birthday on a budget

Birthday on a budget – Mr Man themed ideas

birthday on a budget

If you missed part 1 of my “Birthday on a budget” series then read it here.  It contains all the principles that you need to plan a cheap but amazing party.  In this post I am going to be talking about the ideas I have put together for my eldest sons Mr Man themed party.

party bags

So every kids loves a party bag, and I love to give unique things to people too.  So instead of traditional party bags with rubbishy plastic toys in them that noone plays with, I have ordered every child a Mr Man book.  Now this sounds expensive doesn’t it?!  But by going via ebay I managed to get a job lot of 10 Mr Man books for only £4.  I am going to use some Mr Man party bags which cost about £2 for 8 via ebay.  Add a few maoam and a slice of cake and its sorted!


As we already have most of the Mr Man library collection, I thought I might use them to decorate the room rather than having to buy new costly decoration that will just get thrown out.  I am going to hang string from the corners and then put the Mr Man books over the string (much like people do with christmas cards in December).

birthday cake

I love to make my own, but sometimes buying everything to decorate it can cost just as much as buying one!  I am going simple again and make a Mr Bump cake.  It can be round (I already have round cake tins so thats easy!) and I only need two icing colours – blue and white.  Then I can use a black icing pen for the details.

party games

I am going to stick with some of the classics and just add a Mr Man theme to them.  For pass the parcel I bought some Mr Man stickers in the sale after christmas so those will be the prizes in the middle (not sure I will put sweets in all the layers because I’m stingy!!).  I am going to make my own “pin the nose on Mr Nosey” game with some old wall paper I have stashed away.  Who can resist the very cheap games of musical statues and musical chairs?  All you need for those is a bag of lollies or sweets for the winner to pick from.  Finally, I spotted this great Mr Man themed take on the bean game where you call out Mr Man characters and the kids have to walk round in a circle doing the related action.

Party food

I have already stocked up on pizzas (£1 each) and chips.  I am staying simple!  Kids love pizza and its easy to cook.  Pudding will most likely be birthday cake, although I may splash out and make something else the night before.


monthly inspiration from rachel ridler mum on a mission

April Monthly Inspiration

monthly inspiration from rachel ridler mum on a mission

I have had such a busy start to the month of April and I am absolutely buzzing!!  I have spotted lots of fantastic links, articles, freebies and articles to inspire you so please enjoy……

  • Beauty and the Beast write up – there has been lots of stuff going round about the new Beauty and the Beast film, but this blog post was really powerful in summing it up to me.  Take a read.
  • Generosity when our kids are awake? – I love this article on the Stewardship website.  It really struck home to me that kids will copy our actions, so why should we do the important things like being generous when they are asleep?
  • Neighbourhood Prayer Network – ok so I am still struggling to register my street as it is a new estate, but I love the idea of every street in the UK being prayed for.  Have you registered yours?
  • Sewing with boys – Martha from Gidsy and Jo shares how she has been encouraging her boys to try sewing using pirates.  A great read and a free printable that you can use at home!
  • Creative Bea – If you are in to bible journaling then you will definitely want to check out this webshop.  It has some amazing stamps and stickers to use in your bible creatively.  There is even a free printable that you can cut out and use.
  • What would Disney princesses look as mothers? – have you ever pondered that question?!!  Well someone on the internet has and created this.  Just a bit of fun but I loved the picture of Belle breastfeeding!!
  • Message Bible Lock Screens – I love pretty phone lock screens (if you do too then check out the free ones in our Mummy Meditations Facebook group!) and I also love the Message version of the bible with its poetic phrases.  The Message have now released some free phone screen downloads inspired by their Canvas Bible.
  • UCB free journal – At the moment, if you sign up to the UCB free daily devotional you will also get a free prayer journal, which is pretty cool.
birthday on a budget

Birthday on a Budget

birthday on a budget

We all know that birthday parties can cost an arm and leg, especially for little ones.  Well, I for one am loathed to spend over the odds on 2 hours of fun for too many screaming kids that won’t even remember it!  I am a mum on a mission to organise the best party possible for my almost four year old son, but not break the bank doing it.  If that’s you too, then here are my basic principles that I am adopting as I start this process (you’ll have to come back to see how well I do!)

principle 1 – pick a cheap venue

I would advise against the play centre or “popular” party location, as these tend to be very expensive.  Instead, pick a smaller and cheaper venue for your party.  I am going to host Sam’s party in our own home, which is free!  But if you would rather not have lots of kids on your own turf, then why not look into hiring a church hall or small community venue close to you.  They are often quite affordable to hire out for a couple of hours.  I am hoping that the weather will smile on us and the party can go into the garden.

Principle 2 – limit the number of guests

Yes you may want to invite every child your kid has ever had contact with, but then the costs start to mount up.  Why not limit the total number of kids at the party to 8.  Why 8?  Well this is the standard number that party related things come in packs of (party bags, cups, plates etc) so will mean you can save money further on down the line.  Ask you child who they definitely want to be there, and then work from that.  Don’t succumb to the guilt of “they invited me to their party so I have to invite them to mine” – no you don’t.  It is totally your decision who is invited to your child’s party (or if you even have one for them!).

Principle 3 – text out the invites

It is lovely to have a posted/printed invitation, but its just as easy to text all the mums involved or print a quick black and white invite on your own printer to those kids whose parents you don’t know.  Alternatively, look in shops during the sales for reduced invitations and party decorations.

Principle 4 – choose a simple theme

If you go over the top on a theme then decorations and invites are going to cost a lot.  Instead, choose one simple thing that your child likes at the moment and go with it.  I am choosing Mr Men for Sam, as he loves the story books.  But I am not going to go out and buy ridiculous amounts of Mr Men decorations.  He won’t remember that!  Spend money on the things that matter – the birthday cake, the food and few party games in the theme.

Principle 5 – choose a simple menu

Small children will never eat loads at a party, and if they don’t eat much its not the end of the world.  I personally hate cold party buffets, so I am going for the simple menu of pizza and chips.  Unhealthy – yes!  But as a one off party meal that’s OK.  This menu will be simple to cook, tasty and more filling that a cold buffet.  I will do some Mr Men themed biscuits for pudding perhaps, and then the birthday cake (which can go into party bags at the end).   Simple and cheap!

Principle 6 – make your own entertainment

Why pay someone else to entertain your kids, when most of the time they can entertain themselves?!  I am going to do a couple of pass the parcels, a couple of  prizes for musical statues and chairs and maybe I will even stretch to do flap the fish or balloon volleyball. I might even do a Mr Man themed pin the tail on the donkey style activity! Add a bit of kids music and they are happy for a good hour.  You don’t need to spend money on outside entertainment for a good kids party.  If you kids are creative then you could plan a craft, or if they are sporty plan a game of football.  Whatever your kids are into, plan some themed entertainment around that.

principle 7 – make you own party bags

I am willing to accept that you will probably need to buy the party bags themselves, but why not do a bit of bargain hunting to find some quality themed items to go inside them.  You can then set the budget, and you can avoid the really cheap rubbish that just gets thrown into the bin the second it is taken out of the party bag.  Or instead choose a nicer item that goes with the theme for everyone to take home.  I am contemplating whether to give everyone a Mr Man book in their party bag for Sam’s party.

running a birthday party on a budget

mum on a mission reviews the treasure box people

Mum on a Mission Reviews The Treasure Box People

mum on a mission reviews the treasure box peopleLast month I was sent an amazing gift for me and Sam to review – a TREASURE BOX!!!!  Please start off by watching my video about it, and I am going to share some more thoughts about the time me and Sam spent doing the activities below…..

Well what a month we have had.  In the midst of other things, we have kept coming back to our Treasure Box and Sam has definitely learnt lots about the story of the wise and foolish builder.  I love the way that with so many activities provided in this subscription box that I could stretch out that learning over a few nights.  On the first night we read the story book together (with duplo bricks next to us).  Then my mum taught Sam the song about wise man built his house upon the rock (a classic!) which got him even more excited.

book of wise and foolish builder

Story book included in the Treasure Box

The four related activities included in the box we reviewed:
  • Sand Cross
  • Rain stick
  • Family House keyring
  • Slate drawing
activity instruction booklets

Activity instruction booklets included in the treasure box

How did Sam get on?

I have to say that all of them were well thought out, and the homemade rain stick was genious!!  We did the rain stick first as Sam is obsessed with rice.  He loved the sound that it made, so then we read through the story book again together with him making the sound of the rain every time it was mentioned.  I had to help him a bit with the gluing but otherwise it was great activity for him.

Another night we made the sand cross.  This was a slightly harder for Sam as the peeling off sections was tricky.  An older child would have loved doing this themselves.  Sam loved choosing the colours and hanging his finished cross on our balcony door handle.  He made the connection really easily between the sand cross and the man who built on the sand, and we chatted through the story the entire time we were making it.

The last two activities were slightly harder for Sam as his drawing isn’t great, but he still had a go at making his keyring (my personal favourite as its so cute!) and slate. Here are Sam’s creations:

Sam's creations

My overall opinion

Out of all the things I get sent free to review, this has to be one of my favourites.  I could genuinely see the excitement on Sam’s face to do the activities, and the delight when he learnt a part of the story better.  It meant we had many more bible related conversations, and helped us as parents to teach him the principle of why we should build our lives upon Jesus, the solid rock.  I honestly don’t think that as a tired, sleep deprived, cranky parent I could come up with anything half as good as this.  Yes maybe I might have one day where I am super pumped and inspired, but probably not every month.  It is great value for money, and if you want to invest in your family’s bible knowledge together then I would highly recommend this.  It is delivered straight to your door with everything you could possibly need.

the details

So here is what you all want to know – what are the details on how much and how to get hold of them.  There are various option:treasure box people logo

  • 1 month will cost you £10 (thats nothing!  give it a try….) and you can set up a rolling subscription that you can cancel at any time.
  • 1 bumper box (if you have extra kids!) will cost £15
  • 6 months will cost you only £55 up front (£80 for bumper sized)
  • 12 months will cost £100 up front (£150 for bumper sized)

You can read more about the lovely people who started the Treasure Box idea and subscribe now (you know you want to!) by visiting the Treasure Box People’s website.  Why not buy one and see how you go?  Or buy one as a birthday present for someone instead of a toy? Or….

Try one for free???!

I am hosting a giveaway on my facebook page up until 7th April 2017, so make sure you hop over and enter for your chance to try a Treasure Box absolutely free!

one month treasure box

Halfway Through our 40acts Adventure!

mum on a mission takes on 40 acts

We have now passed the halfway mark in Lent and our 40acts adventure!  And I have to say that I am both loving it and being really challenged along the way.  The last two days have been particularly poignant with the dark events in London, and have brought an even greater focus on why we should be generous and a light in the darkness.

My eldest son, Sam, is also challenging me with his boldness in being generous.  We went out with the last of my box of freddo’s (which I had done miserably at getting rid of on the train to Edinburgh last week) and he wanted to make sure everyone got one.  Even the random passers by got chased after and chocolate thrust into their hands! We went from childrens centre, to library, to post office, to park, to bus shelter.  Everywhere we could think and to everyone we normally interact with during the week to make sure they got a special treat.  We even made sure to save some for our neighbours who Sam had mentioned on the previous day’s facebook live video.

Here are my highlights since my last update:

  • Trying to give away a full box of freddo’s on chocolate tuesday and mostly failing!!
  • Giving away two bunches of flowers to two lovely ladies who have been bowled over by Sam’ thoughtfulness
  • Writing chalk messages on the car park of our estate for everyone to enjoy
  • People giving Sam lots of pennies for his generosity box whenever they visit
  • Doing my first prayer walk with Sam on the way home from nursery
  • Giving Sam’s swimming teacher (who he torments in his lessons!) a chocolate and leaving even more chocolates in the lockers
  • Sending my boss a thank you card for all she does for me and her letting me know how much that meant
  • Leaving trolley coins in a trolley
  • Sam handing out “compliments” from the take a compliments poster to all the mums in our stay and play session
Closing thought

With still a long way to go before we reach Easter, it might be easy to start getting tired of being generous.  But I know that the impact it makes is worth it.  In my Mummy Meditations group, we have been looking at the following verse, and for me I like to think that everyone I come into contact with might just be an angel and I don’t know it…..

Be ready with a meal or a bed when its needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!” Hebrews 13:2


captivated conference surrender

Captivated Conference – what I learnt and why you should totally go next year!

captivated conference surrender

You know God is going to move when you plan on not going somewhere and last minute end up going!  Well that was the Captivated conference for me. I had rationalised why I shouldn’t go (I was too busy, it would be too difficult to get there and cost too much) but then a good friend gave me one final prod and I caved.

what is captivated conference???

As a mum, we often think we the kids are solely our responsibility, that life will stop if we’re not there, that our husbands can’t cope without us for even a day.  Well you know what – THEY AREN’T, IT WON’T and THEY CAN!  Don’t we owe it to ourselves to recharge spiritually every once in a while?  To be able to actually spend time worshiping and being taught, instead of always having one eye on the kids.  I think we do.  I think that every mum should be able to have one day off (at least!) to spend a day with God and others in the same position as them.  We will be better mothers and wives for doing so.

That is what Captivated is.  It is a day conference especially for christian mums (their slogan is “Mums journeying with Jesus”), where we get teaching into our specific needs.  This year the fabulous Anne Calver was the speaker, and she was powerful!  The biggest thing I learnt from her was to stop putting things in the way of acting on what God has called us to do.  We can far too often say “I am only a mum, I am tired, I am not as good as them” but we forget that God called US to do it.  He didn’t call someone else, and he doesn’t ask us to do something that we are not gifted or equipped to do (or that he won’t equip us to do on the way!).

what did God challenge me on?

For me, the challenge was about a particular ministry I feel called to – using creative arts to reach i am not an artist, i just have a creative heartpeople, especially teenage girls.   I have always used the excuses of not enough time, too tired, being a mum gets in the way (I closed down my wedding stationery and craft business when I had Sam) and lately just that I’m not as talented as others in creative arts.  But God really challenged me on that this weekend.  Because my calling isn’t to be a Christian Artist with a beautiful etsy shop (there are others who are doing that amazingly well!) but it is to be a facilitator to help others discover their creativity and to connect with their creator through that.

The lady who I ended up sat next to on Saturday had also come on her own.  And as we were chatting in one of the breakout sessions, she said that she was getting excited when I was talking because she could feel the passion there for what I wanted to do.  I am now praying that my fears (of rejection, not enough money to do it and energy) are knocked over one by one and that I am able to move forward in my desire to run creative art workshops.

are you Interested?!

So if you came to Captivated, what did God do in you on Saturday?  I’d love to share in some of your hopes and dream and stand with you in those.  And for anyone who didn’t make it, would you like to join me next year?!  It is only one day, and for a conference it is very affordable (this year’s early bird tickets were around £17 – and that included doughnuts!!).  One day to invest in yourself as a mother and a child of God, whats not to love?

If you want to find out more about captivated, you can join their facebook group here or find more info on the website.

monthly inspiration from rachel ridler mum on a mission

March Monthly Inspiration

monthly inspiration from rachel ridler mum on a mission

Yes it is March.  And yes I am in dire need of something inspiration – how about you?!  Well here are my top picks for this month.  I hope you like them:

  • The Treasure Box People – I am so excited that this month I have been sent one of these fabulous treasure boxes to review.  It is a monthly subscription to have bible themed stories and crafts delivered direct to you.  Check it out and look out for my review later in the month!
  • 4 ways a generous heart can make us wealthier in every way – An interesting article from Christian Today
  • The Super Cool Story of Jesus – a lovely video and free story book with a flowing rhyme that will help little children understand more of who Jesus was, what he was about and what the real meaning of Easter is.
  • Godventure Easter Resources– Victoria has some great ideas on how to incorporate prayer into our normal easter activities.
monthly inspiration from rachel ridler mum on a mission

January Inspiration

monthly inspiration from rachel ridler mum on a mission

Dig in to my links and likes for January and gather some inspiration for the New Year.

  • In December I was raving about the new Bible Colouring Calendar from the Bible Society.  Well here is the link to the artist who created it.  There are some lovely lettered prints and cards available here.  I like the Fruit of the Spirit print that ties in nicely with our Mummy Meditations theme at the moment!
  • Keeping on the bible journaling theme, I was very excited to find out that the Message is bringing out a new bible called The Message Canvas.  The Message uses creative language and metaphors to make scripture easier to understand .  The Canvas bible includes nearly 300 hand drawn illustrations for you to colour in and if you visit the website they are also releasing free colouring devotions and competitions to message canvas biblewin art supplies.
  • 40 acts has launched for 2017!  40 acts has made lent one of my favourite times of the year, and I think this will be the third or fourth year I have joined in.  Two years ago I blogged my way through the challenges, and last year was my first time involving Sam in 40 acts for families.  There are so many ways you can get involved and cultivate generosity in your own lives, your family’s lives, your small group or church.  Visit the website for a ton of free resources, including bible studies,  and sign up to take part!
january clean up

January Clean Up Ideas

january clean up

I love putting up my Christmas decorations at the start of December. But I also love taking them down. It gives me the chance to clean and tidy ready for the New Year. Along with gathering up the decorations there are also a few other jobs I do to help when it gets to Christmas next year and to start the year off well:

  • make present tags from old Christmas cards. Not only is this great recycling but it cuts my costs for next Christmascutting up christmas cards
  • clear off sides and make new displays .  Its easy for clutter to take over, so I take the chance to clear everything off and create some new displays with any new ornaments I get for Christmas and mixing up with older ones.
  • take a trip to the charity shop. In January I am ruthless – anything not used or played with in the last year goes
  • buy Christmas cards and wrapping paper. Reduced to next to nothing, now is the time to stock up ready for next yearfairy lights mirror
  • re-purpose fairy lights .  I found some old Christmas lights that I don’t use anymore so decided that rather than pack them away for another year, I would use them to make a feature mirror in our hallway.
  • change around you pictures and hang up new ones.  This year I was treated to lots of new pictures for Christmas, so I spent a few hours deciding where to put them and changing round where old ones are hung.  It is simple but changes your decor really quickly making your house feel fresh.
  • spend a night with the diary. I am always amazed how much better I feel after spending a night planning in holidays/treats/when babysitters will be needed.  I like to know how the year looks and make sure I plan in important places to go and people to see.
  • decide on big projects and purchases for the year ahead.  Make sure any spare income isn’t wasted but can be put towards things the family/house really need.
  • share your wifi.  We all know how addicted to our phones we are.  So why not repurpose an unloved picture frame by displaying your wifi code.  This stops the awkwardness of guests having to ask and will make them feel right at home.
Need more inspiration?

There are lots of hints and tips out there for tidying up in January (please do post your favourites below).  If you want to make an even bigger clean up, then why not hop over to my friend Naomi’s blog and join in her organised life challenge this year – she is starting off in the kitchen!