drawer! That took care of the decorations. And it didn't cost me a thing!
On Saturday, I went to the Dollar Store and picked up little plastic purses with pink boa material on the handle and packed them with left over Halloween and Easter Candy when we got home. The purses cost a total of $8.
I called the local pizza place and asked them if they would be interested in donating three large cheese pizzas for a tax write-off and free advertising since all the girl's parents would be staying. They jumped on it and I got three free pizzas! (They got extra orders that night from the parents on their way home to feed the rest of their gang!) It didn't cost me anything but my pride if they declined.
I already had the juice boxes in the fridge, so there was no need for buying juice and soda. I found a box of yellow cake mix and a round cake pan, some white icing and some food coloring in my cabinets. I made up the cake and mixed blue and yellow icing. Once cooled, I used the icing to draw a crescent moon in yellow and a blue sky around it. It looked like a professionally decorated cake for no extra cost!
The party went off without a hitch! All the parents thought it was the best party they'd ever attended or seen. The kids all loved it and the siblings all wanted a party just like it! But, to me, the best part was when my daughter came running up to me (after the decorations were up and no one was there yet) and said, "It's the best party ever, Mommy! Thank you so much! I love you." Money can't buy you love.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com
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