Budget Birthday Party by Conlee Ricketts

Summer 2012: The downside of a summer birthday is that all my daughter’s friends are on family vacations and usually can’t come to the party. We send out a dozen invitations and pray that about 8 girls can come, and then end up with 4-5 that are in town for the party. The upside for me is that I can throw a party and come in under budget.

Here is my “how to” for our “Ten Year Tour” rock and roll birthday party.



  • 2 wardrobe size moving boxes—$8 to $10 each
  • 4 paper plates—spray silver
  • 4 coffee filters—color black w/ marker
  • 2 silver cupcake liners—optional (I just happened to have them in my pantry)
  • 1 pint of flat black paint—$10
  • 1 can spray paint—$4 to $9
  • 1 black marker and 1 silver marker—free from my junk drawers

All you need to do is paint the boxes (while they’re flat), spay the paper plates with silver, color on the filters with your black marker, let everything dry for a day or so, then layer the circles and glue to the speakers. I wrote on the speakers with a silver marker because it looked bare at the top, but you can place your “woofer” and “tweeter” in different spots. My daughter found some stickers to add later. We typically dig through drawers here to embellish projects so I don’t need to make any more trips to the store.

Goodie Bags:

The minute we have a theme we head to my friend the Oriental Trading catalog. I discovered this a few parties too late after filling goodie bags from the dollar store—looking inside them to feel as if “Lame” was going to be the word of the day—then heading back to the dollar store to buy more, and typically spending $6-$8 dollars per bag or more. I realized that if we have the targeted 8 guests my patience can handle that is $64 on plastic crap that gets thrown out by some other mother in a few weeks.

Yay Oriental Trading! I can buy 8 pre-planned gift bags for $37! The Rock-n-Roll ones were awesome. They had a canvas bag with a pink feather trim (very sturdy and cute) and then all sorts of fun stuff to put in the bag: inflatable microphone, hair extension, sun glasses, gem body sticker, rubber duck, Diva dog tag necklace, and a few other things I can’t remember. My daughter loved packing the bags, and with the money I saved I got some extras for the party activities. www.orientaltrading.com to see the bags. Her guests loved the bags and were talking about them as they left.  This made my daughter feel great.

Schedule: 2 Hour Party

  • I painted faces and did hair when the guests arrived (Pre Concert Hair and Make Up)
  • Cake (this seems out of order, but in our tiny apartment I didn’t have the floor space for both a stage and eating area. I covered the “stage” with a table cloth then revealed the star after)
  • Presents (my daughter likes to have each guest sit next to her while she opens the gift so she can say thank you and pass it around)
  • Rock and Roll! My daughter made a playlist on You Tube that we had running on a loop behind the hanging sheet and the girls sang along with their inflatable microphones and played guitar with the inflatable guitars for almost an hour.

They were exhausted as each parent came to pick up their rocker-girl. I can say that all that singing and dancing burned off any excess calories from cake if anyone was worried about how we headed straight for the cake portion of the party.

Everything you see cost me less than $100!  If there is something I forgot and you see it in the pictures, please comment and I will get back with you! You can also reach me at AccepTeen at conlee@accepteen.com

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