This past Friday, Bear turned 8 years old. On Saturday, we had a simple, inexpensive, and fun birthday party. Why simple and inexpensive? Simple, because I frankly couldn’t handle complicated right now. While I believe I am inventive and creative, I did not have it in me to do all I could imagine. I was at a low on creative juices too. Inexpensive, because we needed it to be. Where we lacked in resources of time, energy and moolah, we did have kid power and kid creativity.
Cake and ice cream
While labor intensive on the front end, it was inexpensive to make. I wanted the doling out of cake and ice cream to be simple, so I came up with a plan: homemade ice cream cup cakes.
- Sheet cake
- Cake frosting
- Ice cream
- Cool whip
- Crumble cake and mix with cake frosting. I used one boxed cake and one can of frosting. I got this idea from reading about cake pops.
- Mash cake/icing mixture in the bottom of muffin liners (around 1/3 filled). I filled over 2 dozen liners.
- Scoop softened ice cream into liners until it is filled.
- Place in freezer.
- Place cupcakes together on lined cookie sheet. Fit as close together as possible.
- Frost with cool whip.
- Decorate. I used sprinkles and gel frosting (I used what I had on hand).
- Put back in the freezer until ready.
The great part about this was easily handing out the dessert. I didn’t have a mob of eager children waiting for theirs. The cupcake with a napkin was enough. No real need for a plate or fork–we ate outside too. Since I had most of the ingredients, this was an inexpensive dessert. Everyone enjoyed it. This could be modified using homemade cake, ice cream, etc. But given my time/energy restraints, it worked well.
Games and Activities
Hide the gifts: My daughter came up with the idea of having the guests hide their gifts. When it was time for Bear to open his gifts, he had to look for them. This turned the regular ripping through a pile of gifts into a game. The kids watched excitedly as the birthday boy hunted. When he found one, he opened it. It was a hit.
I am not sure which child came up with this idea, but it was a hit. I looked up plans for a marshmallow shooter here and here. I went with the one that was shorter so I could get more shooters for less. This is what I bought:
(2) 1/2″ – 10′ PVC pipes
(2) Contractor packs each: elbows, tees and caps
(We already had a PVC pipe cutter but a handsaw could work.)
We precut the PVC for each shooter:
1 – 7″ piece
5 – 3″ pieces
Each shooter needs:
2 – elbows
2 – tees
2 – caps
I built a model and tried it out. It was great fun! (Mini marshmallows shoot amazingly well.)
After the kids had some free play time, they gathered around the table. With a couple adults helping the younger ones, everyone easily put their shooters together. We had some foam letter stickers for them to decorate their shooters.
I placed a large bowl of mini marshmallows out, and they had a blast. (Note: Marshmallows melted on the deck because of the crazy heat. Melted marshmallows are sticky. Next time, we’ll keep the shooting to the grass.) Just because I was curious, I checked to see if there are pre-made marshmallow shooters. I found them at Amazon (not PVC).
We set out our kiddie pool and sprinkler. Running around free with water is a simple joy–especially on a hot summer day. My husband did a couple relay races with buckets, sponges and cups. The water play was simple and inexpensive. They could have played all day even without the organized games.
We hung some streamers and a Happy Birthday sign, but that was it. Most of everything was outside–God decorated it just fine. I’ve seen some amazingly decorated birthdays, and it wasn’t going to happen. I don’t think anyone felt loss. While it is a fine idea to decorate, it was not our priority.
We served hot dogs, chips, watermelon and baked beans. Everyone had enough to eat. We had leftovers too. In the past, I have had the tendency to prepare too much food. This year, keeping it simple and inexpensive alleviated that problem.
Bear had a great 8th birthday celebration. The kids enjoyed themselves. Although I was exhausted when it was over, it wasn’t a crazy, frenzied day. We stayed within our budget, and that felt good too.