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Last-Minute Kid Party Ideas

Who says you need weeks to prepare for a proper bash? These six low-cost impromptu tips will have your family whipping up a party lickety-split

Did your son make that final rebound to win his fifth grade basketball tournament? Or maybe your husband's boss gave him an unexpected promotion? Perhaps your daughter finally aced her spelling test. Whatever the reason, it's time to party! Trying to pull together an impromptu bash can get your creative juices flowing. But instead of racing off to the store for supplies, look around your house for a little inspiration – and a lot of fun.

Dance-Off

Supplies: dance music CD, plenty of energy

Thanks to TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars, grooving to tunes is hot again. Have your own celebratory dance contest, pitting mom against dad – or even have couples compete for a prize (say, skipping chores for a week – or maybe the loser has to make everyone breakfast in bed the following day). Set the mood with upbeat tunes like ABBA's "Dancing Queen" or Michael Jackson's "Beat It." Have the party honoree act as the judge. You can even invite friends to watch (or compete in) the fun.

Fashion Forward

Supplies: newspapers, scissors, tape, enthusiasm!

Party in style by having each person create his or her own fashionable ensemble. Raid the back of the closet (you know – where the old bridesmaids dresses are lurking). Or grab a stack of newspapers and create your signature look with paper and tape. Boys and girls will laugh as they make up their own party clothes. And don't forget to finish your look with a hat. Once the fashions are complete, have your own runway show with your party honoree describing each "model's" outfit as he or she takes to the catwalk.

Replay Revelry

Supplies: Willing actors or socks, lunch-sized paper bags, markers

Recreate the celebratory moment/event at home so everyone can relive it with the party honoree. For example, if your son made that winning basket, have your family members take their places as members of the opposing team with your son pushing through to score the final shot. Maybe a wad of socks can serve as the basketball. But don't just limit yourselves to acting it out in person. Create sock or paper bag puppets to play the scene. Use the family room couch as the stage and let the kids reenact their prized moment while parents and other family members watch (and applaud!).

Cookie Explosion

Supplies: Store-bought cookies (like Chips Ahoy!), frosting, sprinkles, candies, food coloring (optional)

Sweets make a party, but making these sweets becomes the party. Let each guest slather frosting on the cookies; then, decorate them with sprinkles and anything else you have on hand (think: Nerds, Smarties). Have contests to see who can make the silliest cookie, the best-looking cookie, the grossest, etc. Take a plate of cookies to friends or neighbors to let them know what you're celebrating. Or, if you're applauding a team effort, let your kids take some cookies to their coach, teacher, or a friend as a way to say thanks. (Wanna bake a batch? This easy puffy sugar cookies recipe uses ingredients you probably have on hand!)

Skit in a Bag

Supplies: plastic or paper grocery bags, household objects

Divide your party guests into equal groups. For each group, put together a bag with a certain number of objects. Then, give each group 10 minutes to create a skit based on a theme. For example, put five random objects in each bag – like a whisk, a wig, boots and a stuffed animal (each bag should contain different items). Tell each group the theme, like silly sports activities. When the time is up, let each group perform their skit for the rest of the party guests.

Spa Day

Supplies: washcloths, water bucket, lotion, fingernail polish (optional)

Give your party honoree the royal treatment with an hour or so of rest and relaxation. Organize various "spa" treatments to indulge your guest of honor. For example, let her soak her feet in warm water, then towel-dry those tootsies. Give her a foot massage, complete with rubbing perfumed lotion between each toe. You can repeat this procedure with hands, too. Don't forget to paint each toenail and fingernail.

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