Stumped for party favor ideas? Give the gift of reading -- for as little as $2!
Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: Our big summer party -- where I usually try to give away favors that are the kind I would like to receive -- is over. When the kids were younger, the favors were often sand toys, because most times they would only last a season and we always seemed to be using and losing ours. As the children got older, we gave school supplies
-- a composition notebook with some fun pencils or zipper pouches with cool supplies tucked inside. Every year, the children choose a charity to which attendees donate in lieu of bringing gifts. This year, they chose a charity that provides children with their first books -- and so for favors, we let each child choose a book to take home. First, let me say that I refuse to spend more than $3 for a favor, but this was not as much of a challenge as you would expect.
I started by checking one of my favorite sites for value-priced books -- Bookcloseouts.com. I went to the kids section and selected the "under $3" search. They had a ton of great stuff, but I put a lot of hardcovers in my cart and shipping was too high. I couldn't find a free shipping coupon online, so I moved on. I checked Borders.com and Barnesandnoble.com, but neither one was having a particularly good sale. I then went to Booksamillion.com and saw that shipping was free if the order was over $25. I went to the bargain section, selected "juvenile fiction," and set the results to display from low to high. Unbelievable -- tons of Roald Dahl and the Judy Blume "Fudge" paperbacks for $1.77! "The Secret Garden" and Hardy Boys mysteries in hardcover for under $3! These books retailed from $5.99 to $16.99. I knew I had a winner, so I searched for online coupons and found a bunch of codes for $10 off $50 purchases. I then reentered the site through a cash-back portal, so I could get some extra savings. I had such fun browsing the books in my price range. Besides the ones I had already seen, I found the series Encyclopedia Brown, The Great Brain, and some of Nancy Drew. For the younger ones, there were "Corduroy" and "Ferdinand the Bull" with accompanying CDs, a Madeline activity book with window clings, and a hardcover "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!" I bought a nice selection, more than I needed, so the kids would have a choice and I would have some for gifts throughout the year.
I also took a peek at the 99 cent store and found a paperback historical fiction for kids that looked good and an incredible hardcover nonfiction about the Old West with great illustrations that retailed for $22.95. I did the math -- and realized that after coupons and cash back, my average book price was $2.00. It was such a pleasure seeing the kids so excited to choose their books. Some even started reading on their way out the door.
A former state deputy attorney general and current stay-at-home mom, Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla has three kids and ten years of experience stretching one salary to cover the necessities and more. She's all about saving money whenever you can, so you have it to spend on whatever you want!