Every year I throw myself a Jenfest. It’s half birthday party, half theatrical event. Ask my close friends–I spend half a year planning it. Each year I design a ridiculous invitation; a tradition my sister started, and I have continued. Nowadays they’re websites. You can view them all here, or check out this year’s invite (complete with a BINGO game you can play at home!).
Jenfest is my favorite time of the year. I love throwing events–big and small. I love finding a theme and working my face into it and adding in as much hilarity as I can possibly muster. Oh yes, it is quite my favorite part of the year.
Jenfest has always been green: I put out recycling and compost bins (with signage!), use paper plates (compostable), keep and wash plastic flatware and cups.
I was having an internal battle this year over Jenfest’s budget. Ever since I became self-employed, I’ve had to look at the costs associated with Jenfest differently. I’ve had steady work since I was 14, often working as many as three jobs. I am hella motivated by money. Paying for Jenfest wasn’t ever anything I thought about, I just loved it, and looked at the associated costs as a birthday present to myself. But over the years the price of Jenfest has steadily risen: my standards for food and beverages has gone up, I’ve exhausted the cheapest options for souvenirs, I no longer live in a large student cooperative happy to hold my parties. Now that I have to seek out a client for each dollar I make, life is different.
I set my budget for Jenfest this year at $250 and was bound and determined to stick with it. I was shocked with the cost for the rentals came in at $224, but I should have seen that coming. After all, I’ve thrown enough parties and events for myself and others that I knew that rentals cost waaaay more than that. Blissful ignorance, I suppose. All of a sudden I couldn’t afford the decorations I had planned: the full color JENGO playing cards, the sparkly (and reusable) Jenfest banner, the Jenfest ribbons to mark the prizes. I was stranded in the land of indecision, until I met my friend Rosalie for coffee yesterday.
I was expressing my confusion about where to go from here, and she said, “I would just to Creative Reuse and find some fabric there and paint on it.” The light went off in my head. I was already planning on finding the prizes from thrift stores and friends’ garages. But what if I recycled (or upcycled, depending…) all of the Jenfest materials and decorations? What would that look like?
I wasn’t sure, but a trip to the Center for Creative Reuse (a wonderful resource if you live in the Bay Area!) pointed me down the yellow brick road towards an awesome, even greener Jenfest. Mardi Gras beads at 15 cents each; shiny plastic paper at 5 cents each. Fabric at 75 cents a yard. Tie silk I had bought years ago for a fraction of an Andrew Jackson. Used golf balls for the Jengo balls. Reused cardstock for hand-made JENGO playing cards.
I spent a total of $22 and wound up with all the materials I could possibly need to deck out Jenfest 2010, a couple ancient history text books for Will and some cool envelopes I can use for Van Gogh My Pet.
I’ll let you know how it goes, and I would love to see you there! All are invited to Jenfest this Saturday. Full details.