My daughter turned 6 on May 18, 2019, and thankfully it was on a sunny weekend! She wanted a unique party theme- A Vampirina themed picnic birthday party.
First off- It’s May, so the weather is 70 degrees, sunny and flowers blooming everywhere while birds chirp overhead and try to eat the garden sprouts popping up. So a picnic themed party isn’t out of the ordinary.
But she wanted a Vampirina themed picnic birthday party. Ghosts, bats, vampire, gargoyles, and monsters are not typically found in store this time of year. So this was a challenge.
To tackle this unique party themed challenge, I divided the party into two categories.
Picnic …and Vampirina.
The Picnic party venue
Choosing a budget-friendly party venue was easy. I selected a nearby park with kid toys and a field. This gave the kids free entertainment to play with and enough room to move around and burn up energy.
The Vampirina themed party invites were free
The invites were made by me on Canva. A website for free graphic designs.
Using Google, I was able to find a cute picture of Vampirina with a transparent background. I uploaded it to Canva and added words and colorful bats to make the card look great.
When I was finally satisfied with my work, I saved it as a JPEG file to my computer and printed off about 10 copies. Cut and handed to my daughter to pass out at school the next day.
Family members were invited via Facebook Event Invites
This made it so that I was able to list my daughters Amazon gift wish list and give more details on what presents would be a good fit for her.
We have a lot of long-distance relatives, so this helps them feel apart of her big day.
Picnic party food ideas
Our menu evolved somewhat during the brainstorming phase.
I had originally wanted to do brown bag sack lunches. This would have included a sandwich in every bag but would have been meat and cheese to prevent peanut allergens from being exposed to the park’s play area.
The cost of lunch meat made me realize this would not be a frugal food option, so I then shifted to what my daughter had requested. Hot Dogs.
After that, the menu was easy to come up with.
We would have hot dogs, individual drinks, a bag of chips and a cookie all served in a brown bag.
Why I chose to brown bag the lunches
One of the best tips to cut costs on a party is to first look around your house and see what you can repurpose. I share this tip in my winter themed baby shower post where I told you how to cut costs and do it for under $100.
Since we already had hundreds of brown paper bags here at the house, I felt it was a great way to cut down costs and be eco-friendly.
By removing the hassle of paper plates, I now had less to buy, less to carry to the party, less to clean up after and less trash to dispose of.
Plus party guests could carry their uneaten food away with them, preventing food waste. As someone who runs a tight grocery budget in my household, I always look for ways to prevent food waste. Wasted food is wasted money.
If you don’t have brown paper bags at home, you can find them in 20ct from Dollar Tree for $1, or Amazon has them for fairly cheap as well.
But what about the birthday cake?
That would require paper plates, utensils, a serving knife, and candles right?
A cake is often had at birthday parties, but since this was a picnic and all of the other foods were utensil-free, I didn’t want to bother with cutting a cake.
Cupcakes are great, but the wrappers are messy. This means more trash to throw away.
So I chose to go with a fun alternative and do cupcakes inside ice cream cones! This did mean that I had to spend a few dollars more, but I justified it with the savings I made from not serving sandwiches for lunch.
I realized that transportation could be an issue, so I used a disposable aluminum lasagna pan. By flipping it upside down and cutting holes in the bottom, I was able to keep the cupcakes standing upright. I used a cookie sheet underneath to keep it extra sturdy.
Our cost breakdown for what we spent on the party food.
Our local grocery store had 24 count packages of turkey hot dogs on sale for $3.99. We bought 2 so that there was more than enough for everybody. In all honesty, we only needed 1.
Buns were bought from our bread bakery outlet store for $1 each. This is about the same price as everywhere else, if not a few cents more expensive. But every 10 purchased items at the outlet store gets you a freebie off the shelf and a hole punch in your card to redeem for more freebies. So in the long run, it saved us money to shop there.
Using these cheap hot dog holders from Amazon, we were able to hold the dogs and buns together inside the brown bags.
I had thought about buying a bulk box of assorted condiments and placing inside each bag, but the price tag was outrageous and blew my entire budget.
So instead, I bought ketchup, mustard, and relish container from my local Dollar Tree and set them up on the table with the cupcakes. I estimated that this saved me at least $20.
The rest of the bagged picnic food:
For individual drinks, we bought some boxes of Capri Sun. It’s not something I normally buy, because they are much more expensive than other juice options. But it was on sale 2 for $5 at my store.
Party Tip- If you get two cheap pitchers with lids, you could serve kool-aid to cut down on costs, but will then need to find drink cups for everyone. (Still cheaper than individual juices though!)
We got lucky with finding some vampire candy leftover from Halloween for $0.99 a bag (10 candies per bag.) Bought two of those to toss into the lunches too.
Small serving bags of assorted chips were $5.99 for an 18 count box.
Cookies. I took the easy route and bought a package of 18 count chocolate chip cookies from the bakery section of our grocery store. I made these individually wrapped in plastic wrap and placed 1 in each bag too.
The ice cream cone cupcakes:
Ice cream cone cupcakes are a treasured part of my own childhood. My mother used to make them for my classroom parties. Well, that and/or her almond bark popcorn. Kids were always going wild for these so I’m glad I can continue the tradition with my own children.
Making them is as simple as making normal cupcakes, the only real difference being that they are done inside an ice cream cone.
I bought two boxes of ice cream cones, 1 box of cake mix and 1 can of vanilla flavored Pillsbury frosting.
The ice cream cone cupcakes were made even cooler by using a reusable piping bag and star tip from a $2.97 Walmart kit. I later found out that my local Dollar Tree carries one similar!
I took some gel food coloring that I already had in the pantry, and dipped a butter knife in it, and made stripes inside of the piping bag before filling with white frosting.
This gave a really cool striped look when I piped out the frosting and helped them match the color scheme I was going for.
Our food cost breakdown:
Our food for the party was the most expensive part of this Vampirina themed picnic party.
- Hot Dogs $7.98
- Buns $3.75
- Hot dog wrappers $6.58
- Capri Sun $5
- Vampire candy $1.98
- Frosting $0.99
- Cake Mix $0.50
- Reusable frosting bag and tips $2.97
- Ice cream cones $2.58
- Assorted chip bags $5.99
- Condiments $3
- Cookies $3.99
Total spent on food $45.31
The rest of the party cost us $26.14. Bringing our total party costs to just under $71.45.
What else did we buy for this party?
Well, now that the picnic portion of the party was done, it was time to add in the character themed portion I had promised. My daughter wants this to be a Vampirina themed party, so we need to add in some key elements to make this party work.
*Hint– Pay attention to these tips, you can use them for any budget-friendly character party!
How I decorated this picnic to match the Vampirina themed birthday party my daughter requested.
I picked a color scheme that I felt worked great with the Vampirina character. Purple, teal blue, pink and black. This was the base for all of my decorating purchases.
Decor that cleans up after itself
I bought 2 15ct bags of latex balloons in the desired color scheme and a 50ct pack of balloon sticks from Amazon. Alternatively, I could have just bought a 20ct for $2 from Walmart (but I didn’t know these until after I bought from Amazon.)
These were now decor pieces as well as the party favors.
Saving me money and the need to clean up afterward. This is just one of my many tips to cut costs on parties. By opting for the $6 balloon sticks, I didn’t need to buy a $30 helium tank.
I can reuse the sticks and balloons for other parties in the future as well. Plus, I don’t have to figure out how to store, transport or dispose of an empty helium tank.
But I needed actual Vampirina characters represented somewhere at this party right?
That’s where I impressed myself.
I bought this 100ct pack of printable address labels. They are full sheet size, which is awesome and means that I could make a lot of stickers in various sizes.
By making my own printable stickers at home I cut costs.
I looked up Vampirina images that I thought would be cute. Designed them on Canva, printed them out and cut by hand. Alternatively, you could use the Microsoft paint program, but my Chromebook doesn’t offer this free program.
Things I made with the stickers:
- Capri Sun Covers- customized to the party theme
- Small circle stickers for the cookies, holding down the plastic wrap on the back.
- Stickers for the lunch bags
Another inexpensive way I added Vampirina to the picnic birthday party
My daughter was Vampirina for Halloween last year, so we got our monies worth out of her costume by letting her wear it at the party too. Minus the blue skin paint, of course.
The last of the Party decor was bought at Walmart
I already mentioned the piping bag and frosting tips, including them in the food budget. But what I didn’t mention yet was that we bought 2 packs of cocktail sized napkins, 3 packs of balloons, and a cheap round table cover (which we didn’t use.) 2 napkins were placed inside each of the lunch bags.
Activities for the birthday party were easy
Since I planned the party at a park with play toys and a field, I didn’t have to do much for activities. These kids will come up with their own creative games to play.
Just to be sure that the entertainment wasn’t lacking, we brought some bubbles they could play with as well. Kids love bubbles. I waited too long and forgot to buy the bubble play machine that I had wanted, so instead, we had to blow them the old fashioned way. But we brought homemade bubble mix!
We also brought along frisbees and balls that we already owned. This gave even more frugal activities for the kids to enjoy. The kids really loved this picnic style birthday party, and had a lot of fun together!
I hope this helped you to find some great and unique ideas for your next birthday party or picnic!
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