Today, S9 became S10.

For this milestone birthday, I decided to give her the chance to plan her own party.  About a month ago, I gave her her birthday present from her parents: a $100 budget and free rein to plan whatever kind of party she wished.

Dear S:

Congratulations on your upcoming 10th birthday! In anticipation of this auspicious event, you are hereby charged with the task of planning an appropriate celebration. The party will be Friday, April 25, from 11AM til 2pm.

Planning a party is not hard, but it does require a lot of attention to detail. To help you out, I am writing down all of the things you will need to consider to make your party GREAT.

For your party, you will have a budget of $100. Dad and I will cover that amount. Any additional costs will be covered by you. This must include the food, drinks, decorations, party favors, invitations and thank-you notes, and any other expenses you may have.

In addition to your $100 budget, you may also have [reasonable] use of the house, including the kitchen and basement and/or outdoor space. You may use any dishes, serving ware, utensils, cups, etc., that we have, (with only a few exceptions, like my fancy wine glasses!). You will be responsible for cleaning before and after the party. You may ask for help, but you need to identify what needs done and ask for assistance.

You may use any pantry ingredients free of charge. For example, flour, sugar, butter & eggs for a cake do not have to be added in to your costs since we normally have those items on hand. However, if you decide to make a crazyberry cake, crazyberries are not normal pantry items and would have to be accounted for in your budget.

While pantry ingredients do not need to be accounted for in your budget, you DO need to make a list of ALL ingredients (including things like butter, eggs, sugar, etc) and make sure we have enough on hand to make the recipes you decide on. This should be done at least a week before the party to make sure we have time to get everything.

I will be happy to bake or prepare anything for your party, or help you with any recipes you want to try on your own. However, you need to decide on the complete menu, and make sure we add any ingredients to the shopping list the week before your party. You will need to account for any food allergies guests may have. You also need to ask me what things you want to prepare for you (or help you prepare). I am available to answer any questions you may have, of course.

You must allow 50 cents per guest for postage to mail thank you cards after the party. So, if you have 10 guests, how much money do you have to set aside for stamps? $_____________ The number of guests also affects how many party favors you need, how much food, etc. Keep this in mind when you’re making the guest list.

On the next page, I have made an outline for how I like to plan a party. You can use my outline, or make up your own. Keep in mind that you will need to consider all of the things on my outline, but you can do them any way you like.


  •  Food. Your party is from 11AM – 2 PM. Since that goes over the lunch hour, you need to provide food for your guests. (You do not need to account for any parents who might stay.) What do you want to serve? You will need to include all the food costs in your budget. Don’t forget drinks! (Remember, you do not need to include regular pantry ingredients, so it may be cheapest to make things at home.) In the space below, make a list of foods you want to serve on the left. We’ll take this to the grocery store and get prices this week to help fill in the budget. Food is usually your biggest expense in planning a party, but that’s because it’s very important. People like to eat!
  • Party Favors. Especially for a birthday party, when guests bring you a gift, you should give everyone something small to help them remember your event (and as a way of saying thank you!) It does not have to be expensive or flashy; in fact, the best favors are simple and tasteful. It can be something you make, or a combination of a purchased thing with a handmade thing. In years past, we have given hand-sewn tote bags, packets of seeds, a pretty flower, a bit of good-quality chocolate, a nice notebook, or a craft that we did together as a party favor. You probably won’t know what sort of favor you want to give out yet. It might be something you come across while shopping for the party, or an idea you see online. (One place to look for ideas is Pinterest.com- LOTS of party favor ideas there!) But jot down a few ideas, and then be open to considering something else as your party planning takes shape.
  •   Entertainment. You don’t necessarily have to spend money on the entertainment, but you should have an idea of what you and your guests are going to do. It can be as simple as a playdate. But if you want to do something like a craft or other activity, you’ll need to make sure we have the supplies, and account for any special entertainment purchases in your budget. If you want to buy Frozen and watch it during the party, remember to include the price of the movie when you’re budgeting. You do not need to budget for anything we already have, like toys or craft supplies. Check with me if you want to know what’s here or if you have any questions.
  •  Miscellaneous Expenses. This is where you can get into trouble if you don’t think of things ahead of time. How are you going to invite your friends? The invitations can be mailed, emailed (though they might not get them – think about how often you check YOUR email!), hand delivered, or done via telephone/email. You MUST MAIL a thank-you card to each guest (or family), however. Also, don’t forget things like drinks, decorations, or other details that might involve a trip to the store.


She planned every detail, as outlined in the project: food, entertainment, guest list, invitations and thank you notes.  She helped prepare the food, and decorated the cakes herself.  It worked out very well and she seemed to really enjoy the process.  She came in right under budget, with about $3.75 to spare. Most importantly: the party was a great success!



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