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PLANNING THE PERFECT PARTY

So Good Enough Mother is navigating the awkwardness of adolescence all over again. Not her own (which was sheer JOY) rather that of her two children. And one of the major rites of passage is the boy-girl party.

A while back, Cole went to his first boy-girl affair, the birthday/going away party for some friends. This party was a throw down! It was in a converted warehouse with great DJ’s, music, black lights, all the soda they could drink, picture-taking booth, you get the picture (no pun intended). So when I picked him up I mentioned, this place might be ideal for his own party. He was STOKED, I thought it would be easy and how much could it cost, realistically? Are you sitting down? 30 kids, DJ, black lights, music, a “party motivator” (uh, yeah) that would run a cool $6,800. Yes, that’s right. No, there is not an additional zero on the end by accident. Six thousand eight hundred dollars!


So Good Enough Mother is navigating the awkwardness of adolescence all over again. Not her own (which was sheer JOY) rather that of her two children. And one of the major rites of passage is the boy-girl party.

A while back, Cole went to his first boy-girl affair, the birthday/going away party for some friends. This party was a throw down! It was in a converted warehouse with great DJ’s, music, black lights, all the soda they could drink, picture-taking booth, you get the picture (no pun intended). So when I picked him up I mentioned, this place might be ideal for his own party. He was STOKED, I thought it would be easy and how much could it cost, realistically? Are you sitting down? 30 kids, DJ, black lights, music, a “party motivator” (uh, yeah) that would run a cool $6,800. Yes, that’s right. No, there is not an additional zero on the end by accident. Six thousand eight hundred dollars!

When I found my voice again, I gently broke it to my second born that a price equivalent to some mortgages was just way too steep for a party for anyone in this house. He blew a gasket. “BUT WHY???? HOW MUCH MONEY DO WE HAVE? HOW MUCH MONEY IS IN THE BUDGET FOR MY PARTY?” and on and on it went. I had to explain that even if I had the 7 grand, I would not be using it for a party for him or anyone else in our humble abode. It did not go over well and for three days I suffered through the silent treatment (sort of suffered).

I was instantly transported back to the days when party planning was easy, when all I had to do was secure the clown, cake and party favors. Everyone was happy and the kids thought I was a genius. The bar is much higher now. But it ain’t 7-grand high.

I suggested to Cole a number of options that were within our budget, which he was still demanding to know.  He shot down every one of them. Finally he said “ I don’t think I’ll have a party this year.” And you know what? I agreed. I was tired of wracking my brain and getting no help and we were getting nowhere.

Then one day, as luck would have it, we were watching a game show called Minute to Win It. Contestants have to do all manner of crazy stunts, like pull all the tissue out of a box using one hand or bounce a ping pong onto a piece of bread with peanut butter on it. The show is great, the games are hilarious and it’s a lot of fun.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kif6xmFJ19A[/youtube]

So I said, “let’s do a Minute to Win It party!” and to my complete surprise, HE AGREED!

You know Good Enough Mother is all about saving money where I can so I made the invitations on my computer,

All of the games are mostly household items, though I did ask the kids to bring a box of tissues and a dozen ping-pong balls.

I found two speakers someone was throwing away on the street and spray painted them black. I plan to take photos and print them instantly (ala the photo booth at the $7,000 party) and I’ll serve hot dogs, punch and cake that I ordered from a warehouse store.

We’re doing it in our front yard and so far, the moms who have RSVP’d said their kids couldn’t wait because it sounded like so much fun.

The lesson for you GEMs and Cole is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a great party. But the pressure is on. I’d better not screw it up.

So how do you make the day special for your kids on their birthdays? What are your money saving tips? And what’s the best birthday party you’ve ever been to…?



7 Comments

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  4. PassPorter Mom Sara

    April 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I am in the throes of party planning this week myself for my son who turns 7 on Friday. Since we have a small house, I will do anything to be able to have the party elsewhere! Local small museums have been a God-send for us. Last year our local Nature Center rented us a room for $35! Score! This year we are at the local air museum. Again – a really low price for a great and unique location. Don’t think you can go to your local, very popular, children’s or science museums but with a little research, you can probably find a great location for a great price!

  5. Rene Syler

    April 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    @PassPorter Mom Sara: great ideas! It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and you’re right, with a little thinking you can throw a great party for little money! THX!

  6. katie

    April 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    i am throwing my own minute to win it b-day party cause my mom and dad are really busy and tight on money so i am trying to find some really cute minute to win it b-day invitations

  7. Rene Syler

    April 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    @katie: I used a program called comic life magiq to make the invites. They have it for mac and PC. One other suggestion. Pick only 5 of the EASIEST games because people get bored if it takes to long. Good luck!

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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