Love it or hate it, we are now in September and Halloween is right around the corner. The sugar coma which begins Oct. 31st and doesn’t end until Christmas is inevitable, but our wallets don’t have to be emptied quite yet. We’ve got 4 ideas for you to save money and still have a fabulous Halloween costume this year.
We can’t begin a thrifty guide without a DIY option. Make-your-own costumes have been a staple for savvy moms since the beginning of time. This summer, at our church’s vacation bible school, they had Robot Day and kids came decked out in all sorts of homemade costumes crafted from cardboard, paper bags, and aluminum foil. Dryer vents for arms and plastic cups as antenna were popular. These costumes were practically free since the cardboard came out of the recycling bin from our most recent Amazon order and the other supplies were in the pantry. (Most things are available at the Dollar Store too!) Keep it super simple or get really technical depending on your child’s imagination and your resources. There are some awesome instructions here on PagingFunMums if you want the play by play. And, of course, Pinterest is always full of fabulous DIY costume ideas.
Of course, dressing your child in the uniform they already have from their favorite activities is also a great way to save. Going as a ballerina or baseball player allows you to get some additional use out of old performance or game-day outfits. Plus, my kids love to re-live their “glory days” by telling friends and family about the time they were up on stage or hit that homerun!
Many groups in our area hold costume swaps right around this time of year. My kids’ school has a costume swap in just one week so that families can exchange and pass down outfits used for our Pilgrim & Indian Thanksgiving celebration, Renaissance Day and other parties happening this fall. These are perfectly good costumes for Halloween as well.
Also, a local mom’s Facebook group is hosting an online costume swap until October 31. You snap a photo, name your price and list it for other mom’s to buy, while also checking out what is already posted that you can snag for yourself. So check out your online neighborhood group or a mom’s group and if one isn’t already planned, suggest a costume swap and see who else would like to trade for some new threads!
Some moms go all out for things like Halloween, and can even convince their husbands to join in the fun and dress up with the whole family! One such mom has listed ALL of her families past costumes on Loanables.com and they are available to rent for only $5 each!! When someone prides themselves in finding the perfect theme and even holds on to these costumes for years to come, I am astonished, but say “Thank you! I’ll go ahead and rent that…and that…and that!” So I don’t have to work nearly so hard myself!
Hopefully these tips have launched your imagination for inexpensive ways to deck the kids out this year. If you’re inspired to make some money and help another thrifty mom out, dig out those old costumes and post them for rent on Loanables so we can all share and save some cash!
I love parties (and planning them) but there just aren’t enough days in the year to plan and throw all the parties I want to. This week, I decided to focus on a party that won’t take up too much precious party planning time – an ice cream party!
With an ice cream party, the food and entertainment collide making it an easy party to plan or even to throw together at the last minute. All you need is the tools and ingredients to make the ice cream, some bowls to serve it in, and the accompaniments to make sundaes and banana splits galore! Loanables.com has a great Ice Cream Party Bundle for rent which includes everything you need for your party. It includes an ice cream maker, Ben and Jerry’s book of recipes, an Ice cream scoop, and a waffle cone maker. There is even an option to purchase an Ultimate Toppings Kit which makes throwing a party super easy!
On top of the bundle, you may want to do Invitations, decorations, and a game (to play during any waiting time or when the guests are done eating their ice cream). Below are some easy ideas (if you are ambitious you can do even more – I have seen some pretty over the top ice cream parties!):
In today’s world, most people use Evite, Paperless Post, etc. to invite guests and luckily these sites have loads of online Ice Cream party invite options – check these out! But, if you just love a paper invite, there are lots of options for that as well. Check out these really cute printables. Or, if you are feeling really crafty, you can make your own – how cute are these? or these? And there are plenty more great ideas on Pinterest so browse away … but don’t forget, the invites are not the fun part of the party.
I think of colorful paper goods when I think of Ice Cream parties. There are a million ideas on Pinterest for decorating for the cutest party ever. Here are just a few. I say keep it simple and let the toppings act as part of the decor.
Some staples that will make your party cute without breaking the bank and creating extra waste are:
The options are endless – you can stick with the ice cream theme or just pick games you love to play. Here are some ideas:
Or, why not combine your ice cream party with some fantastic outdoor games by renting the Birthday Party Picnic Bundle or the Outdoor Movie Bundle from loanables.com? The Birthday Party Picnic bundle even comes with an egg and spoon race game – wouldn’t it be fun (and a lot less messy) to substitute cherries for the eggs?
This is really just a starting point. You could take this and create the diy party of the year or just rent the bundle once a month and have a standing ice cream party…you can’t lose because after all, EVERYONE screams for Ice Cream!!!
Weddings, birthday parties and holidays often present a challenging question. How do I get all of the gear needed to host the event without blowing my budget and leaving nothing for those special touches that make my event unique? At Loanables.com we want people to spend their money collecting memories and having experiences rather than on acquiring stuff that will sit collecting dust in an attic, or worse yet, cost more money to store for years to come. But, if you like to entertain, it’s possible the cost of owning may eventually even out. So, when it comes to special events, which items should I rent and which should I buy? The answer always depends on how many future uses you expect to get out of the item. We’ve done the math on a few common party items and you can apply the same formula to anything you are considering for purchase or rent.
Kid Table & Chairs
So, I know a family with 5 kids who was committed to doing birthday parties at home because…5 kids=5 kids birthday parties every year. That’s almost every other month! I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, given I grew up in a family with 5 kids too, and at home birthday parties were the norm. Actually, we only got to have a party every 3 years so it wasn’t overwhelming. But, this particular mother of 5 purchased a long, folding kid table and 8 chairs for one of the first parties. She stored it flat against the wall in the garage in between uses but found that once she had it, she pulled it out for even more things like holiday meals and art projects. It cost about $175 to purchase the set, and it is used in their household about a dozen times each year. Assuming the kids fit in the chairs from the ages of about 2-12 years old, that it a cost per use of $1.46 ($175 divided by 10 years of use, divided again by 12 uses per year). To rent these items (1 kid table and 8 chairs) would cost $28. So in this case, purchasing is significantly less expensive than renting. If your situation is different because you host fewer events, the result may also be different.
As a business owner, this is a difficult one for me. A pop-up tent seems to have many uses! I have done the occasional conference exhibit or holiday vendor show, and shade for an outdoor party or other event are key to making it bearable! The question comes down to cost and number of uses. These sorts of tents can vary widely in price. But for a good-quality, 10’x10′ canopy tent that won’t go flying in the wind, they are typically about $60- $100. This 12’x12′ pop-up tent is available to rent for $10 per day. So, it would take 6-10 uses to pay for itself. Thinking about my business, I really only do pop-up shows around the holidays. In fact, I think I did three last year. So, this probably wouldn’t be worth purchasing and storing all year long for those couple of uses. If you regularly show at a Farmer’s Market or other weekly/monthly event, though, your math will look different!
Bouncehouse or Inflatable Waterslide
Nothing completes a 3 year old birthday party more than a giant inflatable in the backyard! However, one thing I know for sure is that owning your own giant inflatable anything is not worth it! I say this, because we have had not one, but TWO in our attic for years. They have each been used only a handful of times. They are heavy and a pain to get in and out of the attic. The water ones need to stay out and dry for quite a bit before being stored. And they are really expensive! Now, they can also be expensive to rent, that’s true, but in comparison to other birthday party options, we think they turn out to be worth it for a special occasion. Your typical bounce house will cost anything from $120-$400 to rent from a company. There are a myriad of options to fit any theme. These cost $800-$2300+ to purchase initially and typically a rental company will include delivery, set up, and removal in their fee. Some of your neighbors may have a home version up in their attic though, so check the Loanables.com inventory to compare rental options from both your neighbors and local companies. Some examples include this Frozen themed bounce house in Houston or this Toddler waterslide in Austin that won’t set you back much at all!
If you have an event coming up or want to do something special for Labor Day in Austin don’t miss your chance to WIN a free rental of an inflatable waterslide and a bunch of other outdoor games like Giant Jenga and a Tug-O-War rope. It would cost almost $700 to purchase all of these items or they could be FREE if you win! Good luck!
Recently, I have seen a lot of people throwing “Retro” Birthday parties. Being an arbitrary term, “Retro” can be something referring to a party in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s ,or 90’s…it just depends on the age of the person having the birthday (or in some cases, the age of their parents). The one thing that seems to be consistent is that “Retro” almost always means low-tech and homemade (which of course appeals to me).
My daughter is turning 4 in September and I have been busy planning her birthday party. September is the start of a new school year and since she only goes to school 2 days a week, we won’t have much of a chance to get to know her “friends” and their families prior to her birthday. So, I tried to come up with a party that facilitates talking, laughing, and playing with people you are just getting to know…sounds like the perfect opportunity for an old fashioned “retro” birthday party!
With this theme, the sky is the limit – my original idea was to have a sock hop with records, a soda fountain, poodle skirts, and dancing – there are a million cute ideas on Pinterest and I am kind of mourning not following through with it (stay tuned for future party posts – I may use this idea for another party in the future). In the end, I decided to focus on something I could easily set up at a park near my daughter’s school – something that didn’t take too much time to plan at the beginning of the busy school year and something laid back and fun – like a birthday party from my childhood.
Here’s what I decided to do:
Theme: Rainbows! my daughter would really like another Minion party. She has been obsessed with Minions since she was 18 months old but I am desperate for a change. I think Rainbows are cute and simple and perfect for preschoolers.
Invitations: I know “retro” does not usually mean online invitations but to make sure everyone gets the invitations and for attendance tracking, I think online invites are the way to go. The key here is simple and maybe a little old fashioned. I personally like this one from Punchbowl. It looks like it could be a homemade paper invite and is cute and simple. There are tons of others that you can choose from or make to fit your theme on evite, paperless post, etc.
It’s such a great deal and renting the bundle means so much of the party is done for you!
To the bundle, I am adding:
Party Games: I love games, especially the old fashioned party games, so in addition to Tug-of-war, Jenga, Potato Sack Races, and Egg and Spoon Races, we are going to play:
Piñata: In our house, “party” means “piñata” and we had pinatas at birthday party when I was a kid so they MUST be retro:) So, we will definitely have a piñata.
Decorations: I am going to go with really simple decorations because we are partying in the park. So, in addition to the piñata, I am sticking to:
Prizes: With all the games, you need some prizes for the winners. If you have ever been anywhere with a kids’ treasure chest, you know that they love cheap bracelets, plastic cameras, tops, slinkys, etc. – you can get any of that at oriental trading for very little money. I am going to go with a selection of rainbow candy – skittles, lifesavers, M&M’s, etc.
Party Favors: Personally, I like party favors you can eat so you aren’t collecting more little pieces of junk. My favorite favors are cookies from my friend Megan at Junebug & Moo. She can make anything, including cute rainbow cookies!
As you can see, throwing a Retro Birthday Party can be easy, inexpensive and a lot of fun. I would love to hear your ideas and see pictures of your parties as you put them together and create your own amazing party experiences. Happy Partying!
It’s summer and way too hot to go tent camping near Austin. But, it’s NOT too early to start planning and booking spots for the fall.
McKinney Falls State Park – within Austin city limits, you can camp, hike, bike and swim! They have 81 campsites (starting at $20) and 6 newly remodeled cabins ($86). It’s also a really fun place for geocaching. (My kids LOVE this. You can get the app on your smartphone, find the treasure with GPS coordinates, sign the log book and trade a family-friendly item with something in the cache.)
Pace Bend Park – enjoy beautiful, sunset views of Lake Travis. They have 20 campsites with water and electrical hook-ups ($20) and over 400 primitive spots ($15 per vehicle). You can reserve the improved sites, but the primitive spots are on a first come, first server basis. Make sure to visit nearby Hamilton Pool – it’s one of Austin’s most beautiful treasures. If you go May 1 – September 20, you have to make a reservation.
Pedernales Falls – great mountain biking trails, plus you can tube on the river. They have 69 campsites with water and electric hook-ups ($20) and numerous primitive sites ($10). If you are into mountain biking, this is the place to go.
Blanco State Park – fish, swim and boat. They have 29 sites with water and electrical hook-ups (starting at $20). They also have 7 Screened Shelters ($30) – no AC, but they have fans. If fishing is your primary camping activity, this is the place for you.
Palmetto State Park – called the “Central Texas Tropics” because it enjoys multiple sources of water. You can swim, tube, fish and canoe. They have 19 tent sites ($12) and 18 sites with water and electrical hook-ups (starting at $18). They also have a group camping area for up to 100 ($60). The San Marcos river has a steady current with no rapids making it a favorite for those that love to canoe.
Campfire foil packs – I love these because you can make them ahead of time and then just throw them on the fire.
Cinnamon Roll Ups – The kids love these, and you can indulge since you are burning so many calories with all the activities
Camp Cooker Pizza – As you’ve guessed by now, I have kids, and what kid doesn’t love pizza?
Red Wine Marinated Hanger Steaks – If you feel like getting fancy, this recipe will not disappoint.
Fire Roasted Salmon with Herbs and Lemon – You can also use fresh fish that you catch with this one – so delicious.
If you don’t have the gear, you can rent it here.
Grandma, Lovey, Mimi, Nana, picture this: You just hung up from a conversation with your daughter-in-law during which you agreed to have the grandkids come to your house for “Camp Grandma” while your son and daughter-in-law jet off to Napa for a weekend away. You are so excited to spoil those little angels while the parents are away, but you are left wondering how you can be sure they are comfortable and safe in your house without all of their usual gear. What baby and toddler stuff do they even use these days? And if you buy a bunch of stuff, what will you do with it in between visits, or will they grow out of it before it is ever used again? You want to ensure a safe and happy time for all, but you don’t want to spend a fortune. One new option that wasn’t available in years past is to rent items from neighbors or companies nearby. We find it’s best to rent anything that has a high initial cost, will be cumbersome to store in between visits, or will only be used a few times before they’ve grown out of it. The good news is, with the help of our list, you are only a few clicks away from being fully prepared to enjoy the time together and have everything you need at a fraction of the retail cost.
We hope this list serves as a valuable guide as you prepare for Camp Grandma! But if you’re still overwhelmed, check out our Grandparent Bundle or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a specific bundle custom designed for you! And keep in mind that children care more about the time you spend with them than the things you buy them so #collectmemoriesnotstuff.
It took us 2 months of working part-time on the weekends (10 days total) and about $1500 in supplies, but we built the coolest playhouse:
My kids loved it and played in it every day for at least 2 weeks (it does still get a lot of play when friends come over). Today they had a water balloon fight from it.
Here’s how it started…my sister-in-law is a super-crafty mom (the kind that makes you feel wholly inadequate but she’s so nice you can’t hate her for it). She found this playhouse from The Handmade Home and they built it in a couple of weekends:
Of course when my kids saw it, they had to have it! Here’s the problem though: my husband LOVES to build stuff but refuses to read directions! So, we loosely followed the directions for the Handmade Hideaway and modified them as we went along.
I put all the tools we used up on Loanables to rent for $50 a month for anyone that lives in Austin. You can find that listing here.
There are 5 parts to this project:
The last thing to do was finish it out – by far my favorite part. I bought outdoor, striped curtains on Overstock.com. I chose the color “spa”, but there are several fun colors. The “Admiral” blue would be really cute, too. You should be able to find one that goes with whatever color theme you already have going on outside. (The Handmade Home also gives some good tips for how to make the curtains hang correctly on their blog.)
I really wanted something cute for the porch and found these not-too-expensive kid’s Adirondack chairs.
I put plastic table and chairs on the inside where my daughter likes to play school or do art. Upstairs, I put some kids folding chairs and a table that we already had. Mostly, though they like to play and yell down at whoever isn’t up there. Here are some items I finished it out with:
This really was a fun project for our family, even though there were times during the project that I thought we would never finish and regretted starting it. Now that it is done, I’m really glad we did it. My kids are so proud of it, and they have a playhouse that they will use for a few short years and the memories that will last forever.
P.S. Tim (my husband) and I are happy to answer any questions if you decide to take on this project.
FOOD BARS! Try any one of these 20 Fun Food Bars To Recreate at Home! Grilled Cheese Bars, Burger Bars, and S’mores Bars all lend themselves to an Outdoor Movie Night as do several of the others listed. And, if you find that you are in need of a Crock Pot, S’mores Maker, Panini Maker, or Serving Pieces, check out loanables.com and rent some for the evening!
We’ve had some awesome items posted lately so I bring you the top 10:
The U.S.A. makes up 5% of the world’s population but uses 25% of the natural resources and creates 50% of the solid waste. (Worldwatch Institute).
At Loanables, we believe that people over-consume because there is not a good alternative to buying. Our mission is to make it as easy to rent as it is to buy. We are focused on giving consumers access to the things they want without ownership.
Planning a visit to Austin or are you a local looking for a fun staycation downtown? Either way, we have the perfect weekend all ready for you-compiled from the Loanables.com team’s favorite places to stay, foods to eat, and things to do in town.
There are a plethora of high end hotels from which to choose, but that wouldn’t be as “Austin” as it gets! Experience the tiny house trend without crossing that point of no return by checking into this amazing Tiny Home located just 2 miles from downtown. It’s the perfect launch pad for all of your adventures while in Austin. It accommodates up to 4 people and starts at only $125/night! Your hosts, Christi & Wes, are not only some of the coolest locals in town, they’ve been known to go above and beyond by accommodating special requests like a beer-stocked fridge prior to guests’ arrivals.
Or check out Austin’s new Native Experiential Hostel. From the website: “Native is for the seekers. The curious ones, filled with youful wanderlust. Explorers who know that possessions are fleeting, but experiences last a lifetime. Native is a kinetic collision of music, arts, warm beds, sleepless nights, food, and spirits. Our kindred are this generation of artists, creatives, thinkers and folks who simply embody good times; those who thrive on connection, unbridled fun and meaningful experiences.” If that doesn’t sum up the local feel of Austin, we don’t know what does!
Use a local ride-share company like Ride Austin on the fly, or even pre-arrange a ride with Wingz and you’ll be able to get to anywhere in town in a jiffy! (Use our favorite Wingz driver’s code colettedg for $5 off your ride!)
Want to be a little more green? Rent a scooter or a bicycle and save money over paying for each ride or dealing with the stress of finding parking for your own vehicle! You’ll also feel great knowing you are supporting the locals in the economy, not just the local economy.
Day 1: Your first night in Austin, you should start by checking out some hot spots along South Congress, like Hotel San Jose for their signature summer beverage, Frose.
Then, head to a new local favorite, El Chiporon, for amazing, authentic Spanish tapas. The cold soups are so refreshing in the Texas heat!
For that extra-special meal, Eddie V’s stands the test of time. It’s a favorite for birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. Similarly, the local and seasonal menu at Wink will not disappoint!
Day 2: Of course, you can’t leave Austin without some good ‘ole Texas barbecue, so perhaps waiting for a few hours with a few hundred of your new best friends at Franklin’s will be part of your Saturday activity?
If standing in line isn’t your thing, hop over to Forthright Café in the heart of downtown and enjoy a lovely selection of brunch items including Avocado Toast, Pork Belly Hash or Forthright’s signature Waffle Sandwich.
Day 3: No time in Austin is complete without eating your fill of TexMex! Establishments like Chuy’s and Guero’s Taco Bar will surely be the perfect conclusion to your weekend of Austin’s finest cuisine.
At the top of any Austinite’s list is spending some time enjoying the gorgeous outdoor scenery. Take a walk around Ladybird Lake or feel the peaceful bliss of Austin’s iconic stand up paddleboard experience. You can rent this inflatable paddleboard for a fraction of the price of renting from the lake-side companies, if you plan to be out on the water more than an hour. The owner will meet you at the perfect location to hop in the water and pump it up so you’re all set to enjoy both the tranquility of the water and one heck of a workout!
Take an extended break from the heat and still enjoy the local scene by catching a movie at Alamo Drafthouse, Austin’s original dine-in movie theater. You can also play The Escape Game Austin with your group or for those who enjoy a little history, take a tour of the Texas State Capitol.
Need a little retail therapy? Shop the Austin way by perusing local vintage stores like Moss and the fabulous, new Ford on Fifth for designer finds at a fraction of the original retail price. And men, not leaving you out, the YETI Flagship is not to miss!
How’s that for the perfect weekend in Austin? Let us know YOUR favorites so we can add them to our list!