Nora’s $40 Daniel Tiger Birthday Party

posted by Andrea | 12/3/2013

Nora's Daniel Tiger Birthday Party

Even though Nora’s 2nd birthday was over a week ago, we didn’t officially celebrate it with our families until this past weekend.

So this past Friday, instead of shopping the Black Friday sales, Dave and I hosted a little Daniel Tiger birthday party for our big two year old — and Nora even dressed like Daniel Tiger for the occasion!

Honestly, it was SUCH a simple party to put on. I spent almost no money (aside from the food) and only a couple hours preparing; but it still turned out pretty cute (at least in my opinion!)

In case you didn’t already know, Nora absolutely LOVES watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood — and honestly, I do too! Mr’s Roger’s Neighborhood was one of my all-time favorite shows growing up, and I’m thrilled Nora is also able to enjoy this family-friendly show.

daniel-tiger-logo

Nora definitely doesn’t catch everything, but it’s amazing how much she is learning from the show — things like sharing, trying new things, being OK with mom or dad leaving, and having patience while waiting.

Every lesson has a song that explains the general message — and those songs are catchy. I’ll often find myself singing them throughout the day, and then Nora pipes up saying something like, “Daniel Tiger need share toys. Nora need share toys too.”

Cute huh? And making my job as mom just a little bit easier :)

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Anyway, the party was a huge success — here are a few more details about the event (along with how I pulled of the entire party for less than $40.00!!)

GUEST LIST: (16 adults + 3 kids)

Dave, Me, Nora; Dave and my immediate family members, and my grandparents.

Growing up, Dave and I rarely ever had birthday parties with our friends or our parent’s friends. So at this point, Dave and I feel like it would just be too crazy to invite any or all of our friends, any of our extended relatives, or any of Nora’s friends to her party.

This decision made it super easy to simplify the party, keep costs down, and assure Nora didn’t end up with half the Toy’s R Us store as gifts :)

FOOD + DRINK + CAKE:

When I planned our party foods, I specifically tried to think of recipes that not only tasted great and paired well together, but recipes that could be made in advance.

I hate feeling rushed at the last minute with food prep, so I was glad that all of the food could be made in advance and just popped in the oven or pulled out of the fridge at the appropriate time.

Following suit with Nora’s 1st birthday party, we did provide a full meal for our birthday guests. However, I’m sure we won’t continue this tradition indefinitely.

Right now, our immediate families are relatively small, so it’s not a huge deal to whip up a simple meal to satisfy our guests. But as our numbers grow, I’m perfectly OK with scaling back to just cake and ice-cream.

And speaking of cake, I made the cake. It definitely looked homemade, but Nora thought her “brown Daniel Tiger Cake” (as she called it) was fabulous!

Also, although I have no issue with serving alcohol, I just don’t think it’s necessary at a 2 year old’s birthday party — and it’s another great way to stick to a tight budget.

Finally, I also chose food that would be easy to serve, easy to eat, and not super messy. Nothing needs to be cut, everything can be eaten with a fork, and besides the meatballs, nothing spilled would be too much of a challenge to clean up.

Total Food Costs: $35 – I only spent about $20 on food last year, but the pre-made meatballs were worth the extra cost based on how much time they saved me.

DECORATIONS:

I found some red and blue paper products at the dollar store (Daniel Tiger colors but WAY cheaper than actual Daniel Tiger products).

I used a diaper box and craft supplies I already had on hand to make a cute little Daniel Tiger Trolley (instructions here).

I also used some extra wrapping paper and these free printouts to makes some colorful Daniel Tiger pinwheels to hang above the food.

I’m not a huge party decorator — mainly because I don’t think the kids care, and the cost can REALLY add up. Yes, the decorations do make the photos look nicer, but a few colorful touches will have to be good enough for the Dekker kids :)

Total Decorations Cost: $5 – just the cake plates and napkins.

PARTY FAVORS:

I don’t do them. Period.

Again, I have nothing against party favors, but I definitely don’t think our parents need to get a “prize” for coming to their granddaughter’s birthday party.

Total Party Favors Cost: $0

GIFTS:

As some of you probably saw, we gave Nora a homemade play kitchen for her birthday gift. I did not include this in the price of the party (it was $98.50 in case you’re wondering!) since it was a totally separate project and all our future kids will use it for many years to come.

We did give her a Melissa and Doug tool box so she had one gift to unwrap on the day of her birthday, but I waited for it to go on sale via Amazon.com and I used gift cards from Swagbucks to purchase it — so it was free!

We didn’t give her any gifts to unwrap at her actual party since we figured she would have enough to unwrap from family (yes, both grandparents totally spoiled her!)

The picture below is a little blurry, but aren’t her new oven mitts and apron cute!!

Here’s a look at EVERYTHING she amassed for her 2nd birthday!

birthday gifts

Total Gifts Cost: $0

Grand Total = $40 or less

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While I have NOTHING against more elaborate kid’s parties, I personally don’t think they are necessary for our kids (sorry Nora and future children.)

I feel like both of Nora’s parties were cute, age-appropriate, fun for everyone present, and completely sufficient for a 1 and 2 year old.

I had fun planning some of the Daniel Tiger details — and I had even more fun doing it on my self-imposed budget :)

Oh, and in case you want more Daniel Tiger action, I’ll be participating in a Daniel Tiger Twitter Party tomorrow (12/4/13) at 12:oopm EST.

This Twitter party is all about Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and the new line of Daniel Tiger toys available at Toys “R” Us! Join in to remember our favorite Mister Rogers’ episodes, songs and sayings —  as well as discuss the brilliance of the PBS hit, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. There will be giveaways :)

Happy 2nd Birthday Nora!

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28 comments

  1. Leanne

    12/03/2013

    we love Daniel Tiger… shh…don’t tell….my almost 9 year old occasionally watches it, too… if it were up to me, the only TV available would be PBS :-) such great character shows without all the back talk of Disney!

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  2. Jen

    12/03/2013

    TOTALLY agree about the birthday parties! When our kids were young, I laid out the rules: a friend party at age 5, a sleepover at age 10, a sweet 16 party, and a high school graduation party. That was it! Everyone got the same thing and no one felt slighted or like they missed out. We’ve never lived near family so we didn’t even have to worry about yearly celebrations! And, my kids are now 21, 18, 16, and 14 and, believe it or not, they have ALL SURVIVED just fine without Chuck E Cheese, paintball, and fancy gala parties! It’s a birthday miracle! wink wink

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    Lori Reply:

    Love this idea!

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  3. Jen

    12/03/2013

    And one more thing: as a parent whose children get invited to ALL those fancy schmancy yearly parties, can I just say that I HATE having to buy all those gifts for other people’s children every year? It gets expensive to pay for someone else’s kids to have the “birthday of a lifetime” EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.!!!

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    MrsD Reply:

    Jen,
    I LOVE the 5,10, 16, graduation party idea!! We are definitely going to do that here now! Brilliant! Kids are SPOILED beyond belief these days. We have friends who throw HUGE over the top parties every year for their kids’ birthdays….and the kids expect it too. I can’t (won’t is more like it) afford that nonsense.

    I like Andrea’s approach….having a FUN HAPPY Birthday without going crazy!

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  4. Katy

    12/03/2013

    I totally agree that simpler is better with children’s birthday parties, especially when they are so young. The only time I splurged on a party was my oldest daughter’s 9th birthday. I was due with our third child one week after her birthday, so to make her feel special before the new baby, we took my daughter and three friends to a local salon and they got manicures and a hairstyle. It cost more than we would normally spend, but it made her feel so special…but since we are done having kids, I don’t think we’ll have any more expensive parties ;) Looks like Nora had an awesome time at her party!

    I also always buy plain colored plates/napkins that match the theme at the Dollar Store, so much cheaper than character plates and still cute

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  5. Julie

    12/03/2013

    I also feel party favors are unnecessary. It took a bit to convince my husband, but he is finally on board with me. I also feel that family is more than sufficient for a party. Growing up we only ever had Grandparents and occasionally some Aunts and Uncles. Maybe when they are teens will we have a friends birthday party. We usually have a full meal and family brings appetizers…(this is how it works for our family when anyone has a party) as many are coming from a distance away and usually end up staying for several hours. Enjoyed the pictures!! Great job on everything!

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  6. Jen

    12/03/2013

    “…and Nora even dressed like Daniel Tiger for the occasion!”

    …but with pants! My favorite is the one where Dad Tiger makes Daniel put a coat on over his sweater because it’s cold outside…but still, no pants. lol

    We love DTN, too. My ten year-old watches it with my toddler and they both love the songs. I find myself singing them around the house, too.

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  7. Tragic Sandwich

    12/03/2013

    For Baguette’s first and second birthdays, we invited family and had a cookout, plus birthday cake. No decor, no gift bags. We figured she didn’t know what a birthday was. For her third, we invited some of her friends and their parents and hosted it at our house. It definitely cost more than $40, but it was much less than the indoor playground rentals that other people have done (those are fun parties, too, but we didn’t think it was the best fit for us or Baguette this year).

    The only decor was one “Happy Birthday” banner that we added streamers to (we can use the banner again for future parties), and we bought a bakery cake because we didn’t have time to make one. The food was pizza for the kids and pulled pork sandwiches (with vegetarian alternatives) for the adults. And everyone had a great time! It looks like the same was true for Nora’s big day, and isn’t that the real point?

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  8. Kristin

    12/03/2013

    What an adorable and totally appropriate birthday party. We had 1 huge blowout of a party for my daughter when she turned 4 and a much smaller scale classmate party when she turned 6. We’ll do a big party for my son when he turns 4 next year and maybe the small classmate party as well, but then that’s going to be it. I have no problem with a sleepover birthday party, but these big blowouts that everyone does every year is staring to grate on my nerves. I had one or two parties growing up and that was enough for me.

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  9. Ashton

    12/03/2013

    SOOO cute!! We love Daniel Tiger… I will be singing “won’t you ride along with me…” all day at my desk now :) lol

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  10. Sarah

    12/03/2013

    Any idea where the apron/oven mits came from? They are super cute!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Sarah, They were custom made (per my request) by Dave’s mom :) I gave her the extra fabric from the sink skirt and window valance I made for the kitchen — so it’s a nice matching set right now. She made pot holders and towels too :)

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  11. Maria

    12/03/2013

    Since my daughter was/is an only child, we had major blowouts for her birthdays. We spent way too much money every year starting at 3 years old. Looking back it was such a waste of money; big BBQs, jump houses, piñatas, party favors, decorations, custom cakes, etc., etc. We were over compensating because she was our only child, and the only girl in the entire extended family, all of her cousins are boys. My daughter is 16 now and barely remembers the parties. We should have put that money into her college account and just had cake and ice cream with family.
    At 16 my daughter is happy sharing her small family party with her boy cousin who is 15 (their birthdays are a week apart). Two small homemade cakes, a few $5 pizzas, punch and ice cream. Cheap and simple for both me and my sister.

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  12. Linda M

    12/03/2013

    As a grandmother, I may be out of the loop….but I applaud your common sense about parties. The party you hosted and gave for Nora was perfect in my book. You are giving her a very loving gathering with many treats…..but not a blow-out. The people that will be the closest to her the rest of her life were there. I see so many “gotta out do the other guy” parties and it also puts a strain on the other family’s budgets to get gifts for all the parties they are invited to. You have struck a very nice balance it seems. As I said….Way To Go….Beautiful Party for a beautiful little girl!!!

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  13. Sheri

    12/03/2013

    I rarely comment although I read you daily but had to pop on and tell you how much Nora looks like you in the picture with her fridge in the background. The one that says Nora’s Kitchen. She is the spit and image of you!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for being a loyal reader Sheri — and yes, Nora DOES look a lot like me :)

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  14. Kathy

    12/03/2013

    You simply amaze me and I think the party is cute and age appropriate although in Australia I have never heard of the show. My son turned 10 last week and he has had one birthday party at a skating ring where there are 10 kids at $15 a head plus party favours. It all does add up. My daughter could invite 3 friends to skating so while we were celebrating her birthday and I paid for the little kids to attend we didn’t have the party package.

    The birthday week seems to go on forever as on the day we celebrate, then have a family (my immediate family) gathering and then he had 2 friends to Ramp Attack (which is an indoor scooter centre). I know kids that have a huge birthday party every year and my son went to one last Sunday and there was 20 kids and I know it would be at least $20 a head plus they ordered pizza’s in to feed the kids and party bags so you are looking at over $500. On top of that you have to buy your child a present anyway and then have family around and feed them. I try to keep mine small but I know it does add up so for you to do that party for $40 is amazing and even last year’s as well I remember thinking WOW.

    When my kids were little 2, 3 etc. we just had a family BBQ and I made a cake….no decorations but still feeding 10 or so mostly adults does get costly. Will have to revisit your blog posts next February when my daughter turns 8. Great job and it looks like Nora was so excited by it all and my favourite bit is the homemade kitchen she got for her birthday…..that totally rocks. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  15. Yrma

    12/03/2013

    Hi Andrea,

    Happy Belated Birthday Nora!…. You are absolutely right about gifts and parties, kids only care
    about the attention they are getting from every one involved, decorations, gifts and everything else is besides the point…. Cake is fun though :)

    By the way on the 4th picture down the one of Nora with the back pack, she looks so much like you.

    My kids are older now and because I never made much of a fuss when they were little, they appreciate so much more the time we all spend together and birthdays are always special with
    cake.

    Yrma, Ohio

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Yrma — and yes, Nora does look a lot like me :)

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  16. Amanda

    12/03/2013

    We have those same letters that Nora has in her kitchen. They live on our dishwasher and keep my almost 2yr old (first week of Jan) busy while I’m cooking breakfast/lunch.

    I’m with you on keeping it simple. Last year, the only decorations I had were a few balloons, and I made the dinner plates match the theme (sock monkeys), and everything else was red/beige to match that. I spent slightly more on food, but we have a slightly bigger immediate family (total we have 5 siblings 3 niece/nephews, plus our parents and grandparents), and we also invited our best friends (married to each other w/ 3 kids), because we see them like siblings and their kids like our niece/nephews. I did a taco bar, and had salad so that the vegetarian in our midst could build a meal as well, plus coffee and punch. My best friend is a baker, so she threw in his smash cake at no cost and gave me the “family” discount on the cake (she did it at cost). But I did a party for 25 for under $100. Which was fine for me.

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  17. Amy O

    12/04/2013

    I recently did a spur-of-the-moment 90th party for my husband’s grandmother. I just did a grocery store bakery cake and ice cream. We bought decorations and paper plates and cups and a few mylar balloons at the Dollar Tree. I even got her a tiara at the dollar store which she wore throughout the party. I served a few other treats (fruit, potato chips) and soft drinks. It came out to around $45. Of course it was just cake and ice cream and snacks (not a full meal) but I served about 20 people and it was so much fun.

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    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like an awesome party Amy — I’m sure she loved it!

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  18. Katie

    12/05/2013

    This whole party is SO CUTE! I get a kick out of watching Daniel Tiger with Linc whenever we happen to catch it. How fun that our kiddos get to enjoy the same neighborhood we grew up with :) You are one creative mama. Thanks for sharing all of the details! (PS: We will eventually get that red zip-up to you!)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Katie — and no rush on the red zip-up :)

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  19. Kalynn

    02/18/2014

    I love your Daniel Tiger party! I will be having a simple one for my daughter next month as well. I love your wrapping paper pinwheels with the print outs, but I was wondering if you wouldn’t kind sharing how you made those? Thanks You did a great job!

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  20. Amanda

    06/18/2014

    Free Daniel Tiger Cupcake Toppers
    http://novelconceptdesigns.com/collections/freebies/products/free-daniel-tigers-neighborhood-birthday-cupcake-topper-party-favor

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Amanda!

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