We treated Zack to two birthday parties this year, one for "the guys" and one for the family, and managed to do so without busting the budget. Saturday's party we hosted a total of nine boys counting our own. We made the mistake of ordering 3 pizzas when two would have been fine, we made Kool-Aid, I baked cupcakes, made a fruit salad, and got a bag each of cheesy poofs and pretzels---I estimate we spent a total of $40 on food, but without that extra pizza would have done the whole thing for $30.
We lucked out for entertainment...no rain on this day! Just pulled out the slippy slide, the blow up pool and various sports equipment. If we had been indoors I had a few sketchy ideas for party games, and probably would have, much to my husband's chagrin, picked up a pack of canvases to let them paint. As it was it was a pretty perfect day.
Basically we've learned to properly estimate our food needs. We used to buy twice as much as we needed, and seldom planned ahead of time. This time around I started buying non perishable things on sale as early as a month in advance. The overall effect was that these two parties kept us well within our normal food budget.
Sunday was our family party. Since my parents are gone, I feel it important to gather my siblings and our aunt to me frequently. And of course their Oma and Godparents and Uncle love to see them too. We did a barbecue, and as I mentioned I actually spread the cost out over the last month or so, catching the sales. The menu was burgers and dogs, potato salad from scratch, baked beans, chips, and Koolaid and Iced Tea to drink. I estimate that my total cost to feed about 20 people was $60.
I include this picture to keep it real---the cake I baked broke overnight, so we decided to call it an "Avalanche Cake." For me the trick to entertaining is to embrace the little accidents and imperfections along the way.