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4th Birthday Extravaganza!!!


This weekend we celebrated the girls’ 4th birthday! This was the first “real” birthday party we’ve ever had for them. In the past, we’ve only ever done small at-home things with our family. It’s been very small (as in, me, hubs, and the girls with a 4-pack of grocery store cupcakes; no decorations and minimal gifts). But this past year changed things. They started attending other kids’ birthdays at all these fancy places (gymnastics world, indoor trampoline place, etc.) and now that they totally “get” the concept of a birthday party, they really wanted one of their own.

We started off wanting to go low key – a simple backyard birthday party. But things kept getting bigger and bigger. As they do. It’s hard to keep things in check!

Things can be tricky with a twin birthday, too. The party is basically “shared”, but I wanted a couple little touches that made them feel special as an individual, too. So, for example, we got 2 cakes:  one for each girl. One was chocolate and one was vanilla, so it was kind of nice to have those different flavor options, too. We ended up ordering the cakes from a local bakery so it was a bit more costly than our typical go-to (a homemade cake or a Costco half sheet cake), but still under $80, tasted incredible, and with gorgeous decorations so not too bad.



Because of the terrible Tucson heat, we knew we needed to incorporate WATER into the party. Our theme was actually an “Under the Sea” theme (side-note: it worked out really well that Finding Dory just came out in theaters because decorations were super easy to find in mainstream stores like Target and Walmart without having to order more $$$ Etsy options). I bought this inflatable pool from Amazon for $30 and it was a HUGE hit! It was much larger than you’d think and had 2 little water features (not pictured below because it was just being filled up at the time). Plus, it was still shallow enough that I wasn’t nervous about kiddos drowning.


But probably the star of the party was our backyard inflatable. It ended up taking up WAY more space than we’d thought. So much so, that we ended up having to push the seating area (we borrowed some folding tables and chairs from a friend) to the side of the house. Kind of unconventional, but it was literally the only space! The kids freaked out (in a good way) over the bounce house! It also had water attached to it – it was designed to drip down the slide, so it became a water slide.  We did have one child slide down too fast and hit her nose, causing a nose bleed (no good party is immune to drama, right?), but it wasn’t bad and she recovered quickly.


Overall, we (obviously) spent more than any other birthday, being that we’ve never done a party before. But it wasn’t too bad, either. I still did a lot of homemade things to try to cut costs where I could.

I made a “seashell” pasta salad and a homemade fruit salad instead of buying a more costly fruit tray; I purchased a 5′ party sub for party guests, but I also home-made a ton of PB&J sandwiches for the kids that I used a cookie-cutter to cut into fish shapes (the homemade sign said “peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches”).

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In that empty space I put out little jello cups I’d made for the kids. It was super cute – blue jello, one gummy Swedish fish (sunk in the “water”), and a gummy lifesaver ring (on top of the “water”). I can’t steal the credit – it was a Pinterest idea.


I also stole a few other ideas from Pinterest for super cheap homemade decorations made from crepe paper and blue scrapbook paper.














I haven’t calculated final costs of everything, but there were really only two “big” costs:

  • Bounce house rental, $150
  • Cakes, $75

Everything else was pretty inexpensive (at least on a per-item cost basis). However, we sure did have water running for a solid 2 hours, so it will be interesting to get our next water bill.

Once I reconcile the budget I’ll update on overall costs (in my next budget update post). I’d guesstimate that everything together was in the $600ish range, but I know those last minute grocery trips all add up, so we’ll see.

What do you usually do for kids’ birthday parties? How do you keep costs down for kids’ parties?


Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

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  • Reply SCM |

    What a wonderful party for your girls! I don’t usually spend that much, but I only have one, and I am not as far along in the debt payoff phase as you are.

    What I think is wonderful (and liberating!) is that you were able to do this without having to #1 put anything on a credit card with a carried balance; #2 budget for it; and most importantly #3 did not have to decide to pay an important bill at a later time in order to have this party.

    All of your hard work being frugal and laser intense (to borrow from Dave Ramsey) is allowing you to have periodic splurges without having those splurges set you way back on your debt payment goal.

    Good for you!!!!


    • Reply Ashley |

      Thank you!!! Yes, not going into debt is always goal #1 in life, in general. Our first two years of debt payment were pretty no-frills so it feels good to slowly start adding in some “frills” like birthday parties and such. All cash, of course! : )

  • Reply Maureen |

    Such a cute party! I love your craftiness and the themes when you work with your little girls.

    Our three girls had a friends party every other year. Tea parties, movies, beach picnics, backyard barbecues. From preschool to high school. On the nonbfriend year we had a nice family dinner (menu of their choice). The parties always fit in our budget which varied ? I think this worked well. We didn’t feel stingy. They didn’t feel

  • Reply Sarah |

    We always justified the costs of birthday parties by scheduling them every other year. That way, each year was really just “50%”. Since you haven’t had a big party for them ever, I think what you did was fine. Looks like it was a lot of fun and I love the peanut butter and jellyfish idea!

    • Reply Ashley |

      We have some family friends that do the same thing (every-other-year birthday). I think that’s a really great idea! Maybe on the “off” years we can just do an at-home dinner (their favorite meal) and have the kids invite over a couple of best friends. I’d still like to acknowledge their birthday, of course, but only do an actual party every other year??? What do you do? I’d love to hear more!

      • Reply Sarah |

        We did a small party on the odd years. Always had a cake and a dinner – just not a bunch of friends over. Maybe a couple friends to spend the night. Or, if a new movie came out, they could invite a friend to the movie. Just nothing expensive on the odd years :-).

So, what do you think ?