Disclosure: Diary of a First Time Mom is proud to partner with Denny’s as a #DennysDiners Blogger Ambassador. Stay tuned for exclusive content and menu news. Although we’re being compensated in some form, all opinion remain our own.

Dear Diary,

Last night, I ran into an old friend who asked to see a picture of my daughter. I proudly pulled out my cell phone, and she swiped through countless images. She looked up and gasped, and said she can’t believe Caitlynn was turning four this month. I couldn’t believe her children were in high school and college. The last time I saw them, they weren’t much older than Caitlynn. Every year, it gets a little harder to accept my baby is growing up. I keep telling myself that I’m not going to plan a big birthday bash, but here I am, ordering a face painter and a character visit for a princess themed celebration.

Since I can’t freeze the hands of time, I can spend quality time with my little girl. And that time doesn’t have to cost much money, especially since this party is burning a hole in my pockets. One free activity we’re planning is a trip to Denny’s.

Denny's Birthday 1

On your birthday, customers get a free Original Grand Slam® when you dine in at select Denny’s locations. Yep, you get free pancakes just for being born! And who doesn’t love pancakes, especially with chocolate chips. Kids get to build their own Jr. Grand Slam and select three items from a long list of options, including healthier options like egg whites and turkey bacon. And if you’re the birthday person’s chaperone, you can still save by ordering off Denny’s $2 $4 $6 $8 Value Menu.  A Strawberry Pancake Puppies® Sundae is only two bucks!

Denny's Junior Grand Slam


Denny's Birthday 2

Over the meal, we party planned. Caitlynn listed her the friends from preschool and camp she wanted to invite, called my sister to order a Sophia the First princess cupcake cake and asked her cousin to be in charge of the temporary tattoo stand. In addition to the royal birthday bash, I took a week of vacation time. Since I’m splurging on the party, I’m planning to celebrate her big birthday for little to no money throughout the week. Here’s are a few free birthday party ideas.

Monday: Play at the Park!

Walk off those cake calories. And celebrate your child growing up. It’s OK that she’s no longer in the baby swing and doesn’t need you to push her. And it’s OK if you shed a tear! If there’s a fountain like the one at our park, be sure to bring a bag of pennies to make lots of birthday wishes. And grab a bottle of bubbles. If you’re in Pittsburgh, check the listing for Citiparks Movies in the Park. Grab a blanket and watch one of the kid-friendly blockbusters on lawns across Steel City.

Tuesday: Make a Splash!

Pittsburgh is home to several soak zones and spray parks. These free activities are great ways to stay cool in the summer. We’ll probably check out the Water Steps and Canal Square.

Wednesday: Pet a Goat!

Be on the lookout for free community festivals with petting zoos. Round Hill Park and Exhibit Farm is a popular local attraction. It’s a cheaper alternative than zoos and aquariums. And it’s a shorter excursion if the sun is sweltering. Be sure to pack your hand sanitizer!

Thursday: Get Your Game On!

Unplug the TV and other electronics, and dust off your board games. Weather permitting, head outdoors and teach your kids how to play games you grew up on, like freeze tag, hide-and-go seek, duck, duck, goose and hopscotch.

Friday: Have Fun!

To round out the week, have some fun! We’ll probably head to Fun for All, which houses miniature golf, bumper boats, ballocity, batting cages and kiddie rides.

Hey DFTM Fam–How are you celebrating summer on a budget?


About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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