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A few months back, my husband and I decided to host a baby shower for some good friends of ours that were pregnant with their second baby. It’s not a shower where you measure the mom’s belly, eat cucumber sandwiches, and look at diapers with melted chocolate bars in them. Nothing against those showers, but I could never throw one, and that isn’t what our friends would enjoy either. Our showers are more like parties. The one we threw this weekend was for everyone in the family, and was complete with a combo of catered food (plus burgers and hot dogs on the grill), two ponies in the backyard for the kids (this is East Texas after all), a pumpkin patch, and an assortment of seasonal beers and Coca Cola bottles from Mexico (cause that Coke is WAY better).
And since this was a Saturday afternoon in the fall, football most definitely was on the TV. Of course there were also presents for the new baby who ended up being born a bit early, two days before the shower. The parents decided to continue on with the shower, and so our unconventional shower got even a bit more unconventional!
We volunteered to host the shower because we care about our friends and wanted the new little girl to have her own celebration so that she wasn’t stuck with having to use all of her older brother’s hand-me-downs ;). However, I would be a liar if I didn’t say that visions of points danced in my head as we started to plan the event. We hosted this shower ourselves, but most showers I have been involved with are hosted by a team of ladies who ultimately divide up the costs at the end. If that is how the shower you host works out, then make sure you are the one putting as many of the expenses on your card as you can – you keep the points and get reimbursed most of the cash!
I know all showers are a bit different, but here is how we maximized earning points for this one (many of the same principles could be applied to hosting any party:
I know that e-invitations are easier and free, but for things like showers and kid’s birthday parties I still like to send out actual invitations. In the past I have used Vistaprint, which is almost always available via a shopping portal like Ultimate Rewards (currently 6x at Ultimate Rewards and 5x via AAdvantage Shopping). There are almost always tons of coupon codes available for Vistaprint as well. However, this time I ended up getting the invitations from a seller on etsy.com and I paid using a gift card that I had obtained at an office supply store using my Ink Bold Charge Card for 5x Ultimate Reward points.
Stamps can be purchased almost anywhere, so maximize that purchase with bonus points as well. For example, earn 2x on “shipping” using the The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN if you purchase at the Post Office, 5x with the one of the Ink cards if you purchase at an office supply store, 6% back if you purchase at a grocery store using the Blue Cash Preferred Amex (up to first $6,000 annually), etc. You get the point.
Food and Drinks:
The real heart of any party are the things you eat and drink. I just don’t have time right now to mess with making everything from scratch, so we outsourced some of the sides to a local restaurant that we love. What makes that even more spectacular is that they participate in the Dining Rewards Network. That means that I earn 5x United miles for every dollar we spend there. On top of that, I used my US Airways MasterCard that was currently offering a targeted 5x bonus at restaurants. That meant I earned 10x for the salad, cake balls, potato salad, etc. that we needed for the party (and Lord knows it tasted better than if I made it!)
We made the hot dogs and hamburgers ourselves, so obviously use any card that earns a bonus at a grocery store to maximize that purchase. We chose to use a 5x gift card for the meat, buns, beer, etc., but do whatever works with your current credit card system.
The ponies are tough negotiators and they want cold. hard. cash. They also love eating our yummy green grass, but that is a whole other story. Due to my shaky start in the world of reloadable prepaid cards, I didn’t pull money out of the ATM using that card, but if I would have it’d be like earning 5x on cash for the ponies. However, we just forked over the cash obtained the old fashioned way and missed out on pony points this time. Once I get a longer track record with my Amex prepaid (or future Blue Bird prepaid card) then I will pull out some 5x $20’s for my pony friends.
I ordered part of their present off of Amazon.com using gift cards purchased at a grocery store earlier this year when grocery stores were a Chase Freedom 5x bonus category. However, you could do the same now with Amazon Kindle gift cards that are sold at Best Buy (a current Freedom card 5x bonus category). You can also go through the Hawaiian Airlines shopping portal to earn an extra mile per dollar for your Amazon purchases.
I don’t want to add up exactly how many points we earned hosting the shower (as that would mean I am adding up expenses, and that doesn’t sound very fun!), but I can tell you the number of points we earned were into the quadruple digits. That means it was a win-win situation. We had a great time, the family we hosted for had a great time, the new baby got lots of diapers, outfits, and other basics, and we earned a bunch of miles and points in the process. Our strategy isn’t fancy, but maximizing miles and points for the everyday things that our family does has worked for us so far, and it is a plan we are going to continue with into the future.
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