As we move into 2021, the worst of Covid 19 and the ancillary impacts of 2020 are hopefully behind us. With vaccines, cautious relaxation of intermingling, the return of our children to physical school, and warmer weather life will hopefully start to more closely resemble what we once knew. This includes the ability for children to once again safely enjoy such a thing as a simple “in person” birthday party rather than Zooming!
In light of the hopeful return to some degree of normalcy we thought it might be helpful to revisit some of our previous blogs which will help parents or caregivers “better survive” and plan for a children’s birthday party whatever the theme may be. There are three – the concept of a secret sauce for birthday parties, some tips on the best birthday party food to provide, and in case you happen to still be in “lock down” state, how to make your best shot at a virtual party. Enjoy and please share!!
Hop to each section here:
The Five Enchanted Mermaids love parties! We have created a party pack for 12 and now also some super cute hanging swirl decorations to help parents quickly and easily host a birthday party that will thrill any little girl who loves mermaids.
If you would like to purchase a party pack for all the supplies you need (cups, plates, napkins, flatware, tablecloth) and party decorations, this can be done with a mermaid/under the sea theme featuring the Five Enchanted Mermaids. Click here.
The "Secret Sauce" for Kids' Birthday Party Success
When you plan your little girl’s birthday party, you, no doubt, get into the organization like a pro. You put together a checklist (by the way, this one is a great starting point) and you then prioritize and check off your list as you complete each task.
A key objective you no doubt have, is to make the party memorable. Children aged 3 – 7 will remember this for their entire lives – the good things and the bad things.
While the logistics are fundamental, the five aspects that are most important in planning are:
· Getting the right theme – this is a must, a party without a theme is not memorable at all!
· Getting the right number of children – less than six does not allow that “great party” feeling and more than 12 requires significant adult supervision and loses the intimacy that works best.
· Getting the right timing – less than an hour does not allow the party to “get going” and more than three hours allows tiredness to creep in with resultant tears and crabbiness
· Getting the right food – parents today want to provide fresh, healthy food which often children just do not want at a party. Compromise and go for flavor albeit with healthy ingredients but remember this is a party not every day.
Having said all this, there is one aspect that we rarely see at parties and does not figure in the standard checklists. This is the magic ingredient.
Between the ages of 3 and 7, children develop most of the basic skills which will set them up for their later lives. These comprise educational skills – letters, numbers and also emotional skills – confidence, generosity, competitiveness, empathy etc.
And a birthday party will become memorable if the theme can reflect one or more of these. If your little girl when she reaches eighteen says “Mom, do you remember that birthday party where we had a game about making friends with everyone? It was so memorable” you will have scored a home run.
So how do you do this? All parties have a series of games which provide the action part of the party before the food, cake etc. Why not build these games such that you teach important messages and skills? We had a party once with a person doing face painting. But this took some time for each child and each child wanted to go first. We had the children draw straws to decide who would go first and then had them line up and wait patiently for their turn. We gave them some other things to do while waiting but basically it taught patience, taking turns and the fairness of a mechanism for taking turns. It also prevented a free-for-all and tantrums.
We also had our birthday girl, wait until the end, reinforcing her skills for generosity and courteousness.
Birthday Party Food Success! Nine Ideas.
Every year, the pressure is on to give your child a great birthday party with their friends. In our busy lives this always presents a challenge to find the time to organize the party.
A lot of things can go right … and a lot can go wrong. One of the main things that everyone will remember, either good or bad, is the food you served.
We’re here to help! Here are some ideas to ensure the party food is a positive memory at your child’s party.
1. The party theme is important but doesn’t need to be reflected in the food. It is important to have a theme for the party and this can be achieved easily by buying one of the all-inclusive party sets now available. These make it so easy for parents to create a great atmosphere, as well as simplifying clean up. When we were deciding which products to design and make with the Five Enchanted Mermaids theme, a “birthday in a box” for busy parents was the first we developed, based on our own experiences over the years hosting our kids’ birthday parties while being working parents.
While you can prepare mermaid-themed food, we do not believe that this is necessary and some foods may end up not embracing some of the criteria for “good” party food set out below.
2. Food should be served towards the end of the party. Our parties would typically run about two hours, with the food being served after activities - about an hour and a half in. You do not want to have high energy activities going on at the same time as eating. This timing allows about half an hour for eating and then time to play a little more before being homeward bound.
3. Most of the food should be finger food that can be picked up and eaten. Finger food is easier to serve on plates and lets the kids pick what they want. However, for foods which require knife and folk, it is most convenient to have a table and chairs for the children to sit at and eat. This is a good idea anyway (see below) but may not always be practical, depending on the number of children invited and the space available. We found that the ideal number of guests is 12, if feasible.
4. Food should be cold rather than hot. Cold food is easier to put out on a serving table and is less time critical if activities run long. It also removes any possibility of burnt mouths.
On a side note, be sure to factor in best practices for food safety, especially if the party is out of doors on a hot day.
5. Seating considerations. At a two hour party with a number of physical activities, the children will get tired and need somewhere to sit. We bought a couple of metal trestle tables and some benches. We then had the legs cut down to match the size of our three-year olds. Some years later, we had the legs welded back on when the children were older and taller.
The seating also helps with socializing and allows a sit-down meal when the food is served. The birthday girl sits at the head of the table and feels special.
6. Variety of Food and Sequence. There is a lot of pressure on parents today to feed their children with nutritional foods. We agree with this but also believe that at a party, the food should be fun as well – offer a variety of options. Frankly, kids are unlikely to have a great time if there are only raw carrot sticks to eat.
7. Save the sugar until the end. Separate the food and drinks into sugar and non-sugar categories. While the children are enjoying their activities after they arrive, they need drinks and non-sugar varieties are better at this time – water is best but milk also works. Later they can be served fruit juices as they head into their food. We never served sodas but if you do, it is best to leave these until late in the party to prevent a sugar rush and the craziness that this might bring.
Also, buy small bottles of water or fruit juice or chocolate milk boxes. We would write the child’s name on the container to avoid mix-ups.
Save the deserts, cake and other sugar-based foods until the end.
8. For themed party foods that you can make yourself, Pinterest is a great place to find ideas. If you decide to carry the party theme over into the food, check out Pinterest for inspiration. We have a few Pinterest boards with lots of interesting ideas for birthday party food. Check out Mermaid Party Recipes, Mermaid Cupcakes, and Mermaid Cookies for lots of ideas.
9. Have appropriate refreshments available for the grown-ups. The younger the children, the more parents will want to stay for the duration of the party. As the children get older, many parents will drop off their children and then return to pick them up at the end of the party. But you will probably have a few parents who will stay for the whole time and help out. Make sure that you have suitable adult food and drinks for them!
Good luck with your party and we hope it will be a huge success!
And just in case your child is going to have a birthday while “lock down” is still in place in your community, here are some tips for a virtual birthday party.
A Virtual Mermaid Party
If your community is still in “lock down” when your child’s birthday comes up, don’t just say “We cannot have a party” but use the technology to do the best of what is available.
We have a great solution for you! You can throw a virtual mermaid party (either birthday or generic), with help from the Five Enchanted Mermaids!
The trick is to include all the elements that you would in a normal party setting:
· Plan a date and time that will work for your child and her friends. While a normal party can last for several hours even for a toddler, a virtual party should not run for more than half an hour to one hour.
· Send out invitations as you normally would.
· Buy or make some decorations so you can display a colorful backdrop on the screen for the virtual party. Your child’s friends may also wish to have their own decorations as well. (A pre-party activity might be to ask each participating family to create their own festively decorated backdrop.)
· Use Zoom or a similar videoconferencing application to enable each attendee to have part of the screen. It is probably best to limit the virtual attendees to 8-12.
· Plan out a set of activities – games, singing songs, viewing a short video together.
· And then, food and cake! Why not send out a parcel to each attendee in advance with some birthday or other party cake, cupcake or cookies and some tasty and nourishing foods. The moms can distribute these on cue over the video stream.
· Finally, a party treat. Again, this can be sent out in advance for the moms to distribute at the end of the party.
Get our digital invitation and party planner here.
ABOUT THE FIVE ENCHANTED MERMAIDS
The Five Enchanted Mermaids, a group of super cute, multiethnic mermaid friends that roam the make-believe world of Atargatis, celebrate diversity in our world and the belief that each child deserves to have a mermaid that looks like them. Through their individual personalities and traits, they weave stories that help teach inclusion and social skills for children in this age group. The idea for the Five Enchanted Mermaids was born to provide a fun but educational backdrop for children aged 3 to 7 years. The characters address emotional skills (making friends, resolving conflicts, coping with change, making their own choices and “being good people”) and educational skills (learning to read, the alphabet, counting, symmetrical shapes, time, value of monetary coins/notes) that are important at that age in the development of young girls. The stories use each of the diverse mermaids as a role model for behavior and values. Click here to start your visit on our website and see the footer for links to our social media sites.