For us, since we-- as in the MIL and myself-- chose a restaurant venue, we simply looked at their catering menu and chose food based on our estimated guests, budget, and, well, my tummy. We started off with a larger “wishful thinking” list with full intentions of narrowing it down. That’s where the budgeting spreadsheet came in handy, keeping track of totals. I know many of your kinda glaze over when it comes to spreadsheets/budgets and technical stuff but pretty pictures and auto formulas are motivating, no?! Ok call me weird.
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After totaling each food item they were then narrowed down by what I thought guests would enjoy the most. The photo above was what we ended up with after our 10 minute discussion. Using the budget sheet to help narrow our selection was crazy easy, promise!
You may have noticed that cake, although food, was categorized under “Other” within the spreadsheet. It was separated as our venue didn’t make the actual cake thus the cost wouldn’t be included in gratuities (more on that in a minute).
Back when we were creating the invitations, the MIL and I plotted more ideas for the party and she came up with the perfect idea to make Homer Donuts. She planned to purchase normal cake donuts then mix, ever so carefully, the perfect amount of food coloring and frosting. Add a dash of sprinkles and bam! Homer donuts, easy peasy:
I don’t have the steps or budget because she lovingly made it all happen but, hot-dang we work well together!!
We then contacted a fantastical cake-maker friend of ours (sorry locals he’s currently not accepting any new clients) to do us the honor/favor of creating the perfect cake to fit the overall theme. Going with a reputable, very close friend, helped in so many ways. Since they were unable to attend the party (it was last minute and all), they were showing their support through the perfect Simpsons cake:
Can you spot the Director's Chair resemblance?
Now that all the food was ordered and taken care of, it was time to figure out the decorations.
I picked up a pack of $1 “Simpsons Yellow” balloons and two $1 blue tablecloths. The only vision I had was to draw Homer’s head on the balloons and figured the tablecloths would blend nicely. Since everything was coming down to the wire, it became increasingly difficult to keep telling white lies. So I let the MIL take the reins on throwing together the centerpieces. She kept such a tight lip around all our scheming and dare I say we were thoroughly enjoying being devious for a few days?!
The MIL was all self-conscious about these balloons because they were all squiggly. I say they’re perfectly homemade!!
After digging through some of his paraphernalia, she came up with these adorable centerpieces using some pieces from his collection. The vast majority of his collection happens to be stored at her house for the time being which actually helped conceal any suspicious party-planning activities.
Forgive me for the blurry-ness, I was more concerned about stuffing my face with homer donuts.
The center pieces consisted of a Simpsons garbage can, some Simpsons tissue paper, a left over invitation, and a bunch of birthday cards she’s collected for him over the years (on pipe cleaners of course). Use whacha, got right? Seriously, she’s all mine ladies- you can’t have her.
Of course the awesome blogger that I am, failed to capture a good shot of the Simpsons cardboard cutouts that were also scattered throughout the room so here’s a photoshop’d visual:
I blame the lack of photos on wanting to actually attend and enjoy the party.
When the MIL went to set up, she noticed that we didn’t need to use the tablecloths so our entire decorating cost was a whopping $1. Only having to purchase balloons and using what we already had on hand for decorations, left us with some wiggle room for more food or buying guest’s drinks.
Somehow we ended with a grand total about $25 under budget. Ahh, the amazing feeling to have a little extra money left over…
So tell me, do you have any thrifty tips when throwing a party?
Up next, I’m gushing all about the beau’s gift. I assure you, it’s one you WON’T want to miss!! Speaking of not missing something, have you entered for your chance to win a KitchenAid Mixer? If not:
In case the link-fest in the beginning wasn’t organized enough for you, feel free to follow along with the series here: