Tuesday 28 October 2014

A Fabulous Host is Not a Party Expert

It seems like you have to be really good at a lot of things if you want to host a party. There are invitations to extend, decorations to put up, food to prepare, entertainment to provide and socialization to encourage. However, the truth is that you don’t have to be an expert in all things to have a fabulous party. Make a list of things you hate and things you love and follow those things you are good at.

Friday 24 October 2014

Friday Freebie: Finger Puppets

Fridays we like to give away free printables to use at your next party. This week's freebie is a bunch of finger/stick puppets complete with stories to go with them that you can use at your next puppet themed party. Click to download pdf and enjoy!

Thursday 23 October 2014

Thursday Theme: Puppet Party

A fun and unique party is a Puppet Party. You can either make puppets at the party like sock puppets, brown bag puppets, fun foam puppets, finger puppets and puppets on sticks or you can purchase puppets. Cheap puppets can be found at dollar stores or at certain times of the year Costco sells adorable sets of 8 puppets for $20.

If you purchase puppets, you can give the puppet with the invitation or better yet, play a game like Pass the Parcel at the party to give the guest their puppet. Wrap a puppet in each layer of wrapping paper, have the guests sit in a circle, turn on music and have the guests pass the parcel while the music plays. When the music stops the person who is holding the parcel gets to unwrap a layer and keep the puppet that is under the layer. Keep playing until all the guests have puppets.

You can make a stage out of a refrigerator box, a table with a tablecloth, chairs with a blanket or tablecloth or even behind a couch. Organize the guests into groups of 2, 3 or 4. Write the names of familiar stories on small pieces of paper (Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Bean stock, Cinderella and so on. Click here for a pdf of the complete stories and fairy tales that you can use) and put them in a hat and have each group draw out a story. Have props ready for the stories (hats, wigs, toys, tools and so on) and give the groups a limited amount of time to prepare then take turns performing for each other. You can also have spontaneous performances of made up stories but sometimes the lack of structure and direction can bore the audience. You may want to have popcorn or other treats for the audience to enjoy while watching the show. Making a movie of the production is a great thank you gift keepsake for the guests that they will enjoy showing their families.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

You're a Winner! How to Deal with Prizes at Parties

Often when I have been to a baby or a bridal shower, the women in attendance groan when the host announces that we are going to play a few games. I guess they figure that adults are too mature for party games. However, it is interesting to note that if there are prizes involved, suddenly the interest in the games increases and before long the fun of a friendly competition wins out over the inhibitions we have that prevent us from enjoying ourselves.Teens may balk at games as well, insisting they have outgrown such juvenile activities, however, they too enjoy the thrill of winning a prize and can happily participate in party games in an attempt to acquire even the silliest treasure.Younger children don’t usually have to be bribed with prizes to encourage participation, but having prizes can make many games even more exciting and fun. It should be noted that the younger the guests are, the less the emphasis should be on the prizes.Younger children can not always understand the concept of only 1 winner and having games with winners and prizes for children under age 4 will only bring you a room full of very sad and disappointed losers.

Even with kids who are old enough to handle winners and losers, there are things you can do to help ease the pain for kids who don’t win the prize.
  • Consider handing out the prizes at the end of the party instead of right away. Show the winner their prize, and just tell them that it'll be put in their favor bag. This way, the prize won't become a distraction during party time. And, at the party's end, everyone gets a prize - the favor bags - so if a few kids have a few more goodies, it really doesn't matter.
  • Move quickly on to the next activity once a winner has been announced.
  • Have a Prize Auction.
Instead of having prizes for every game, award each guest some paper money which they can use to bid in a prize auction at the end of the party. You may like to give the winner $100, runner-up $50, and $20 for everybody else that participates. For games like pass the parcel or treasure hunt, have small amounts of money throughout the game, with one bigger prize pool at the end.
Your auction prizes can be really small and inexpensive, because the kids already feel like they have won a prize – the money to spend! It’s amazing how much of their play money they will bid to get a single lollipop or sheet of stickers, and they get so carried away with the bidding, that the auction becomes a game in itself.
To add an extra dimension, and make the prize haul a little fairer, you could wrap up each prize so that the guests do not know what they are bidding for. Remember, you will need to have a number of small prizes for each guest, as they won’t necessarily spend all their play money in one bid. Each prize can be as small or as large as your budget allows.
  • Give out Points for Prizes.
Instead of buying prizes and consolation prizes for each game, make up one small prize packet for every child, and put them all into a big basket. As each game is played, award points to the winner and runner up, and write them on a big chart or whiteboard. If you like you can make up extra reasons to award points, such as nice behaviour or lucky seats.
At the end of the party, the person with the most points gets to pull a prize out of the basket first, followed by the person with the next amount of points, and so on. It’s a nice idea to have just one extra packet, so that the last child to choose still feels like they have a choice.
Party prizes don't have to be large and expensive. They can be trinkets or sweets. It's the challenge of winning the prize and not the prize itself that most appeals to kids. Here is a list of possible prizes:

Certificates: Instead of prizes for each game, make some certificates on the computer and print them out on to coloured cardstock or parchment. You could change the wording of each certificate to match the game and the theme of your party.

Medals: Medals can be made out of coloured cardstock also. You can cover them with tinfoil or use silver spray paint to decorate jam jar lids. Punch a hole in the lid using a hammer and nail, and then thread through a coloured ribbon so that the medal can be hung around the child’s neck.

Home Made Prizes: Party prizes do not have to be store bought. With a little bit of imagination you can make some great prizes at home.
  • Decorate some paper cups with glitter and full them with home made fudge.
  • Decorate star shaped cookies and tie them in a cellophane bag, with the star shaped cutter attached to the ribbon.
  • Make up a batch of play dough, and either put fistfuls into plastic containers, or tie them in a cellophane bag.
  • Make up some bubble mixture with dishwashing liquid and water, and pour it into cute little bottles.
  • Pet rocks make great party prizes. Simply paint garden stones with funny faces, attach googly eyes and some fake fur for hair.
  • Download your child’s favourite songs onto a CD and make a special CD cover commemorating their party.
  • Make miniature puzzle books by downloading activities off the internet, and stapling them into a book. You can design your very own birthday party cover for the guests to colour in.
If you want to buy prizes for every game, the most cost effective way is to buy bulk packets of items, split them up, and combine them with other bits and pieces. Each prize may consist of 4 or 5 tiny prizes, tied together to make one goody bag or prize.

The following items can be bought in packets, with 6 – 16 pieces in each bag.
Sticker Sheets
Mini Chocolate Bars
Mini Chip Packets
Hair Ties
Hair Clips
Small Cars
Plastic Farm Animals or Dinosaurs
Cookie Cutters
Packets of Glitter
Coloured Beads

Prizes for pre-teens and teens could include:
Gift cards for fast food (you don’t have to put very much money on them, I once gave a gift card from a doughnut/coffee shop for the price of a fancy doughnut plus tax)
Little bottles of nail polishes and nail files.
Body glitter
Scented soaps or hand sanitisers
Candy including chocolate bars, giant lollipops, or a small jar or box filled with any candy
Movie tickets
iTunes gift card
Fun socks
Hot chocolate mugs
Fancy pens
Chips, soda, or other junk food

Weather we want to admit it or not, most people like to win and winning a prize makes us feel special no matter what the prize is. What are some prizes that you have given or received?

Thursday 16 October 2014

Thursday Theme: Crazy Lunch/Dinner

A fun party for kids or adults is to have a crazy dinner where the guests pick their courses from a menu with silly made up names for each food item and different utensils.  Prepare your menu and then think up silly names for each item.  The names for the menu items can be as creative as you wish and can either help the guests guess what they represent or they can be totally random and unrelated to make for a complete surprise.  Have several courses and have each guests pick several items for each course.  A sample menu can be downloaded here and below is the sample menu answer key and a list of other possible utensils with silly names.

Sample Menu Answer Key:
  • Mutt Warmed Over-----------------Hot Dog
  • Underground Icicles----------------Carrots
  • Sticks-------------------------------Celery
  • Kay Delight-------------------------Maccaroni and Cheese
  • Peter’s Pantry----------------------Salad
  • Snake Tongue----------------------Fork
  • Amazing Grace---------------------Corn
  • Risen Heaven-----------------------Bun
  • Starchy Death----------------------Funeral Potatoes
  • Sweet Leprechauns----------------Brownies
  • Pucker Power-----------------------Lemonade
  • Piped Dreams----------------------Straw
  • Sword in a Saber-------------------Knife in a napkin
  • Lover’s Pleasure--------------------Spoon
  • Earthquake-------------------------Jello
  • Scared Streakers-------------------Chicken Strips

Possible Utensils for a Crazy Dinner:
  • Spatula-------------------------------flat hand
  • Whisk---------------------------------dead spider
  • Knife–--------------------------------butcher’s extension
  • Potato masher-----------------------spud fauna
  • Chop sticks---------------------------branches of Asia
  • Can opener---------------------------jaws of life
  • Slotted spoon------------------------leaky shovel
  • Skewer-------------------------------needle
  • Tongs---------------------------------crabs claws
  • Measuring spoon---------------------quantifying dollop  
  • Ladle----------------------------------spade of plenty

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Let Me Entertain You: Party Game Survival Tips

Every party is different but one thing they all have in common is that they must include some form of entertainment to succeed. So how do you entertain your guests without hiring a professional and spending a fortune? Other than resorting to a talent search of family and friends you will need to come up with a handful of party games.

Here are some party game tips that may come in handy when planning your next party:

Prepare in Advance.

During the party you'll have so much on your mind that it's best to prepare as much as possible in advance. Make a list of games and write them down in the order you plan to play them. Gather all of your props together including music, blindfolds, etc. and have them ready to go before the party begins.

Have Emergency Filler Games and Be Flexible.

It is hard to correctly judge how long games and activities will take. Sometimes the games that you thought would last 5 minutes are so much fun the guests want to do them the whole time! Other times activities you expected to take a half hour are over in 5 minutes and you are left with a large chunk of time and nothing to do. For this reason, I always have more games prepared than I really plan to use. Prioritize your games and play the best or most important games first and don’t stress if you never get to some of the games on your list.

Avoid Playing Too Many Games.

Although it is important to not run out of games, don't be tempted to play fifty games in sixty minutes. Kids will usually become bored quickly if they are asked to play too many games. Remember to be flexible and that it is OK if you don’t play every game you have planned. Most parties only need a handful of games to fill the time.

Stick to Classic Party Games.

Creative and original party games are fun, but they may also be a bit risky because the kids are required to learn something new. I'm not saying DON'T play new games, just make sure there are a few classics in your arsenal like Musical Chairs, Hot Potato, BINGO or Pass the Parcel.  These games were around when we were children and they work. Don't be concerned that you'll "bore" the kids with the "usual" party games. You can always add a special twist to make them look and sound more attractive.

Avoid Long Lines and Waiting Times.

Pin the Tail on the Donkey is a fun classic game that can be changed to fit any theme but it can also be totally boring for those waiting in a long line. If you have a large group or younger guests with little or no attention spans, play games that involve everyone simultaneously. Circle games like Duck, Duck, Goose are usually good for younger guests and games like Freeze Tag  and BINGO require everyone’s participation. Another thing you can do is divide the party up into smaller groups and play several games at once. You will need a few more helpers to accomplish this but it will be worth it.

Besides long line ups, another thing you need to be aware of is The Danger of Sit-Out Games.

Let's look at Hot Potato. The kids pass the potato and whoever is "stuck" with it when the music stops is usually out. As the game goes on there are more and more children sitting around just watching (if you're lucky) and that may translate into trouble. Instead, you can play the game without anyone being out. How? Place a bunch of giveaways in the center of the circle and the child who is "stuck" with the potato when the music stops gets to choose a prize. This way you also have control over the length of the game because you can finish whenever you like and not when only one kid remains.

Click here for a list of party games for young kids, pre-teens and teens.

Once you've decided what games to play, how do you make sure the kids participate and have fun?

First of all remember that It's a Party, Not a Democracy!

Avoid asking the kids if they WANT to play any of the games. They may just say NO. Tell them what the next game is without any questions and without any options or room for deliberation –and make it sound intriguing. For instance, don’t say, "Who would like to play Hot Potato?" instead say something like, "Our next contest is Blazing Potato where you can all win some great prizes just by sitting in a circle."

And if they still object...Be Firm.

One child voicing his objection to a certain game can become an instant epidemic. Before you know it you've got a group of little protesters on your hands. The first time this happens, be firm (in a kind sort of way) and just let them understand that they were invited to the party and they need to play. This may sound a bit too harsh for such a fun gathering, but it lets the kids understand that you're in charge and you're not about to let them ruin the fun by sitting out and distracting the others.

Now that you've got everyone ready to play, remember one of the most important factors to making the birthday games work...Don't Rush!

Give the kids ample time to play each of the birthday games and that way you don't need a zillion birthday games. Take Hot Potato for instance. The kids all sit in a circle and the hot potato is being passed around to the sound of music. Let the music play a few beats before it stops. Sometimes, because you may be nervous to get things going, the music is stopped so fast that the kids don't have time to enjoy. Choose music that the children know and can sing along with and have them pass the potato under their arms, above their heads, across the circle, etc. Find ways to make it fun and you'll be able to turn this classic into a long-lasting game.

Ask for Help.

I hate asking people for help but I know that I can’t do it all myself.  If possible, it is nice to have 3 adults at a party (teen helpers work fine for younger kid’s parties). It is nice to have one person facilitating the activity (usually you as the host), one to be preparing for the next activity, and one to be taking pictures and video (I admit I usually only have my husband and myself, which is why I don’t have better photos of my kids’ parties). If you can get someone else to take the photos, make sure you have plenty of room on your SD card or memory stick and encourage them to take a lot. You can always delete any shots you don’t want but it is impossible to go back in time and capture the moments you missed. All of the adults should know their job, whether it be refilling the drink and food table, turning off or on the music, handing out props, or taking the pictures. You can give your helpers a list of the games and party schedule with specific expectations and instructions on it. Try not to have the parent of the clingy kids help – their job might not get done because their kids are just clinging on to them too much. Make sure you thank everyone who helps or offers to help and be willing to reciprocate the favor.

What are some things you have done to make the games go smoother at your parties?

Friday 10 October 2014

Friday Freebie: Halloween Party Invitation

Fridays we like to give away free printables to use at your next party. This week's freebie is an editable Halloween Party Invitation and envelope that you can use at your next Halloween Party. Click to download pdf and enjoy!

Thursday 9 October 2014

Thursday Theme: A Halloween Party

Halloween parties are fun for kids of all ages and can be done at any time of the year. When my son was 11 we had a "Half-way to Halloween" party in April complete with costumes, a spook alley and trick-or-treating! My daughter also had a Halloween party for her birthday one year in September. If you are having a Halloween party at a time other than the fall you may have to adjust some activities. For example, at my son's party we carved oranges since pumpkins were nowhere to be found.

You can make a spook alley in your home using refrigerator boxes, Halloween decorations and spooky music. Appliance stores are usually nice to give refrigerator boxes for free. It may take several trips to the store or you may have to visit several different appliance stores to get enough boxes so it is good to plan ahead. Arrange the boxes in a sort of maze and hang bats, spiders, lights, skeletons, ghosts (can be simply tissues on strings), spooky decorations that are activated by motion sensors, or anything that will be silly or scary. Play spooky music as guests crawl or walk through the maze.

You can go trick-or-treating, at any time of the year and at any time of the day. Make sure to have your guests dress up for the party and take treats to your neighbors before the party. Kids of all ages love to trick-or-treat and will be shocked that the neighbors actually give them something when it isn't Halloween. Since you are providing the treats, neighbors are usually totally cooperative and entertained.

Other fun activities and games for a Halloween party include:

Swinging Apples
A drier variant on apple bobbing! Tie string around each apple stem and hang the apples from a doorway. The children can then take turns biting into the swinging fruit while keeping their hands behind their backs!

Doughnut Eating Race
Eating donuts has never been so fun! Hang several donuts with string from a tree branch or a sturdy rod. Blindfold the contestants and, on the count of three, have each player try to eat their doughnut — the first one to finish wins!

Mummy Wrap
This game will leave you all wrapped up! Divide your party-goers into teams of two, and give each a roll of toilet paper, white crepe paper, or fabric. At the sound of the music, one team member must wrap the other from head to toe (leaving the head free and not binding the arms to the body.) Once completely wrapped, the "mummy" must run to cross the finish line before the others.

Eerie Piñata
This is a great pre-party craft that doubles as a game. Have your kids help you with this easy-to-make piñata, fill it with candy and small toys, and decorate it as a spooky ghost or jack-o'-lantern. At the party, have everyone take a swing until it breaks, and then go to town collecting the loot.

Mr. Skeleton Relay Race
This game takes a bit of prep work before your party begins. Buy (or draw) a simple skeleton on sturdy poster board or cardboard, and cut out each of the bones separately. Make enough so each relay team has a full set of skeleton parts.

Divide your players into teams. Place each set of bones at the opposite end of the room or yard. Have the first member from each team line up, and, at the whistle, race across to grab a piece of skeleton, race back, and tag the next team member. The first team to get every piece and assemble their skeleton together correctly wins!

What's in the Bowl?
Spaghetti brains! Grape eye balls! Jell-O guts! This classic guessing game will leave everyone screaming (from fun, of course)! Fill separate bowls with prepared Jell-O or pudding, peeled grapes, cold spaghetti, and anything else you can think of that feels slimy and gross. Cover each bowl with black and orange felt so nobody can peek inside, and have everyone try to guess what it is they're touching.

Pin the Wart on the Witch
Ever seen a witch without a wart? The trick is putting it in just the right spot. This is a fun twist on a party game classic.

Find the Pumpkin
Challenge the party-goers to find the hidden pumpkins. The grand prize? Candy, of course!
·  Ten pieces of white paper
·  Five pieces of yellow paper
·  Five pieces of orange paper
·  A crayon
·  Scissors

How to play:
Draw ten white pumpkins, five yellow pumpkins, and five orange pumpkins. Cut out all the pumpkins. Decorate each pumpkin with a funny face. Write the number 1 on the backs of the white pumpkins. Write the number 5 on the backs of the yellow pumpkins. Write the number 10 on the backs of the orange pumpkins. Hide all of the pumpkins. Tell the kids to find as many pumpkins as they can before you say "Stop!" Players will add up the numbers on the pumpkins each of them found. The player with the most points wins!

Walk on the Witches Hat
Kids will go batty for this hair-raising version of musical chairs.
·  Big brown paper bag, or big picture of a witch's hat
·  Pencil
·  Scissors
·  Tape
·  CD player, tape player, or radio

How to play:
If you have a large picture of a witch's hat, tape it right on the floor before you play the game. If you don't already have a picture, you can make one easily. Cut the bag so that you can open it out flat. Draw a big witch's hat and cut it out. The players will line up and shut their eyes. A leader is at the front to see that no one peeks. (Whoever peeks is out of the game.) The leader will control when the music stops and starts. When the music starts, the players begin walking in a circle (as in musical chairs) around the hat. When the music stops, the person who is standing on the hat is out of the game. The last player to circle the hat wins!

Pumpkin and Ghost Bowling
It's like bowling, only better! Simply paste some black circles on toilet paper rolls to look like ghost faces and then stack them like a pyramid with 4 on the bottom, 3 on top, 2 on top of that and then 1 on the very top. Use small, round pumpkins as the "balls" and you've got a great seasonal game to play at your next Halloween party.

Tricks and Treats
Shhh! To win this game, kids try not to say the magic words.
How to play:
Give each of the players a bag filled with ten pieces of wrapped candy. Have the players write their names on their bags so that the bags don't get mixed up. Decide on a time limit. If you are giving a party, you could keep the game going the entire time, even while you are doing other activities. The object of the game is to catch people saying any of the following words:
It might be helpful to write the words in large letters on a piece of paper and tape the paper up where everyone can see it. If you catch someone saying one of the words on the list, that person has to give you a piece of candy from his bag. The person who has the most candy at the end of the game wins a prize. The best part is, everyone gets to keep any candy they have left in their bag.

Scarecrow Building
A scarecrow contest is a great way to bring out everyone's creative side! Provide all the supplies you need to build a scarecrow (hay, old flannel shirts, burlap bags, etc.), pair off into teams, and have everyone get to work building the most creative scarecrow they can in the time allowed.

Halloween games of disguise survive in many old sources, and they don't necessarily involve elaborate costumes. In "Nosey," the party guests are divided into two groups and sent into adjoining rooms. A curtain or heavy sheet with a small slit in it is hung in the doorway. One of the players sticks his or her nose through the slit, making sure nothing else shows. Then the game leader chants, "The witches have stolen somebody's nose. Who does it belong to, do you suppose?" and everyone on the opposing team attempts to guess the owner of the nose. If correct, the guessing team scores a point and the opposing team must present another nose for their regard. If the guess is wrong, then the guessing team must now start offering up noses -- which, it should be noted, can be very hard to recognize without any accompanying features!

The Black Cat and Her Kittens
A good game for younger children is "The Black Cat and Her Kittens." One child is chosen as the black cat and is escorted from the room. The rest of the children then take their places around the table, laying their heads on their arms so that they cannot see anything. The game leader then touches several children on their heads, tapping them as the black cat's kittens. When the black cat is brought back into the room, the kittens meow for their mother, and the mother attempts to locate them by their meows. The first kitten to be found takes the mother cat's place for the next round, but the rest must keep up their meowing until every last kitten is found.

Guess the Ghost
You will need a blindfold. Sit the kids in a big circle. Put some music on and take it in turns for one child to be blindfolded and walk around the circle, touching the other children's heads. When the music stops, the child that the person who is 'it' has their hands on must let out a ghostly wail. The person who is 'it' must try and guess who it is. If they guess correctly they swap around. If they do not guess correctly they go around the circle again.

What's the time, Mrs Witch?
You will need: a witch's hat and broom and a spacious room
This is a simple variation on the 'What's the time, Mr Fox' game. Elect one player to be Mrs Witch. They can put on the witch's hat and hold the broom. Each of the other players stands at one end of the room with the witch at the other, with her back to the other players. The players ask: 'What's the time, Mrs Witch?' and the Witch shouts out a time, eg. 7 o'clock. The other players take the corresponding number of steps in the direction of the witch. When the players get close to the witch the witch can then should out 'midnight' and chase the other players. Whoever the witch catches is out of the game.

Witches Cauldron
You will need:
a large cooking pot
a damp sponge
a shelled hard-boiled egg
a large piece of orange peel
selection of rubber toys from the toyshop (frog, snake, etc)
Fill your cooking pot with items such as the above (and any other suitable things you can think of - you'll need enough bits and bobs to allow each child a turn). Each child has a turn at being blindfolded and plunging their hand into the cauldron to find the imaginary item you name. For example, ask them to look for: 'A hairy giant's tongue' (the damp sponge), 'a dragon's eye' (the egg), a goblin's skin (the orange peel), 'a frog/snake' (rubber toys), etc.

Brain Digging
You will need:
a big bowl of cooked spaghetti
some ping-pong balls or similar
some small bags of sweets
Get the kids to dig in among some bits of 'brain' to find a trick or treat! Cook up a big pan of spaghetti, leave to cool for a moment and then turn into a big bowl. In the pasta hide some ping-pong balls or similar. Three balls have 'treat' written on them with permanent marker, and three have 'trick' written on them. Each child gets a turn to dig inside the 'brains' and pull out a ball. If they choose a trick ball they have to do a forfeit (something silly, like run around the garden twice, or do a silly impression), but if they pick a treat they get a small prize, such as a small bag of sweets.

Web Weaving Game
You will need a small ball of string (approx. 30 to 40 feet) for each child in this game. Pair the players into teams of 2 and place them into a circle (3 to 4 teams work best). Team members should be opposite of each other. Give each child a ball of string and have them tie the loose-end around their waist. When you say go, have each child throw the ball of string to their teammate. The teammate wraps the string once around themselves, and then throws the string back. The first team to use their two balls of string wins. This is lots of fun and the kids will go wild. Make sure to take pictures before they start removing the web-it's fun to see everyone all tied up. To add a spooky element, after the last ball of string is tossed, turn out the lights for a minute or two. The kids get creeped out that they are tied up in the dark. Part of the fun too is watching to see how the kids will get out of the web.

Boo, Boo, Ghost
A Halloween version of duck, duck, goose. Fun for smaller kids.

Pass the Orange
Everyone gets in a large circle. The first person is given an orange to place under his chin. He must pass the orange to the next in line but neither may use their hands. If the orange drops, those two people are out of the circle. This continues until there are only two people left. When the orange drops the next time, a vote is taken as to who dropped it. The winner gets the prize.

Push the Peanut
Give each player a toothpick and a peanut which is still in the shell. Placing the toothpick in their mouth, they have to use the toothpick to push and roll the peanut from the starting line to the finish line. This game can be turned into a rely, but do not make the distance between start and finish too long - it is a slow race.

Candy Corn Catch
Divide guests into groups of 3 teams, 4-5 per team or if couples into pairs. Team members will toss candy corns into the pumpkin that will be tied around a team member’s waist. To make things fair give each team member the same amount of candy corn, so if some people choose to eat it rather throw it, they will have a choice. Suggest 10 per person. Now select a team member to wear the pumpkin (these should be the ones for trick or treating so there is a hole on top) and tie the plastic pumpkin around one team member's waist. Now establish a throw line for those with the candy and place the pumpkin wearing teammate 5, 7 or 10 feet away. Once everyone is set let the tossing begin. The kids and adults can throw candy corn all at one time or one at a time. You person wearing the pumpkin can move around to try to catch the candy corn as it is thrown. Once everyone has thrown the candy corn, take the pumpkin and count how many went in and also have the kids pick up any that is on the floor. Switch team members and go again. Add up how many go in each round and then total the amounts after everyone has had a turn. Winning team is the one to get the most candy corn in the pumpkin.

Halloween Corners
This random Halloween game is always a lot of fun for kids and it is totally random who the winner is. Stick up large Halloween themed pictures (ie witch, bat, ghost and black cat) in the four corners of a room. Play some music and when it stops, each child runs to a corner (if you have small numbers you can limit the number of children in each). The music operator without looking then calls out one corner or pulls a piece of paper from a hat and the image on the paper identifies which the corner is out of the game. Continue to play until there is one person left and they win a prize.

Pumpkin Smash
Blow up orange / Halloween balloons (We recommend you get good balloons). Tie off and then tie a foot long piece (can be longer) of ribbon around the end of the balloon. Take a Sharpie marker and carefully draw a Pumpkin Face on the balloon. Now have everyone tie their balloon, using the ribbon, around their ankle. Once everyone has tied their balloon around their ankle, share the rules. When the Party Host says Go! Everyone tries to run around and step on each others pumpkins (balloons). If your Pumpkin gets popped, then you are out of the game and can no longer Smash any pumpkins. Play Pumpkin Smash until there is only one person left with a balloon.

Vampire or Not!
For each child take a party cup (cup cannot be see through) and add one set of wax lips and one set of fangs. Create a set of Lips & Fang Cards – We suggest you create 2 or 3 more cards than expected guests just in case you get some extra people at your event. The quickest way to create the cards is to take a photo of the lips and fangs and then copy the images and print it out on a sheet of paper. Now cut out the images and attach to cardstock. If you have less than ten players have 3 Fang Cards and all the Rest Lip cards. If 11 – 15 players for your Halloween game, we suggest 4 Fang cards and all the rest Lip cards. If more than 15 player, divide the group up into 2 groups. (Make 2 sets of cards)

How to Play: Vampire or Not!
Gather the kids and have them sit in a circle where they face inward and can see everyone. Now hand out the cups with a set of lips and vampire teeth / fangs and tell them you are going to play a game. Have one child, the Vampire Hunter, leave the room and give each of the remaining children a card that has a picture on it of a pair of Lips or Vampire fangs. If you get the Lips you put your Lips in and if you get Vampire fangs you put those in your mouth. Once everyone has selected their Lips or Fangs they put in their lips or fangs and the Vampire Hunter returns and takes a seat and has 30 seconds to determine which three or four children they think are Vampires. (The ones with the Vampire teeth) During the time that the Vampire Hunter tries to determine who is a Vampire, the other players try to conceal their teeth from view by keeping their lips closed, so they don’t give away whether they are Vampires or Not. After 30 seconds the child names the 3 or 4 players that they believe are Vampires and one by one they smile to identify whether they are a Vampire or Not! If they child correctly guess all the Vampires then they receive a candy bar or small prize. – In large groups where you have 4 Vampires you might want to give a prize to those who get 3 or 4 correct. If the child only gets 2 Vampires then their turn is over, the other Vampires reveal themselves and the Lip and Fang Cards are collected. Then the next child, Vampire Hunter, leaves the room and the process is repeated until each child has had a turn guessing whether other guests are Vampires or Not! Play one or two rounds

Vampire or Not! Game Variation
A Fun Spin on this game is to have the child, Vampire Hunter, who is guessing whether the other guests are Vampires or Not 15 – 20 seconds to do something silly without touching any other players so they can get other kids to smile or laugh. This way they will have a better chance to get the other kids to smile or laugh, plus it makes the game more entertaining too. Once the Vampire Hunter has completed their silly act then they must guess the Vampires. (Same rules as above apply)

Tuesday 7 October 2014

How to Plan a Party

What makes a party work? I am sure that if I had an unlimited budget, my parties would all be amazing. I could just call a professional party planner and tell them the date and expectations for my party and they would see that it all happened. Unfortunately I have never had an unlimited budget when throwing any party. In fact, I have often had to be very creative to accommodate my limited budget and truthfully, I think if I were to totally turn my parties over to a professional, I would miss out on the satisfaction that comes from planning and executing all of the party details. The key to any successful party is in the organization and effort that goes into the planning. Spontaneous parties are possible, but usually a well planned party is more relaxing for the host and tends to go smoother than one that is haphazardly thrown together at the last minute. Here is a list of a possible party planning schedule that you can print up and use as a check list. Click here for printable version.

One Month To Party:
□ Generate a Budget
□ Choose a Theme
□ Create a Guest List – If it’s an event in honour of someone else, get an address book from that person or from his or her friends and family.
□ Select a Menu – Are you having a sit-down dinner or buffet? Hors d’oeuvres or snack foods? Will you be making the food yourself or hiring a caterer? Are there specific foods you’re going to serve? If you have a theme, try to make the food fit that theme.
□ Consider decorations
□ Send out invitations if RSVP is needed

Two Weeks to Party:
□ Send out invitations if no RSVP needed
□ Take Inventory of party supplies
  □  tableware
□  cutlery
□  linens
□  tables
□  chairs
□  decorations
□  party favors
□ Book Entertainment, Catering and Party Rentals – Most places are able to assist you, but the more time that is given to them the better. This ensures that you will get your first choices.
□ Place Special Orders if needed
□  the cake
□  floral arrangements
□  specialty foods
□  decorations
□  Shop for Non-Perishables – Anything including food that won’t spoil by the party date
□  napkins
□  beverages
□  decorations
□  costumes
□  supplies for games or activities
□  new outfit for the host

One Week to Party:
□  Finalize with caterers, hired entertainment or party rentals.
□  Call any RSVPs who haven’t responded.
□  Review Party Plan and consider the logistics of party
□  schedule of events including games and other activities
□  seating arrangements
□  food prep and serving areas
□  place for shoes and coats
□ Grocery and Last Minute Shopping – Even if you’re having the event catered, it’s always better to have some essentials such as milk, eggs, butter, bread and snacks available just in case. Also grab some last-minute items as they come up and stock up on toilet paper!
□ Decide on Music

Day Before Party:
□ Clean where guests will see especially the bathroom!
□ Decorate –  Do as much as possible the day before the party, even if that means ducking under streamers for the evening. It will be one less thing to do on the actual party date.
□ Solicit help from friends or family
□ Pre-Party Food Prep – Place bottles of pop and water in the refrigerator so they will be nice and cool for your guests when they arrive. Also cook or bake any foods that can be left out or refrigerated overnight or create mixtures for easy use on the day of.

Party Day:
□ Pick up helium balloons and cake (if ordered)
□ Finish food prep – Have a list ready of all the items being served and prepare them in order of what doesn’t need to be served hot to food that does.
□ Set the table
□ Organize Chairs and Tables.
□ Note Delivery Schedule for all rentals or catering
□ Get Serving Dishes and Snacks Ready
□ Have any props for games or crafts ready
□ Have FUN and relax!

Photo credit © Poznyakov | Dreamstime.com 

Friday 3 October 2014

Friday Freebie: Birthday Banner

Fridays we like to give away free printables to use at your next party. This week's freebie is an editable Birthday Party Banner that you can use at your next Birthday party or other festive occasion. Click to download pdf and enjoy!

Thursday 2 October 2014

Thursday Theme: Slumberless Party

Kids like slumber parties but they don’t really sleep and parents and kids can both end up cranky or sad. A slumberless party is a great alternative because it combines the fun of a slumber party without the headaches that can come with sleeping over. A slumberless party can start just before dinner and go as late as the host can stand, I suggest ending the party around 9:30 or 10:00pm at night. 

Decorate a plain pillow case with fabric markers for a fun activity at a slumberless party. The pillow case can double as a goodie bag at the end and are a fun memento of the great party. 

Another fun slumberless party activity is Bedtime BINGO. BINGO can be played for as long or as short as you want and is fun for both large and small groups.  

Pass the Parcel is another fun game to play at a slumberless party. Make or purchase stuffed animals (they can be inexpensive at a dollar store or on clearance after holidays like Christmas, Valentines or Easter) and wrap them up in different layers or in a box with several layers of paper around it. Play music and have the guests sit in a circle and pass the parcel around the circle. Stop the music and when the music stops the guest holding the parcel gets to open a layer of paper. Play the music again and have the guests continue to pass the parcel.  Other sleep related things that can be wrapped up for Pass the Parcel include small pillows, sleep masks (the masks for your eyes when you sleep), pajamas or night shirts.

Have the guests arrive in their pajamas and slippers. At some point in the party divide the guests up into partners and have them style each other’s hair. Give them new clips, scrunchies, ribbons, brushes and combs. You could even have manicures and facials.

After every guest is sufficiently dolled up, have a fashion show. To make a runway, use a red plastic tablecloth from the dollar store. Cut it so that it is about 3 feet wide and tape it to the floor using masking tape. Make a stage with the tablecloth that the runway runs in to. Tape white Christmas lights along the edge of the runway and on the stage. Behind the stage you can tape another plastic tablecloth to the wall or attach to existing curtain rods and include more white lights. Put on music and announce each model describing in detail what they are wearing. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures. The photos can be printed up and given in Thank you cards for your guests after the party.
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