Bad economy got you down?
Feel like your kids are going to be disappointed with the lame party you're throwing this year?
Worried that Scott Walker's helpful cuts to your benefits and pay are going to ruin your kids' birthday?
Well, thanks to the handy "tools" provided by Governor Scott Walker, you can translate your poverty into the Best Party Ever following these simple tips:
How to Survive without Money
Using Scott Walker's "Tools"
BIRTHDAY PARTY EDITION!
- Find a free venue. The most obviously free place to have a party is your own home, but we all know how lame that is for your kids, who are already sick of being stuck at your house all the time anyway because you can't afford to go out and do fun things anymore. Plus, having the party at home means you'd have to clean the whole place and fix the screen door and the toilet that doesn't flush right - and who has the time or money for all that? So find someplace free - it's more fun for the kids anyway. Also, it's not technically "squatting" if you don't have a reservation. Bowling alleys, Chuck E. Cheese, park pavilion...all these places are just begging for you to come set up your party unannounced. If the kids ask why they aren't getting the "deluxe" accoutrements (like the bowling, or tokens, or use of the restrooms), just say "they're out" and "next time we'll make sure to call ahead." Problem solved. If the manager asks you to leave, or if the cops come, feign innocence and/or blame your partner or spouse who assured you the reservation had been made. And you'd be surprised how hard it is to get yourself kicked out of places like church banquet rooms. Just say "the pastor said it was free today" - they'll never dare bring up never having seen you around before. Easy.
"Those invitations were so cute, too! I'm sorry yours got lost in the mail!"Cut down on the guest count by "accidentally" forgetting to mail the invitations. A late-night call on Friday to invite people to the Saturday party because "someone" forgot to put the invitations in the mail (again, saying you thought your partner had it covered goes miles) means most people will already have plans and thus be unable to attend, but will probably feel bad about it and end up dropping off a present for your kid eventually. And then it's like having two parties!
- Don't waste money on things you don't need, like food. There are actually two easy ways to avoid this: (1) Hold the party at a time when you won't have to serve food. The 2-5 slot is ideal for this. Plus this frees up your morning for scoping out the venue, just to be on the safe side in case you have to move to a last-minute Plan B. Or (2) Make it a potluck, but discretely fail to bring anything yourself. This is Wisconsin. We live to potluck. So ask people to let you know if they'd like to bring a main dish, side or beverage, and make sure you have everything covered before the party. In the event that there's not enough food, blame the (imaginary) people who didn't show up, who had been so excited for us to try their rack of lamb.
- Make your own everything else. With a scissors, some markers and some old paper, you can decorate the heck out this party and have your guests thinking you're the greatest parent in the world. How? By "letting" the kids do it (aka forcing the kids to do it). Have them make banners, confetti, cut-out balloons - the works. Just tape it up, string it around, and party on.
- Do-it-yourself games and entertainment. We all have someone in our lives who owns a giant banana costume, or a clown outfit, or a gorilla suit, or whatever. Or some uncle who juggles or does magic tricks. Call that person, and have them show up at the party and do their thing "as a gift" to your kid. Games are easy to make for free, and - I can't stress this enough - letting your kids do the work frees you entirely from the expectation that it looks good. Make your own pin-the-tail-on-whatever-that-thing-is-supposed-to-be. Make your own piñata out of papier-mâché , or if you're too lazy for that, out of an empty cereal box that the kids decorated and filled with all the old Halloween and Easter candy you still have hiding in the top cupboard. And if the party's at a park or outside, you don't even have to have games. Just make them go play. They like that anyway.
- Save big money by "dropping the cake" on the way out the door. Bakery cakes are expensive. And between that broken oven you can't afford to fix and your terrible decorating skills, making your own is out of the question. However, some strategic tears and a tragic tale of racing out the door, cake in hand, only to stumble and fall face-first into that beautiful cake....your guests will never be the wiser. And think of how you'll have a charming joke for years to come about the time you ruined the cake! What a story! And what a fun party that was anyway! [wink]
- Get creative about "party favors." Have a nice, long talk about how your child doesn't want this party to be "superficial" and "all about the goodies." Then brainstorm about some (free) things you could have the kids do that they could take home as a "favor." Party's at a park? Bring glue and have them make pinecone people. Party's at the bowling alley? Have them make an art project out of scorecards, pencils and packets of cream and sugar. Party's at home? [last resort!] Have them make "the favor that lasts forever" - the ol' bean in a wet paper towel in a paper cup trick - and then decorate the "vase" however they'd like. Once again, the fact that these look like crap is not a reflection on you; little artists have a lot to learn. You're just helping them toward their goals.
- Last, but not least, be sure to give credit where credit is due, and be a gracious host and responsible parent. Your child and guests will want to give you full credit for throwing such a wonderful party, but that would be unfair. The biggest present on the gift table should be a huge box, beautifully wrapped, with a card that reads "Happy Birthday! Thought you could use some new tools! With love from Governor Scott Walker." When your child opens it, and finds nothing, the look on his or her face will be priceless. Take a picture of that look, and send it to the Governor.
And there you have it! Party's on, kids are happy, and you didn't spend a dime. Thank you, Scott Walker!
If you liked this helpful advice, you'll love Part 1: How to Survive Without Money Using Scott Walker's "Tools"
And if you've got money to burn, you might check out my non-pauper's edition of valuable party advice: Planning Your Child's Birthday Party.