When my son switched gears from wanting a Batman themed party to a soldier party, I immediately went to Pinterest to look for ideas. I lucked out because there were lots of great, inexpensive ideas I was able to draw inspiration from.

Since his birthday is only four days after Christmas, we couldn't spend a ton of money. But, with a little creativity, we were able to pull off a great party.

Even at seven years old, the simple things end up being the most fun. Seriously, boxes, a little mud and Nerf guns. That's all you need for little boys. 

Here's the run down of what we did.

When the kids first walked in, they were greeted by a recruiter, also known as my mother in law. They were asked to sign in and guess how many army men were in the jar on the table. After that, they were given a dog tag and a camouflage strip of fabric to tie around their head. They looked like pint-sized Rambos. 

Once the kids were all present, we ran them through our home made obstacle course. It included logs for them to jump over, a mud puddle (toxic waste) with stepping stones to cross, piles of dirt made a mine field, a bridge to cross and a tunnel made of appliance boxes to crawl through. Refrigerator and dishwasher boxes are awesome. The tunnel led to a tall fort with window flaps and a door..all made from boxes. Afterwards, they had to complete a scavenger hunt.

We set up our tent as base camp, which had the Nerf guns, ammo and a table with a mission map on top. The best part was my husband's surprise attack from the roof while the kids were gathered in the tent. It was the epic beginning of the Nerf battle. 

We painted targets on flattened box lids and taped them on the block walls for the kids to do target practice with water balloons.

This part of the party only cost about $20. 

Food and drink is what we spent the most on. And even that didn't cost much. We set up nacho bar, my party staple. A giant can of nacho cheese is about $7 at Fry's. Big bags of tortilla chips are close to $3 at Walmart. By the time we bought toppings, drinks, candy, paper plates and napkins, we spent about $40 more dollars.

My mother in law bought the cake from Costco and we just topped it with army men and one of the dog tags. I got green and yellow candies from Party City. They're 15 for a dollar. I put them in clear jars we had laying around to add to the cake table. 

When all was said and done, we spent about $60 on the necessities for the party. The kids had an amazing time playing outside. And we were all exhausted afterwards.

Another birthday down. Can't believe he's seven.

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at 573-4137 or apitteng@azstarnet.com. Follow her on Twitter @CentsibleMama or on Facebook at facebook.com/centsiblemama.

Families and schools reporter for #ThisIsTucson. Artist, photographer, mother of one.