Cheap (mostly free!) parent-friendly kids party tips

As a mom to four kids, ages 24 to 14, I've planned a plethora of kids' parties. I'm also a teacher and have hosted numerous classroom events. I've had some great successes and colossal fails. From those experiences, I've compiled a list of tips for parents on planning kids' parties. These parties are geared toward preschool and elementary age kids. These parties work great for large families and parents with toddlers and babies. Speaking as a mom whose husband worked a lot and wasn't always able to help, these tips work great for single-parent parties and those where mom or dad has to pull it off alone.  Being a frugalista, these hints focus on cheap or free homemade party ideas. I've linked online sites with free printable party supplies and decorations, too. Cheap, parent-friendly kids' birthday party tips 

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education.