By Lisa Kothari for Life & Beauty Weekly

You don’t need to spend a fortune to give kids a great birthday party! The important thing is bringing your child and her friends together and showing them a good time.

If you can’t or don’t want to spend the money on a party place, have your event at home or at an inexpensive venue such as a community center, church hall or (weather permitting) a park. You don’t have to invite everyone in your child’s class, either — the golden rule is to invite one guest for every year of your child’s age, plus one (for a 7-year-old, you’d have 8 guests). But if you’re not inviting the whole class, don’t hand out the invitations at school.

Save money on decorations by using items around your house. For instance, you can paint paper plates and use a hole-punch and yarn to string the colorful deoration together. One area that can really add up is food: A full lunch or dinner for both kids and parents isn’t cheap. Instead, hold your party during a non-meal time (say, 2:00 PM) and serve cake, ice cream and drinks.

Fun activities don’t have to cost a bundle, either. Young children love classic games like treasure hunts and races. If the weather is nice, get a box or two of sidewalk chalk and have the kids make a mural, create tic-tac-toe and hopscotch games, or write their names in decorative ways. I love “cookie concoctions” — make and divide a batch of sugar-cookie dough, then let the guests raid your pantry and mix everything from cereal to ketchup into their portion. For party favors, pick up some plain T-shirts or tote bags and fabric paint at your local crafts store. Your guests will go home with their own creations — no need to buy goody bags!

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