Kim Tracy Prince is a freelance writer and mom blogger in the Los Angeles area. She serves on the advisory board of BLP Connect, a Los Angeles women’s networking group, and also organizes occasional diaper drives and cocktail parties for grown-ups. A little boys’ birthday party presented a unique challenge.

Two kids, one birthday party. What’s a busy mom to do to keep all the little ones engaged?

I am not one of those super crafty moms who can throw the world’s best birthday party every year for my two little boys. Heck, I even gave birth to them two years and 8 days apart so that we’d only have to have one big birthday celebration a year. To avoid the hassle of throwing a party, we have often opted for special weekend trips.

This year, however, I was the school auction winner of a special space-themed birthday party package at a new indoor playground – $95 for 12 kids, everything included. It was my dream come true – an inexpensive party for my boys who were turning 6 and 4, food and favors for the guests, and someone to clean up the mess.

However, the indoor playground was so new that it wasn’t even open for business by the time the boys’ birthdays rolled around. The owners had kept me abreast of their construction schedule, and I held out hope that it would happen, but to no avail. I had to change plans at the last minute.

There was no time to find an alternate off-site location for the same low price, so I chose to hold the party at our house. One mass email to the online invitation list handled the guests – that was the easy part. What to do once they got here? I certainly wasn’t going to spend a fortune on decorations or favors, and I didn’t have time to make them myself. I’m also not very gifted at playing games with large groups of 6- and 4-year olds.

RAWR! Prince worked with her sons to create space-themed party decorations, and included the party guests in creating their own party favors.

The key was to employ the creative energy of the children. We had one week. My own boys made alien monsters out of cardboard boxes and pipe cleaners to serve as table centerpieces – an activity which occupied them while I ordered a box of craft supplies with expedited shipping. Those went on the table on the day of the party for the guests to make their own bubble-bottle aliens as party favors.

Add a couple of purchases, such as a space-themed bounce house rental and a custom made ice-cream cake, and voila! Instant party. It only took me one day to clean it all up.

The best thing I learned from this was that if you think creatively and on your toes, you can pull off a fun event for guests of all ages. Have you hosted any birthday parties recently? What did you do that worked?

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Birthday coming up? Why not use Eventbrite to post and promote your party?