Friday, January 24, 2014

An Affordable Frozen Birthday Party

As some of you already know, I'm obsessed with Frozen. I've written about it in previous posts and I sing the songs with my kids almost daily. As a matter of fact, my youngest, day in and day out, screams "WRET IT GAAA, WRET IT GAAAAAAAAAA!"

Naturally, when the time came to decide on a theme for my oldest's birthday party, our minds simultaneously went to Frozen. We're both January babies. We love snow and we love the cold. We once took a hike, just the two of us, through miles and miles of snow-covered hills in the dead of winter. We found cat pawprints, saw a herd of deer, and rolled down hills together. One of my favorite memories. We get excited when the plows come down the road. We get pumped up about icicles. We're really into snowmen.

So you get it. We like snow.

Like any good mom, I immediately went on Pinterest to get some ideas. I had to check out what all the uber-party-planners had already come up with. You know the ones I'm talking about.....they create themed snacks, games and prizes, and goody bag treats before the movie even comes out on DVD. These people are party gurus...and Pinterest was their temple. All hail!

I found a ton of ideas, many of them featuring Frozen dolls or costumes. I wasn't really into buying toys .... I mean, I'd just purged my household of the things. Plus I'm cheap. I didn't want to spend more than $100 on the party - total. That means food, decorations, games, and favors all needed to be no more than $100. Pretty tall order considering....

.....my big girl wanted to invite her entire class and Girl Scout troop.

That's right. 34 kids. At my house. For a party. Did I mention these were 8-year olds? The standard for this age group is to "drop and run"....parents weren't going to stick around.

Now before you go questioning my sanity, know that the main reason I considered such an unlikely form of self-punishment is because my big girl has been with these kids for two years. Her school does this amazing "bridging" thing for 1st and 2nd grade (critical reading years). Each kid is given the option to remain in the same classroom with the same teacher for both years. It's like an extra layer of security and stability during one of the most difficult learning periods of human development. This is my big girl's last year in the class. She will be moving on to another teacher and group of kids next year...and I can tell already, she will miss the class she loves so much. 

So Mama said yes....with one condition. We really had to brainstorm how we could make this a fun, affordable party for potentially 34 kiddos. 

After debating indoor activities, renting out a party space some place, and even heading to the local sledding hill, the solution kinda hit me like a snowplow. We have a HUGE backyard....over half an acre. We've gotten tons of snow this year. Bam. Frozen party.


We'd have a few recognizable elements from the movie, but more importantly, we'd have a unique, fun environment with fairly little planning or financial commitment from me, the laziest mom on the planet. After deciding on the "venue," the rest of the details fell into place.

INVITATIONS
We used Disney Frozen invitations but crossed off the word "Royal" and wrote in "Snow" .... then we told everyone to come in their snow gear. We added some glitter because ... well because it's glitter. Pimp my invite, yo. Out of 34 invites, we had 18 kids RSVP. Good enough for me!

GAMES
The kids showed up at 1PM. As I expected, all but one parent fled like they were on fire. I told them the party ended between 3-4 as they hauled-ass out of there. We had three hours with these kids and as they started to climb every tree in my front yard, I quickly formulated a plan:
1 hour outside - snow angel contest, sled races, fort-building, and snow swinging
1 hour inside - subtract the 20 minutes to take off all the stuff and then another 20 to put it back on, and we've got just enough time to make our favors and eat some cake. Boom.
1 hour outside - free snow play. This was perhaps my favorite part of the party. But more on that later.


SNACKS
(the highlighted links in this list indicate ideas swiped from Pinterest - minus the crazy professional look and feel - think tupperware instead of milk glass)
1. Olaf's Nose and Snow Dip - carrots and a bottle of ranch dressing
2. Ice Blocks - blue Jell-O
3. Anna's Frozen Heart - yogurt-covered strawberries
4. Banana Olafs - The link has the real nice ones. My version - bananas cut into pieces and served with pretzel sticks haphazardly strewn alongside
5. Melted Snowman - Straight up water in a bottle. FOR REAL.

FAVORS
Snowglobes - I went to Menards and bought a couple cases of those jelly jars - the ones that have the "crystal" design on them. Did you know they come with these pretty little sticker labels and an area on both the lid and side to place said sticker? Rad. I found some snow confetti, fake snow, and glitter at a craft store for like $1 each. Fill the jars with water and add the stuff. Whammo - snow globes.

THE CAKE
This one was hard for me. I didn't know what I was going to do until the morning of the party. I'd gone back and forth about the cake. I'm not big on cake and a ton of crappy foods - especially with my kid and other peoples' kids. Judge me all you want, I'm just not a fan. There had to be a better way...but to make it "Frozen?" I was at a loss. ... ..... UNTILLLL my super incredible girlfriend (featured in one of my earlier posts) suggested making snow ice cream. I'd never heard of it.

I checked out this blog post and kinda wung it. We stuck a number 8 candle into this huge bowl of snow and sang to my big girl. Then I drizzled on a little mixture of milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. The kids freaking loved it. So there ya have it. Instead of buying  cake, I served an entire house full of kids snow from my own backyard.


BEST PART
The absolute best part of the party was the last hour. I didn't have anything else planned for the kids. I asked them if they wanted to go back outside or just chill in the house and play hide-and-seek again (literally had kids coming out of the pantry, bathtub, and closets - more hysterical than scary, surprisingly). Everyone screamed in unison "OUTSIDE!!!"


So away they went.

They never stopped smiling. Every single kid found something fun to play, something exciting to do, something to enjoy with their classmates. They climbed our backyard climbing tree. They built little hills to sled down. They pulled each other around and played snow castle. They formed a slide out of my porch steps. They didn't have anything fancy - we had three sleds and some rope. It was awesome to watch and I couldn't stop thinking - WOW. This is what it's all about.


The beautiful Pinterest party ideas I found were stunning...the party gurus always have creative ideas any kid would be thrilled to see.....but just in case you're like me, (kinda broke, kinda tired, and kinda old-school) know this:

I asked my big girl how her birthday was, long after the kids left and the floors were mopped....

Mama, she said, I don't have the words to tell you. Super, great, wonderful...none of them work. It was the best birthday I've ever had. I had so much fun. It was INCREDIBLE! 



Not bad for a bowl of snow and some rope, eh? I think Walt Disney would be proud.

Have a great weekend everyone and as always, thanks so much for reading.

Jen
jen@jenniferludwigsen.com

22 comments:

  1. What an amazing day. A little creativity and a non stress attitude is all you ever need. And now one super happy kid. You get my vote for mom of the year.

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    1. Thank you so much Sarah :) It was crazy - I had more mud and water on my floor than ever before - but it was soooooo worth it! :)

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  2. How incredibly smart. We make things so hard. I am not sure when the "to be a good mother you have to outdo every other mother" came into to play but it is senseless. This was the way kids were supposed to party! High five!

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    1. Thank you, Jan :) I've had the privilege to attend some huge, incredible kid parties - complete with trendy motifs and full-on, catered buffets. They are beautiful and enjoyable events, no doubt, but the kids could care less. They just want to be together, doing something fun! Thanks so much for stopping by again :) I love reading your comments - they make my day!

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  3. This is fantastic! It really doesn't take much to make magic!

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    1. Thanks so much Sarah :) It was so, so simple....but the result was worth all the gold in the world! So excited you stopped by! :)

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  4. You are amazing! 34 8 year olds!! Bless you! We also have a couple kids at least, running thru the house singing a random song from Frozen. Great movie!

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    1. Thank you so much Kimberly!! We had a total blast...so glad it wasn't freezing that day!! So glad you stopped by :)

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  5. Haha...so funny. It is so fun playing in the snow. But here the snow is gone now, we have just rain:( #SITSBlogging

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    1. Hi Jeanette :) Thanks for stopping by!! I love the rain....but I'd rather have snow any day of the year!! I think someone crossed my weather wires! HA

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    1. Isn't it awesome!! ?? We were FREAKING out - it all started to melt two days before the party....but luckily, the night before we got hit with a nice arctic clipper or whatever those are called. WHAMMO party time!

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  7. So fun! We had snow today for only the 2nd time today in 3 years. My boys are in heaven. Love the Snow Angel Contest. So sweet. Stopping by from SITS.

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    1. Thank you!! And yes, isn't it awesome?? Kids LOVE snow. They can barely feel the cold when they're out there running around! Thank you so much for stopping by :) LOVE SITS! :)

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  8. In this winter, a Frozen birthday party fits right in. I still haven't seen the movie but I can't wait to. Your party looks great.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer :) It was the best weather - we got some last-minute snow but it hadn't gone into the deep froze mode yet. It stayed around 28-32 degrees for the majority of the day...THANKFULLY! So glad to have you and thanks for reading :)

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  9. We are huge Frozen fans too! We are in the process of redoing my daughter's room into a Frozen theme and planning a Frozen birthday party! I am trying to plan it so that most of the party decorations can be used in her room after the party! These are great party tips! Glad I stopped by from SITS!

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    1. Jamee what an awesome idea! I never even thought of that and I bet your baby is going to LOVE her room!!! Thank you so much for the idea AND for stopping by!! :)

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  10. oh my gosh, all that snow is gorgeous! My kids would have had a blast too!
    ~Jamie

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    1. Thank you Jamie :) It really was so much fun!

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  11. This is so awesome!! I absolutely love your writing style and am so glad to have found you through SITS. I love that you had such a fun birthday party for your daughter in the awesome snow (and of course, the Frozen theme). So simple and perfect and I'm sure she will treasure that moment forever :) Great job, mama. ~Jenna

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    1. Thank you so much Jenna :) :) :) Made my day reading your comment! So excited you stopped by :)

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