Birthday on a Budget Part 2

birthday cakeTraditions.

When you need to do birthdays on a budget, especially multiple birthdays, the secret is to start some inexpensive traditions.

Remember that the object here is to honor the birthday child, have fun and make some memories!

Take the birthday cake for example. you really don’t need to visit the bakery and spend a lot of money on a beautifully decorated cake. Be creative!

My oldest sister always made a chocolate cake (from a box) and cut it into the first letter of the birthday child’s name. Then she frosted it with chocolate frosting (from a can) and decorated it with a bag of M & M’s. Cheap, child friendly, and a memory that her kids will remember for a long time.

When they were younger my children wanted special cakes, like a forest fire cake, a butterfly cake or a race track cake. I found the easiest thing to do was to bake a 9 x 13 cake and frost it. This creates your canvas. Then we used plastic toys, legos, duplos, matchbox cars, etc… with M & M’s, colored sugar, sprinkles, and marshmallows to create a masterpiece.

The best part was that we created it together. We didn’t just make a cake, we made a memory! And…since the birthday child helped, they thought it was the most amazing cake ever!

Remember that creating memories doesn’t have to mean spending lots of money!

On Birthdays and Barbecues…

Grilling steaksIt’s Pedro’s birthday today!

To celebrate, he has chosen to have steak on the grill.

This meal never would have happened while we lived in the city. Raising your own beef and having it butchered allows an occasional steak to grace our table.

There’s not many steaks on one cow, so we save them for special occasions, like birthdays! I will admit that it’s one of my favorite fringe benefits to country living!

I like to use a special marinade on all my grilled meats. It’s a recipe my mom got years ago from one of our neighbors, Bert. He was quite a character! I can remember a lot of teasing and laughter whenever Bert and Betty were around!

It was originally a barbecue sauce for chicken, but I have used it on venison, steak, chicken, and pork. You can use it to marinade or brush it on the meat as it’s cooking, or both!

Grilling Marinade

Put in blender and blend together:

1 1/2 cup cooking oil
3/4 soy sauce
1/4 Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. dried mustard
2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. parsley
1/4 wine vinegar
1/3 cup lemon juice

Store this in the refrigerator and it will keep for several weeks.

Birthdays on a Budget

The Birthday PlateWe have 2 birthdays back to back this week and that can be a real budget breaker. One small way we’ve saved some money is in decorating.

We have very simple parties. My goal is to honor the birthday child, not overwhelm them or wow them. We want our children to know we love them and think they are wonderful.

That takes time and traditions, not a lot of money.

We always hang a few balloons and a large Happy Birthday sign. I have occasionally found some fun decorations at garage sales, such as a plastic Thomas the Tank Engine tablecloth that we’ve used for years until it finally disintegrated.

But one of my favorite purchases was The Birthday Plate. I bought it from Current several years ago when my oldest was quite young and we have it used it ever since.

It’s a sturdy plastic so it can be washed and reused again and again.The birthday child gets to use it for every meal on his/her birthday.

Since it doesn’t actually say “Birthday” it could even be used for other special days- like the first day in big girl undies, or the first time he wrote the bike without training wheels, or just because they need a little encouragement.

The plate cost me less than $10 and has been used hundreds of times. It’s still in great shape so it will see many, many more special meals.

This one plate not only makes a birthday meal something special, it has become a family tradition that will continue on as a special memory long after my children leave home.