Covid-19 Indoor Camping Trip

Your summer plans are likely in a bit of disarray due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be rethinking plans to send your children to summer camp or your camps may be cancelled altogether. No need to worry! Check out these great ideas for an “Indoor Camping Trip”!

The first part of this adventure is to set up a tent. Move large pieces of furniture out of the way so you have a nice sized area to create your campsite. If you don’t have a real tent you can use sheets or blankets to make a canopy. You can get some great instruction for constructing temporary tents here https://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Indoor-Tent  If you have sleeping bags put them under the tent. Or you can pile up pillows and blankets. Anything comfortable.

Bonfires aren’t very transferable to indoor camping parties (unless you don’t mind burning your house down) but this is a really easy way to make a safe, indoor campfire using some old toilet paper rolls. Paint the tubes different shades of brown. You can make them look like wood with light colored stripes.  Arrange them like a camp fire and tuck in some red, yellow and orange tissue paper. You can use some tissue shred as well. Cut red and yellow shiny card stock for flames. Pop a few LED candles in the middle. LED candles are battery powered and much, much safer than a real flame and won’t cause a fire if they’re knocked over. They shine pretty brightly too so you could create a bit of atmosphere by turning off the lights and eating in the light of your fake bonfire!

Stringing mini Christmas lights around the area can mimic a starry night sky. If you have some camp chairs bring them down from the attic and place them around the campfire. If your kids have large stuffed animals bring them to the party too. Place the creatures around the area to be your forest friends. Look for a CD of nature sounds and play that in the background. They can be found online or at Barnes & Noble. Also check a used book store. Grab a bunch of small flashlights for everyone to have. They will be great tools for storytelling and games. Stock up on some glow necklaces and bracelets for fun in the dark.

Now it is time to stock up on tasty camping food! An indoor camping party means you can really go to town on themed food! Think about all the things you’d eat if you were going on a real camping trip and simply recreate them! Here are a few ideas to get you started: Hot dogs or burgers. Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly is my favorite!), one pot meals like stew or mac and cheese or any finger type food and/or trail mixes. And it wouldn’t be a real camping experience without Smores! You can easily make indoor smores and they literally take about 30 seconds and are so yummy!  You can use standard ingredients, add peanut butter, use Nutella, or substitute a chocolate bar of your choice. Cut the graham cracker in half and add a big marshmallow on top- pop in micro for 15 seconds.  Add your chocolate bar of choice and micro for 5-10 more seconds. Top with the other half of the graham cracker and voila! One little slice of heaven on a plate. Don’t forget breakfast treats the next morning. Pancakes and bacon – Yumm!

Hopefully you can convince your kids that you can have fun without the internet. Make a rule – NO PHONES – for this camping trip. Sit around your faux bonfire and sing camp songs. You can find the lyrics and guitar chords to some of the classics here https://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/camp-songs.html#.XvT8IyhKjIU If you are unsure of the melody check on YouTube beforehand. Make sure you print out the lyrics so no one is staring at a cell phone screen.

Play cards games. My favorite game to play on our yearly camping trip was Cribbage but if the kids are to young for this game there is always Uno, Fish or Old Maid. An unusual card game that the kids will adore is “Blind Man’s Bluff”. The standard version is simply high card wins. Each player is dealt one card from a standard deck and they display it to all other players (traditionally stuck to the forehead facing outwards- supposedly like an Indian feather). This is followed by a round of betting. Players attempt to guess if they have the highest card based on the distribution of visible cards and how other players are betting. Not to get cash involved, bet with jelly beans or candy bars. Art and craft projects are always fun and keep kids entertained. Rock painting has become very popular and people love leaving them in public places for others to find. Set up a craft table and find smooth river rocks. Have paint supplies handy for the rocks and maybe some other projects like popsicle stick frames and tin can pencil holders.

Next, I remember so well how scary stories around the campfire was the highlight of the night! A good resource for some of the most memorable stories is here https://www.bustle.com/articles/191893-10-spooky-campfire-stories-to-tell-your-friends-in-the-dark. Again, print them out so you keep the no phone rule. Reading a book to the group is another way to enjoy your campout. Chose some kid friendly books like Don’t Feed the Bear by Kathleen Doherty, Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt or Mouse Scouts: Campout by Sarah Dillard. Maybe you can have an older child read to the little ones.

Now that you know how, lets get to camping! Stay safe and wash your hands!

Spring Equinox Celebration

Spring Equinox Party

The spring equinox, or Ostara, is also called the vernal equinox and has long been celebrated as a time of renewal, rebirth, and new beginnings. The exact date and time of the spring vernal equinox changes slightly each year and marks the first astronomical day of spring in the Gregorian calendar. The word equinox is derived from Latin. It means “equal night.” On the day that the sun passes over the equator, the length of day and night are said to be approximately equal. This means that there will be approximately 12 daylight hours and 12 hours of darkness on both the spring vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox.

The spring equinox is an awesome reason to celebrate with friends and family. Try getting everyone together (aside from Easter) to enjoy the change of season. Celebrating outside is the optimum way to enjoy Spring. But, since next week the forecast is rain, you can bring the festivities inside or under a covered patio. You can plan on a day party or late afternoon into evening party. If it is clear enough it is fun to have the party flow into the evening to view the night sky and stars. You can have a constellation naming contest. If weather permits consider a bonfire. It is always fun to sit around the fire and tell stories, sing or make smores.

Since you are celebrating the beginning of the Spring Season make sure you display lots of jars or vases of flowers from your local Florist or Grocer. You can decorate walls with cutout flowers and birds. Make them yourself or buy pre-made cutouts from a party store. Balloons in beautiful spring colors can be tied to chairs or bundled and weighted down around the party area. Decorate a Spring Nature table. These tables are used for placing natural items that reflect the season. It is meant to be explored and used as a nature study. Ask your guests to bring something to add to the display. Allow them to share the story behind the items they give. The benefit of hosting this party is that you can keep the nature table intact. If you have children you can study the table and the children can add things they discover outside. Playing with nature tables provides a rich sensory experience for the developing child. See more about nature tables here https://rhythmsofplay.com/spring-nature-table/

Serve fresh food reminiscent of Springs bounty. Fresh fruit skewers made of strawberries, kiwi, pineapple and grapes. Green salad with lots of cut cucumbers, shaved asparagus. Radishes, cherry tomatoes and the like.  Deviled eggs and local fresh baked breads. Fire up the grill – even if it a little chilly outside and make up grilled chicken and vegetables. End the evening with fun delicious macarons decorated like chicks. Here is a great video on how to make them! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7j9jCuHzvw

Since the spring equinox celebrates a time new beginnings a fun activity is to have everyone make a list of new things they want to do. Share them with each other. You might find other people that would like to share the same experience with you. Or you might find someone that can help you achieve the new skill. An example is that you want to learn the piano and someone in the group knows how to play and would love to help you with that dream. Another activity, if you are so inclined (for the mess it makes!), would be for everyone to get their fingers in paint and get creative. Children and adults alike will enjoy this. Set up a table with plenty of paper or canvases, finger paints, paper towels and paper plates to use as palettes.  Make sure you cover the table with newspaper or a plastic table cover. Let your guests make paintings of all things related to spring. You can find a ton of ideas here https://rhythmsofplay.com/the-best-fingerprint-and-thumbprint-art-ideas-for-kids/  Finally send home all your party goers with a small flower, vegetable or herb plant that they can plant themselves. Make sure you print out some simple instructions in case the little pot goes home with a novice farmer.

Happy Spring!

 

Plan a Game Night Party

There really isn’t anything more fun than introducing your kids to classic games that you loved when you were a child or getting together your adult friends to indulge in your guilty pleasure!  I don’t know about you but a classic game of Monopoly, Scrabble. Twister, Parcheesi, Candyland or Sorry are more fun and engaging than everyone sitting on the couch focused on their phones, not communicating and self-absorbed.  Who knows, planning a game night with friends and/or family might start a trend of talking and laughing with each other regularly! Here are some ideas to get you started on this new adventure!

Greet your guests with a fun “Move ahead 12 Spaces” sign, laying down directional squares (like a game board) made from colored napkins or construction paper, and brightly colored balloons. As your friends enter the party area, make sure your food table hits them in the face with the fun theme. Make a backdrop from air filled round foil balloons in different colors. Tape them together to resemble a twister game mat. Attach to your wall with Command strips. If you don’t have the budget for balloons use colored paper plates.  Pile up games as risers for glass containers or bowls filled with brightly colored candy. Wrap water bottles with candy dots; add a homemade Monopoly inspired “Water Works” sign. If you are serving sparkling drinks serve them in candy rimmed glasses. To do this dip the rim of each wineglass in melted white chocolate and then press into a saucer filled with confetti sprinkles. Use scrabble tile food signs next to your food’s trays. Serve simple foods that can be taken to game tables and eaten casually during the evening or day (based on the timeline of your event).  Popcorn is an awesome choice, make Domino inspired popcorn bags using white bags and colored card stock. You can find instructions here https://www.hwtm.com/2015/12/game-on-5-easy-creative-ideas-for-game-night/ Make crispy treats, cookies or a cake and decorate with M & M’s. The bright colors and circle design mimic so many board games. Some other heartier food items that tend to be mess free are Miniature Corn Dogs, Miniature Pizza’s, Hero Sandwiches, Taco Dip and Chips, Cheese and Crackers, Pigs in a Blanket or Chicken Fingers.

Making decorations for your game theme party may need a trip to a thrift store. You can make garlands from Uno Cards or Monopoly money. So, not to steal from the game you are using to play with, take a trip to a second hand store and buy up any games you can find to tear apart and use for decorations! Tape game cards on helium balloon ribbons, hang from the ceiling and use as place cards or invitations! Use Poker Chips or gold Coins to scatter on tables like confetti. Fill flower vases with poker chips and place flower stems inside. Wrap paper cups and cutlery packages with playing cards. You can hang game boards from the wall behind game tables or beverage stations.

Create several game stations. Set up games in various corners of the room. Using 3ft or 4ft card tables and chairs (4 at each table) is a perfect setup. If you don’t own these, consider renting them. Divide guests into groups of 4 and let them start a game circle. Set a timer for a specific time (15-30 minutes) and let the fun begin. When the timer rings, guests move to the next station noting who was the winner at each station. After everyone has played all the tables the best 4 people will have a playoff. The champ gets a prize, like a special edition of Monopoly.

Everyone walks away a winner when you reveal the biggest surprise of the party: secret prizes hidden behind the balloons (or paper plates) at the buffet! As you setup your twister backdrop, tape scratch off lottery tickets on the back of each balloon or plate. Then at the end of the party ask each guest to pick one for their prize!

I hope you try this fun party and find you have created new bonds with friends and family! My family always plays board games on holidays but after writing this blog post I think we need to get together more often! God bless!

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”!

Holiday Parties want BALLOONS!

Most people don’t associate Christmas/Holiday parties with balloons. That could not be further from the truth; with so many creations that can make the party spectacular! Many of them are air filled so they can be used for display for a couple weeks or more. The small Centerpiece trees or Gift Boxes can be easily picked up at our studio. They can be in any color combination. The Christmas Light Bulb garland can be a great DIY project using plastic cups, 12″ balloons and ribbon. If you use a cool glue gun you can glue the pieces together or use double sided tape. The large Trees, Columns and Arch can be delivered and/or installed at your office, home or venue; again the color combination is unlimited. Helium filled balloons are also available and can be picked up or delivered. We can treat them with a product called Hi-Float and they will last more than one day. Give us a call and I will be happy to discuss decorating ideas with you. Until then Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Winter Graduation Party Ideas

Winter graduations tend to be overlooked because most retailers only carry decorations and supplies during the peak season of April, May and June. These ideas can be created with everyday materials and still make your Graduate feel special! We always carry our Graduation balloons all year long so don’t hesitate to call us for this portion of your event! We will be happy to eamil you a flyer with lots of ideas.

Last week’s tip showed you how to make your own tissue pom poms. Using this method, you can customize a Memory Table or cake table to match their favorite colors or school colors. Fold Poster board in three to make a collage of the persons photographs through the years. Hang the pom poms on a ribbon or rope over the table. Add any important mementos to your display. Since this party will probably be indoors (there may even be snow on the ground) a wonderful place to decorate is a staircase. Glue pictures onto wide colored ribbon and fasten to the staircase. You can attach balloons to the railing as well. A great idea for a Card box is to decorate a suitcase as shown. You can cut out letters from poster board and paint or glitter them. Serving a delicious soup (kept warm in a crockpot) is a perfect choice for a Winter Graduation party as well as the Pirouette Cookies made to look like diplomas. You can find the Pepperidge Farm brand in most large grocery stores or check a local bakery. Make sure you have plenty of seating for your guest. You can order linens in the school colors or if your budget doesn’t allow for linens you can purchase plastic table covers. For round tables buy a round table cover in one of the school colors and then cut a banquet table cover in half for the other school color. Place on top as an overlay. Inexpensive and impressive! We carry many colors of plastic table covers, just give us a call. Dress the tables with simple 3 balloon centerpieces to make the entire room festive and fun.

 

Do it Yourself Tissue Pom Poms

Napkin Tissue Pom Poms

Tissue Pom Poms are a great decoration for many types of events, however, the color choice is sometimes limited. Making your own is easy and you can blend colors and/or designs. By using napkins; your selections are almost unlimited!

  1. Purchase paper napkins 2ply is easier to work with than 3ply- any color, any design – whatever will work for your party theme and color scheme. Luncheon size napkins will make a ball approximately 12″ in diameter. Beverage size napkins will make a ball approximately 5” in diameter.
  2. Open each napkin up and stack them all together. I used about 15 napkins per pom pom. I suggest at least 10-15. Remember the more sheets you use the fuller your pom pom will be.
  3. Fold them back and forth-accordion style-like you would for a fan.
  4. Use a pipe cleaner or florist wire to cinch the middle. Leave enough wire to create a small loop that you can use to thread your ribbon through to hang them.
  5. Fan each side to cut the ends to make them have a rounded or pointed finish. I chose to make them pointed for this project.
  6. Attach the ribbon you will be using for hanging.
  7. Carefully start pulling apart each layer of one half to begin fluffing that side. You will want to try and make your shape as round as possible so vary the direction you pull and fluff.
  8. Flip it over and repeat the Step 7 on the remaining folded half.
  9. Continue fluffing until you get your desired shape and look. And WHALA!  You are done!

A time saving Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has always been so stressful for me because I am usually the master cook – and trying to get everything on the table at the right time and making sure snacks and drinks are all out, I just go crazy! So, I have vowed to do less on the day and enjoy the people more! Here are a few tips that I am planning and maybe they will help you too! My plan is to only have to cook the Turkey and the Dinner Rolls (because we have to have Crescent rolls) on Thursday. I always Brine the turkey overnight and cook it by Spatchcocking it.  I tried this a few years ago and the difference in the juiciness is so tremendous I will never cook a Turkey any other way again. You can learn how to do this here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2Lie172c3Y&t=3s . Because there are many ingredients for adding to the broth and roasting pan, I will precut all the vegetables and have them ready for the day. Simplifying the rest of the menu will help too. I know what my family likes and will make mashed potatoes and green beans with onions ahead of time. These can be microwaved just before dinner. I will get two dishes ready for the oven (they can go in with the Turkey) – Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes. The snacks can be simplified too and plated ahead of time so they are ready to put out. Purchased Cheese Ball and a Shrimp Ring are easy fixes. Dip with Chips and Veges are always a hit too and can be pre-made. Unfortunately, I am spoiled with homemade Cranberry Sauce but I make this early in the month and gift it to the mailperson and other service people before the holiday, so my jar is done too! A similar recipe to what I use is here (except I use Apple Juice not water)  https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/spiced-cranberry-sauce/ try it and you will never use canned again! Pies are a no brainer, with the magnificent bakeries locally I have that one wrapped up! We love Mulled Cider during the holidays so I prepare everything and throw in a Crockpot in the morning. Set it on low and guests can serve themselves when they want. Happy Thanksgiving!