Friday, 29 August 2014

Friday Freebie: Circus Photo Booth Props

Fridays we like to give away free printables to use at your next party. This week's freebie is a printable of circus photo booth props.  Click to download pdf and enjoy!

 Circus Photo Booth Props Printable

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Thursday's Theme of the Day: Circus Party

A circus party is always fun for kids. You can decorate up your house to look like a big top or use a canopy or tent outside. Dress up in a sports coat and top hat and you will be ready to welcome your guests as the ring master.

Some games to have at a circus party include Clown, Clown, Acrobat (Duck, Duck, Goose) or pin the nose on the clown. Let the kids join the circus by giving them costumes or props. Paint the kid’s faces or provide some sort of silly nose or glasses. Make simple clown collars from scraps of material and give these to your guests as part of a "Pass the Parcel" or treasure hunt game. 

Make a “tightrope” with a 2 X 4 board or rope along the ground, have balls available to juggle, stuffed animals to tame and pillows or mats available for tumbling acts. Free cardboard boxes from the appliance store can be used to make a photo booth or cut holes and make “rings of fire” for the guests to toss stuffed animals through.  Have circus treats like cotton candy, popcorn and snow cones and let the kids take turns performing. 

Some kids might be too shy to be in a circus act but they will love watching their friends and being the audience.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Let Them Eat Cake!

When it come to kids parties my advice is to scrap the meal and just let them eat cake.  It’s not that I think kids should get pumped up on sugar but I know that they don’t appreciate food at parties and going to all the bother to fix a meal is not worth it. Kids can be picky eaters and trying to please all of them can cause unnecessary stress for any host.  My oldest son’s first friend party was incredibly stressful because I thought I had to serve a meal and was trying to keep everything hot and ready as the guests arrived only to find that I had to beg some of them to eat or at least force them to wait at the table so others could finish their meals.

Adults throw dinner parties where the entertainment includes a fabulous dining experience and a chance to socialize.  A kids party, on the other hand,  is all about the games, activities and treats.  It’s unfortunate that as we get older we often limit our amusements to eating and end up using any spare time exercising to rid ourselves of unwanted pounds that our indulgences produce. Ironically, kids often find meal time more of a chore than an entertaining experience and yet they have metabolisms that allow them to eat just about anything without ever facing the negative consequences.

I’m not condoning reckless abandonment of the four food groups and I acknowledge that poor eating habits put kids on the destructive path of obesity, but we’re talking about parties here and I am assuming that a party is a special occasion for a child and not an everyday occurrence.  As the host, your primary concern is for your guests and the most important thing you need  to concentrate on is making sure that everybody has a good time.  Since a kid’s idea of a good time is not necessarily based on a meal, a host of a kid’s party should plan for a lot of games and activities and spend any culinary efforts on treats and dessert.

Kid’s parties don’t have to be long, an hour and a half to two hours is plenty of time.  Schedule kid’s parties between meals so that parents know you aren’t feeding the kids.  You can also say that “light refreshments” or “treats” will be served in the invitation implying that “lunch” or “dinner” will not.  If your adult “need to provide food” can't be ignored, there are simple and easy meals that you can serve at a kid’s party like hot dogs and pizza.

If you are worried about a bunch of sugar-induced-crazy-kids running around, relax and serve the cake last.  I actually love to serve cupcakes because they are less messy and can be easily sent home.

Another thing to think about when serving food at a party is allergies or food sensitivities.  Nut allergies and gluten sensitivities are two of the most prevalent food issues that plague our society today.  At my son’s first grade party I opted to forgo the meal and just deal with treats and dessert.  It turned out that one of the guests was allergic to strawberries.  Her mother was so thrilled that she was invited. Apparently other parents had been too nervous to deal with her allergy and so she rarely got party invitations.  I tried to insure that all of the food at the party complied with her allergy but just to be safe, the cupcakes and treats were given to the kids as they left the party.

As kids get older they appreciate food more and can enjoy parties with food based themes like mystery dinners or progressive dinners.  Until then, however, keep it simple and just let them eat cake!

Photo Credit: iStockphoto and Party Time Mysteries

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

When Planning a Party Expect the Unexpected AND the Uninvited!

I’ll never forget one of the first parties I ever threw for my oldest son where I invited his friends, as opposed to just having the family over.  It was the year he started Kindergarten.  Not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings I had insisted he invite all of the boys in his class as well as a handful of girls.  I believe there were 18 on the guest list.  My mom always said to invite twice as many guests as you really expect to show up but obviously times have changed and almost all of them came...and then some!  I made a lot of mistakes with that first party and I have to say it is amazing I wanted to ever host a party again. Mistakes are opportunities to learn but it is always easier to learn without having to make the mistake yourself so here are a few of the lessons I learned with that first party.

Lesson #1: When planning an outdoor party you can NEVER count on the weather to cooperate. My son’s birthday is at the end of March and it rarely snows in Victoria in January, let alone in March, so the expectation that it could be an outdoor party was not unrealistic. As luck would have it, Victoria had a freak snow storm that day and I was forced to bring the party inside after originally planning to hold it outside.  ALWAYS have a plan B for the location of your party when planning an outdoor party.

Lesson #2: If you are serving food at your party, make sure you have it all prepared before hand so you only have to warm it up or have someone else be in charge of cooking it so you can concentrate on the guests.  Having the party location change at the last minute wasn’t that traumatic but the fact that I had mistakenly thought I was expected to serve lunch and was frantically rushing about trying to have the food ready when the party started while simultaneously greeting guests and entertaining 5 year olds was.

Lesson #3: Unexpected guests may show up.  With my son’s party I hadn’t considered the fact that some of the parents were meeting me for the first time and since the guests were young it is normal, apparently, for parents and families to be included in the festivities.  Being a newbie host at kid parties I didn’t realize this expectation until one of the guest’s dad, step mom and little brother waltzed in and happily announced as they proceeded to take off the 2 year old’s coat and shoes, “He is so excited to come to his first party!”  All I could think was, “But he wasn’t invited!”  I quickly grabbed a goodie bag for the toddler and told the lady, “You can come back in 2 hours to pick up his brother.”

No party is going to go perfectly, there will always be a few surprises, but if you know that in advance and are willing to be a bit flexible you will survive and your party will be a success.  I’d love to hear some of the things you have learned from your parties.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Let the Party Begin!

When I was a kid my parents could only afford to give me 1 or 2 things on my birthday but to make up for that, they always allowed me to have big birthday parties.  This was a good idea for two reasons: 1) I felt special and loved and 2) my friends could provide the material things my parents couldn’t.  When I say that I had big parties, they were only “big” in that I was not limited in the number of guests I was allowed to invite, in fact my mother always said to invite twice as many people as I really wanted because she knew that more often than not, half of the people would not be able to come.  The parties I had were most always home parties with traditional games that cost little or nothing.  Decorations were nonexistent or simple at best and refreshments were usually limited to cake, ice cream and punch with a small toy, candy or balloon as a favor to take home.  Times have changed.  Today’s kids seem to expect a lot more–or perhaps it is the parents who want to provide more.  Regardless of who is responsible, today’s parents often pay hundreds of dollars for their kid’s parties.  I don’t condemn those who can afford to spend a lot on their parties but I do know that it is possible to provide entertaining and memorable events without breaking the bank.

The purpose of this blog is to share information.  I will be providing weekly party tips and tricks based on my experiences and research and would love to hear your party ideas, suggestions and successes.  After all, everyone is going to entertain at some point and we can all benefit from the collective knowledge and creativity of those around us.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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