Spider-Man: Into the Birthday-Verse

I wrote last week about some of my hacks for birthdays on a budget. This weekend, I had the opportunity to put my (modest amount of) money where my mouth is, as we celebrated our favorite youngest son turning five (WHAT)!

This picture makes me vividly remember the smell of his squishy baby head.

The theme was Into the Spider-Verse, which is his very favorite movie, because our children have impeccable taste. It’s not a crazy-popular theme, so rather than pay through the nose for beautiful bespoke party goods on Etsy, I got creative.

Food: We went simple. Fire Marshall doesn’t eat much, frankly. He is picky and easily distracted, and planning a meal around him was going to be an exercise in frustration, so I took a pass on that one. We put out chips and dips, a “charcuterie plate” with cheese and his favorite meat sticks, and a veggie tray. The centerpiece was a fruit plate, the one Pinterest-worthy offering I could be bothered to throw together. Total cost for food was about $20.

Leftover strawberry frosting in a ziplock bag.
Not pictured: veggie tray, lemonade, totally unstressed hostess

I’m so glad I did this, and so glad I did literally nothing else to make my food “on-theme.” It was all demolished in due course, anyway.

Fun: The kids put together food plate and then quickly abandoned them to run outside to play. We set up a “superhero” obstacle course with items we already had, like a tunnel, a scooter, climbing structure, and our favorite thing in the world, Gonge Riverstones. This got everyone active and involved, and was fun for kids aged 2-10.

You’ll notice that I did not spend a lot of time, energy, or money decorating. That’s because my child is turning five and he literally does not care. And you know what, your child probably doesn’t care, either. Let’s be real; those tasteful coordinated decorations have nothing to do with our kids’ birthday experience, and I’m not trading my precious limited resources for Insta hearts.

Best part is that these babies can be left up till November 1. Working smarter.

We had balloons, streamers, and some Halloween spiderwebs, all from the Dollar Tree. The red, black, and blue paper goods are also from the Dollar Tree. I did spring the extra 75 cents to buy the Spider-Man napkins, just because I thought they were cute. All told, we spent about $15 and 15 minutes on decorations, including “on theme” paper goods.

So how did we spend our money?

Well. We spent it WELL.

This is Miles Morales, otherwise known as my son’s personal hero and career goals. He came to our house. He colored with us. He played outside with us. He did a web-shooting lesson. He even brought a gift! We got some of the greatest pictures I could ever ask for. We found a new company with outstanding costumes, that is building their business and offering great deals. We got 20% off their already very reasonable prices, and we were THRILLED. If you’re in the Phoenix area, I highly recommend Into the Party Verse!

They brought the backdrop and the kids got to tag it with their names before pics.
He was a little overwhelmed at first, so Miles colored with him while they got to know each other.
He also graciously endured a thorough (and never-ending) interrogation from Boy Marvel.
Miles interacted beautifully with everyone, but made so much special effort to stick with our birthday boy.

Finally, we had cake, which I made myself for about $10 in ingredients. I’m pretty proud of it.

Gluten-free vanilla with fresh strawberry buttercream and marshmallow fondant

For favors, the kids got to keep their Spider-Man masks from the web-shooting lesson, and took home this cool sensory toy, which I bought in bulk on Amazon. The kid in me wanted to give out cans of silly string “webs,” but silly string is terrible for the environment and I’m pretty sure my mom-friends would never forgive me if I did that to them. These things stretch and twist kind of like webbing, and make a great fidget toy.

At the end, I had very little to clean up, no wasted food, and a metric ton of memories to file away. Our Fire Marshall had such an amazing day. He had some gifts to open, but nothing enormous or expensive: puzzles, books, some legos. The bulk of his present was spending the afternoon with his hero. We stayed on budget and had a blast. I asked him how he felt about his birthday weekend, and he simply said “wonderful.”

Wonderful, indeed.

Next up is our Christmas Day birthday kid, so I’m already thinking about how I can streamline that and make it as simple as possible. Currently accepting ideas!

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