It’s not every year that your kiddo turns five (or – the “whole hand” number of years), so this week’s Frugal Five is all about his birthday. His party was meant to be a week prior, but thanks to another (short) bout of sickness, it got pushed by a week. And by it, I mean they, because we had two parties this year: one for family, and one for friends.

He had a ton of kids he wanted to invite this year, and we have quite a few family members nearby who also wanted to celebrate, so it made sense to split the parties and double the fun (for us extroverted folks). He’s the only kid under twenty on both sides of our family, so it’s not like the family party was also filled with kids, and everyone had more fun this way. That, and our house isn’t big enough to fit that many people during the winter months where we can’t guarantee outside time.

Now that he’s five, the kiddo has his own bank account, has basic chores taking care of his doggies, plays soccer at preschool, and will start t-ball this spring. He wears mostly hand me down and second hand clothing, reads books from the library, helps out in the garden, and has traveled to a good handful of states and to Iceland. He is so loved by all, and I can’t wait to see him grow these next five years. We are so proud of you, buddy.

At his party at preschool

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Friday’s Frugal Five

1. On a whim, the three of us plus our roommate decided to walk down the hill to grab some dinner out. The weather was decent in the afternoon but had started raining pretty steadily once we left the house. So much so that someone stopped to ask us if we needed a ride, something that happened to me numerous times while living in South Carolina, but it was a first for here.

The kiddo learned from his birthday in Hawaii last year to make sure that servers know when it’s a special day, and he informed them at that meal. They brought out a giant soft serve ice cream sundae, which was totally delicious. And free. So extra delicious. He’s learned well from his Mama.

Learning young about free food

2. Saturday was the family house party at my parents’ house. It was a low key day with a sandwich spread, (store bought) cupcakes, and decorations reused from previous parties.

In the afternoon, we walked around downtown with my grandmother and Bob and generally enjoyed the sunny weather, which has been seriously lacking lately. The kiddo did get some presents, but the day was nowhere near centered around them, which is what I prefer.

3. Sunday was the big birthday party at our house that the kiddo hadn’t stopped talking about for weeks. He invited a bunch of his friends over, including an “old friend” from preschool who had since moved on to kindergarten.

We’ve been to a couple of birthday parties at this point at event spaces, but I can honestly say that the kids have at least as much fun playing at the house and outside in the yard as they do at a play space. And the parents likely have more fun, because we can relax and hang out knowing they’re well contained in a familiar space.

One of my friends also commented that it made her think about how to do her daughter’s upcoming birthday and how more money didn’t need to be spent. We have the means to spend more, but there is absolutely no need to. And if we can change the narrative for others, even better.

The weather even cooperated for some outside time

4. Unlike last year – and the year before – where we made pizzas from scratch, we went the Costco pizza route this year. Partially because the beginning of this year has been full of travel and sickness, and partially because our neighbors who made it fun and helped out have since moved. To be perfectly honest, knowing they wouldn’t be there to make the pizzas with us made a bigger impact than I think I’d like to admit. We sure do miss them.

Even so, Costco pizzas are delicious, and reasonably cheap, and I still did make the cake. I purchased some Pokémon figurines that I decorated the cake with (found at a discount at Ross) and reused the “5” candle from another neighbor kid’s birthday this past fall.

Another upside of home birthday parties, or house parties in general, is the ease of zero waste if your house is already set up for it. We used all regular plates, cups, and cutlery, as well as cloth napkins/paper towels. The easiest dishwasher loading is after a party when it’s full of cups and plates, and the napkins don’t create an extra load of wash.

5. Unlike previous years, we did splurge on party favors / something for the kids to do when they arrived beyond just playing together with existing toys. The kiddo is pretty well obsessed with Pokémon right now, both the shows and the PokemonGo game, so we decided to do a “Poké-Party” this year.

While we were at Fred Meyer, we went over to the toy section and found Lego sets of Poké balls filled with different Pokémon to build out. At about eight dollars apiece, it felt like a pretty big splurge compared to what we normally spend on birthdays. Compared to a party at a location with a cover charge though as well as presents and tons of more expensive food, it still wasn’t an expensive party, and the kids had so much fun building and then playing with their Lego Pokémon. Absolutely worth it.

Exercise Update

I’m still not running again yet, which is more than a little frustrating. I ran just a couple minutes for the bus on Thursday, and even that I could feel tweak my heel a bit. It’s feeling a lot better, but it’s clearly not to the point to being up to the pounding that comes with going for a run. Maybe next week.

Friday was a walk down the hill to dinner though, so I still managed 20,000 steps that day. Saturday was a walk with family and Sunday was a walk with the dogs as well as stationary biking and weight lifting at the gym.

Monday was twenty minutes on the stationary bike and another walk all the way down the hill for dinner just the three of us, and 21,000 steps for the day. Tuesday again was the bike and a walk. Wednesday and Thursday were both walk days again, but no bike. And no run.

If you have kids, so you celebrate birthdays at home or out at an event space? How do you balance the cost with the fun?

18 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (Fifth Birthday Edition)

  1. we’re kid-free, as you know, but my good friend in nola has a couple of kids and is pretty much like y’all. it drives him crazy when he has to go with them to an event space. i’ve been around those kids since they were born and the toys and plastic junk around the house was very minimal and they spend a lot of time outside the house playing with the dogs. otherwise they use their imaginations and get creative and it’s not for lack of means to fill the house with junk. just wait ’til you have to limit time with electronics!

  2. Happy Birthday again to the little dude and bring on that sunshine in the PNW. We had almost triple the rain in January than normal up here, that put a dent into all my riding and running. I am sure it has had the same affect on you so that should help us get our outdoor levels higher as the warmth and sun return.

  3. Wow, I can’t believe kiddo is 5 already. That means I’ve been following you for close to three years! (I remember he was still 2 when I first found your blog.)

    It’s been fun following another momma and reliving my early years as a mom. 🙂

    Happy birthday, kiddo! May your fifth year be the best one yet!

  4. Yep, I love the idea of parties at home! Although I must admit I’m kind of dreading the whole deal of having to make sure the house is presentable for guests. So we’re still debating on having an actual party with our almost-5yo and his friends, or going on a special excursion to a local science museum or zoo, that type of thing. Glad your little guy had two special party days and celebrated well!

    1. Eh, we definitely toe the line with “presentable” sometimes I think 😉 Our home is never going to be picture perfect, and we don’t want to wait to host until then.

  5. Happy Birthday! Our son’s birthday is coming up soon too. It’s tough in the winter. Our backyard isn’t good right now. It’s all wet and muddy. It’d be way better when the weather is nicer. So we’ll bring a few friends to laser tag and play some arcade games. It should be okay. We’ll have a house party in the summer. 🙂

  6. You all did great with the party at home! I think the Lego balls are a perfect example of money well spent. Party favors are hard to do well without spending a decent chunk of change. The one event space party we did, we tried to keep favor costs low by buying mylar balloons at the dollar store and tying them to fruit cups bought at Costco, but I still wasn’t happy with the throwaway nature of the balloons. Here’s to a fun year with a 5-year old!

    1. Yeah, so many of the party favors tend to be throwaways, and you know I’m not for that. The Lego balls were perfect and so much fun though!

  7. Aw, I love the picture of him with his (free) ice cream! I don’t have kids, but I don’t understand the necessity people have now of blowing obscene amounts of money on birthday parties. My thirteen-year-old niece goes to night club-type birthday parties now, which is ridiculous to me. As a child, they often had parties at salons or princess venues and were escorted by limo. It all cost a fortune and forced parents to keep up with one another, whether or not they wanted to. I’m glad someone’s still celebrating the “old fashioned” way.

    Happy birthday to the kiddo!

    1. It’s so weird that a house party is the “old fashioned” way to celebrate birthdays. And they’re so much fun, too!

      1. I agree! We had a surprise party for my SIL a few months ago at home and it was a blast! Hosting it at a venue would’ve been completely different and impersonal. It also would’ve had a set end time. Who wants that if people are enjoying themselves?

  8. We did one birthday at an event space and everything else has been a nice meal with our friends or just our little family. It is so much less exhausting to skip the party, but I do really want to have our backyard cleaned up and usable for a small house party next year. Just have a few friends over, serve tacos, and let the kids run wild in a safe contained space.

    I let the other people host at event spaces, JB can come play for the price of a gift and go home again 🙂 Those birthdays mean PiC can go socialize and I can rest!

    Crossing my fingers for your pain to resolve really soon.

    1. I love that there are people like you, because I so much prefer to host and have people come to us! ❤️

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