I’m so excited to share my experience with hosting our first Chuck E Cheese birthday party! I’m a bit of a control freak, so I can’t say I wasn’t worried about how this party would go down, but it was even better than I could have expected.
It’s important to note here that I’m in no way affiliated with Chuck E Cheese nor am I receiving anything in return for this post. It’s simply an experience worth sharing with other mommas in need of party planning help!
How does a Chuck E Cheese birthday party work?
When my daughter announced she wanted to hold her 4th birthday at Chuck E Cheese, my frugal brain immediately went to the cost. So I went on the Chuck E Cheese website and was pleasantly surprised by the affordable options. Even when we go the party-at-home-DIY-route (like we did for our Dr. Seuss birthday party!) there’s still the stress and time planning it all.
I truly love to throw parties, but not necessarily during the cold days of February, which happens to be my daughter’s birthday month. So this time I handed over the party planning reigns and here’s what happened…
Chuck E Cheese Birthday Party Review
What’s the schedule like?
We arrived at Chuck E Cheese about 15 minutes before the party was set to start. Everything was set up in the back already and our host greeted us. She handed over a bag of play passes as well as a birthday bracelet for my sweet birthday girl.
Our host then went over our order (we opted for extra pizzas and drinks for the adults). From there, she went over the schedule, which looked like this:
12pm – party starts, kids play
12:45pm – pizza time! Our host served the children and made sure they all got what they needed.
After pizza, Chuck E himself came out to dance with the kids. We then sang “Happy Birthday” while the host cut and distributed the cake. Since we got the Mega Super Star package, it also included Dippin’ Dots (yum!!)
From there, it would’ve been gift time, but we nixed that to do gifts at home.
After cake, it was ticket blaster time! My daughter wasn’t too keen on it, so her big brother stepped in.
Do they have to do the ticket blaster?
Our host was kind enough to show my daughter how the ticket blaster worked, but even then, my daughter wasn’t interested. My 5yr old son was all about it, though, so he stepped up to get those tickets. That said, there was also the option to skip the ticket blaster and simply collect 200 tickets (plus her 1000 bonus tickets as a part of the party package).
After the ticket blaster, the kids are then welcome to go back to playing.
Can you bring your own cake to a Chuck E Cheese birthday party?
Absolutely! While Chuck E Cheese offers a number of gorgeous cake options, you can also bring in your own cake and ice cream.
Do you tip for a Chuck E Cheese birthday party?
I’ve actually reached out to Chuck E Cheese to see if they have a policy/common practice on this. While I in no way felt pressured to tip, there’s no doubt our hostess deserved it! Our total party cost was $300, on which we tipped $40. This might seem like a bit much to some (like my husband…hehe) but I’ve worked in food service before and the tip was well earned.
Is the Mega Super Star package worth it?
It really, really is. It was so nice to not have to worry about goody bags or ice cream, plus the unlimited play for the 2 hours really helped parents better enjoy the experience and not worry about watching (or having to re-up!) their child’s play points. I also love that the goody bags allow for every child to leave with something, regardless of how many tickets they earned.
What happens if you have no-shows?
Sure enough, on the day of the party we had a couple children who suddenly couldn’t make it. Luckily Chuck E Cheese offers a 2-child no-show policy so we weren’t charged for the absent children.
The Easiest Birthday Party Ever
Overall, I truly could not have been happier with the whole experience. I did EVERYTHING online on my own schedule and it was the smoothest, most relaxed party I’ve had. Frankly, I’m considering hosting my own next birthday party there – they do have beer, after all! 😉
Have you had a Chuck E Cheese birthday party experience?
Would love for you to comment below and share your thoughts!
I’m a big fan of Alton Brown and his idea on single-use items; there are a lot of really odd, single-use kitchen gadgets out there that might seem cool at first but will honestly just take up space and you’ll end up selling them at a garage sale and all you’ll have is .50 cents and a small pile of regret.
That said, there are some really cool items that fill a niche role but do it so well – or can be used for other things – that they’re absolutely worth having in your kitchen, pantry, or in your grill kit.
Amazon is a fantastic resource for cheap prices and lightning-fast shipping, but Its catalog has gotten incredibly vast over the years, so shopping for that perfect item is a slog. We’ve put together a list of 10 fun, useful, and best-of-all cheap kitchen gadgets that will delight anyone who rules the roaster in their household.
10 Must-Have Single Use Kitchen Gadgets for Under $20
Please note that the links below are affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission should you click through and make a purchase. This in no way impacts my recommendations or the cost to you.
Our son LOVES buttered toast but for real, cold butter is a substance that defies physics and destroys all bread it touches. This knife fixes that problem by allowing you to cut razor-thin slices, fun spirals, or spaghetti-esque noodles of butter, straight from the fridge!
My husband is Italian, so we eat a lot of pasta during the week, but my husband is also absent-minded, so we clean up a lot of boiled-over pasta water during the week, too. This silicone lid sits on top of your pot in lieu of your traditional lid. It allows steam and bubbles to escape without boiling over and covering your stove or putting out your burners. They’re also adorable and can help strain pasta as well!
If you don’t drink wine, you know someone who does. I personally am not fond of digging around in the utensils drawer for the corkscrew and then trying to stuff the cork back into the bottle without sending it spiraling down into the wine itself and then having to Google if drinking cork-wine will kill me. This set has a foil cutter, a corkscrew, an aerator spout, a stopper, and even a drip ring, if you’re messy. It’s all stored in a convenient, cute wine-bottle shaped spy kit. How fun is that?
We had a small air fryer and we hated it – it just wasn’t big enough for anything useful. We got this particular air fryer for Christmas and it’s AMAZING. Food comes out crispy, it cooks quickly and with minimal oil, and it doesn’t take up much space on the counter. My husband uses it at least 4 times a week for dinner, and I love it because I can toss some hashbrowns or bacon into it for breakfast and go get ready while they cook perfectly. We have the manual one which is a dream, but there’s a digital one as well with more settings, if you’re into that.
Wire brushes are, while commonplace in grill-cleaning kits, very much not ideal for the task. The shards of wire can seriously hurt someone if they ingest them and it’s more common than you think. This brass – well it’s not a ring exactly, but it’s definitely a shape – cuts through stuck-on food and carbon extremely well and can fit nearly any standard grate-spacing, without the fear of metal shavings in your burgers.
Ice cream is, like revenge, a dish best served cold. This makes it fun and delicious, but also a pain in the wrist to scoop efficiently without flinging it all over your kitchen. This particular heat-conducting scoop is leagues above the traditional scoop with the little level that dishes out ice cream. Heat from your hand travels into the spoon and cuts through the icy treat and the heavy-duty utensil will stand up against even the coldest, hardest-packed ice cream possible.
Finding a place to put your spoon isn’t a difficult task, but this cute, fun utensil rest really makes a “splash”. With its vibrant color and deep grooves, it should keep a handle on any size spoon you need to set down for a moment.
The cutest things often come in small packages, and this little hot dog …dog… is proof of that. Sometimes it only takes a little bit of fun to encourage kids to eat their dinner, and this cutter makes small enough pieces for little hands and then holds them in place. Bonus doggie dish for ketchup or mustard dipping!
Look, nobody is going to argue that pizza is the best but sometimes the cheesy pie is difficult to cut and serve without losing all your toppings. This pizza cutter gives you ultimate control, cleans up quickly and easily, and you can use it on anything that needs sliced. I use it on my kids’ pancakes in the morning, on grilled cheese, and quesadillas and while it seems such a simple thing, it really does make a big difference!
Do you have any single-task or highly specialized kitchen gadgets that you’ve found you simply can’t do without? Let me know and I’ll add them to this list!
Eating out at your favorite restaurants is always a fun way to treat yourself, but ooph – those prices can be crazy steep! Even if you opt for water over soda, a family of four can easily run up a tab of $50 or more (not including that tip, which should be 20%!)
Cooking at home every single day gets exhausting, though, even if you’ve made things easier by meal planning. So how do you walk that line to stay frugal but still feel free to visit your favorite eatery? Well you use the Internet, of course!
How to Eat Out on a Budget
Unless you value your cooking above everyone else’s, then you have other options to save on your next restaurant visit. A few clicks on your internet browser is all it takes to locate the best sites for dining deals.
Use Groupon to Save Money
Grouponsaves you money on a wide variety of stores, hotels, and restaurants. Every Groupon exclusive discount can be accessed when you purchase a voucher.
These online vouchers can help you shave 80%, and more off your next restaurant visit. If you are not inclined to spend money on vouchers, then you’re free to search around their database for free deals from nationwide franchises.
Browse Yelp for Deals
Many people read Yelp for reviews and directions. You can also use it to find out what discounts a restaurant is currently offering. Look for a green price tag icon next to the business’ name and click on it. This will reveal discounts and specials you would have to scour through newspapers to find.
These deals often are for whole dollar amount deductions or a free food item. Leaving honest feedback about your favorite restaurant might even nab you more perks tailor made for your return patronage.
Save with Bite Hunter
Similar to Groupon, Bite Hunteris a deal aggregator site that specializes only in restaurants. No need to worry about checking for expiration dates.
Bite Hunter regularly updates their databases in real time to give you only the most recent deals. Every search can be narrowed down by categories such as happy hours, brunches, diners, all the way to four star establishments.
Eat Local, Refer Local
When it comes to finding local restaurants, Refer Local concentrates all of your search efforts. Enter in some keywords, or the restaurant’s name, along with your zip code. From there, you’ll get dozens of results complete with their hours and menus.
Refer Local even hosts a regularly updated coupon stream. Joining their VIP club can unlock even more exclusive deals not listed on their stream.
Save with Credit Cards
Credit card users love being able to earn cash-back rewards. Upromise.com and ShopDiscover.com are two programs that allow MasterCard and Discover users to save money and earn money.
Upromise by Sallie Mae rewards a full 12% on restaurant purchases with card, plus a 4% new enrollment bonus.
ShopDiscover has an online mall of bonuses available even to carriers with a no fee Discover card. Use ShopDiscover’s portal to purchase vouchers from Groupon or buy direct to get anywhere from 5%-15%.
Keep in mind, some of these deals may not apply for every day rewards. Cash-back bonuses are granted at participating locations and during designated business hours.
Going out to eat and sticking to a budget doesn’t have to be an either/or kind of situation! With the sites mentioned above, you can (literally) have your cake and eat it, too.
What’s your favorite place to eat out? Comment below and let me know!
Do you dream of being financially stable but fear you’ll never get there? What a wonderful feeling it would be not to have to worry about paying your bills because you know you’ll have the funds. You’re saving money for future goals, emergencies and are debt-free or close to it. While it may seem unattainable, follow these five ways to make it finally happen this year and you might just find yourself buying that new home among Winnipeg real estate or wherever your heart desires.
Financial Security Tips for 2019
Create a Budget
A Gallup poll showed that only about a third of Americans maintain a household budget. If you fall under the majority, it’s time to create a budget, which means taking a good look at all your income and how much you’re spending. Make a list of all your bills, including groceries, transportation, car payments, credit card payments, student loans, insurance, your mortgage and rent, and so on. Then total up all your earnings. Subtract your expenses from your income and you’ll find out if you’re living beyond your means.
If you’re overspending, and most of us are, you’ll need to prioritize expenses and see where you can cut back. Even if you aren’t, it can be a good way to help you save more. Review your spending habits and look for areas that can be eliminated or cut back such as an unused gym membership, that daily cup of Starbucks coffee, frequent dining out or even cable television. The more you cut, the more your financial situation will improve.
Write Down Your Goals
Nearly as important as having a budget and trimming expenses is writing down your goals, which makes it easier to create an actionable plan, stay disciplined and motivated. What do you want to do? Do you hope to buy a house, pay off your credit card debt and/or student loans, or travel the world? When you save for something rather than simply saving to save, it will help you focus more.
Get Credit Card Debt Under Control
If your credit card debt is out of control, get a handle on it by ranking each card from highest to lowest interest rates then work on paying them off starting with the highest interest rates first, while still paying at least the minimum payments on all the others. Living below your means is key to long-term financial success. If you regularly spend all your money, or more money than you make, you can’t expect your savings to grow or become financially stable.
Set Up Automatic Transfers to Savings Accounts
It’s much easier to save when you set up automatic transfers to fund savings accounts. After a while you won’t even notice it coming out of your checks, and by paying yourself first you won’t be limited to saving whatever happens to be left, which often is much or anything at all. When you set up automatic savings and then just forget about it for a while, it will start to add up quickly and you’ll be more motivated to stick with it.
So how about it? What will YOU be doing in 2019 to make your family more financially secure? Comment below and let me know!
When I was offered the chance to review the Crenova 3-in-1 Automatic Food Sealer Saver, I wasn’t quite sure if it was something that would be worth my time. Sure, it seems like a good deal, but I very much subscribe to the Alton Brown line of thinking — don’t have appliances that have only one function, they’ll only create clutter!
Regardless, I thought I figured I’d give it a try and see what happens…and oh. my. goodness.
Crenova Vacuum Sealer Review
Note: The links below are affiliate links, which means I’ll receive commission should you click through and make a purchase. This in no way impacts my recommendation of said product.
I decided to try out the Crenova 3-in-1 Automatic Food Sealer Saver one day after realizing we had way too much leftover galumpki (cabbage and beef). Galumpki is one of my favorite dinners, but go figure, the kids aren’t a fan. Rather than let it go to waste, though, I decided it was a perfect opportunity to see if this food sealer was actually worth a spot in my kitchen.
The Crenova 3-in-1 Automatic Food Sealer Saver is incredibly light weight and seriously could not be easier to use. If you know me, you know that it’s not actually my kitchen so much as it is my husband’s (there’s a reason he runs a keto recipe blog and I don’t!) It’s a good day if I can microwave hot dogs for my kids, let alone work the other appliances!
While not my kitchen, though, this is my blog and I can’t recommend a product if I can’t actually use it. So I skimmed the directions and decided to charge full speed ahead!
The Crenova 3-in-1 Automatic Food Sealer Saver has a few different variables on it, namely the option to customize based on your food. I decided to go with “wet food” for the galumpki to account for the sauce. In a matter of 30 seconds, I not only figured out how to use the but it was done – the galumpki was sealed up and ready for the freezer!!
This appliance is so quick and easy to use. It’s sure to not only save you time (seriously I used to do the ol’ freezer bag dipped in hot water to get the air out enough to freeze stuff!) but it’ll save you so much money as well! Personally I’m going to draft up a meal plan and then keep my husband company one Sunday while he cooks a bunch of freezer meals that I’ll then vacuum seal. Team work, people!! hehe
If you’re on the fence about investing in this product (or gifting it to a loved one!) I would very much recommend you join Crenova Kitchen Appliances for Beginners – it’s a great Facebook group that can help you master this wonderful product. The admin are so kind and helpful and the community itself is just wonderful! Be sure to check it out today!!
Making money online is easy…making a lot of money, though? Ehh…that gets a bit tricky. This is why you see so many entrepreneurs, such as myself, running multiple income streams. Personally, I have my e-courses on marketing, I offer 1:1 consultant work as a blog mentor, I sell digital products, and I obviously run a blog (this one!)
Virtual assistants (VAs) do the same clerical work as their real-life counterparts, but their efforts are entirely online. Experienced VAs can pull in big bucks, so don’t be shy about tossing your resume in the ring, especially if you’re well-versed in social media marketing! VAs can make anywhere from $20-$50/hr. Join my Facebook Group to start making connections today!
Sell Your Old Media
Check out Amazon and see what your old DVDs, CDs, or even VHS might be going for!
Review Videos + Music
This is a fun one! Slice The Pie will pay you to review short videos and music; it’s a great way to earn some extra cash while on your computer.
Use Your Phone to Make Money
Some companies will pay you to test their apps. It’s not a bad way to make a little extra cash and I average about $5/month with SlideJoy – and I literally do nothing for it! Check out this post on other ways you can earn money using just your cellphone!
Telecommuting is the new normal in the world of data entry. Take advantage of this cultural shift and start working from home via Freelancer – BONUS $20 when you sign up! The best part about Freelancer is that it’s not just data entry anymore, but opportunities to ghost write, assistant in real life, and so much more!
Create, edit, update, design and stimulate activity for the social media accounts of companies, corporations, or even online bloggers like me! Similar to being a VA, managing someone’s social media for them can pay anywhere from $20-$100/hr.
Again this is one that I still do as a blogging mentor and digital marketing strategist. People are willing to pay for expert knowledge in a variety of fields. Best of all, these exchanges can be done entirely online, so you can even work in your pajamas if you’d like.
Make Money Using Your Computer
Do the links work? Do the images load? Become a guinea pig for web developers and test websites via UserTesting. This one is great because you can do it both on your desktop or on your mobile!
Become a Copywriter
Freelance copying can pull in big bucks for the dedicated. All you need are writing skills and a willingness to seek your own opportunities (or you can work through a “middle-man” using a site like Textbroker!)
If you really excelled in school you help someone improve themselves by virtually tutoring them in your favorite subject. Find a great opportunity on sites like Tutor Hub or Wyzant!
Make Money with Rakuten
Not only does Rakuten (what used to be Ebates) save you tons of money (now on in-store purchases as well!!) but you can refer your friends to join and make money, too. I’ve earned back over $700, there’s literally NO reason not to use Rakuten when you shop!! And if you’re still hesitant, read my guide on how exactly Ebates works!
Do you have a bubbly personality? Do you love making up stories? Perhaps your children are great at playing pretend? There’s definitely money to be made on YouTube, provided you provide consistent and quality work.
There’s great money to be found in property investments, but it’s hard to break into if you don’t yet have the cash to do so! If you can find properties selling at BMV (below market value), you can then recruit investors to help you buy the property for a percentage of the final sale after. This is a great book on how to get started flipping properties!
Making Money as a Creative
If you have a great eye for design and a decent grasp on website building, you could absolutely make a livable income by creating websites for other people! Personally I create my sites myself, but I’ve had clients pay upwards of $5,000 for someone to do their site for them – imagine the money you could make doing just one site every six weeks!
Design Landing Pages
This is similar to above, except far less time intensive. A landing page is what one uses to either A) sell a product/service or B) generate leads through e-mail sign-up. You can view an example of my landing page here: Blog Mentor Services
Work as a Graphic Designer
If you have an eye for design, consider becoming a web-based graphic designer. All you need to get started is Photoshop and you can start work through sites like Fiverr!
Create and Sell Video Series
If you have a talent to teach, create a short video series breaking down the different lessons and sell it online! Even if you put one together and only list it for $10, it can quickly add up and (depending on the niche) take little time to market on a regular basis.
Start a Blog
This is an obvious one, yeah? Domain names can be purchased for less than the price of a cup of coffee, so this is an investment that can be made quickly and painlessly for future gains. Blogging is what gave me MY freedom from my former career to then work from home full-time. Check out this article on how to make money blogging.
Your homemade scarves could turn a nice profit on a crafting site. If you can create it, there’s a market for it, so get online and start selling your wares via a site like Etsy! Even if you only make $100/month, that’s a good start, no?
This site requires you to download a browser extension, but that’s it! They then track what it is you search for via sites like Google or Amazon and you’re rewarded for it. Join QMee now for free!
Write an Ebook
Do you have a genius idea you want to share? Or maybe a unique take on a subject? Or perhaps you want to share a fiction novel you’ve been working on? Regardless of the topic, you can easily create your e-book using a free site like Canva and off you go!
You don’t need to be a professional photographer. There’s money to be made by staging and selling “stock” photos for websites that collect and re-sell them. Check out Shutterstock to get started!
You can always sell things you no longer need and if you’re a parent, you can be constantly reselling the clothes your children outgrow. Check out my article on how to get kids clothes for free!
There are ample opportunities for call center representatives who want to work from home. These jobs are typically by phone or through virtual “live chats.” Thousands of opportunities are typically available on UpWork!
Save AND Earn
As I said above, Rakuten is always a great option to save AND make money, but there are so many more, like:
Some companies will pay you to review their goods and services online. Many provide free products, but often times they’ll pay, too! One company I absolutely love is Blogging For Books, though they don’t pay, they do provide free books and hey, if you were going to spend money on ’em anyway…
This is another great way to earn cash on money you’re spending anyway; hook your grocery reward cards up and it’s a ZERO EFFORT money maker. Sign up for Ibotta and you’ll earn an automatic $5 bonus!!
Get Paid to Translate
You can find a lot of translation work on the web. Since it doesn’t require face-to-face interaction to get it done, it’s becoming a brisk online business. Check out sites like Gengo to get started!
Lend your tech support skills to companies who are looking for people to fix their websites, databases and cloud networks. It’s a job that can be done just as easily online as in the real world.
Online focus groups will ask your opinion on everything from products to politics. If you’re willing to share them, you can make this a steady side gig. Sites like SurveySavvyoften have great opportunities for this!
Do you use any sort of software on a regular basis? Of course you do! Mailchimp, WordPress, Adobe, and hundreds of more options for you to review! Check out sites like G2Crowd to get paid for your feedback.
On ClickWorker, businesses advertise services they need completed quickly – easy tasks you can complete from your couch! You’re able to choose which jobs you wish to complete and you’ll be paid via PayPal – sign up today!
You don’t need to physically travel to Wall Street to try your luck on the stock market. Email a financial adviser and get started with stocks, bonds, franchises and natural commodities whenever you’d like.
The world of self-publishing is growing by the day. If you have a story idea, put it online and see if you can become the next E.L. James.
If you don’t mind new and experimental search engines, you can pull in some money by testing them for their developers instead of automatically directing your queries to Google.
Search Engine Testing
Speaking of Google, they’re willing to pay people to test their algorithms and judge their search engine results pages (SERPs) for accuracy and relevancy. Turn it into a full-job time for maximum cash.
Design and Sell Your Own T-Shirts
If you’ve got an eye for design or a flair for fashion, perhaps you could create and sell t-shirts via a site like Hanes Ink!
Do you have an ear for dialogue? Become a transcriber and lend your services to blogs, businesses and closed-captioning companies. Personally, I’ve paid for one myself a time or two when I wanted to convert video to text and I loved it – such a time saver! Check out Rev for transcription and closed-captioning work!
Teach an online course
Are you an expert in something? Do you enjoy sharing that knowledge with others? With sites like Udemy, you can easily set up your own course and make money (it’s how I made enough money to quit my 9-5!)
Did you know you can get paid to do someone else’s laundry? Check out Laundry Care for more info!
Are you tired of the piles of flyers, circulars and coupons that wind up in your mailbox? Start gathering and selling them on Ebay for extra cash.
Yep, you read that right – tweet! You need to have a decent following, but yes, it’s totally possible to get paid to tweet.
While it won’t buy you a house in the Bahamas, there are certain sites, like Viggle, that will give you cash, prizes, and gift cards for watching and reviewing their TV programs.
In the 21st century, Avon ladies are digital. Direct sales might be a good fit for you if you enjoy challenges and self-made opportunities. There are so many options, from Norwex to BeachBody to the aforementioned Avon!
More Ways to Earn Cash
Companies are always looking for the next big thing. Sell your ideas to others for a portion of the proceeds.
Your spare bedroom can be used as a landing pad for travelers all around the world. Advertise the space online; book people’s appointments online; open your doors in the real world.
Take a step up from selling your cookies on a personal blog. Become a caterer and arrange full-scale meals for parties, weddings, conferences and sports events.
This is another job that will require you to leave your house, but since you’ll book these engagements entirely online, it’s still considered a virtual career. Check out Best Mark for some amazing opportunities (including ones you can do with just your phone!)
If you like creativity and spontaneity, consider becoming an “odd jobs” specialist who builds a reputation for completing any digital task no matter how small or unusual it is (err on second thought, maybe set SOME limits…maybe…) Did you know Craigslist even has an “odd jobs” category? Easy peasy to get yourself on there!
It’s not just for teens! If you’re planning to spend your Friday/Saturday night at home with the kids anyway, why not offer up your services to watch someone else’s kid, too, and get paid for it? BONUS: Maybe all of the kids will place nicely together and you can actually enjoy an evening watching something other than Octonauts. A gal can dream, right…?
Create, design, sell, manage and flip apps for interested parties. It only takes one great idea to become a sensation.
Do you have knowledge of programming languages like C++ and SQL? Use them to become an online web designer.
My Favorite Ways to Earn Money Online
Of the 50 listed above, my top earners (and favorite to use!) are most definitely: ShareASale for affiliate marketing Rakuten – you get an automatic $10 when you sign up! Ibotta – $5/referral + a $10 bonus to those who sign-up; I average $50 earned back each month! Discover Card – The only credit card I recommend – $50 bonus for anyone who signs up through the link plus double your cash back at the end of your first year!