What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, July 07, 2011

A Circus Party (on a dime)

Last month I decided to show the world myself that just because we are temporarily living in the season of flat-out broke, you don't need money to have a good time, you can create memories without dollars AND being hospitable has more to do with the heart than with the pocketbook.

With Matt just starting his own business and having no regular-steady income and the stresses that go hand in hand with that, I knew that more than ever, we needed something FUN to decompress.

So I began planning a CIRCUS PARTY shindig for 40+ guests, challenging myself to make it as close to free as possible and for the last few weeks, I have been sharing sneakpeaks of the preparations. Some homemade prizes, the homemade invites and decorations, the homemade button candy and face paint and games, all as I made them.....

well, NOW.

The party is done and over with, (most of) the party decorations are put away, and the final cost has been tallied so it is time to tell all.




No matter how much work I did before hand, I was still rushing around like a madwoman before the party and regretfully, didn't get it all done. I wonder if I will EVERY achieve a party that I am sitting around, sipping lemonade waiting for the guests to arrive???

Nor did I get to take more....artful.....pictures before people got there. In fact, I only started taking pictures long after people arrived-when face paint was smeared and smudged to near oblivion (which was sad~ you should have SEEN the cute tiger prowling around!), the prize table was looted and the party was WELL underway. I didn't even take pictures of everything, I was so busy! Like the tin can game, the coin toss, the dart game... and over half of the guests. But, you'll get the idea anyway.

Circus costumes were ENCOURAGED (as stated on the invites) so I knew there would be lots of little people costumes. I was happy to find I was not the only ADULT in costume though! yay!

Andrew was a popcorn and cotton candy man:

Adele' was a lion. Raaaeorr.

Judah was, (what else??) a strong man!

Corynn was a trapezist. Along with just about every other girl her age... (what can I say? Ballerina costumes are in every dress up bin!)

And I was a mime. Only WITH the talking. (Because you KNOW I can't NOT talk....)

And Matt was a food vendor. His was the most convincing costume of all.

(This man is a great spiedie griller. A good looker and a good cooker.)

We basically raided the dress up bin, the burnables, my makeup, and my scrap ribbon stash and threw it all together as guests were arriving. Yeah, I am on the ball like that.

There were plenty of games:

Driveway bowling.
(Recycled bottles, water and food coloring)

Tight rope walking. (Cruddy sawhorses and a pipe). (**This, by the way, was the biggest hit of all.)

Face (and Arm, and leg) Painting.
Let's just say, if no one mans the table, the children will turn themselves and each other into abstract art by the end of the night. ;-) Again, the (very simple) recipe is here.

Aerial Acrobatics.
( Adding a bunch of ribbon to the swing made it enchanting, evenifIdosaysomyself.)

A Ducky Pond. (used a big plastic tub for this instead of those elegant, fancy (but costing money) metal tubs I so covet)

A Circus Tent. (table clothes, scrap fabric, and white curtains hung on the clothesline.)

Horseshoes (though admittedly, a man game.)

A Photo Booth which didn't get used NEARLY enough! I was hoping to get all my guests' pictures. :-( I just nailed some fabric to the side of the barn and brought out a few props. Homemade mustaches, an empty picture frame, etc.

Also, there was a tin can game (with recycled tins and leftover scrapbook paper), a dart game (with leftover balloons and borrowed darts), and a coin toss (using canning jars). Unfortunately, those never got photographed.

Plenty of Prizes~

(though, I assure you, beer was not one of them.)

A friend from church loaned me some popcorn containers but, not trusting people with them since they were only on loan, I used them to decorate and hold prizes instead of popcorn. A bloggy friend, when she heard about the party, shared some excess popcorn BAGS from a previous church gathering. (So I got some festive popcorn bag things after ALL! Thank you ladies!)

Besides the homemade things like friendship bracelets, popcorn, mustaches and button candy, there was rubber froggy things, noisemakers, stickers and coloring books that had been given to my children (and then promptly set aside for the circus party. WHO NEEDS A DOZEN BRAND NEW COLORING BOOKS?!?! Not us.)

Plenty of Decorations~

Borrowed elephants (thank you Annika!), flowers picked from around the yard, buntings from bits of fabric and yarn, tissue paper flowers, paper globes from last years' Target dollar store clearance, and borrowed Christmas (but not TOO Christmasy) birds and ornaments. And Christmas lights.

Not to mention, perdy food.

And of course, plenty of food!

Everybody brought a dish to pass, and some even brought TWO. I provided tons of chicken spiedies some rolls, carrot and raisin salad, coleslaw, chocolate cake, baked beans, pesto pasta, popcorn and enough Mint tea and lavender Lemonade to quench many a thirst.

(my mom got me those drink dispensers for my birthday. Beautiful, aren't they?)

TIP: I froze containers of tea with mint leaves and lemonade with lemon balm so that the drinks would stay cold without becoming diluted. Just be sure that the container you use to freeze the drinks is small enough to fit through the opening of your drink dispenser.

I also made the concentrate up for several batches of drink before the party, allowing for quick replacement but not wasting space in the fridge by adding the water.

We have a well-stocked pantry that provided the beans, pastas, popcorn (our go-to snack), tea and lemon juice. (I always keep several large bottles of lemon juice from Aldi on hand so I can whip up some lemonade for unexpected company.) Plenty of Herbs from my herb garden for the pesto, mint and lavender. Got the chicken from our freezer. I ALWAYS keep PLENTY of carrots in the house (that is a staple of ours for dinners AND snacks.) But I*DID* buy the cabbage for the coleslaw. It was $1.29 from Aldi.

Others brought cookies, cakes and cupcakes, hot dogs, watermelon, jello jigglers and every cold salad you can possibly imagine~

Needless to say, no one went home hungry.

And at the very END of the night, there were fireworks, sparklers and S'mores. (We had fireworks left over from last year and my sister brought some, and my brother brought the S'mores stuff.)

And just in case you aren't already on photo overload, here are (more than) a few more!

Total cost for party of around 40 people: $4.29

$3.00 for the duckies
$1.29 for the head of cabbage



Bonnie said...

Holy. Molasses. I am beyond super extraordinarily impressed.

Rebecca, this turned out FANTASTIC!!!!!!

I would love to comment on each and every picture, but grouch baby prohibits....

Wonderful though, beautifully wonderful!

Catie said...

The suspense has been KILLING me!
Am. A. Zing. :) Way to go!

Catie said...
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Anonymous said...

Wow. I am super impressed. I would also start hoarding er..saving stuff like you to throw a cheap but fabulous party. But I lack two things that you greatly possess, the skill and imagination.

Take a bow my friend, you deserve it !! *gives you a virtual standing ovation*


ulli said...

What FUN! Congrats for pulling it of for less than $5! You're so clever and resourceful... a great example for you little darlings.

Katy~The Country Blossom said...

Oh my goodness! What a fantastic party you put together! What creativity God has gifted you with! A job *very* well done and what wonderful memories you made (and captured) for your children as they grow! What a treasure! :)
Loved it all!

Anonymous said...

ditto what every previous commenter wrote - LOVE this! and that moustachioed wee strong man of yours? utterly adorable.

b in va

Leah said...

What can I say? You amaze me, in more ways than one, every time you do one of these fun and crazy shin-digs of yours. ($4.29?!?! - unbelievable)

And you do make one cute clown. :)

Judah is getting so big - just look at those delicious rolls! And, of course, Corynn is getting more lovely each time I see her.


Out for an Adventure said...

you did ALL that for less than a starbucks drink?!?!?! WHAT?!?!
Geeze woman you are a beast!! (beast meant in a good friendly way)

pssst think i can do the same for my wedding? all less than 5 bucks?!?

great pictures! i'm very impressed. you are an amazing woman. wish i lived in your area. it looks so pretty.


Full of Grace said...

You did a wonderful job, everything was so beautiful, and festive! Thanks for planning a party, on what would have been an otherwise very dull, boring day for me! You looked so nice and Abbie did too (as well as all the kiddos of course)

Annaleah said...

What an amazing example of frugal creativity! I am impressed!
Could you explain the tin can game?

Michelle G said...

Perfect! What a fabulous job! A+!
What a challenge and you EXCEEDED expectations! Looks like a wonderful time was had by all!

Riahli said...

You are simply amazing... I only dream of pulling such things off, but when I try to put it into action I ALWAYS spend way more then I should. Sigh. What an absolutely awesome party! Love the pictures.

Liana said...

What fun! Great job, Rebecca!
And I have to say...that Miss Abigail... she makes a beautiful clown!

Lindsey's Photographs said...

Your amazing! and looks like you were able to really enjoy it too! You did a great job!!! Im totally impressed :)

Patrizia said...

I absolutely loved this post. Everything so whimsical & adorable. Really, really neato!


...they call me mommy... said...


Awesome party, Rebecca!!!

Mar said...

AWESOME - you are truly inspiring!

Tracy said...

Rebecca, you are AMAZING!

Jthemilker said...

That is FANTASTIC!!! Great job! BTW - I have a handful of knitting needles I'm going to send to Wendy. She said you might make good use of them???

abigail said...

It was magnificent! If the Bros. Ringling come calling, don't be surprised. We had a grand time and were glad to enjoy the magical fruits of your labor. Thank you for all the sweat and ingenuity that went into the day; it paid off brilliantly!

I'm so glad you took all these jolly pictures, too. I kicked myself when I got home and looked over the meager dozen I have and hoped you'd pull through. I shouldn't have for a second thought otherwise... :)

Bravo! Huzzah! Three cheers!

Terri said...

What an awesome job! It looks liked so much fun and that was amazing that you only spent $4.

Amanda said...

great heavens to betsy!

I love your blog!!!

What a cool party. You are one amazingly creative mama:)

Rebecca said...

jthemilker~ why thank you! That sure was kind of you!

Amy said...

OooOoOOOooh....it turned out amazing...I want one for my birthday. Lol.

Amy said...
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Anonymous said...

i would have loved to been there..its all amazing and beautiful...

a hint:

i'm not really a joiner but love to watch from the outskirts...and my best girl friend was the same..so we photographed each other's parties...as we both love to take pics...LOTS of them..lol

truly great party....we're moving from canada to virginia..and i'd love to throw one like this next year...but live in fear (as always) that no one would come..LOL

melismama said...

AMAZING Love the pictures too! I am hosting a backyard carnival in August for charity and I love yours!


PS What state do you live in? We have chicken speedies here too and I dont know of a lot of people who are familiar with them!