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!

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!

Jungle/Safari Parties for Young & Old!

Jungle-Safari Party

A jungle themed party is fun for a wide range of age groups. Safari/Jungle themes can be used for Juvenile Birthdays, Older Children, Adult Parties, Baby Showers and even a Wedding Shower theme (Tropical Destination Weddings). You can find a wide range of decorations for any of these age groups. Crossover to a tropical theme can make this party idea more grown up.

Decorating your house, garden, or rented space for a jungle party is great fun. You can always buy jungle party decorations but a little imagination and some clever use of materials, balloons and decorations will really set the jungle scene. The good news is that jungle colors can be any colors really, as long as you include lots of green. An archway of green, red, orange, yellow, blue and brown balloons would be a great way for guests to enter the ‘jungle’, and how about attaching some strips of soft green and brown material that will hang down like vines, making them feel like they really are headed into the undergrowth. I love the Balloon Columns & Centerpieces (pictured) placed around the party area and on tables.

You could present each guest with a map and a passport so that they feel like real explorers. Or alternatively, you could give them animal masks, which you can pick up pretty cheaply from most party shops, so you can get them all monkeying around in the jungle.

Cover your chairs and walls in green material, and hang green streamers from the ceiling like crawling vines to make your party space look really wild and untamed. And if you don’t mind a bit of extra mess, you could even scatter some leaves about that you’ve collected from your garden. Stick some google eyes to the green cloth to make it seem as if there are lots of animals peeping out through the trees. There are lots of jungle backdrops available today so you can use those along with green plastic tablecovers, leaves and house plants to create your jungle. Using stuffed animals or cardboard cutouts of safari animals go a long way to make people feel like they are in the wild.

You can convert most common party games into a Jungle theme. Things like Charades, Pin the Tail, Backyard Tag and Scavenger Hunts take on a Safari theme easily. Crafts can range from decorating your own Safari/Pith hat to Making your own Animal Masks. Face painting is always a favorite for kids, you can paint on the animals faces. For older party goers consider pasting an animal name on each guest back as they enter. The game is for them to guess what animal they are by asking only “yes” or “no” questions to others to gain clues.

Food for a juvenile party may consist of Animal Crackers, Unshelled Peanuts, Gummy Worms, Bugs on a Log (Celery with peanut butter and raisins) or Animal-striped Pizzas (you can be very creative with this one by making your own pizzas using alternates of white, yellow and orange cheese strips to look like animal print. You can also add toppings in alternates, like a row of olives in a diagonal, then a row of cheese, another row of olives, etc. for tasty animal stripes). Feeding older crowds can include a specific cuisine. You can decide what jungle you may be re-creating and choose the cuisine to match. The ten most amazing jungles are in Borneo (Indonesian), the Brazilian Amazon, India the Jungles of Kipling, Sri Lanka (Indian Ocean), West Africa, New Guinea, Australian Christmas Island, New Zealand, Peru and Costa Rica. As you can see you have a wide range of foods you can choose from.

Whatever direction you decide to go just make sure your get your “ROAR” on and enjoy!

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!

 

BOHO Dream Big Baby Shower

DreamShowerCollage

“Dream Big Little One” baby shower theme is becoming more popular. It is developed from a Bohemian design influence. This is associated with people who are unconventional, usually artistic. Many call it a Hippie – Free Spirited style. It is common for Weddings too. Dream Catchers are the focus of this theme and color schemes are very flexible. Focus on Pink or Blue or a non-gender color pallet. There are lots of invitations available online for this idea. I found some cute ones on “Zazzle”. Hang Dream Catchers from the ceiling and offer them as prizes for the winner of shower games. Decorate the cake table with a Dream Big sign and Dream Catchers. Incorporate the feathers in the cake design. Make a tee pee for the gift table out of fabric and dowels, use flowers to match. Tie lots of extra ribbon on balloon arrangements to mimic the hanging feathers of a dream catcher. If you have some extra feathers tie them to the ribbons too! Spell out the baby name (if known) with large 3ft foil balloons and use it to decorate a mantle or a gift/cake table. A fun game to play is “Who’s the Baby”? Ask guests to bring baby photos of themselves. Collect the photos and stash them until everyone arrives. Give each guests a copy of the guests list with a blank next to each name. Number the photos and display them in an album or on poster board. Have guests fill out their forms, guessing who’s who. The person guessing the most photos wins a prize. Enjoy this casual style event and “Dream Big”!

Get Your Green ON!

What better celebration than St. Patrick’s Day! Fun food and lots of Rainbows and Gold! Buy or make your invitations and include a Lottery ticket in each invite! Get your “Lucky” on and come visit us for St. Patrick’s Day! Decorate with Green Shamrocks and use plastic table covers in rainbow colors to cover the walls. Pick up brochures and maps from a travel agency of Ireland. Use them for wall decorations. Make up a great buffet table centerpiece using potatoes, shamrocks on picks and surround it with Gold Chocolate Coins. Add a large smooth stone covered with kisses made by you and some real red lipstick. Mark this stone the “Blarney Stone”. Use two colors of plastic table covers to create an Irish flag on this table. Create or hire someone to build a table Balloon Rainbow Arch. Serve all the food in pots. Crock Pots, Copper Pots and Kitchen Pots. The theme for the table? The “Pots of Gold” at the end of the rainbow. Create another “sweets table” with all sorts of green and rainbow-colored candy. Make a green colored punch. You can find a recipe on FoodNetwork.com (called “Green Punch” by Trisha Yearwood). Use green food color to tint beer or any clear beverage like 7up. Serve all the beverages (no matter what it is) in beer mugs. A great “Photo Area” is the balloon clover backdrop, made with cardboard covered with green paper, latex balloons blown to different sizes: you can find instructions at thehousethatlarsbuilt.com. Here are a couple games that you can play. The first is a timed challenge: Give everyone a spoon and see who can use them to pick out the most marshmallow pieces from Lucky Charms cereal and put them in a bowl. For older kids or adults, make it harder and assign a different amount of points to the different marshmallow shapes. Another game is an easy coin-toss game, with colorful cups made out of construction paper or plastic cups in different colors. Each color earns different points! It’s as exciting as finding a pot of gold. Make sure you wear your green and enjoy!

Giant Children What?????

giantlandpartycollage

In a world where everything is so much bigger than our children at this “Giantland” party your Giant Birthday Child and their Giant guests get to rule! By decorating the house with miniatures, you’ll make the “giant” kids feel big and important. Invitations can be written on wide butcher paper or white gift wrap. Write the invitation copy in HUGE letters. You can roll up and tie (if hand delivered) or fold up to fit in an envelope. This decoration idea can serve as an activity as well. Build small worlds in large cardboard boxes or plastic boxes. For an “Artic World” you can use water beads found at craft stores and broken Styrofoam pieces for icebergs the miniature penguins can sit on. You can add shells, sea lions and whales to this world. Another spin off of this is to create “Sea World” adding sand and all sorts of miniature sea animals. How about a miniature “Jungle World”! Use a piece of astro turf or left-over Easter grass for the floor and add your own house plants. Use stones, pieces of wood, branches and plenty of miniature wild animals. For a miniature “Farm World” use coffee grounds as dirt and green felt or astro turf for grassy areas. Use a blue paper plate for a pond area and fill with miniature ducks/geese. Add little fences to keep your cows, goats and pigs separated. On a larger scale you can create a miniature “City World” using cardboard boxes of all sizes. Paint them and add windows. Use Black poster board for cutting out roads and add miniature cars and trucks to the scene. The miniatures can be found in the party favor section of your local party store or online. Since your kids are Giants the balloons for the party need to be small too. You can use the small foil balloons florists use in arrangements that are on a stick. You can purchase 5” latex balloons and since they will not float because they are too small attach them to a stick that can be found in party stores. Rent children’s chairs and tables for the guests. They are so darling (meant for toddlers) and will make the kids feel Giant!  Purchase small plates, cups and cutlery used for playhouses (tea parties) for serving food. And the food needs to be tiny too. Bake or purchase miniature cupcakes and serve with the small cans or soda, mini sandwiches and mini carrots and dip. A game that can be played is “Giant Leap Frog”. With masking tape, tape two straight lines about 6 feet long and 12 inches apart. Place obstacles between the lines, like stuffed animals, toys, shoes etc. (soft items in case children fall on them). Tell the them that each line is the bank of a river and what these giants have to do is leap over the river without getting wet (because if they get wet, they shrink and become leprechauns). The kids form a long line of giants ready to leapfrog over the river. If they fall in the water they have to start over at the back of the line. Supply magnifying glasses to the guests and head outside to look for bugs and such. This will really let them know they are Giants in the real world to some creatures. Have fun with your “Little Giants”!

New Year’s Celebrations!

New Years Collage

The party of the year is usually to ring in the New Year! You don’t have to spend a lot of money and can include the kids in a simple celebration at home. First you need to turn your Christmas Tree into a New Year’s Tree by adding party horns, party hats and balloons. Blow up the balloons to be undersized so you can tuck them into the branches. If you have a new year’s banner cut that up and add that too! A great way to entertain the kids while they are waiting for Midnight is to plan activities. The activity can include adults too and the cutest way is to put them into balloons. Write a time on each balloon. Instruct everyone to pop them at that moment and perform the project. Some fun ideas for easy crafts are to make noisemakers out of paper plates and beans or Firework Rings out of Glitter Pipe Cleaners. Other things to do: Watch a Holiday Movie, Play a Board Game or create a New Years Scavenger Hunt. Make an area to take fun photos with the backdrop of large Foil Balloon Numbers for the year. Many people make new year’s resolutions on this day but a more transformative ritual is a “Burning Bowl Ceremony”. To prepare you will need a Fire Pit or large unburnable bowl (metal or glass). Place it in a safe area outside. Give everyone paper and pen and sit peacefully to think about things you want to release and/or cleanse yourself of. Children can do this too, some have fears at school, or social issues they would want to let go of. Hold a positive mindset and write down your wishes. Have a responsible person start by lighting his/her paper and toss into the bowl, everyone else can follow by throwing their paper in. The fire is a symbol of wisdom, passion and purification. May the New Year bring you much happiness!

“Smile” Your on Candid Camera!

Candid Camera Party

Smile you’re on Candid Camera! I have such fond memories of the silly faces and circumstances captured on the show. Bring some of this fun to your kids today with a Photo Themed party geared towards 10 Years plus. Invitations can be made up on your computer with Film Borders you can find online. Add some silly photos of the Birthday Child and the party information. Snacks can be Photo/Movie themed items like popcorn, hot dogs and how about trying some Camera themed Brownies! The main event can be a Photo Booth. There are many ideas for photo booths online but a Balloon Photo Booth can be something very special and kids LOVE balloons. Pick up some inexpensive photo props at a local party store and add anything you have around the house like hats, shawls, glasses, Boas etc. Have a digital camera set up specifically for the photos. Do this at the beginning of the party so you have time to print out one photo of each child for a craft project later. More can be emailed to them at a later date. A fun party game for the kids is a Candid Camera list for them to take on their cell phones during the event. Give each child a list of the specific type of photos to be taken when they arrive (they will check off as they take the pictures and you can view on their cell phones), the child who takes the most pictures at the end of the party wins a prize. For a craft project have them make a photo frame with craft foam, buttons, markers, paint, glitter and anything else kids can create with. Hot glue their picture with a carboard back to the frame for a take home souvenir. Have fun and Snap Away!

Adults like to play games too!

Why is it we only think of games at children’s parties? Pin the Tail on the Donkey and such are fine but I think adults would like to laugh and carry on too at social gatherings. Here are a few ideas for your next get-together (that don’t include alcohol). Card games are always fun but one unconventional game, that causes constant laughter (by how silly we look), is “Blind Man’s Bluff”. Everyone gets dealt one card, you are not to look at it, and they put it on their forehead facing out so everyone else sees it. Bets are placed based on what cards are showing, the person with the highest card wins. Have a “Scavenger Hunt”. You can find ideas online (try scavenger-hunt-guru.com) and make it in the neighborhood, around the property or trek out to another location. “Charades” is a classic game which one player pantomimes the word or phrase chosen and the others try to guess it. This game can be played in teams and can match a theme you might have for the party (IE. Academy Award party = Actors or Movie names). A challenging and hilarious game is “Pass the Orange”. It is exactly what it says but the Orange is placed under your chin and it has to be passed to the next chin, without the use of hands. You make teams for this and the first team to pass it to all the players and back to the front without dropping it wins. And how about trying to keep a straight face during the “Laughing Game”? Players take turns saying Ha, Ho or Hee, anyone laughing is knocked out. You can have prizes or not, the most important thing is having fun!