Friday, April 18, 2008

Family Fun Friday: Exploit Child Labor

I can't really point fingers when it comes to kids' birthday parties. I have spent with the best of them: On photo-personalized invites with photo stamps, on themed decorations, on venues (we had Nutmeg's first in a rented house on the Russian River, but the cost of that was defrayed by the fact that both my parents and in-laws flew in and we all stayed at the house for several nights together). It's been true, for me, what Pamela Paul lamented in her new book, "Parenting, Inc.": The goody bags I gave out cost as much as people used to spend on the actual party gift.

Not this year. OK, for Pebbles' first we spent liberally, although we also got a great deal -- we hired a family friend to come take portrait photos of all the kids there, and framed the results on the spot as send-home favors. She did this for only $100 because she is early in her photography career, and because she gave us a family discount, and we were so lucky to have her.

But anyway, we are now preparing for Nutmeg's 4th birthday, a momentous occasion, to be sure. I'll write a post next weekend about how we're putting together the party without spending a lot.

Yesterday, we passed out the invites at preschool. I didn't order photo cards, or engraved cards (lol), or even $5 Target fill-in-the-blank cards. We made them for pretty much free.

Here is where I would post a photo of the cute invites, except that I can't because our camera battery died and the charger is lost.

First, I had Nutmeg take a Sharpie and draw her version of a pony. The party theme is "ponies." Then I took that drawing down to our scanner/printer combo and made 20 copies of it on colored paper. Then I had Epu cut out the ponies while we watched TV, and while I wrote the party info on the backside of some squares of card stock left over from, of all things, our wedding from TEN YEARS AGO. I recently found these in my parents' basement. And by the way, if you're handier than I am with a printer (our computer printer recently disappeared from the network, so this was not an option for us, just print out the party info on a bunch of labels and stick it on the back of your card. Or even run all the cards through the printer. If you're good at that stuff.)

The cards were originally left-over reply cards for our wedding. So Epu and Nutmeg pasted the ponies over the reply card text on the front.

Et viola! Cute party invites with charm galore, and 0 cost beyond materials we already had at home.

The point of this whole explanation is that kids' homemade art is cute. With color reproduction technology widely and cheaply available today, there's no reason why kids can't make all kinds of greeting cards, Xmas cards, wrapping paper, etc. If you want them to look really slick, upload the artwork to or another such site and order folding cards, postcards or whatnot from them. Not quite as frugal, but the end result is still supercute.