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The next time you plan you kids next birthday party, try one of these inexpensive, creative ideas, instead of a pricey party out.

Carnival - Turn your backyard into a carnival. Enlist some local pre-teens to man tables doing face painting, apple bobbing, make your own party hats (buy plain hats and let kids decorate with stickers, pom pons, etc)and make your own necklaces (string licorice with 0 cereal). You can also play bozo buckets, and, if you feel like splurging, rent a moonwalk for your backyard. Buy some cheap prizes for gifts.

Nature Walk - Send the tikes on a nature walk, with you as the guide. Draw pictures of things to find on a piece of paper and supply each child with a bag. (Some things to find might be a twig, feather, leaf, etc).

Scavenger Hunt - For older kids, divide them into teams and give them a list of household items to "scavenge" the neighborhood for. First team back wins a prize.

Baking Party - Let the kids bake mini-muffins, brownies or cookies and then let them decorate them with sprinkles, frosting, crushed cookies, jelly beans, gummies, etc. You can even give each child a chef's hat and apron for a goodie bag gift.

Arts & Crafts Party - The possibilities here are endless. How about a ceramic painting part. (Purchase figurines at a local art store). Or, go to a craft store and buy mini benches that the kids can decorate and paint. Or, how about sand
art, or decorating mini picture frames. With the frames you can even take a picture of the birthday child and each guest to put in the frame.

Olympic Games - How about relay races, bean bag toss, sack races, etc. Divide kids into teams and give out ribbons for winners, personal achievment, etc. (Just make sure you have a ribbon for each child).

Beauty Party - Great for little princesses...Give manicures, makeup lessons and french braids to all your guests. Nail polish and a mirror makes a great goodie bag gift.