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  • Reader poll: Do you give a birthday gift when you don’t attend the party?

    The boys have gotten to that age when it seems like there’s a birthday party nearly every weekend. In fact, this past weekend, we had to decline one invitation because we’d already committed to another party. Which got me thinking: Do you give a gift when you don’t attend the party?

    I’ve embedded a poll at the end of this post because I’m really curious what the general consensus is. (If you’re reading this in a feed aggregator or email, you’ll probably have to click through to the post to participate in the poll and view the results.) I’ll tell you what I’ve done until now, but I may change my practice when I see the poll results.

    Whether or not we attend the party, I always give a gift. The value of the gift depends largely on how close we are to the child and his or her family. But I’ve noticed that people who don’t attend often don’t bother with a gift, and I’m not offended. Which makes me think that perhaps I needn’t bother with a gift myself.

    So what do you think? If you are so inclined, after you vote in the poll, please leave a comment explaining your reasons. I can’t wait to hear what others think about this issue!

    Works for me: Photo cards for invitations and thank you notes

    Ever since our oldest was born, my husband and I have taken pride in, and enjoyed, creating the boys’ announcements and invitations ourselves. Usually he does the design and I do the execution. But we are both busier than ever, and lacking the time to do these projects.

    For our younger son’s birthday party last year, I ended up including Cars-themed invitations in my craft kit order from Oriental Trading Company. I printed out the pertinent info on large shipping labels like these,because I wasn’t going to hand write the same info over and over again.

    Historically, it’s still cost us over $20 per project, depending on how many announcements or invitations we’ve needed. So when I realized that I could order 4×8 photocard invitations for an upcoming birthday party for less than $20 including tax and shipping, I knew that was the way to go. I used a photo of our son in his firefighter costume, and the invitations turned out great. (Lest anyone think that’s my son, the picture is just a sample invitation from the Shutterfly site.)

    For thank you cards, my plan is to take a photo of our son holding each gift and order prints using credits I have for free prints. I can jot down a quick personal note using a marker, or have our son write on the back of the photo. It’ll be about as inexpensive as sending thank you notes can possibly be.

    Find more Works for Me Wednesday tips at Rocks in My Dryer. Starting next week, Works for Me Wednesday will be at We are THAT Family.

    Inexpensive Birthday "Cards"

    If your child’s school participates in the Scholastic book flyer sales, I highly recommend buying the 95-cent books that are frequently available. Sometimes the books aren’t that great, but sometimes they are quite good. I got a paperback version of the Chicken Little book pictured here for just 95-cents.

    The best thing about 95-cent books is that they make a great birthday “card.” Just write a message on the inside cover. Ninety-five cents is cheaper than almost any birthday card you can find in a store, and the book won’t be looked at and thrown away after the thank-you card is written.

    You can purchase the hardcover version of the Chicken Little book depicted at Amazon.comfor $4.00 (affiliate link). Or just keep an eye out for the deals in the flyers – they sometimes repeat!

    Make Cookie Monster Cupcakes

    A while back, I posted this picture and said they’d be great for a toddler birthday.


    Well, they were. I made them for Tyler’s birthday party and I wish I could say that they looked like this (insert picture here) but alas, I failed to take a single picture of the adorable cupcakes that I made. I am thinking of making just one more so that Tyler will have a picture in his keepsake box. I do what I can to take away his “shortchanged second child” ammunition, because really, he’s not.

    In meantime, I can at least tell you how to make these. You’ll need:

    Cupcakes (I used vanilla, but I think any flavor/color will work)
    Buttercream frosting
    White frosting (you could go with all white and skip the buttercream if you want)
    Blue sprinkles
    Chocolate chips
    Medium-size chocolate chip cookies, broken in half or thirds, or bite-size cookies

    1. Frost the top of the cupcake. (I made a buttercream frosting for this, but you could use your favorite canned frosting, no problem.)

    2. With a knife, cut a slit in the top of each cupcake, about one-third of the way from one side, to form the mouth.

    3. Cover the frosting with blue sprinkles.

    4. Put the white frosting in a bag fitted with a medium round or star tip (or simply do what I did and buy white frosting in a tube). Put two dollops of white frosting on the top of the cupcake opposite from the mouth.

    5. Push one chocolate chip into each dollop of white frosting, tip first, to complete the eyes.

    6. Insert a cookie piece into the mouth.

    Photo credit: princess_of_llyr

    Cute Kids Party Idea: Cookie Monster Cupcakes

    These Cookie Monster cupcakes would be a huge hit at a toddler party. If I have the time, I’d like to make them for the next birthday party but we’ll have to see about that. I think any kind of cupcake would be okay – yellow, chocolate or white. Then frost with a white frosting, cover with blue sprinkles, and add two small dollops of the same white frosting topped with chocolate chips or brown M&Ms for the eyes. Shove a bite size cookie into the “mouth” and you’re done!

    Via Super Punch.

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