WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Request for advice from 2 Smart Shoppers - can you help them?

Posted May 16, 2012



A couple of fellow Smart Shopper blog readers e-mailed me yesterday requesting help from all of you! If you have any ideas on frugal party ideas for Eric and his 1 year old's birthday party or Debbie and her carpet replacement project, please post them in the comments section below. Thanks for any help you can offer!

Request for ideas from Eric (who is the super couponing Dad who shot the blog interview with me about Men and Couponing in early May): "I was wondering if you could help me out. My daughter is turning 1 next month and we need some frugal party ideas. My wife is going with the Shabby Chic theme. We are planning to do everything ourselves and we have jotted down some ideas. If there is anyway you could possibly reach out to your audience for ideas, or if you have any of your own the help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again and have a great evening."

Request for advice from Debbie: "I need to replace the carpet in my apartment (Long story..apartment people will not replace it after it has been flooded twice).  I don’t want to put expensive or brand new carpet down because I am renting. I wonder if you have ideas, go to people that could help me with finding carpet remnants and installing it myself or finding someone to help me with it?"


Eric, I suggest you go simple and go small. A first birthday part is for the parents and family and not really for the child. She's not going to remember any of it. We had an Elmo party for my oldest child's 1 year birthday party and invited family as well as 2 neighbors with kids in the same age range. At that age, they don't care about decor or games so as long as you have age appropriate toys you are set.

With that said, here are some links to Shabby Chic themed birthday parties and they are not small and simple! But you could certainly do many of the ideas at home to make them more frugal.

Click HERE for a Shabby Chic themed party full of ideas from Designdininganddiapers. So many of her ideas use items you can find around the house or at Micheals (using the 40% off coupon in the paper almost every week, of course).

Click HERE for a Shabby Chic themed party from Pizzazzerie.


Debbie, Head to the Habitat home store near you for remnants. Also, visit carpet stores near you to see if they have any remnant pieces they are selling inexpensively.  Click HERE for a list of Habitat stores in NC.




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  • hazelscoupons May 22, 2012

    Freecycle.org is a great place to get (and give) party decorations. I got my little ones' first bday stuff from there.

  • Oxymoron02 May 18, 2012

    Don't replace the carpet. Call a lawyer, or legal aid if you can't afford one.

    Replacing the carpet is not your job. It also creates liability for you, they could keep your deposit and sue for damages.

    Forget phone calls, your communication with your landlord should be certified mail, return receipt requested, and you should keep copies.

    And start apartment hunting. You need to be somewhere else.

  • ezlayton May 17, 2012

    Thank you for ALL the great advice. The idea with the butcher paper is awesome and we will definitely be doing that. We usually do not go all out like this for a bday party but she is our 4th child and only daughter (we have 3 boys that are 14, 11, and 6). We got some great ideas so thank you again!

  • little blue 2 May 17, 2012

    About the carpet, I would make sure you have any communications with them documented in writing. If you rip out carpet and don't replace it to their standards, they might try to claim you destroyed it and keep your security deposit. It sounds like they're just that kind of operation!

  • karmstr9 May 16, 2012

    Eric, This idea is more for the kids (3yrs and up)that will be at the party. At a 1 year birthday party I was helping with, we covered a table with butcher paper and put out some crayons and markers. All the kids that came to the party colored whatever they wanted on the paper when they first arrived at the party. It was a great way to fill in that awkward "what do we do til everyone gets here?" feeling. After the party was over, I cut the edges off the paper and gave the "masterpiece" to the birthday mom. She was excited to see such an array of colors and pictures. She decided to hang it in his room for a month or so. We also decorated the tables with themed goody bags. We put a small plant in each one to hold it upright, stuck 4 bamboo skewers in each and put a noise maker on the end of the skewers. They looked like a flower arrangement. we gave the plants to anyone that wanted to take them home after the party. Just remember, most of the time - less is more.

  • jkay May 16, 2012

    About the carpet - if the lease is almost up it would possibly be cheaper to move out and let them keep the deposit. If the damage was caused by flooding due to maintenance issues or the slope of their land/drainage it is not your responsibility to pay for it. I'd hire a lawyer for a hundred bucks to send them a letter stating you are moving out because of the untenable living conditions and demanding no penalty for breaking the lease as well as a return of your deposit.

  • busyb97 May 16, 2012

    Eric- for the party. I would highly recommend she makes the cake or at least a cupcake for your 1yr old. I can't tell you how many people I know who's 1st birthday party experience was ruined because the toddler ate the store-bought cake/icing and then later that night got SICK. (Mine included!) NOT fun. For my second son, I made the cake for him, and we had no problem. Even just a simple box cake and ready-made icing! But I had lots of friends who did store-bought decorated and the kids just got sick .

    I too would keep it very simple. A 1-yr old has no clue what is going on. If there is a favorite character, use a few of those and some balloons. Simple party decorations at the Dollar Store or party store (even Balloons at the Dollar stores are cheap and can be filled often times).

  • busyb97 May 16, 2012

    Debbie....have you thought about calling Monica with "5 on your Side"? Doesn't sound right that YOU have to replace the carpet.

  • jdouglas13 May 16, 2012

    Dragons_lady, I agree that you should not have to be paying for the carpeting, but I also know how miserable bad landlords/prop mgmt companies can be. That said, if you feel you do just want to go ahead and get it replaced yourself, see if you can talk to the maintenance guy and find out the carpet company the apt complex uses. They may have some leftovers from another job, or perhaps will replace it for you at the price they charge the complex. Believe me, the complex is using the absolute cheapest carpet out there, and are definitely not paying retail prices. I am sure they have a contract deal, and there is no reason why you should not be able to get it at that price, even if you have to go through the apt complex.

    I know how expensive moving is, but do you really want to keep living there? Maybe it's time to cut your losses and just get out. Best of luck to you!

  • nakabi May 16, 2012

    dragons-lady: how exactly did the water damage occur the other times? was it due to maintenance issues?
    it sounds like that's somethign that the apartment complex has to repair. not repairing it is a liability.
    I work in insurance and if I were you, i would def. not let them do this to you. You are NOT responsible for the carpet; that is their responsibility!!!!