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The Problem: You're on a tight budget, but your child has his heart set on a big bash. How can you cut back costs but not skimp on fun?
Solve It: If you use your imagination, there are probably party materials all around you. Round up ingredients from your cupboard or junk drawer -- food coloring, relish, mustard, cotton balls, leftover Easter-basket "grass" -- and challenge your guests to devise the most disgusting recipe possible. "Kids love to make gross concoctions," says Lisa Kothari, author of Dear Peppers and Pollywogs: What Parents Want to Know About Planning Their Kids' Parties. (Just be sure no one eats them!) Lean on tried-and-true party games such as musical chairs, a scavenger hunt, or pin the tail on the donkey; they're classics for a reason -- they're both fun and free! If you're out of homespun ideas, consider Birthday Party Bash by 2K Play for the Wii ($20): Up to 12 kids can join in 20 different party-themed video games.
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