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As the school year dawns, my daughter's birthday approaches. She's an end of August child, making her the youngest in her class. But, unlike my own birthday at the start of summer, she gets to celebrate her birthday outside most of the time.

It's a wonderful time of year for a party, and we've planned pirate parties, craft parties, zoo parties, pool parties, petting farm parties. I enjoy the planning probably more than she does the event. However, as she gets older, she wants less of Mom and more of her own influence on the party planning.

Still, she likes to have ideas from which to choose. My work usually introduces me to many interesting people, which has influenced some of the themes. If you are looking for something, check out Martha Stewart's Web site, which has plenty of good ideas (and they don't have to be as perfect as hers).

I'm a huge fan of Birthday Express, which can package all your party needs together, but Christmas Tree Shops is also a good source of party gifts and ideas. I frequent Target and Michael's for goodies for the gift bags.

Finally, no party would be complete without a pinata. But don't buy the packaged pinata candy from the store, it tends to be old and may have been sitting on a hot truck for a long period of time. Clip your coupons and shop sales. Dollar Stores and Big Lots are also good spots for inexpensive candy.

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Tags: Erie, birthday, gift, girl, ideas, parties, party, pinata, summer

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