Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's BennyMania!! A Beatles Themed 1st Birthday!

Here are some pictures and details from our recent BennyMania- a Beatles Themed 1st Birthday Party! And what would a post from me be without some money saving tips?... As guests entered they passed signs for "BennyMania" and "Penny Lane" (afterward we wondered that we didn't make this Benny Lane, duh!) You'll see these signs throughout. I made them from foam board and foam adhesive letters (both found at Dollar Tree), construction paper and paste (both in my craft closet), wrapping paper (found in the dollar bins at Target), and Beatles note cards (found on clearance at Michaels and bought with a coupon.) Total cost for all signs- $5.
We also had a bubble machine out front spilling strawberry scented bubbles into the path. The bubble machine, along with its mate in the backyard, were picked up at Walmart using coupon overage so those were free!!! And, the bubbles were from the Dollar Tree. We used 3, so that's $3.

Inside, we decorated 2 of the walls with collages of Beatles pictures. I originally was going to buy posters online, but each one was $5-7. Instead, I picked up a calendar from Big Lots and cut all the logos and pictures out and arranged them as I saw fit. They even had the right colors on the borders! Total cost for 2 collages- $7.

No party would be complete in my house without paper lanterns and poms. I actually had the red and purple lanterns from previous parties- free. Then I tried my hand for the first time at making poms. They're not perfect, but they were a crazy kind of cute. Cost for tissue paper in the exact shades I wanted- $5. (That's silly. I could've done better there.)

In the dining room, I created an Octopus Garden where the presents eventually ended up.
There's another sign...and flowers recycled from previous parties. But the octopus himself was a treasure!! He came to us from Michaels...on clearance from $40....down to $2!!! He was, unfortunately too pink for my boy, so I painted him with good old fashioned acrylic paint and a sponge brush, both of which were in my craft closet so no added cost.

For lunch, we served Yellow Submarine Sandwiches (bought from Subway because that is still cheaper than buying all the fixings, and easier), Here Comes the Sun Chips, and I am the Eggman Deviled Eggs.

To drink, we had Sgt. Dr. Pepper, For the Benefit of Mr. Sprite, Muddy Water (iced tea), and Not so Muddy Water (bottled water). Next to those, we perched our little guy's toy drum to which we stuck a familiar looking sticker. I couponed for all the drinks so they were totally free!

On the dessert table, we had O's Darling (Cheerios for little ones, and donuts for adults),
They Say It's Your Birthday Cupcakes, Yellow Submarine Twinkies,

Lucy in the Sky with
Diamond Ring Pops, Kaleidescope Pops, Applesauce Records, and Watching Rainbow Skittles. Phew! All the references to Beatle culture were exhausting to coordinate. But oh so fun!! Now, most of the sweets were free due to coupon overages at Walmart. But, I did pay $4 for Ring Pops, and as mentioned in the previous post about the record dessert stands, I spent $5 on displays. Along with these little cartoon Beatles you see everywhere (cut from the afore-mentioned note cards), I found Beatles stickers for just $1/sheet. I got out some frames used in previous parties, printed up party details in a "Yellow Submarine" font, and adorned the pages with the stickers. So that cost me just $4 to add a lot of detail.

The backyard was covered in quilts and baby toys with a sign that said, "Strawberry Field for Babies" and the second strawberry bubble maker.
We also had balloons everywhere. Again, thanks to coupon overage at Walmart, I got a helium tank for just $9 with balloons included.
If you add in about $15 for tablecloths and paper goods, I'm all in at....
$60 plus the cost of the sandwiches!!!
And, come on, isn't this sweet face worth it?

The very last dollar was spent on the "1" candle we blew out for him. Cheers!

DIY Record Dessert Stand Tutorial

So, I recently created these dessert stands for my little guys birthday party and they were so easy that I just had to share a how to....
1. Get some glass candle holders from the Dollar Tree. Mine were for votives, but taper holders would work just as well.
2. Grab a can of spray paint and give 2 thorough coats. I had red on hand, and that worked great with my color scheme.

3. Lay records on a flat surface. (I got mine from Goodwill for $0.25 each!) Put some Krazy Glue all over the rim of the top of the candle holder and stick it to the middle. Allow to dry and voila! (Since we were doing a Beatles themed party, DaHubby printed out some stickers from his computer to cover over the original label on the record.)
4. Adorn with goodies! We obviously did yellow submarines out of twinkles, but they will hold just about anything.

Tip: These are not that sturdy, so choose things that you can balance or buy wide candle holders.
Also, don't be crazy and do this to your real record collection!

Total cost: $5 for 4 stands!!!

More Beatles Bday Party details coming soon...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sweet Curious George Birthday Party

My friend Kristin just threw the most adorable Curious George party for her little girl's 1st birthday!

We were so excited to attend since she is my little guy's bff. I will let the pictures do most of the talking, but I picked up a lot of great ideas from her brilliant decorations! Tables were topped with stuffed Georges as well as books checked out of the library. Can you say "free"? Amen.

All the snacks were laid out so thoughtfully and so baby-friendly!

Those are just disposable shot glasses from the Dollar Tree filled with yogurt melts, and Kristin printed custom labels for the tops of the fruit cups. Genius. Frugal. Spectacular. Stealing.

You have to love the yellow hat left behind by George's friend. It's just a sombrero from the Dollar Tree spray painted and adorned with kiddy puzzles!

The favors for the kiddy's were Curious George activity packs and books, bubbles, and socks. Many of the items just happened to pop up in Target the week beforehand. You have to love that! Favors for the adults were these perfect sugar cookies made by a friend of the family. They were delicious and such exquisite work!
I only wish I had a picture of the adorable yellow-hat-shaped smash cake that our friend Renee made, but alas, my arms were full of my own cupcake-hungry boy.

There you have it! Hope these pics inspire your next party!

Almost $400 in groceries for $118!!

Wow! I just had to share what I think is a great haul...

Total Value $370.88 for $135 Out of Pocket, Plus I Ended with $7 in Rewards & $10 Gift Card! True Cost = $118 which is a 68% savings on real, honest-to-goodness groceries!!

For those who don’t care to know the details, the abreviated list included a 6 month supply of paper towels, a 3 month supply of laundry detergent, 2 full size pizzas, 13 cans of soup, 3 boxes of cereal, 6 free 2-liters of soda, the most perfect pumpkin ever, and a bunch of other stuff we needed for this week and to build our stockpile!

For those who are curious to know how I did this, here’s what I bought and where....

CVS: (Value $88.73 , Out of Pocket $36.77, Gift Cards/Reward Earned $13 , Adjusted Total $23.77)

  • Transaction #1 (Total after using coupons and previously earned ECBs= $1.67, earned $4 new ECBs)

Buy 2 CoverGirl Blushes $4.99
Use $8.00/2 Covergirl Face Products, Limit 4 Like coupons per transaction from PG 10/2 (exp 10/31)
Pay $1.98, Receive $3.00 Extra Bucks
Final Price: $1.02 Moneymaker

Progresso Soup, 18.5-19 oz $1.66
Buy 4, Receive $1.00 Extra Bucks, Limit 1
Use $1.00/4 Progresso Soups any flavor from GM 10/2 (exp 11/26)
or $1.00/4 Progresso Soups any flavor from GM 9/11 (exp 11/5)
Pay $4.00, Receive $1.00 Extra Bucks
Final Price: $0.75 each when you buy 4

Gold Emblem Candy Corn, Autumn Mix, or Pumpkins, 8 oz $0.10
Limit 2

  • Transaction #2 (Total after tax and applying $4 ECBs fm Trans #1= $35.10, but earned $3 new ECBs plus a $10 Amex Gift Card)

Starbursts, Singles $0.50
Buy 4, Receive $1.00 Extra Buck, Limit 1
Use 2 B1G1 Free – Starbursts, Singles, CVS Coupon – (
Pay $1.00, Receive $1.00 Extra Buck
Final Price: Free when you buy 4

CVS Jumbo Pack Supreme Diapers or Training Pants, $6.99
Get $2 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use $4/2 coupon from the coupon machine last week, Pay $10, get $2 ECBs back

Buy 5 Scott Choose – A – Size Mega Rolls, 6 Pack $6.00
Use 5 $1.00/4 Scott Towels, 4 or more rolls from SS 9/11 (exp 10/23)
Pay $25.00, Receive $10.00 Gift Card
Final Price: $3.00 each when you buy 5

Albertsons (Value $138.10, OOP $50.85)

Coffee-Mate, 16 oz, Sale $2.00, bought 2, Used 2 $0.55/1 printable coupons, Final Price $1.45 each

La Victoria Sals 16oz & La Victoria Enchilada Sauce 28oz $1.50/each, bought 4 of each Used 4 $1/2 coupons fm 8/14 SS Final Price $1/each

Smart Ones, included in buy 10/save $5 promotion, $1.79 after discount, bought 10 Used $3/10 coupon fm 8/7 SS Final Price $1.49 each

2 Fiber Plus Cereals, included in buy 10/save $5 promotion, $2.29 after discount Used 2 $1/1 printable coupons Final Price $1.29 each

Campbells Select Harvest Soups, included in buy 10/save $5 promotion, $1.29 after dis bought 9, used 3 $1.00/3 printable coupons Final Price $0.95 each

Best Life Spread, $2.89 sale price Used $0.50 catalina coupon fm last visit Final Price $2.39

Dr Pepper 10, $1.69 sale price (they only had one, so that’s what I got) Used Free Coupon fm SS 10/9 Final Price Free!!

Idahoan Loaded Potatoes $1.69 Used Free coupon fm October All You Magazine Final Price Free!!

Maxwell House Coffee, $8.99 sale price (not a great price, but needed and got me free cereal!)

Honey Nut Cheerios- Free with Coffee purchase!

Starbucks canned coffee- $2 (very much needed since I couldn’t go home to brew the Maxwell house above)

Walgreens: (Value $24.11, Out of Pocket $11.38)

Now, here I got a little messed up because the Infant Care Booklet and November Booklet did not arrive in my Walgreens on time. Below are the deals you could do, but above is the total I actually paid. :(

Huggies Baby Wipes, Refill Pack, 184 to 216 ct $4.99, On Sale Starting 10/23
Use $0.50/1 Huggies Wipes, 64 ct+ from SS 10/23
And Use $2.00/1 Huggies Big Pack or Wipes, 184 ct or 216 ct from Walgreens Infant Care Booklet (4 digit code #5519)
Final Price: $2.49

DiGiorno Pizza, 12 in $5.00
When you buy 2
Use 2 $2.00/1 – Digiorno Pizza – (
And Use $1.00/2 DiGiorno Pizza, 12 in from Walgreens November Booklet
Final Price: $2.50 each when you buy 2/

Foods Co: (Value $40 at least , OOP $20.53)

I lost my receipt, so I can’t give you exactly how much I got on the produce, but my total above should be pretty accurate. The perfect pumpkin was my deal of the day!!!

Hass Avocados- $0.79/each (a staple for the baby)

Granny Smith Apples- $.49/lb

Italian Squash- $.78/lb

Yellow Onions- $.25/lb

Kroger Pancake Mix 32oz, or Syrup 24oz- $1.68, got 3 of each

Amazing Perfect Pumpkins- $2.98 each!!

Rite-Aid: (Value $45.56, OOP $2.91 after Up Rewards, earned $4 new Up Rewards)

Xtra Laundry Detergent or Nice ‘n Fluffy Softener $2.00
Buy 3, Receive $2.00 +Up Reward
Pay $6.00, Receive $2.00 +Up Reward
Final Price: $1.33 each when you buy 3

Always, Carefree, or Kotex Liners $1.00
Use 2 $0.50/1 Carefree product, any from SS 8/21
Or $1.00/2 – Carefree, 18-22ct – (
Final Price: 2 for FREE

Arm & Hammer Toothpaste, Orajel Toddler Toothpaste, Baby Tooth and Gum Cleaner $3.99
Buy 1, Receive $2.00 +Up Reward
$1.00/1 Orajel Kids MY WAY toothpaste from SS 10/26
Pay $2.99, Receive $2.00 +Up Reward
Final Price: $0.99

Can of Sliced Pineapple $1.79 (not a great deal, but I needed them and had Rewards to spend)

Cover Girl Eyeliner $5.99, Sale BOGO 50% off, Use $8/2 coupon fm PG 10/2= Free, so I picked up 4!! (I now have all the makeup I’ll need for 2012!!!

Save-Mart: (Value $29.68, OOP after tax and coupons $7.16)

Dr. Pepper Ten 2-liters, $1.49 each (on sale fm $1.99), bought 5, Used Free coupons fm SS 10/9 = Free for all 5!!!

Pillsbury Cake Mix, $0.88 with in store coupon, limit 4, bought 4= $3.52

Black Plums, $0.47/lb, bought 1.78 lbs= $0.84

Sunrype Fruit leather (just a little snack to pick me up after shopping). $1.00

Roma Tomatoes, $0.47/lb, bought 1.54 lbs= $0.72

Dollar Tree: (OOP after tax $4.70)

Diet Pepsi- $1 (much needed as this was my last stop)

Black Licorice- $1

Canned Vegetables, sale $0.79, bought 2 (not a great price, but I needed them)

Whipped Topping- $1

Now, if I had packed my own snacks and coffee, and gotten the discounts I was expecting at Walgreens, my savings would have been much higher. But! I am not striving to show you perfection, I aim only to encourage you to do the work to get your family all the things you need for less!

Check out for local grocery deals. You can even click and print a shopping list right from the site listing all the coupons you'll need to get the best prices! Happy Hunting!