T-bug turned 5 this month, & we finally were able to throw her a birthday party this past weekend. We had such a wonderful day with our friends!
Last year, we just rented out a local jumping place, & it was soooo simple. If we could afford it, honestly, I probably would’ve just done something like that again. However, a few weeks after her party last year, T-bug informed me that she really wanted to have a rainbow party next time.
Well, this was next time, so rainbows it was.
Since I have more time than money, this was definitely a more affordable option for us. I wasn’t able to do all the things I’d planned (b/c apparently I don’t have that much more time than money), but I was content with what we had. T-bug was, too, & since it was her party, I guess that’s all that really matters. lol
If you’re looking for rainbow-party ideas, you can check out my Pinterest Rainbow Party board. There’s a lot more there that I didn’t do.
I was surprised at how inexpensive it was to do the decorations. I mean, seriously. If I hadn’t insisted on serving food, this would’ve been one of the cheapest parties ever while still being visually appealing.
Above you can see our dining room all tricked out in rainbows.
For the rainbow backdrop, Hubs pinned up plastic tablecloths from Dollar Tree & Walmart. Seven tablecloths at $1/each is $7 for an eye-catching rainbow that makes all the kiddos go, “Ooooh.” Totally worth it.
I got the idea for the table from this website. It’s just another dollar tablecloth in white with ROYGBIV streamers running down the center. I had to buy all the streamers, as I couldn’t find any of mine. So frustrating. Still, streamers are $1 for two rolls at Dollar Tree & $1 for one roll at Walmart. So my table cover was $8. Not shabby (but I still kinda kick myself for not making it cheaper by finding my other streamers).
As for the flowers, I bought seven matching glass vases from Dollar Tree ($7) & two bouquets of white daisies from Walmart. I used liquid food dye to attempt ROYGBIV water for the flowers to suck up, ultimately turning the white flowers different colors. Even though I set it all up the night before to give the flowers time, the daisies weren’t really into it. Carnations might have worked better, or maybe I should’ve used more dye. I really don’t know. Two days later, & the flowers are starting to turn colors a bit more, but it’s still not “there.” Regardless, I think the colored water with the white flowers is still a stunning visual, & several people liked it. I’d do it again.
I also found some rainbow nameplates in the classroom section of Dollar Tree, so I hung up several on our rainbow backdrop. There were 36 nameplates in one package ($1), so I had tons. I wrote the names of all T-bug’s guests on rainbows & hung them up on the door to the backyard, & I still have more nameplates leftover.
For the backyard, we (& by “we,” I mean Hubs) made an awesome rainbow balloon arch that was seriously gorgeous. (I got instructions from here.) It was also time consuming, & a few of our early guests got to help blow up some of the last balloons. We happen to have some awesome friends, though, & they didn’t mind at all.
The food is actually what cost the most, & had I been able to get a more accurate headcount prior to the party, I could’ve saved some money. Unfortunately, as anyone who’s thrown a kids’ birthday party knows, actually getting an accurate headcount is crazy talk.
Because I knew the food was going to take some doing, I kept drinks simple by buying a 40-pack of bottled water (Costco, $3.50) & taping over the labels with a rainbow tie dye-looking duct tape I got at Hobby Lobby ($5, but might have been cheaper elsewhere). It worked great & only took Hubs & me about 20 minutes to tape them all.
Aside from the hot dogs, all the food was fruits & veggies, which drives up the price quick. I took my list over to Costco & purchased everything there. Had I had time to shop around, I also could’ve saved some money, but I didn’t (have the time or save money).
My beautiful fruit & veggie rainbow trays were inspired by this website. I had to change an item or two, & I skipped making the fruit kabobs (for time’s sake only). The color effect was still amazing!
My fruit tray consisted of:
I also bought strawberries as a possible alternative to the watermelon, while cantaloupe would look great instead of oranges. (Tip: If you do oranges, I highly recommend buying canned mandarin oranges instead of those requiring you to peel them. Shave some time off your whole
ordeal party preparations.)
My veggie tray was made up of:
Blue corn chips,
& Pickled beets.
I almost bought sugar snap peas instead of cucumbers, but I didn’t. Still wish I had. Regardless, there are lots of options for substituting the above list if one wanted something different.
If you’re not hosting 50 people, I recommend not buying it all from Costco unless you want to be like my family. We will be eating massive quantities of fruits & veg for the next couple of weeks (or less, if I can get it into us faster).
However, buy the hot dogs & buns at Costco for sure. I got two-28 packs of Hebrew National hot dogs for less than $10 each, plus three bags of hot dog buns for $7.50.
And definitely consider this crockpot trick for cooking the dogs! My goodness, it’s one less thing to worry about on party day, & it works beautifully. Just toss the dogs in the crockpot on the low setting for 3-4 hours. Yes, they are delicious.
And I almost forgot the cake! It must be a bit of selective amnesia, as the baking of this cake was fairly traumatic. I think everyone’s seen it on Pinterest, but here’s where I got it.
I followed the directions exactly, & it’s pretty heavy on pricey ingredients, like eggs & butter. I also now have a tub of egg yolks in my fridge that I think I’ll be scrambling one morning this week. Sigh.
Since I am never making this cake again, this tip is simply for those who are entertaining the notion themselves. Buy a white cake mix or find a simple white cake recipe & make that instead. Use the same icing if you like – it’s seriously delicious – but skip this actual cake.
Regardless of how one does it, though, the colors really do cause an awesome effect. I had to use regular gel dyes, as I couldn’t afford to buy the pricier food-based dyes online in time. Since we rarely eat dyes, I decided we could get away with it. ;-)
T-bug’s party was three hours long, & we still only managed to complete two activities. I had limbo as my back-up third item, but we never ended up needing it.
The first was bubble snakes, & the kids really liked it! There were many ‘ooohs’ & ‘aaahs’ over them.
However, my big tip on this is to make sure the washcloths are super tight over the bottom of the cut bottle. Otherwise, the snakes won’t grow, & there will be many complaints about how “mine isn’t wooooorkiiiinnnng.”
We added drops of food dye to each child’s cloth & let them dip it & go. This easily entertained them for a good 30 minutes. It wasn’t the huge hit I’d hoped for, but if I ever do it again, I know a few things to improve the experience.
The kids had the most fun making salt art bottles! This was also the party favor & the central activity of the party. I told everyone they were going to make their own rainbows to take home, & they happily dug into the project. (For the life of me, I can’t remember the link for where I got this idea.)
I got two packs of sidewalk chalk from Walmart ($5/each), a twenty-five pound bag of salt from Costco ($5 – this was way more salt than I will ever be able to use), and sand art bottles from Hobby Lobby (14 bottles at $1/bottle).
We dumped salt into six different plastic containers, found the best color chalk for each rainbow stripe, & then let the older kids color the salt. I think they almost thought this was cooler than just making the bottles. lol
After the salt was colored (about 30 minutes), then we got them started on filling their bottles. I really recommend buying the little kits at Hobby Lobby that contain three each of the scoops, sticks, & funnels. I bought two, & it made a world of difference. Filling the bottles took up another 45 minutes or so, & by then, it was time for food, cake, ice cream, & presents.
And then the party was over! Whew!!!
T-bug said it was a great party. She was happy, & all the guests expressed their pleasure. Hubs & I managed to stay standing until almost everyone had left. It was a good day. :-)