Low Stress Low Cost Birthday Party

Birthdays have always been special to me. Growing up my mom would make every birthday truly special. We would pick a theme and off she’d go! Every other year I got a big party with lots of friends and on the off years I got to pick 1 friend and an activity.

One of my most memorable parties was a Murder Mystery theme. As each guest arrived they were greeted at the front to create their “file” with fingerprints, detective name, etc. We played fun murder mystery games and had to figure out clues to find my hidden cake. I really love that my mom created these wonderful birthday memories for me. So now that I have a child of my own I’m passing on the tradition.

I really love throwing a good party. However! Planning a party can cause a lot of stress and end up costing much more than you wanted to spend. So for my son’s 2nd birthday I really wanted to keep it low stress and low cost. I’m happy to report it was successful! So here are some of the ways I accomplished that.

He is obsessed with Baby Shark right now so that was our theme. First, we took a trip to the party store to see what they had.

Tip #1-
Only buy what you’ll need

I knew the adults didn’t care if they drank out of a baby shark cup so I only bought enough for the kids attending the party. The adults got the regular old red solo cups that I already had stocked away in my pantry. Same with the favors. Only the kids were going to be excited about taking home a baby shark souvenir. I bought enough special themed plates for each person to have one and then used plain paper plates I already had as back up.

Tip #2
Dollar Tree

I wanted a fun ocean backdrop to hang so I perused the Dollar Tree and grabbed a blue plastic table cloth, some colored poster board, tissue paper pom poms, streamers, & balloons. I was pleasantly surprised to see they have added quite a bit to the party section there! I won’t be winning any awards on this, but it was just to add a little fun to the decor and my son loved it 🙂 You can get much more creative if you want to!

Baby Shark Scenery

Tip #3
Make party time between meals

One of the big stress relievers was I chose to do the party between meals so I was only providing snacks and dessert. The pressure to feed everyone enough food for an entire meal was off! We had mini sandwiches (hawaiin rolls w/ turkey & cheese), goldfish, pirate booty, fruit, cucumbers, sea salt chocolates, gummy sharks, and of course cake & ice cream.

Tip #4

Hawaiin rolls at Costco are so cheap! And you get a lot! Pirate Booty and Goldfish are a great price in bulk as well. Select Costcos do cakes that feed 50 people for under $20. I chose to get our cake from a favorite local bakery BUT Costco cakes are also delicious and we’ve used them in the past.

Tip #5

I bought a baby shark sticker book and used the stickers for decorations and games. Cutting out colored card stock I labeled the food with fun ocean themed names and then added a sticker. You can see examples in my food pictures above. I also used the stickers to create a simple Baby Shark Scavenger Hunt. And when the kids found each character I gave them stickers to help mark them off so they knew which ones were left.

Tip #6
Fun but simple extra touches

I love Etsy. They have so many cute, unique, and specialized items! I didn’t want to go overboard with spending so I chose just a couple things for special party touches. One was the cake topper. So so cute! It was personalized too which made it extra special. The other purchase I made was matching family shirts. I had a mommy shark shirt, my husband a daddy shark shirt, and our little guy a baby shark shirt.

Other party details:

  • Shark Ice Cubes – put gummy sharks into ice cube molds for drinks
  • Pail & Shovel – purchased at Dollar Tree to use as snack holders
  • Ball Pit – blow up pool + ball pit balls + slide = so much fun!

Tip #7
Pare down the guest list

Start your list off with the family you’ll be inviting. Both sets of grandparents live near by so they of course were on the list. Then we knew the cousins were going to be in town so they would be attending. After the family, I would recommend choosing 2-3 families that your child is close with. Who do they spend most of their time with when it comes to friends? When the list gets long, the cost for the party goes up. OR you can do the party for your child’s friends only and have a small family celebration separately.

Hope this helps you have a party you can actually enjoy!!! Also, if you have any good tips, leave a comment below.

How to Say Goodbye to the Grumpy Grinch


Christmas is a time for holiday cheer, giving, and all around good spirit. However not every Christmas feels this way. It might be because we’re just going through the motions year after year. Or maybe life isn’t feeling very good right now so it’s hard to be in a cheery Christmas mood.

As the holidays were approaching, I certainly wasn’t feeling warm, fuzzy things. I thought, “Can we just get this over with?” I didn’t like that I felt that way, but there it was. I’ll be honest. My husband and I have been going through a lot of loss and grief. So being told it’s a happy time of year wasn’t jiving with how I felt.


I couldn’t be the only one who felt the way I did. I got the idea to start making a list of ways I might be able to bring some joy to others. Doing something (even small) could help bring a good feeling to someone’s heart. And in the process I just might enjoy the holiday I was hoping would be over quickly.

Here are some of the things I came up with:

•Pay for someone’s coffee in the drive-thru ☕️

Optional: Leave an encouraging note for the barista to give them.

•Bring cookies and a card to elderly friends/family members 🎄

•Give out cookies and chat with people in an assisted living or nursing home 🍪

•Pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child or another organization that does something special for those in need 📦

Note: you can pack a shoebox virtually online if the time has passed to drop them at an OCC location

•Plan some fun Christmas activities with the kiddos in your life ❄️

I’m a nanny for 3 children, so I have some fun activities and baking for us to do together on their winter break

•Plan a fun outing with your spouse, good friend, or a family member so you can make a holiday memory together 💚❤️

Some ideas might be ice skating, a Christmas train ride, a special show or play

•Bring goodies to a neighbor 🍭

Maybe pick a neighbor you haven’t had a chance to meet

•Try to go a more sentimental route for some of your gifts 🎁

Buying gifts can be stressful and hard on your wallet (which makes it more stressful). But if you know a gift is going to mean something special to someone, it’s a little more exciting.

•Invite someone over for hot cocoa and a movie 🎥

This time of year we will usually hear “Christ is the reason for the season!”

But the meaning behind that saying doesn’t always sink in. There’s a lot of people dealing with grief, loss, and sadness right now. I think its time I put more thought into how I can show others the love Christ has shown us, instead of grumbling about my To Do list.

Merry Christmas! May you find some joy this holiday season. Hugs ❤️


Christmas Gift Ideas for Everyone


Every year when the holidays roll around I get this mixed feeling of joy and fear. The fear comes from the realization I have to start racking my brain for 100 different Christmas gifts. Slight exaggeration but you get it. You’re faced with the task of coming up with a gift for each and every person that meets all these requirements:

*something they don’t already have
*not cheesy
*decent quality
*something they would use
*is cute/cool

That’s a lot of pressure.

I’ve done plenty of searches online for gift help. So to help my fellow gift searchers, I’ve put together some ideas I’ve used successfully.


  • Date Nights
    -get a variety of gift cards they can use for date nights
    ie: coffee, movies, ice cream, restaurants
  • Tickets to an Event
    ie: play, comedy show, concert, musical
  • A weekend or Night Away
    ie: bed & breakfast, a nearby town/city with fun activities, spa

*As an added bonus if you gift someone a special night or weekend away, you can also offer to watch their kid (s) or dog sit

  • Matching Pajamas and Mugs
    -you can find a lot of cute Mr. & Mrs. items
  • Get Local
    -if you live in a different state than the gift receiver, put together a variety of products specially made in your state.
  • Hobby Accessories
    -Are they really into something right now? Camping/RVing, hiking, house projects, etc.
    My in-laws bought a camper and they take full advantage of it in the warm months. So we put together some things we thought would come in handy for that.
    ie: a personalized bag to store things in, scented fire starters, and a shark steam mop (there’s a lot of foot traffic in their camper).


  • Subscription to Hulu
  • Crockpot (include some good recipes)
  • Funny t-shirt, Mug, and/or Movie
  • Wine, Beer, Whiskey (as long as they’re 21)
    -I have a brother in college and one thing I’ve learned is that he and his friends appreciate a good local beer or whiskey. Any gifts that go along with that are usually a hit also.
  • Gift cards
    -This might seem like the easy way out. But when you’re on your own, gift cards are like gold! If you’re not sure what type of gift cards they’d like, ask for a list of 4 or 5 to pick from.
  • Just ask
    -Maybe they’re trying to cook more and would love some new measuring cups and spoons. Maybe they’re trying to save up for a trip and would love to just take the money and put it towards that. No harm in asking!


  • Pedicure
  • Facial or Massage
    -a morning or afternoon at a spa getting pampered?! That’s a great day
    *My favorite place is Brookside Gardens located in Berthoud, CO. If you don’t know of a good place, ask around!
  • Tickets to a Fun Event
    -ie: concert, play, dinner theater, etc
    *If you choose to get someone tickets to an event, make sure you find out if they’re available that night.
  • Favorite Things ♥
    -I started making a list of things I’ve come to love in the past year. If I love it, I have a feeling other people will too and it could make a great gift!
    For example, I bought a Pampered Chef tool that chops up ground beef like a pro and makes cooking so much easier. It’s a game changer! So for Christmas I ordered some for several women in my family. And guess what? They loved it too 🙂


  • Wood Docking Station
    -My husband has this and we both really like it. It looks very nice and holds everything from his phone and wallet to watches, sunglasses, and keys. I got it from Palmetto Wood Shop. You can choose from a variety of colors.
    IMG_7786 (1)
  • Whiskey, Beer, Favorite Liquor (21+ of course)
  • Whiskey Accessories
    ie: whiskey ice cube molds, whiskey glasses, or other accessories. I got my husband a death star ice cube mold because he’s a Star Wars nerd 😉
  • Beard or Shaving Stuff
    Beard- beard oil, lotion, beard kit, beard comb
    No Beard- grooming kit, homemade or good quality shaving cream, shaving brush
  • Travel Bag
    -I purchased personalized travel bags for some of the guys in my family. They’re good quality and can hold all their bathroom products when traveling. This one is from Thirty-One and they call it the “24/7 Case”.


  • Creative Gifts
    ie: chalk, crafts, new art supplies, play dough  (just not anything that creates too much of a mess or has a lot of small parts)
    *mom and dad will love if you include an organizer with it too
  • A Fun Outing
    ie: movies, zoo, bowling, mini golf, etc. Kids tend to look back and remember experiences more than toys
    *If you want them to still be able to open something, you could wrap a small item to represent your outing
  • Imaginative Play
    ie: Dr. kit, tool kit, baking set, dress up clothes
  • Stocking Stuffers
    -For the kids I used to nanny I purchased a fun Christmas burlap bag and then filled it with small items I found at Michaels and Hobby Lobby. You could also check out the Target dollar section.
    ie: putty, play dough, crafts, small toys, supplies, candy, books


  • Dog water bottle
  • Bark Box (these usually come with 2 toys, 2 treat bags, & a jerky stick)
  • Car seat belt
  • Blanket
  • Poetry poo bags

Do you like to give things with a more personal touch? Sites like Etsy and Shutterfly are great for helping you with that!



  • Handkerchiefs with their initials
  • (Shutterfly) Picture magnets, blankets, mugs, photo books, personalized calendars
  • (Etsy) Kitchen aid mixer decals, fun shirts, instant pot covers, pot holders


  • Personalized pencil cases, lunch boxes, backpacks, personalized crayons, aprons, jewelry
    -I gave my nieces and nephew pencil cases with a fun picture of them on it and a fun design I knew they’d like. Then filled it with brand new colored pencils

I hope some of these ideas helped you check some people off your list!

Buddy the Elf Christmas Party

We had a Christmas party last weekend and it was a blast! I especially had fun decorating and incorporating a Buddy the Elf theme. That is my favorite holiday movie! For the dessert table I had a cake with candy canes on top to imitate the 7 levels of the candy cane forest, chocolate peppermint bark, snowflake gumdrops, marshmallows, petite tree cakes, and sugar cookies.


Dessert Table


Peppermint bark, homemade snowflake gumdrops, & marshmallows


We served Coconut Vanilla Bellini’s for a Christmas cocktail. The cup rims are coated in red and green sugar.


I printed off quotes from the movie and set them around the party


Coffee station with coffee quote: “You did it! Congratulations! World’s Best Cup of Coffee. Great job everybody!”


Table Setting: I found a very cute book of Christmas scrapbook papers. I used these as place mats and every setting had a different design.


Centerpiece: Pine cone filled basket and 2 large mason jars filled with cranberries and ice. (Secret: that’s not real ice. It’s water and plastic wrap)

Such a fun party! We served Olive Garden lasagna, bread sticks, and salad for dinner. For the entertainment portion of the party we played “Minute to Win it” games and Holiday Family Feud.