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Get creative and throw a great party

By Staff
Mom's Corner, Michelle Blaylock
There are so many things we repeat every year. There are some things we don't enjoy, like paying taxes, but there are others we anticipate every year, like birthday parties. Did I hear a collective groan out there? Is it because our kids are getting older, or is it because we simply don't know what to do for another birthday party?
I have found there are many different places for birthday parties, assuming you aren't concerned with the financial aspects of it. Unfortunately, with six kids, I do have to be concerned with the financial part of it.
I have found the first thing I have to do is give myself and my kids a budget. Otherwise, we just keep adding to the party and it ends up being more than we can afford.
After the budget, try to focus on something your kids enjoy doing. This year we did a paint ball party for our 13-year-old son. The boys seemed to have a great time. Why? Because it is something they're into. Here are some ideas for parties:
Video game party: Rent or borrow several game systems and a bunch of games. You can set them up in various rooms. This is really fun for an overnighter. The kids can play to their hearts' content.
Princess Party: Have the girls dress up in their best dresses or supply princess costumes for them to change into. Have a table set up with a tea set, dress as servants and treat your daughters and their friends like royalty. You can make crowns using cardstock, aluminum foil, and "jewels." If you have a Polaroid camera or digital camera, you can take pictures of the girls, slip them into inexpensive frames, and you have a great take home party favor.
You can also take the pictures with a regular camera, get them developed and then slip a picture in each thank you note.
Play-dough party: OK, before you think I've lost my mind, hear me out. In your invitation, make sure to note that parents need to dress their children in old clothes. Now, you can buy Play-dough or make your own. Leave it white and let the kids add their own color as part of the party. Obviously, you need to do this party outside or on a floor that can be easily cleaned up.
How about a craft party?: Have the supplies ready to make several crafts, which the kids then get to take home. Use beads to make necklaces or bracelets, use foamies to make picture frames or magnets, and don't forget the ever faithful Popsicle sticks.
A cookie or cupcake party is fun, too: You will need to have the dough for cookies ready. Give each child a piece of parchment paper and some cookie dough. Let them roll it or pat it and use cookie cutters to make their own cookies. Write their name or the parchment paper. You can slide the paper onto a cookie sheet to bake. After the cookies have baked and cooled, you can supply icing and goodies to decorate the cookies.
For a cupcake party, have a couple different cake mixes available and let the kids choose their flavor. They could also layer them and have a little fun with it. After the cupcakes have cooked and cooled, supply the decorating goodies and let the kids have fun.
One of our kid's favorites is "Make Your Own Pizza" Party: I make homemade pizza crusts (see recipe below) and pre-bake them. They can be kept in the refrigerator for several days. I set out all the toppings, such as sauce, cheese, cooked sausage and hamburger, pepperoni, black olives, green peppers, onions, etc., then the kids top their own pizzas. All that's left is to pop them back in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Mom's Pizza Crust
This will make two 12 inch crusts or three to four smaller crusts, depending on how big you want them.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup warm water
1 package yeast
In a measuring cup, dissolve yeast and sugar in water. After yeast is dissolved add oil. In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt, add water mixture. Let sit in a warm place for 8-10 minutes. Press dough onto a pizza pan or cookie sheet.
If you want this to be a deep dish crust, grease a round cake pan and spread dough in bottom and slightly up the sides. Bake the crusts at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until they are no longer doughy.
If you're doing a large quantity of these, just take the crusts out of the pans once they've been baked and then grease your pans again for the next batch.
After the crusts have all their toppings on them, place them in the oven directly on the oven rack for a crispy bottom. Bake until toppings are hot and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
I hope these suggestions help you when planning that next birthday party. If you have any questions, hints, or suggestions for Mom's Corner, please send them to: Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35640 or e-mail: