Thursday, July 14, 2011

Custom Invitations. Cheap.

8.5x11 paper (As many sheets as guests.)

Themed stickers (we got a pack of 350 Cars stickers for $3 at iParty.)*

Business envelopes

1. Type up your invitation
2. Print
3. Decorate with stickers (A great job for the birthday kid!)
4. Stuff into envelopes

Voila! You have avoided the 8 invites for $4 that don't have room for your party's particulars and your kid has a cool invite that he or she helped make.

*Alternately, you could do clip art or use themed printer paper, but we don't have a color printer (or really any printer) right now. I printed 30 pages at work. Shhh!

Coming next...Custom Cake. Cheap. (But first, I have to actually do it.)

Custom Cake. Cheap.

1 Costco Cake $17.99
Specify "No Design" on the order form and they will make a plain white (or chocolate) frosted cake. You might want to hand your form directly to one of the bakery staff to make sure they know what you are talking about. For this cake, we had them write "Happy Birthday Harry" in red. It was white cake with white butter cream frosting and cheesecake mousse filling.

1 Package Cake Toppers $4
Harry wanted a "Cars" cake, so we got these.

Here's where things got tricky. He wanted Cars 2 characters and logos for his cake. I couldn't find any and I'm no cake decorator. I came up with two brainstorms.

1. Stickers. Buy your themed stickers, mount them on white paper plates and cut them out. Attach to toothpicks and stick them in the cake. I did this for the "World Grand Prix" logo he wanted, since we had one sticker with that on it.

I couldn't find Cars 2 character stickers at CVS, so I checked with greeting cards, just in case. Lo and behold, I found the perfect solution.

2. Greeting card with "pencil racers", $3. These are like little finger (or pencil) puppets that kids are supposed to put over a pencil while they do a maze. This card had six Cars 2 puppets. Score! I cut up some striped drinking straws and mounted the puppets.

The rest of the cake was decorated with red sugar left over from Christmas cookies. Harry got his Cars 2 cake for about $24. The cake was huge, a full sheet, so we have leftovers, but not an overwhelming amount. This cake served nearly 30 people. We put it in the freezer on Friday and took it out at noon on Saturday for a 2:00 party. It was thawed, but pleasantly cold by cake time, around 3:00. The only problem was a crack in the frosting that appeared as it thawed. I think it was on a slight slant in the freezer that caused it to crack when we switched surfaces. It was only seen briefly by the guests before cutting, so no big deal. The kids didn't care.

For comparison's sake, Nathan's Thomas the Tank Engine cake from Shaw's was half the size and cost $20. It didn't taste nearly as good and I don't think it was worth the price. I know I could make a cake from scratch and learn to decorate for real, but working full time and keeping up with the boys only allows so much time for extra curricular projects. This was stressful enough and it was a hit all around.