The Big Slumber Party Extravaganza Post

The big 8th birthday Slumber Party has come and gone and we’ve not only survived, but thrived! In fact, I’m a little astonished at how well it all actually went. We’d only met one of the girls who was invited to the party before the event, so it was bit of a crap shoot, but I’m very happy to say Thing One has excellent taste in friends.

Of course I’m also going to be first person to admit that a LOT of work went into this party. On many fronts, I don’t mind. Thing One and I spent several nights curled up together looking though Pinterest, so she got to feel like she played a big role in planning the event, even if I was the one who got stuck doing all the work.

I’d also promised her that any party I threw would be a “million times cooler” than what we’d get if we went to Chuck E Cheese. (While at the same time promising Mr. W that it would cost us a FRACTION of what a party at Chuck E Cheese or even the bowling alley would.)

So here’s the full run-down of what we did, what it cost and how it went over. (I’ll give you a cost tally at the end.)

The Food

As shocking as it might seem, I actually didn’t put THAT much time into the food. In general, food is my strong suit. Tasty, homemade treats are what our parties are known for. But see, I have this rule about spending hours and hours in the kitchen.

One of three things has to be true:

1) Making it myself results in a superior tasting product.
(My chocolate chip cookies are the perfect example of this one)

2) Making it myself saves me enough money to justify the time spent in the kitchen.
(Artisan bread is the perfect example of this rule)

3) I’m in there baking because it’s a stress reliever and I want to experiment.
(Most of the recipes featured on this blog fall into that one.)

So in terms of this party, I had to ask myself if the time and effort spent baking cookies or brownies or making things from scratch was going to be worth it. Would it save me enough money and would the kids actually notice the taste difference? Sometimes the answer was yes and sometimes it was no.

So here’s how the food spread broke down…

Thing One and I both agreed it would be fun to have a variety of bite size desserts for the party. This way they could snack through the day and she and the girls could feel like they had choices. I wasn’t planning on making a cake, because I was already making a cake for her family party plus cupcakes for school.

So we settled on the following:

Bite size powdered sugar donuts from the Walmart Bakery.

Fudge brownie bites from Atlanta Bread Company. (Sold at Walmart…and dear heavens are these the tastiest brownies I have ever eaten in my entire life!)

Bite-size sugar cookies with frosting from Lofthouse Cookies. (The only cookie I willingly buy a the store…I simply cannot recreate these at home no matter how many copy cat recipes I try!)

Chocolate and white chocolate dipped Oreo Cookies. I made them using chocolate I had in my baking stash and an adorable Oreo cookie mold I bought on Amazon. These were insanely easy to make…just melt your chocolate, put a bunch in the mold, smush an Oreo on top and use a spatula to spread a bit more chocolate on top. Pop them in the freezer for five minute and then turn them out onto the counter and do it again.

We also had bite size Jell-O in little appetizer cups and miniature root beer floats made with a cookie dough scoop’s worth of ice cream. I’m totally kicking myself for forgetting to take a picture of them because they were so very cute.

We did end up with a birthday cake as well…mostly because I had leftover batter when I was making her cake for family night. It was just enough to make a 6″ layer of chocolate fudge cake and another of yellow cake. So I’d made both layers, wrapped them and put them in the freezer the week before. The night before the party I took them out and set them on the counter.

The day of the party, I whipped up a batch of No-fail butter cream frosting and assembled the layers on a tiny little cake. I had no intention of making a fancy cake, so I simply frosted it in a pale green color. Then I noticed I had scraps of paper leftover from the bunting we’d made to hang in the kitchen, so I used that to put together a miniature bunting that we pressed into the side of the cake. The effect was super cute and VERY easy.

Of course a birthday party can’t be ALL about the junk food. We needed a couple other snacks to go with dinner and the evening. I wanted to keep everything on the “bite size” or “single serving” front so I didn’t have to worry about throwing a ton of food away at the end of the night, so I dug into my party stash and came up with several sizes of food cups and containers.

We used little paper cups to portion out whole grain Pringles. (who knew? found them in the store and thought why not…they’re actually quite tasty.)

We took the same cups and filled the bottom with ranch dressing, then packed them with carrot and celery sticks.

We mixed up a simple fruit salad and put that into 6 oz plastic tumblers:

And we used another type of plastic cup to portion out popcorn.

For dinner, we put together a make-your-own pizza bar. I made several batches of homemade honey pizza dough and we offered up olives, mushrooms, bacon, pepperoni, cheese and onions.

Of course the “make-your-own-pizza” idea quickly turned into “Tell Jen what you want on your pizza and she’ll make it for you…” so I assembled six custom made pizza for six little cutie pies.

Once we’d wrapped up theirs, Hair and I (did I forget to mention that my angel of a best friend came over to help me with all this party stuff? She’s awesome!) made a few more for Mr W and Thing Two, then decided to knock out a few stromboli to go with them.

For drinks, we offered up “spa water” with Thing One’s chosen recipe of lemons, clementines and kiwi infused into it. We also had Pink Lemonade. I used my 3 gallon acrylic drink dispensers for them and we made up cute little labels for the containers.

For glasses, we gave each girl a glass milk bottle and a straw. This was one of my absolute favorite things for the party as I think they look SO cute on a party table. Plus the girls thought they were adorable.

[Sidebar: Do NOT order these online. I hunted and hunted and the prices are simply ridiculous. Then, somewhere along the lines I stumbled across a mom mentioning that she'd simply gone and bought some Starbucks Frappachino drinks and scrubbed the labels off. I found them on sale for $3.99 for a four pack, bought two four packs and had our bottles for about $1 each. If you have a friend who drinks the stuff, just plan ahead and you can get them for free. These all got washed and added to my party stash when everything was over and done with.]

The next morning, we served up cinnamon swirl french toast, bacon and eggs.

We also had peach yogurt with granola in case anyone wasn’t a fan of french toast.

Food wise…it went very well. The girls all loved the pizza. They also went through massive amounts of popcorn and fruit salad. The veggies weren’t so popular with most of the kids, but honestly, they didn’t really eat very many sweets either. For the most part, they were so busy having fun, they really only ate enough to keep themselves going.

The costs on food were pretty good. I was actually able to simply meld the party food right into my standard grocery budget by shifting around the meal plan for the week. I probably spent about $20-$25 total in chips, popcorn, cookies, brownies, fruit, veggies, etc… but I had a deal with Mr W that I didn’t have to include food costs in my budget if I didn’t spent more than our normal weekly grocery budget.

The Party Favors

Party favors were the single most expensive part of the party costs, which is still pretty impressive as they weren’t overly high. Inspired by several great ideas we found on Pinterest, we opted for a few customized things and a few girly things.

Thanks to my absolutely amazing mother, each of the girls got a pillow case with their names embroidered on them. My mom had a pillow case pattern laying around and picked up the fabric on sale. She was kind enough not to charge me for them, so they didn’t factor into my budget. That said, our Walmart ALWAYS has a huge bin of fabrics that would be perfect for a project like this for around $1 or $1.50/yard.

The girl’s each suited up their pillows for the night and took them home with them the next day.

I also picked up a set of fuzzy slipper socks for each of the girls from a Target run. They were on sale for $1.99 each, so it only cost me $10 to get enough for the entire crew.

I also picked up five bottles of nail polish (92 cents each at Walmart) and five bottles of “peppermint sparkle” body spray (99 cents at Walmart) for the girls. (More on the nail polish later.)

Finally, we had the BIG splurge…the scrapbook kits.

I spotted these American Girl Mini Scrapbooking kits at Michael’s for $7.99.

The truth is, $8 a piece was out of my comfortable budget range…but the happy reality of Michael’s is their allowance of mobile coupons. Since you can always find either a 40% or 50% off mobile coupon on their site, it simply meant making lots of trips to Michael’s in the week’s leading up to the party. Any time I went to town to hit the grocery store or drop a kid off, I swung in and picked up a kit. I ended up buying the kits for an average of $4.58 each.

The Decorations

To be honest…these were beyond simple. I made up food tags for the buffet, bought balloons and crepe paper for behind the buffet table and made up an adorable paper bunting using scrapbook paper and ribbon I had on hand. That’s it.

Total cost for balloons and crepe paper: $4.89

The Activities

While I found a TON of great ideas online for keeping girls entertained at slumber parties…most of us who have hosted play dates know the kids keep themselves occupied just fine.

The main reason I wanted to have activities to turn to was to redirect things if the girl’s started acting cliquish or ganging up on each other.

As it turns out, the weather was absolutely beautiful that day. So we all headed outside to take a trek down to the waterfall.

A little hiking along the creek took us a good 45 minutes to an hour…

Then Hair and I helped them back across the creek and they headed back up to the house to spend another hour or so on the playground out back.

Once they came back inside, we let Thing One borrow our low-end digital camera to take dozens of silly pictures of her friends. (more on this later.)

They pretty much kept themselves occupied without incident until dinner. It took about 45 minutes for everyone to eat. Then we moved on to opening gifts…

Since one of the girl’s had brought her gift in an absolutely GIANT gift bag, we made an impromptu photo booth and took pictures of each of the girl’s peeking out or popping out of the bag.

Then we blew out the candles, set them up with dessert and let them play for another hour while Hair and I cleaned up the kitchen and food and got things back to order.

Once we’d wrapped all that up, it was about 7pm. We still had plenty of time to kill before they needed to get sleeping bags set up and settle in for a movie, so we decided to play Crazy Nails.

This was one of the ideas I’d found on Pinterest that worked out super well. You have the girls sit in a circle and let the birthday girl pick a color of nail polish to spin. Whoever it points at must paint one ton nail that color, pick a new color and spin the polish bottle again.

You continue this process until someone gets all ten nails painted. At that point, the “winner” gets to claim which bottle they want to take home and the game continues until the next person gets all ten toes painted.

You could clearly be a little braver than me and buy bright colors. We mostly went with muted colors and sparkle colors, none of which showed up well on film. We played until the last girl’s toes were all painted and everyone had selected a bottle to take home.

It took us a little over an hour to play this game and the girls were nothing but giggles the whole time.

Once we’d wrapped that up, they all spread their sleeping bags out and got nice and cozy. Thing One had gotten Annie on Bluray from Thing’s Two and Three for her birthday, so we let them watch that.

It was close to 10 by the time the movie was over, so we turned the lights down and I headed up stairs with the reminder that while they didn’t have to sleep, they had to be quiet enough I couldn’t hear them.

And I didn’t.

It was impressive.

They must have been tired because it was 8am the next morning before I heard them.

I headed downstairs and had them change into their clothes and pack up their stuff while I made breakfast.

While they ate, I downloaded the pictures they (and I) had been taking during the party and printed out tons of sheets of paper with four 3×5″ size prints on them. We cleared the table from breakfast and I set them loose with the pictures and their scrabooking kits.

This was a FANTASTIC way to keep them occupied, keep the mess contained and ensure they had a wonderfully personalized “take-home” from the party. As their parents arrived, we bagged up the rest of their scrapbooking stuff in a zip lock bag and sent them on their way.

Everyone had headed home by noon.

All in all, we had a wonderful time! The girls were all very well behaved, no one got into fights, everyone had a great time and the birthday girl was in heaven.

I’d do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, we probably will do another one after school let’s out…though I warned Thing One it wouldn’t have all the fancy food and take-home gifts.

Cost wise, it wasn’t too bad.

Party Favors:

  • 5 scrapbooking kits @ $4.58 each = $22.90
  • 5 pairs of slipper socks @ $1.99 each = $9.95
  • 5 bottles of nail polish @ $0.93 each = $4.65
  • 5 bottles of body spray @ $0.99 each = $3.96

Decorations

  • 2 packages of balloons @ $1.45 each = $2.90
  • 2 packages of crepe paper @ $0.99 each = $1.98
  • 2 four packs of Frappachino @ $3.99 each = $7.98

Grand Total: $54.32

Even if you insist on counting the cost of the food, it’s still WELL under $100. ..under $80 even.

Way cheaper than renting a place out and a heck of a lot more unique. Granted, my pretty big stash of party supplies helped keep the bottom line pretty low…but that’s part of why I added a little at a time as I need it.

Will we do it again next year?

Almost certainly!