I thought I would share a few creative & super cheap ideas with you.

First, I have to tell you today is my wonderful first-born’s 13th birthday, and my inspiration for starting a business. I am shocked at how fast 13 years have flown by. Wasn’t I just dressing him up for Easter & helping him find Easter eggs, and throwing super cute little boy birthday parties. No more Sesame Street, zoo or pirate birthday parties.

Ok-back to fun ideas…I try to do simple but neat things to make my kids’ birthdays special. This year, I bought several rolls of super cheap crepe paper- 50 cents a roll – in uour desired colors. I do a variety of colors, but you could just do blue & lime green or pink & purple. I decide on where I want the streamers to hang, then tear to desired lengths, and tape to the top of the door frame. I do a couple of layers-one on the very front of the door frame, and one on behind it-so it has a layered effect. I do it on the honoree’s bedroom door & the bathroom. If I could reach some of our other door ways I would do it there. Super fun, cheap & starts the celebration right away.

Something else I have done since the kids were 3 years old. I use star-shaped Post-It notes and write special notes on several. Then I stick them in various spots in the house for them to find. When they were young the stars were out in plain sight. As they got older, I the search became more challenging. Examples of hiding spots: on the milk or juice carton, under their dining chair, on the toothpaste, on the ceiling fan, in their lunch box, on the inside of the front door up high. All kinds of great places. My kids look forward to this tradition of “star hunting” every year, wake up & start searching immediately.

This year, with Connor starting a whole new stage (aka-the teenage years), I wanted to change it up a bit. I also wanted to do something extra special. I took birthday scrapbooking cardstock paper & used a cupcake die cut to make super cute cupcakes. Then I die cut letters for Happy Birthday Connor & taped them on to the cupcake. He then had to guess what phrase he was putting together-which didn’t take a genius to figure out (this time). Once the search is complete, you can take the cupcakes & make a banner to hang or attach to your wall. I am going to use a piece of my plastic sign board, tape up the cupcakes & then use those great removable 3M hooks to hang the sign board on our wall in our dining area.

You could put any message on the cupcake. Typically I write their birthday year lots of times, I love you, you rock, eat cake, and various other things.

I can’t say how much my kids love this tradition I have started (without meaning to). I was just looking for a way to do little special tidbits that were free or practically free. They ask me every year if I’m going to “do the stars again.”

Another small thing is I have a little birthday plate and I put a cupcake or muffin on it-just for the birthday boy. We put a candle in it & sing happy birthday. I try to buy some birthday Item to re-use each year. My little cupcake plate was $2.49 at Kroger. Of course, when we have cake we will use paper birthday plates. Even though any plate functions, it’s those little special details that make even greater memories.

One of the best visual impacts and inexpensive things you can do is decorate with mylar balloons. Don’t use latex. They just don’t last long enough. Iyou can buy the mylars at your local dollar or discount store and at party stores. I put out 13 balloons (since he is turning 13). I place them individually in lots of places around the house. Right outside the bedroom, going down the stairs, on his dining chair, by the sofa, on the piano, attached to Easter decorations, etc. 13 balloons makes it look like there is a lot of celebrating going on. But if you get the balloons at a dollar store, that is only $13 and has way more impact.

Also, I buy a generic Happy Birthday banner to hang on our window by our dining table, and re-use it with every birthday. $3.49 goes a long way. Custom handmade banners are really popular right now. Some people cut out pennant flag shapes from collrful paper or fabric, and tie it on to tulle or other ribbon. There are tons of photos & how-to’s online. I’m sure Pinterest has a lot! You can buy them on Etsy I bet.

Most years my boys want a store-bought pretty cake. My cakes are not so pretty, although I do my darndest to make them as nice as possible. But I asked Connor what he really wanted, and he sat down (without me suggesting it) and drew out his desired design with colored markers. Pretty amazing actually that he could just whip that out. Anyway, I did ask what flavor cake he wanted, which happens to be strawberry this year. So today is cake making day!

This year, Connor also requested a specific yard display. Some previous years, he didn’t really care about having a yard display. But it’s what I do!! YOU WILL HAVE A YARD DISPLAY!! So when he said this a few months back, I was surprised. But he mentions it every time I rent out that display. It is my “Beware! Teenager Inside” display. The kids & parents both just love it, so I was thrilled my own son, the inspiration for my business, actually really wanted this fun yard display! I think it’s a great way to start off the birthday.

These are definitely “creative ideas on the cheap.” Of course, there’s plenty more you can do with a bigger budget. But even those these are inexpensive ideas, they really do pack a punch & make the honoree feel super special. It’s all about making those wonderful memories!!

Oh yes, one more important tip: Don’t forget to take lots of photos!! Cell phone cameras take pretty amazing pictures these days. Start snapping photos of everything that is making the birthday special. You’ll be so glad to have those pictures later. This is the #1 regret I hear after a celebration – “I wish I had taken pictures of…..”

If you have an idea to share, please do!! We learn lots from our clients and readers!!

Happy 13th Birthday to my sweet son Connor, and to the birth of being a mommy entrepreneur!!!

Chris Ann