Have a Holiday “Staycation”

With continued stay-at-home orders we need to learn other ways to enjoy our lives. With the kids getting a winter break and the holidays fast approaching how about planning a vacation at home – a “Staycation”!

A staycation can be rewarding plus less stressful and more affordable. Most importantly, commit to unplugging. If you act like you’re not on vacation by answering work calls and emails or being as in-touch with neighbors and friends as you usually are, it won’t feel like much of a staycation at all. Make sure everyone knows that you’re taking a little trip by putting your staycation on your calendar, telling friends and coworkers you need some time away, and resisting the urge to respond to every message. That task accomplished, let the staycationing begin.

Studies show that simply looking at beautiful travel photos releases oxytocin in the brain, helping you feel calm, focused and energized. It’s a mini vacation for your brain. So, choose some places that celebrate the Holidays and download photos and the information about the location to share with your family. Here are some suggestions…..

1) Nestled in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is a Bavarian village in Helen, Georgia. You can visit their market, winery or take a ride in a horse-drawn hayride and enjoy the history of the town. https://www.helenga.org/

2) In the Santa Ynez Mountains outside of Santa Barbara, this tiny Danish village celebrates Christmas with ample cheer during its annual “Julefest” in Solvang, California https://www.solvangusa.com/things-to-do/solvang-julefest/

3) This New England town in Woodstock, Vermont, has many charming historic homes that are elaborately decorated every year. The annual “Wassail Weekend” has a variety of events. https://www.woodstockvt.com/events/wassail-2020

4) Leavenworth, Washington, is a small Bavarian style town tucked away in the Cascade Mountains. Along with the thousands of lights, carolers, hand-bell ringers and marching bands they have an annual Christkindlemarkt for handmade gifts and steaming cups of spiced wine or hot cocoa. https://christkindlmarktleavenworth.com/

5) Over 6.5 million lights sparkle in Branson, Missouri every festive season. This town does Christmas proud with 100 Christmas trees, Rudolph’s parade, a petting zoo and more! https://bransonchristmas.info/branson-christmas-activities-attractions/

These are just a few places to explore. See more at this website! https://www.oprahmag.com/life/g28616974/best-christmas-towns-villages/ You can make a slide show and play on your computer or a large monitor.

When planning your staycation locations, research the food available at each place. Bring home some of the taste of the areas for your family to try. With all the restaurants able to deliver now, have your meals brought to you and spend the time you would be cooking, playing games or watching holiday movies with your family. Make your own Mulled Apple Cider in a slower cooker. You can leave it on all day and indulge whenever you want. The recipe is simple. Pour 2 quarts of apple cider into your slow cooker. Add ½ cup brown sugar, stir. Place 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp whole cloves and 1 tsp whole allspice in a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with a string to form a bag. Drop the bag into the cider. Slice one orange and place in cooker. Turn on low setting.

A fun idea is to create a cookie-decorating party! Purchase or make undecorated sugar cookies. Lay out bowls of decorating sugars and toppings along with icing. Decorate your party area with balloon garlands and streamers. You can purchase balloon garland kits here https://www.etsy.com/listing/788159019/custom-balloon-garland-kit-pick-your Gather the family around the table and get creative! Do some nibbling while you are at it. Stream your favorite Holiday music while you work.

At the end of the day gather everyone around the fire, cuddle up in warm blankets and read Christmas/Holiday stories. Search the internet for online stories along with books you may have purchased. Few months present the multicultural “teachable moments” that December does! The following multicultural events and celebrations are among those that will happen this year:

Saint Nicholas Day (Christian), Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican), St. Lucia Day (Swedish), Hanukkah (Jewish), Christmas Day (Christian), Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Christian), Boxing Day (Australian, Canadian, English, Irish), Kwanzaa (African American), Omisoka (Japanese), Yule (Pagan), Saturnalia (Pagan)

Get the family to research these celebrations and share what they learned. Whatever you plan be blessed and safe! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!

Coronavirus Drive-by Parties & More

Because of the recent orders for Social Distancing we have had to come up with innovative ideas to keep peoples spirits up for Birthdays, Anniversaries and quite possible the upcoming Graduations. All over the county, birthdays for young and old are being celebrated instead with drive-by caravans/parades of honking, decorated cars. From 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds caravans tickle the fancy of the birthday people!

Balloons are a great way to mark the location of the guest of honor along with decorating the vehicles. Large foil numbers can be used for the age or letters can spell out a name. Tie clusters of latex balloons to mirrors, luggage racks or bumpers. Make large bows or puff balls (check our blog for directions on how to make your own!) and tie to door handles and front grills. Custom make signs on poster board and attach to the side of the auto.  Some people may hand gifts out the windows but a safer way is to give gifts virtually. Wish list can be set up on Amazon. Email details to friends and family. If you know anyone who can bring a fire truck or police car by, go for it. Make sure they honk the horn and have lights flashing!

It looks like Graduations this year will be impacted by the Stay-at-Home orders too. Along with the cancellation of Senior Grad Nights and Commencement Ceremonies the Class of 2020 will have a lot to remember; NO OTHER class will have this Pandemic in their memory books. Celebrate at home with a meeting online with family and friends via Zoom. Be sure to decorate the area with balloons, banners and streamers so the graduate has a great background to show everyone. If you have a drive-by event guests can use large 2020 foil numbers to decorate the vehicle along with balloons, banners and bows in school colors. Decorate your yard with 2020 Graduation decorations. Place photos of the graduate on stakes showing them through the years. Your drive-by visitors will enjoy this! You can find a Drive-by Graduation Invitation here https://tidylady.net/collections/drive-by-birthday-parade-invitations/products/drive-by-graduation-parade-invitation-779801514

Whatever you do stay safe and alive. God Bless us all! If you need balloons we are here to be of help. Out of the Denton area? Call me I can ship anywhere!

 

 

 

Roaring 20’s Theme – 2020 New Years

20's Roaring 2020 Party

People have always enjoyed the glitz and glamour of 1920s or The Great Gatsby themed New Year’s Eve parties, but this year, as we ring in 2020, this theme is very “BIG”! At your party, turn back the clock 100 years to a time filled with dimly lit speakeasies, homemade gin cocktails, jazz, art deco and iconic fashion trends. Ask your guests to arrive in their best flapper dresses and tuxes and you’ll be well on your way to a party fit for Gatsby himself.

Keeping in the fun Speakeasy feel have “security” at the front door asking for a password, which you can include in the invitations.  The color scheme you will use is Gold, Black, Silver and White. You can find New Years Party Kits that will include Top Hats, Tiaras and Noisemakers in these colors.

Activities If your budget won’t afford renting Casino tables, set up a few Poker Tables and you can find Felt Game Sets that include Blackjack and Craps. Beistle’s set includes the craps rake, cards, dice and instructions, you just need a table to place it on! Hire a Jazz band or put together a play list, you can see and hear the top 20 hits of 1920-1929 here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07f0TPfNLnk to give you some inspiration. Play classic movies during the party (with or without sound) these are a some of the classics of the 20’s, The Kid – Charlie Chaplin, The Jazz Singer – Al Jolson, Safety Last – Buster Keaton, The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Charles Laughton, Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – John Barrymore or Steamboat Willie – Mickey Mouse.

Décor for this theme will also be in Gold, Black, Silver and White. Hang strings of clear lights and have plenty of candles around the party area. Use Gold and Silver shimmer curtains as a backdrop for buffet tables, the bar area and a photo area. Include beads and feathers (signature items for the 20’s) in your centerpieces. A cool idea is to glue glitter on to wine bottles and then add beads and feathers. Balloons can be used too! The balloons pictured above are called “Bubble Strands” and they have the theme colors plus clear balloons filled with gold confetti in the arrangements. These are perfect for a Gatsby touch, and what would New Year’s Eve be without large 2020 numbers? Use them in your photo area or stage. Use both colors, mix or match.

Food – At this time in American history, Wonder Bread was fresh on the scene and foods such as Chinese and Italian were considered ‘exotic.’ Glam up your party with crab stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, tea sandwiches with different meats and vegetables, and glazed hams. To achieve an elegant feel, you can hire servers to pass plates or create a presentation incorporating gold and silver sprays, confetti, balloons and feathers. Elaborate cheese, olive, and nut displays are right on theme, involve no actual cooking, and can be set out and replenished throughout the night. For sweets, pineapple upside down cake, lemon cakes, and Jell-O were all popular.

Cocktails – Combining a holiday and a decade that revolved around spirits makes this part of planning exceptionally fun. Champagne, or your favorite sparkling wine, is a must. Unlike the champagne flutes we use today, the coupe glasses were most commonly used in the 20s. You can find this style at most party stores. As for cocktails, gin was in. This was during Prohibition when bathtub gin was the common spirit. You can find the recipes for the classic mixed drinks of the day here https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/57719/origins-10-popular-prohibition-cocktails

Here is to a wonderful New Year, thank you for reading my Blog, I promise to try and continue posting great ways to celebrate life! Happy 2020!

 

Teen Parties Volume II

Teen Parties Vol II

In this second post for teen parties I have uncluded two amazing events that your teen will love! The first party, and the most relaxed and easy to do is a “Bon Fire Party”.  Few things can beat the pleasure of a night out with friends, music, and a bonfire. It is also easy to set up outdoors rather than frantically cleaning every corner of the house. It’ll be a great idea during winters.

What you need:

Small chairs, sitting mats or hay bales, Bluetooth speakers or a guitar (optional), fairy lights, small candles. If you don’t have a fire pit already in your backyard there are many available at hardware and home stores.

What you can do:

  • Decorate the place with candles, fairy lights, small cushions, chairs or hay bales, and sitting mats.
  • If your teen’s friends love playing musical instruments, ask them to bring them. Maybe, they can all tune in together for a warm party.
  • Keep the s’mores, roasted marshmallows, cake, pizza and refreshing drinks ready.

The next party is a bit more challenging but if your child’s friends are fans of Cosplay this party will be something talked about for a long time. Here are some ideas for an “Anime Cosplay Party”. The term “cosplay” is a contraction of the words “costume” and “play” and simply means, “the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genre of manga and anime.” If this group of friends have a particular game, comic book or movie they favor, make the party a single underlying theme: Examples: Dungeons & Dragons, The Avengers, My Hero Academia, Overwatch or Super Smash Brothers.

Decorations can be character specific or general. Decorate with Comic Book character posters, bright colored balloons, bright colored streamers, bright table covers for tables and wall décor and bright paper lanterns and tissue decorations. Incorporate Anime cutouts into centerpieces and table décor. Make sure you have an area that the guests can get together for photos. This is a must at every Anime Convention, so it will be at the party as well! Put anime in photo frames. Go to a craft store or dollar store and purchase a dozen or so photo frames. If you have photo frames around the house, you can use those instead and put the original photos back in them after the party. Print out some great anime screenshots or images that will fit in the frames. Place them around the party area.

For games you can play charades, karaoke and maybe twister. Pick up a character pinata, every age kid loves candy after all! Maybe you want to play anime video games or trivia. You could also do a twist on Pictionary by playing an anime-based version. Another idea is to play card games, such as Beyblade or Yu-Gi-Oh! card games. Glow in the Dark items can be a great activity for this type of party too. Conventions usually have Glow Parties after the day’s events. Set out bowls of Glow Sticks, Glow Necklaces and Bracelets for guests to use when they want. Prepare music playlists. Find anime songs online. Make some playlists that will last about as long as you think the party might run. Set up speakers or plan to stream the music from a Smart TV with an internet connection. Consider playing anime on TV or DVD. You can play it with the sound low or off if you don’t want it to compete with the music. If you have a projector you can use with a DVD player or computer, you can project anime onto the wall. You may want to watch some classic anime shows like Yu Yu Hakusho, Pokémon or Dragon Ball Z.

If you’re planning to have a large party, it might be easier to order food than make it. Find Japanese restaurants in local directories online or in the yellow pages. Ideas for main dishes include teriyaki meat or salmon, and stir fry with chicken or beef, noodles, vegetables, and toasted sesame seed sauce. Some examples of appetizers or side dishes are sushi, fried rice, soup, clams steamed in butter, and fried shrimp with dipping sauces. There are various Japanese-themed drinks you can serve at your party. Some examples are green tea, cherry blossom tea, soy milk, and Japanese sodas from a local Asian grocer. Use cake decorating supplies to draw anime faces or characters on mocha, cookies, donuts or cake pops. Make or buy cupcake picks of different characters for use on a cake or cupcakes. Enjoy your teen!

 

Tween/Teen Party Ideas

😜 Teens tend to be difficult to entertain. Because they are growing up the classic children’s party is way to “square” or “boring” to them. Teens love lively and happening birthday parties. But throwing the perfect party for a teen is no easy task. You need to plan and organize carefully to the satisfaction of your child. Your teen’s happy face at the end of the day will make all worth it. Here are of couple trending ideas for those hard to please Tween-Teens.

Bring in some social media into your savvy teen’s birthday party. It surely will be the most exciting and stylish birthday party of the year! Enter the “Instagram Theme Party”! You can purchase customized social media selfie frames on Amazon. This one prop will be the center of attention the entire night. Make sure you add plenty of photo props like funky glasses, hats, feather boas, 3D noses, fake teeth, banners and moustaches. Use shimmer curtains, balloons or a favorite fabric for the backdrop in the photo area.

There is actually a fun set of hashtag and camera balloons, plates and napkins available from Havercamp Products. Print out Instagram icons and place on the table and/or walls to decorate. Use a Black and White check table cover found in the car racing section of your local party store. String pennant banners, homemade or purchased, behind the cake/food table and pin photos of all the guests to them. Check with a local bakery to see if they can make Instagram Cookies or try yourself, baking them from sugar cookie dough and icing.

Since creative crafts are always a favorite, supply each guest with an old white dress shirt (the thrift store will have plenty). Set out markers, glitter pens and like. Let the teens create works of art on each other’s shirts. This will be a great souvenir and awesome photos for Instagram!

Another cool party that has a lot of product available to purchase is an “Emoji Theme Party”. What better way to share those radical teen emotions than with fun emojis? This event is a whole lotta yellow and happy. If you don’t want to go to the expense of printed plates and napkins just stock up on every yellow (and Black) thing in the solid colored party aisle. Decorate with an assortment of Emoji Foil Balloons and Smiley Face Latex Balloons. Make arrangements for around the room and on tables. Hang Yellow and Black tissue fans on the wall in back of the food/cake table. Add a huge OMG in black letters cut from construction paper. Bake Emoji cookies using a sugar cookie recipe and frosting.

Create a Photo Booth with a yellow background using plastic table covers. Have the kids make Emoji faces on yellow paper plates and tape to the wall. This activity not only makes a great backdrop but includes the teens in a creative craft. Set out plenty of paints, glitter, buttons, string and the like so they can really get into it! Set out Emoji Photo Props for the kids to use in their Selfies. Have bowls filled with an assortment of Emoji toys for the youths to tinker with. Oriental Trading Company has a bunch of fun items like Balls, Clappers, Squishies, Dice and Wind-ups.

Fix your own food parties that involve each guest preparing his/her own meal are always a hit. Have ingredients for mini pizzas with toppings to create faces. Supply yellow or black aprons for each party-goer or, if your budget allows, emoji aprons found on many websites.

Wedding Style Inspiration

Wedding Style

The biggest mistake a Bride can make is obsessing over a detail you have set in your mind, whether it be a specific color or look of a venue. Coming up with a wedding style should begin with the question: “how do I want myself and my guests to feel”?  Then envision big puzzle pieces like your dress and venue. Will a princess gown or stuffy ballroom fit the low-key dinner party vibe you hope to achieve? Not likely. Next think about what excites you visually. Maybe it’s a favorite movie or work of art. You might adopt the hues or design from these things to incorporate into your own dream wedding.  You want the mood to feel like a natural extension of you as a couple. This is essentially the biggest dinner party you’ll ever throw, so stick to what you know and love. Whether your hostess style is a fancy sit-down dinner or a casual hang with guests up and mingling, channel that at your reception. You both love waffles and mimosas? Exchange vows in the morning, then host a boozy brunch reception. Focus attention and budget on a few hero elements of those inspirations instead of “scattering your efforts” by forcing every aspect to fall in line.

Build a “Wedding Vision Board” using a large piece of foam core so you can add and take off items that don’t work. Gathering photos of venues, swatches of color, ribbons, fabrics, flowers or stationery can give you a much needed visual of what your mind is putting together. You may be obsessed with Blush and Gold but it might clash with your venue or the season you are planning your nuptials. Once you’ve made the physical display, a ready-to-send digital version keeps vendors working toward the same vision.

Choosing colors for your event can be a daunting task. This decision effects so many parts of your wedding, from stationery to décor to bridesmaids’ dresses. Start with what’s in your home and closet. Think about what colors you and your fiancé feel good in, whether it’s neutrals, jewel tones, pastels, or bright and bold all the way. If you don’t have a planner or designer (they should have a Pantone book) you can find the Pantone color book online at Pantone.com – scroll down to Color Tools and click on “find a Pantone color”.  You can purchase individual swatches online. I suggest getting a physical sample because digital hues will vary across screens. You should stick with a maximum of three statement colors and one neutral. When choosing colors consider your venue. Go with shades that complement the surroundings but aren’t to matchy-matchy.

FIVE POPULAR WEDDING MOODS

CLASSIC: Timeless, Elegant, Traditional = romantic roses or peonies and soft colors like cream & blush.

MODERN: Minimalist, Chic, Contemporary = clean lines, black & white, geometric décor

RUSTIC: Outdoorsy, Vintage, Natural = earthy, elegant candle, lace & floral accents on wooden pallets

BOHO: Trendy, Colorful, Unconventional = drawn to patterns and pampas grass, casual

GARDEN PARTY: Charming, Pastel, Whimsical = lush botanical touches, outdoor tents

Stay on point and budget. Identify nonnegotiables: once you have your guest list, narrow down priorities and high-ticket items. Research pays off: Do lots up front to avoid any latent sticker shock. Feel confident about your decisions by comparing prices online and searching for in-person discounts, in department store clearance sections and consignment shops. Don’t be afraid to DIY: If you can’t find the exact décor item you desire, consider making it yourself. You can save lots of money and create meaningful memories with your wedding party and family.

Tell your signature story using the right mix of colors décor, and personalized touches. Remember this is all about you and your soon to be husband! Congratulations!

Family, Friends or School Reunions

Summertime is a perfect opportunity to plan a reunion since the kids are out of school and many people plan vacation time during this season. Whether it be a Family Reunion, Friends Reunion, School Reunion or Old Neighborhood Reunion an event like this calls for special planning. It is wise to ask for help from someone who lives near you. If the reunion is going to be large, more assistance will be needed, setup in committees. One group to arrange lodging for out-of-towners, one to organize and shop for food and beverages and one to organize activities and decorate.

After making the “List” of people to invite, send out e-vites or letters well in advance so guests can make their plans around the date. Now the committees come into play. Together decide on what type of party you are going to have. Picnic, at a Venue, Potluck, Catered, On a Riverboat, at a Park, at someone’s home etc. Figure out a budget and let each family know how much they will need to donate to get this done, don’t take on all the financial burden yourself!

Decorations will definitely need to include photos of everyone. You can invite guests to bring photo albums to place about for others to view. You can create a photo wall/table or a family tree using each member’s photo. String photos on a twine line or banner and hang over drink tables and buffet tables. If it’s a sit-down affair put the photos at each person’s place setting. If you have photos from past events make sure you place those prominently with notes describing the memory. If you have had losses since the last get-together create a memorial table honoring them. Balloons are always a welcome décor idea, better indoors than outdoors; but if the event is held outdoors Balloon Garlands (as pictured) or Clusters do well. You can tie them to fences, awnings, poles, trees and the like. Avoid helium filled decor because, more then likely, they will just blow around into peoples faces, not a pleasant experience. Ask a professional to help.

Most adults usually spend much of their time catching up on news while the kids run off and play but a few structured activities can bring everyone together. Have an awards ceremony after the meal, with prizes or small trophies for the reunion member who; traveled the farthest, is the oldest, is the youngest, arrived the latest, drove the biggest car, has the largest family or any other milestones you can think of. Ask the oldest member to share a story of their life, this is always special for the little ones. Set up a photo booth for everyone to capture memories and share the next time! Make up Trivia cards with information from guests. Send a questionnaire ahead of time to collect facts for the cards. During the gathering, split the group into several teams—the size of the teams will depend on how large the group is. You can do this Jeopardy-style or take turns asking each team questions like in traditional trivial pursuit. Enjoy your time together and cherish every moment!

Moving Away Party

Going Away Party

In this highly mobile society, we all see a lot of friends come and go. The best thing to do when old friends, colleagues or family leave our lives is to throw them a party they’re not likely to forget.

A “moveable feast” or “progressive dinner” is a great theme for a moving away party. Ask three other guests to help host the party by having part of the progressive dinner in their homes, and then divide the evening into quarters. Begin with drinks and hors d’oeuvres at one house, and move on to the next house for soup and salad. Allow plenty of time for everyone to eat their fill, but warn people not to eat too much because there will be two more stops. Go to the third house for the main course, and wrap up the evening at a fourth home with dessert, after-dinner drinks, and coffee. Be sure to plan your feast with three hosts who live near one another so there isn’t too much travel time. Car pool if possible, to keep the party full of energy and to allow friends to continue their conversations. If alcohol is going to be served at any of the stops. Ask your guests to select designated drivers before the party begins – or hire a limousine to transport your guests from house to house. If you know a particular cuisine that will be at the guests of honor new location use this for the theme of the courses. Or mix some of his/her favorite local food with some of the new food at the new location. For the dessert see if you can have a cake made in the shape of the new state/country!

Ask your guests to send or bring some memorable photo from past events-the ski weekend, the camping trip, or the yearly Halloween party-then put the photos in an album, write some funny captions, and present it to the relocating guest during the party. Ask each guest to bring the name, address, and phone number (and a photo, if possible) of someone they know in the guest of honor’s new city. The lucky “mover” will than have several new contacts!

Decorate by making a centerpiece containing items that symbolize the area the guest of honor is moving to. Use a ten-gallon hat for Texas, a variety of cheeses for Wisconsin, or a bowlful of pasta for Italy. Joke gifts are fun too-a rubber worm in an apple for New York City, for example. Make place settings from flags representing the new state or country your guest of honor is moving to, and use the state or country colors for balloons, tables covers and tableware. Look up the Flower that represents the state or country and use it in arrangements for the tables. If your guest of honor’s destination suggests any particular type or piece of music, play it in the background during the party. For example-Zydeco for Louisiana, Western Music for Texas, Show Tunes for New York, Hollywood Movie Themes for California- do some research online for artist and music genre popular in the area. Pick up travel brochures and guide books for the new home area and scatter on the tables for everyone to read.

Give the guest of honor a “survival kit” full of stationery, Cookies, Crossword Books, Coloring Books and Crayons, a mug with a saying about Friendship, Water Bottles, Wet Wipes, Tissues, Tums, Aspirin, Bandages, Gum and notes from their friends and family about how much they will be missed. Add an address book with all the guests addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Give them a one-year subscription to his/her old newspaper to help ease the transition from one place to another.

Patriotic 4th Picnic Party

The Independence Day holiday is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy the warm weather. Planning a Fourth of July Picnic is a perfect excuse to get everybody together. A cute invitation idea is to mail paper lunch bags with the party details written on them. Ask each guest to decorate the bag with a “patriotic” theme and fill it with some favorite munchies to share at the party.

Decorating in customary Red, White and Blue you can make an inexpensive garland out of plastic table covers; simply cut into strips, and tie them to a string of lights, ribbon or rope. Another great fence decoration is Organic Balloon Garlands, you can hire someone to create these or try it on your own (search You-tube for some DIY videos). Create a classy canopy and mood lighting by tying Red, White and Blue streamers onto big-bulb outdoor lights; hang this above a picnic area or a grassy dance space. Make sure you buy plenty of assorted sized American flags to decorate with and to pass out to guests.

Use Red, White and Blue Bandanas for Place Mats or Napkins. You can wrap the cutlery in Bandanas, ready for guests. Use two colors and sizes of paper plates (Red and Blue). Nest the smaller inside the larger like a charger. The 4th screams BBQ! Make up a Hot Dog and/or Hamburger Bar with a wide array of toppings so guests can customize their own “Bodacious Burgers” or “Humungous Hot Dogs”. Sprinkle Red and Blue Tootsie Pops on the buffet table for a Patriotic Treat! And this is the most patriotic drink I have ever seen! A mix of Cranberry Juice, Blue Gatorade and 7-up over ice cubes – see the recipe here https://www.bigbearswife.com/independence-punch

Play a John Philip Sousa marching CD for background music. Have your guests share what they like about living in America. Have each person talk about some unusual or out-of-the-way place in America he or she has visited. Place Picture books around for guests to browse through, one’s that show scenic areas of the country. Book’s like “The Most Scenic Drives in America”, “Off the Beaten Path” or “Roadside Americana”; If you don’t own any, check them out from your local library. You might consider buying a couple books to use for Door Prizes.Whatever your plans this Holiday, remember to say a quiet thankful prayer for our “Freedom”!

Favorite Stuffed Animal Party

Stuffed Animal Party

All children love stuffed animals, and all adults have had one when they were kids. We can all relate to the comfort and even support these animals gave us. So, having a themed party (birthday or just because) around the idea of stuffed animals is a great way to celebrate.

On your party invitations, invite your guests to choose their favorite stuffed animal to come with them. This gives each child a sense of participation even before the party.

When your guests arrive, sit them all down in a circle and ask each child to introduce his or her stuffed animal. Ask them to share a story about their favorite Stuffed Animal. My daughter lost her “Bear-Bear” when we were out shopping one day and we made up “Lost Posters with a Reward” and put them up all around the area we lived. We put an ad in the paper and posted notices up at all the stores in the mall. She was finally reunited with her Favorite Stuffed Animal. Stories like this will bond the children and let them share something very special.

Then get the kids to make name tags (ID Tags) to tie around the animal’s neck with a ribbon. Have the children cut shapes from poster board in different colors and give the kids crayons or fine-tipped Sharpies to decorate the tags and write their animal’s name.

Another craft can be making sleeping bags for their Favorite Stuffed Animal. Before the party prepare several different sizes of bags. Make them from a simple muslin or felt fabric for decorating. At the party have all sorts of paints, buttons, glitter, sequins, patterned duct tape, etc. so the children can personalize the sleeping bag.

Set up a place with a collection of doll clothes and accessories. Let kids dress up their animals and then show them off in a fashion show.  Award prizes for things like cutest, funniest, prettiest, silliest etc. Make sure you have enough categories so everyone can win a prize.

You can either make a cake in the shape of an animal or buy one and place tiny plastic animals on it. After the cake eating, let each child choose one of the little animals. Or consider making cupcakes with an animal on top each cake, and the choosing will be done right away!

The love of stuffed animals brings children together. It is one of childhood’s great common denominators. And a party like this one involves all the guests in participating to make the party fun and creative.