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Bend – Redmond
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Salem – Kiezer – Albany
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Post Falls, Coeurd'Alene, Sandpoint, Lewiston, Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Twin Falls
Every year kids turns a year older, which means another birthday and another birthday party. It is easy to spend a lot of money on parties: inviting all of your kid’s friends, renting a venue, buying a cake, hiring entertainers, getting play equipment, and piling on the presents. Unfortunately, while we can dream about holding a huge birthday bash for our children, the reality is that most parents are on a budget, and as much fun as that big birthday party sounds, the mortgage or rent has to come first.
It is possible to hold a great birthday party without spending a lot of money. To do so, you need to figure out what your budget is, decide what is most important and prioritize. Find ways to cut costs without cutting the fun out of the party.
First consider the guest list. As tempting as it is to just invite everyone your child knows, who is most important to the kid? See if you can narrow the guest list to a handful of your child’s best friends. Will the kids bring their parents and families? Younger kids probably should bring their parents (you’ll appreciate the help), but older kids may not. If you are paying a set cost for each attendee at a venue and an uninvited sibling or other family member of a guest wishes to intend, you can ask that they pay their own admission. If any adults are attending with their children, recruit them to help with the party.
You may or may not decide to invite your child’s extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) as well. If the party is aimed at kids and you are trying shorten the guest list, you can always have them over for cake another time. On the other hand, they will probably appreciate the invitation, and they may provide valuable help.
Pick an affordable venue for your party. Lots of birthday parties are held at the family home. The nice thing about having a party at your house is that there is no venue rental fee, no firm timeline, and set up can be simpler since you don’t have to transport things. The negative is that you are limited to the space you have, you will have to clean before and after the party, and sometimes things get broken in kids parties.
Another option is to have a party at a city park. Parks have lots of space for events, you don’t have to clean your house for the party, and parks have play equipment for kids to entertain themselves on. If the party is small, you can usually just show up and use whatever facilities are available. For larger parties, you will probably want to reserve a picnic shelter or group picnic area. The rental fees at city parks are generally pretty affordable.
The big drawback with having a party outdoors at the park is that you are at the mercy of the weather. Portland has pretty unpredictable weather, so make sure you have plans in case of rain. Getting soaked at a birthday party isn’t much fun unless you are swimming in a pool! Using a picnic shelter or tent is one possible solution. Picnic shelters are often reserved in advance. If your party is during a quiet time midweek, you may not have to bother with reservations, but if your party is during a busy weekend, it would probably be a good idea to rent the shelter. If you plan on putting up a tent at a park, you will need a permit to do so. Some parks also have indoor event facilities available to reserve for parties.
Having a party at your house or at a park means that you will have to do a lot of work setting things up, supervising, and cleaning up after the party. You may decide that it is worth spending the money to have someone else put together the party for you. There are many places that offer birthday party packages including the Portland Children’s Museum, the Oregon Zoo, and Inflatable Kingdom. You will probably spend more money on a party this way, but it will be a lot less work. Often all you have to do is send out the invitations, then bring a cake, presents, and the birthday kid at the designated time.
What food are you planning on serving at the party? One option to keep things inexpensive is to make sure the party is not near mealtime and just serve cake. You can buy a cake at the grocery store for a pretty reasonable price, or consider baking your own cake. Homemade cakes may not be as pretty as the store bought alternative, but they usually taste better, especially when you make them from scratch. Making a cake will save you a bit of money, and if you are not much of a cook, good cake mixes are easy to use. You can buy or make icing (it tastes better and is cheaper if you make it) to decorate the cake. I personally like to use a chocolate ganache which is pretty simple to make: just melt chocolate chips with whipping cream and stir (the only real challenge is getting the consistency right so it is not too runny). If you have a hard time making a cake look nice with just frosting, use sprinkles or other cake decorations to give the cake a little color. I have used Oreos, raspberries and strawberries to hide all sorts of faults in my cakes including sunken centers and mismatched edges. Plus, these decorations taste good too.
If you want to serve other food, besides cake, pick something easy to prepare so you can concentrate on the kids at the party. Pizza and sub sandwiches are popular choices. Get soda or juice in large containers and pore the drinks in cups. Anytime you give little kids cans of soda, you can expect to find lots of half-empty cans at the end of the party. If you are worried about spills, you might want to invest in cups with lids and straws or for little kids, sippy cups may be in order. You can buy multi-packs of semi disposable sippy cups, which would be ideal for parties.
Dollar stores, like Dollar Tree, are wonderful resource for parties. They sell all sorts of party supplies including table clothes, plates, cups, silverware, party favors, balloons, birthday candles, decorations, invitations, wrapping paper, and cards.
Mailed invitations are a nice touch. You can buy blank ones pretty inexpensive and fill them out yourself. If you are really on a tight budget or just don’t have the time, emailed invitations, Facebook invitations, or phone calls may suffice. Just make sure that everyone gets the invitation. Have all the invitees RSVP so you know how much of everything to provide. You want to be sure that you have enough of everything, but no need to spend money on stuff for people who are not coming. If you have not heard back from individuals, contact them before the party and double check whether or not they are coming.
Kids are pretty good at finding ways to entertain each other, but you will want to have some games and entertainment at your party to keep them busy and out of trouble. If you are at the park, the park’s play equipment might be sufficient. If you want to have inflatables at your outdoor party, rent them instead of buying them. Kids can also play games like tag and hide and seek. For indoor parties, you can play a favorite age appropriate movie, do a craft activity, or play party games. Entertainment does not need to be expensive to be fun.
When the party is winding down, get any adults who are attending and kids who are willing to help straighten things up. This way, hopefully, you won’t be left with a mess when all the party guests go home.
Have a great party!
Need to get rid of some stuff? Whether you are cleaning out the garage or just getting rid of items that you no longer need, a yard or garage sale is a fun way to get rid of the clutter and make a little money in the process.
Most people hold yard and garage sales at their own house, but if you live in a quiet neighborhood, you may consider having your sale at another location. It is much easier to have a successful sale on a busy street because people driving and walking by see your wares from the street. If you have any friends whose yard would make a better locarion, see if you can hold the sale in their yard instead. Perhaps they might want to join you and sell some of their own stuff as well. Another good option is to hold your sale during a neighborhood block sale since shoppers will be in the area already.
Check with friends and see if any would be interested in sharing your sale with you. The more stuff you have to sell, the more attractive your sale will be to shoppers. If you are sharing your sale, you can also split the costs and work involved. Just make sure that items are tagged and sales are tracked so everyone selling stuff gets their share of the profit, or have an agreement for how the money will be split.
Advertise your sale as much as possible, using the local newspaper, social media, and online posting sites. Craig’s List is a wonderful resource (and it is free). List some of the items that you have in your sale so people looking for those things specifically will know to come. Along with placing an ad for your sale, pick some of the bigger items and make individual ads for them as well. Be sure to include photos with the ads. When people inquire about an item, arrange for them to come look at that item during your sale. Ads for free items tend to get a lot of responses, so if you have any items you want to give away, put ads up for them as well.
Early on the first day of your sale, place posters around the neighborhood with directions to your sale, being sure to place them on the closest busy streets. Make the posters large, colorful, and easy to see. You can use poster board or big pieces of cardboard.
Make sure your sale is easy to see from the street. If you are having your sale in a garage that sits in back of your house, put some items in the front yard to attract attention. The more people can see from the street, the more likely they will see something that will make them want to stop. If there is a chance of rain or if the day is really sunny, consider getting a tent. Not only will the tent help protect you and your merchandise from the weather, but it will also make your sale more visible. If you have stuff you want to give away, put a large clearly marked free box in front so people will stop to take a look at what you are getting rid of (and hopefully decide to shop too while they are there).
Make sure all of the items are clearly marked and be ready to bargain. Many garage sale shoppers are looking for a deal. Remember that at the end of the sale, you’ll be stuck with whatever is left, so if you don’t want to keep items or try to sell them after the sale, be negotiable and price them to move.
Consider selling beverages and treats. If you have kids, this is the perfect occasion for them to set up a lemonade stand. You can also sell other edible goodies like popcorn, sno-cones, ice cream bars, or cotton candy.
Be careful when you are having your sale that items you don’t want to sell are not accidentally parted with. Don’t let strangers in your house to use the bathroom (or if you do decide to let people in your house, watch them closely and make sure valuables are not in plain site). Put the more valuable items that you are selling where you can keep an eye on them, especially if they are small, like jewelry. While most people won’t take stuff, it just takes one bad apple to ruin a pie. If you do need to leave your sale unattended, make sure that any small valuable items are not where people can grab them.
I have had sales that were slow, so I just worked inside and came out when I had a customer. When I was not nearby, I left a note to leave money in my locking mail box if they wanted anything, and amazingly enough people did. However, I was not worried about any items getting stolen in that particular sale because everything that did not sell was going to be donated to Goodwill anyway.
Have plenty of change for your sale, but don’t keep it in plain view. If you have a cash box, keep a limited amount of change in your cash box, and have another spot (perhaps in the house) for extra change in case you run out. Don’t leave cash unattended.
There will always be items left over after a sale. If you have enough items, you can plan another sale. You can sell some of the more valuable items on Craig’s List or eBay. Consignment shops are another option. If you just want rid of the stuff, you can donate it to a thrift store. In fact, some charities will even come pick up your left over items for you after a yard sale. Another benefit to donating items is you can write off donations on your taxes.
Good luck on your sale. Hope it is a huge success!
Animals in the wild, at the zoo, and at the circus fascinate children. What little boy or girl does not want a puppy or a kitten? An animal themed party is sure to be a hit with pretty much any kids. The party theme can be based around all animals, a group of animals like ocean animals or birds, or a particular kind of animal such as a horse or a dog.
Perhaps the easiest way to hold an animal themed party is to have the party at the Oregon Zoo. The zoo not only showcases a wide variety of exotic animals, but also includes a farm where kids can pet goats, rabbits, and other farm animals.
Several farms in the Portland area also have party space and animals for kids to see and pet. For instance, Kruger Farm on Sauvie Island offers birthday party packages and a petting zoo.
Want to bring the animals to your party location? Consider having a petting zoo, a reptile zoo, or pony rides at your party. Having a face painter who can paint animal faces on the kids is another fun party entertainment idea.
Along with having real animals at your party, you can get animal themed inflatables and play equipment for your party. Inflatables like the Lion Bouncer and the Gorilla Bouncer feature are perfect for an animal themed party.
You can pick up animal invitations, decorations, plates, cups, party favors, games, and toys at dollar or party stores. Buy or make a cake with decorations to match your theme as well. One simple way to decorate a cake is to use plastic animal figures on top of a simple frosting job. You can also get cake pans that are shaped like animals, or frost an animal face on a circle shaped cake.
Kids are wild about animals so your animal themed party is sure to be a wild success. Have fun!