Archive for the 'Activities' Category

My Brush With Celebrity: Little Red Monster

The last post had me thinking about our Elmo party and I just wanted to revisit what a worthwhile adventure renting a costume was. I had found this place online (I wish I remembered which one exactly) for $150, they rented you a “Little Red Monster” costume, a music cd and a small gift for the Birthday child (it was a plastic Elmo mug). The costume arrived in a big box the Thursday before the party.

Yours truly had the honor of being an Elmo. We had made several trips to Sesame Place before this Birthday and we knew that our little one loved seeing the characters in person. She was absolutley amazed to see Elmo walk out into the backyard. I had purchased one of those oversized crayon banks to give to her from Elmo. Elmo-afficiandos out there know Elmo loves to doodle.

We had so much fun with it that we even had Elmo visit again Sunday night before we had to ship him back on Monday. Now, you may think $150 is a bit steep. But, this would be a great present for family members to give or go in for. Toys come and go, but Staffer #1 is now on her way to 8 and still talks about how Elmo came to her party.

Important note: Not all kids love these big characters. One of the attendees at the party was very disturbed by Elmo’s presence. Later, I had to tell her it was me. She looked at me aghast and said, “Why would you do that?”

Party Blowers Part 4 (Pooper Barrio Mothers)

Yes, we did Elephant Party Blowers. And then Frog Party Blowers. And even Snake Party Blowers. And this Party Blower thing just keeps on giving — I give you the Party Blower that resembles the turtle/dragon thing in the popular video game that sounds very similar to Pooper Barrio Mothers.

Why am I being so cryptic? Well, I don’t want to step on any toes. I don’t need a multi-billion dollar company squashing me like a bug. (I mean I did have 10 views yesterday).

Staffer #1 loved Sesame Street when she was a little. We had a Elmo party for her — including renting a costume online.  This would be the “Little Red Monster” costume — so, I too, will play it safe.

But, I digress (as I often do), the Pooper Bario Mothers Turtle/Dragon Party Blower was a huge success. It gave 9 six-year-olds a break from tearing my house apart at a recent party. They were able to color it in any way they wanted and then assemble the blower (noiseless, of course).

There’s your covert party blower idea. I feel like a radical today — flying low under the radar (very low, because no one reads this blog). Got any sneaky Party Blower ideas send them in code….The Truth is Out There.

Bumbling onto Brilliance

I was looking for some visuals to liven up my last post and I came across these two cool links.  They would probably fall into the category of  “Why would you want to know how to do that?”  But, I say “Why wouldn’t you want to know how to do that!”

I’m a bit of a surviliast — you want to know how to do things in a pinch. 

So, if you are in need of messaging your own candy converstaion hearts, here you go…. 

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2008/02/how_to_stamp_your_own_val.html

And if, shudder to think, you can’t get your hands on candy conversation hearts at all, make your own…

http://candy.about.com/od/valentinesdaycandy/ss/convoheart_sbs.htm

 Make your own candy hearts

Brilliant! The last time I found a gem like this is was Mug O’ Cake Recipe.

“Be Prepared” is my motto. It is this kind of thinking that has me stocked with 6000 mailing labels, 1000 paper clips and 500 twisty balloons. Got a tip, let me add it to my bunker.

Bingo with a Twist (or a stick)

Where to begin on this one…Well, how about a Valentine’s Day party at school and yours truly is the party helper in charge of games.  Need a little, somum, somun  for 22 1st graders. 

I checked out Kaboose.com and found this Valentine Bingo idea:  http://holidays.kaboose.com/val-party.html  I liked the idea of using the names of the classmates as the items to be called.  They suggested using a blank card with boxes and have the kids fill in their names.  But,  I thought that may be a little challenging for 22 1st graders — so we made name stickers.

Name stickers? Intrigued well, a year and half ago I bought mailing address labels at my local warehouse club — 6000 to be exact.  I have been justifing this purchase ever since.  Using these mailing address label sheets on my computer, I’m able to fit 2 names per label.  Nine label sheets later, I cut them into strips with my paper cutter and wah-lah — 22 name stickers for each of the 22 kids.

I made a blank card of 5 by 5 boxes a total of 25 squares. Now there are only 22 students so I filled in three random spaces on the cards with a free space, a tiger because it happened to be Chinese New Year as well and the Chinese symbol for “Love”. (Yes, it was a Valentine’s/Chinese New Year Party).  I gave each student a blank card with their name on it, 22 name stickers and conversation heart candies to use as markers.  I then had them pass their cards around and fill in other’s Bingo Cards with their name stickers.

This proved a bit chaotic.  I would definitely not do this part again.  I think it would have been easier (saner) to give each students name stickers for all their classmates and just fill in their own card.  That aside, the kids loved hearing there names called out.  We gave a heart-shaped lollipop when someone got bingo and then continued till all the cards were filled — so everyone got their name called. As always everybody wins a PartyMOMster game.

OK, that’s it and regarding my promise of shorter and more frequent posts — I have done neither. So, with “progress not perfection”, I press on still a little wordy and tardy.

LPM is Back and it’s Beachy!


I know you are all waiting for this week’s Let’s Party Monday’s (a.k.a LPM) party theme — uh, waiting two weeks in fact. Last week, the staff and I were at an off-site meeting at the seashore doing some intensive team building and sandcastle making. We are back — well-rested, inspired and ready to present to you…

A BEACH PARTY

Decorations

Get ready to get your MacGyver on (and join me as I unpack the mini-van after vacation). Take everything you take with you to the beach and throw it all over the place: beach towels, shovels, beach chairs, plastic buckets, sandcastle forms, and inflatable whatever. What about stringing a clothes line and hanging swimsuits? (Maybe not my big granny-suit, but the staffer’s suits are fun and colorful)

You may be thinking — ugh, that sounds like a big mess. Well, check out this classy pic from the May issue of House Beautiful where they put those Beach towels to work as a great (and absorbent) tablecloth.

You can also purchase shells at a craft store to sprinkle around. And depending on how brave you are, get a little sand from the craft store or playsand at the hardware store.

In college, I went to a party at a Frat House with beach volleyball on the third floor – that’s right a couple of inches of sand covering the entire third floor. Those boys knew how to throw a party. I don’t know how they cleaned it up, but those aren’t the concerns of a college party-goer.

A more practical solution would be spreading the sand in a couple cookie sheets with some shells to create a zen garden/mini-seascape for the table. (That seems so lame compared to full scale beach volleyball indoors. Is a Frat House really the standard I’m striving for? I’m really struggling with this one.)

Activity

This activity came to me as I was preparing for our trip to the seashore and saw two days with rain clouds assigned to them. I ended up not having to break out the crafts (YEAH!), but it was great to do post va-ca and perfect for this week’s theme.

Take a frame cut out of cardboard and paint one side with Mod Podge.(You could probably use white glue, I’m just digging Mod Podge lately.) Then take the sticky side and drag it though some sand – maybe take advantage of your mini-seascape decoration. Then have party guests arrange shells on the now sandy frame. While they take part in another activity, hot glue the shells to the frame.

The weight of the shells and the amount of white glue necessary to hold them will take forever to dry. Hot glue will ensure your guest can take their handiwork home, instead of standing by your door weeping with gooey shells lying on the floor before them. (Trust me on this.)

Game

Leaving the beach is always a feat of endurance and now it’s a party game! Create a “Packing It Up” obstacle course by spreading out all types of beach gear: blankets, sand toys, beach ball, hat, sunglasses, boogie board. The contestant has to collect and carry all the gear across the finish line. Think John Candy in Summer Rental.

At the finish line, you can take a picture and if you have the A-team of party helpers, that picture can then be printed and put into the beachy frame created earlier. I love it when a plan comes together!

There you have it a Beach party to squeeze in before the end of the summer, but could also be a real stunner in the winter – so unexpected!

I’d love to sea your beachy ideas in the comments – they’re great I’m shore!

(That last line was desperate, but did you get my A-team reference and quote? Anyone? Come on that was gold, baby! Someone is fresh from vacation.)

Camp Continues: The Tracking Game

Now, the much anticipated Tracking Game for the Let’s Party Mondays, Camp theme .

The staff has always had a love of animals and the outdoors. We are members of the local zoo and have made frequent trips to our nearby arboretum. These two favorite haunts inspired the Tracking Game – I feel like someone got chocolate in my peanut butter and I came up the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of Camp party games. (Whoa, someone is a little full of themselves today).

Anywhoo, we received a small laminated tracking card of animals of the Northeast when we joined our local zoo. It has squirrels, deer, rabbits, etc. The staff loves to try to find muddy tracks along the wood line behind the house. (Let’s say that’s the “Peanut Butter”.) On our last trip to the arboretum, they handed out a sheet of paper with six boxes on it and a crayon. As you walked the trail, there were these informational signs and below the sign there was a rubbing plate with leaves one it. At each sign, you would rub the corresponding plate. At the end, all the boxes were filled in with cool leaf designs. (That would be the “Chocolate”.) So, I thought why not have rubbing plates with animal tracks and have the kids discover them as they search the backyard. (And there you have the “Peanut Butter Cup”.)

Using my tracking card as a guide, I created these rubbing plates which the staff helped me decorate. I tried two methods: 1) piling on glue as paint (which takes a while to dry) 2) cutting out paper and gluing (takes a while to cut out and doesn’t have as great of a raised effect). And if you don’t want your dishes and laundry to pile up while you are monkeying around with animal tracks, I found a great third option: buy them . They look great and you can have more of them – I could only squeeze out five on my own. I would still attach them to cardboard and decorate the board — it looks cool and the staff had fun decorating. I included a clue because some of the tracks look similar.

To play, scatter and hide the plates all over you backyard. Then give each participant a sheet (newsprint works the best because it is really thin and the rubbings show up very easily) with a space assigned for each animal. Here’s one way…

When they fill in their sheet, they can earn a prize or maybe a badge declaring they are a solid tracker. Okay, there you have it the Tracking Game – I’m open to a better name the “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of Camp Party Games” is a little wordy.

Gotta go, I have this overwhelming desire for candy.

Let’s Party Mondays: Hello Campers!

Hey, it’s Monday again — let’s party! Today’s theme is Camp!

As you know by now, I am loving Camp at the moment. The morning day camp the staffers attended was a big hit and it sent me into a nostalgic frenzy. (ahhh, Camp Arrowhead, Good times…) But, my love of camp has been taken to a new level this week — the staffers are attending Nature Camp this week. That is 4 1/2 hours a day Monday through Friday. And it couldn’t have come at a better time for — EVERYONE!

Besides giving all of us a break from each other, (I’m banking on “absence makes the heart grow fonder” all around) the staffers came home with great games, crafts and were so tired they had very little fight left in them — JACKPOT!

I’m not the only one loving camp at the moment. My favorite magazines have weighed in with some great ideas as well. So, here’s a little somunsomun I put together — welcome to Camp!

Decorations

Now is the time to drag out that dusty tent you may have or borrow one or at the very least hang a simple tarp. I found a very competent video that explains how to make a tent out of a tarp. If you make a tent happen — sit back, you are golden.

If you still want to take it up a notch, I say go for the campfire. Fire and kids seem a bit dicey for me — I’m looking for theater here. I would pile a few logs together and create a faux fire — maybe some orange and yellow tissue paper. I didn’t get to try this out yet, but I was thinking of a small fan with crepe paper ribbons attached to give the illusion of flickering flames. I’m not sure if that would work — if I can make that happen you will be the first to know. (Maybe the second, I may have to explain myself to the neighbors)

Cake

I don’t want to talk about cake — let’s talk S’mores. S’mores and Camping are like Peanut Butter and Jelly, Macaroni and Cheese, Captain and Tennille (Did anyone get that last one? Sometimes, I really am just writing for myself.) So, I offer several S’more options:

Activity

My Mom saved the August issue of Family Fun magazine because it had some great camp crafts. The Totem Pole was her favorite. You have each person create a self-portrait on a paper plate using markers, natural materials and white glue. When the glue dries, tape the plates to a large stick and set the stick into the ground – wahlah a Totem Pole. Nice work, Mom.

Game

Now, there are various iterations of tag and the staff has played quite a few of them at camp — to rave reviews I might add. Now, the Party MOMster usually shies away from tag because someone is “it”. Everyone runs away from the person that is “it” – it just feels wrong to me. But, those super smart camp counselors have teams of people being it – no one is left to be a pariah. Brilliant! I promise a sampling of the most-loved tag options from the staff by the end of the week.

I have got so much more to say including a great game that the staff and I started today. It’s drying overnight. (Oh, are you intrigued?) So, I’m calling it a night and just making my Monday deadline. We will have more Camp ideas for you tomorrow. But, feel free to pitch in a few of your own. (That whole Golden Graham thing has got me a bit down too — that Cinderella song has me all choked up)

Let’s Party Mondays: School is in session!

Hey, it’s Monday — it must be “Let’s Party Mondays”. Thanks to our Pick A Party Winner, Sqkecleen, today’s theme is: Back to School

Just going back to school is a reason to celebrate. I know I will be having a Back to School Cocktail Party, myself (that is, party of one). But, if you have a late August or early September Birthday in your family, the staff and I found it to be a theme with a lot of possibilities. If you have preschoolers or kindergartners that are new to school, this is a great way to get them worked-up about this exciting milestone.

Decorations

I would score some of those bulletin board cut-outs that Teacher’s use. We have a store called Becker’s that sells all sorts of classroom supplies — they have a website as well. Get your MacGyver on and grab any school theme toys you have around the house to place in festive spots. I don’t think I’ve met a family that doesn’t have a School Bus. Wah-lah you’ve got your centerpiece.

Cake

As I suspected, Coolest-Birthday-Cakes does not disappoint. There is a great selection of school bus cakes to inspire. I had a brainstorm for a Chalkboard Cake. If I have a few minutes, I might try to pull it off. (The MOMster likes her cake.) I’m picturing a rectangular cake with dark green icing, graham cracker pieces lining the edge as a frame for a chalkboard. Maybe, half a candy apple sitting on the bottom right corner, like an apple for the teacher resting on the chalk ledge. Chalk pieces made out of pretzel rods dipped in white chocolate. I don’t know, just a thought. (Yeah, this is what I daydream about. It is a sickness.)

Game

The staff and I put the most energy into the game. Never discouraged by my failures (i.e. Cootie Clown) , we created the School Bus Obstacle Course.

This can begin as an activity. You need to have kid cut-outs on white paper and a mess of crayon, stickers, googly eyes, etc. You should have a table dedicated to this. Ask the guests to make a student. It can be them or not — whatever they want. They just need to decorate the one side. When they are finished, they bring their student to you. You need to have sticky back Velcro and put the prickly Velcro on the back of each student. Then the real fun begins — the School Bus needs to pick up the kids for school.


The paper students that were decorated earlier are scattered all over the backyard or through the house or at a park. The “School Bus” is a child wearing a yellow felt tunic (A yard of yellow felt with a hole cut through the middle for their head.) We added a foam visor that we made — we always like to kick it up a notch. The “School Bus” rushes to pick up all the students for school by sticking them to the felt and finally running across a finish line.


YOU HAVE TO HAVE A FINISH LINE. This is an obstacle course must. Red crepe paper held by two people must be broken through — it is the only satisfying way to end. I don’t time it or make it a race — they just have to finish. You can give them a sticker, a stamp on their hand or a dollar store medal to commemorate their triumph. The staff and I thoroughly tested this idea — no student was left behind!

Book

I always love to have a book to tie-in with the theme. It can be propped up as a decoration or have the guests sign the inside of it. Or depending on the audience, you can have a story time. My favorite Children’s Book Blog, the Book Nosher, who has come through for me in the past , was gracious enough to provide some quick picks off the top of her head:

  • I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas (preschool)
  • Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate (kindergarten)
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (preschool/kindergarten).

She also promised more selections on her blog as Back to School approaches — stay tuned to The BookNosher.

Alright that is my offering for “Back to School”, I know there is more, so please feel free to weigh in with your comments and ideas. All this party testing has caused a bit of a backlog in my housework. Right now my kitchen is like school on Saturday — no class.

And with that Fat Albertism, I am outta here. (Na na na gonna have a good time. Hey! Hey! Hey!)

K.I.S.S.

K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple Stupid. I first saw this phrase in school. I think it was school. I’m pretty sure it was school because I remember it written on a blackboard. Or was that on T.V.? Maybe on school on T.V.? Wait, was it at Eastland Academy? Was I in class with Blair, Joe, Natalie and Tootie? OK, my heads spinning a bit — I’ll have to sort that out later.

But just the other day, one of the staffers schooled me on the beauty of simplicity (A concept I struggle with — can you say “Circus Party”?).

To mix it up a bit, two of the staffers attended a morning summer camp run by our town. Upon pick-up after the first day, our expert in pink, sparkles and little big-eyed animals, runs to me beaming.

“Look at this,” she gasps as she thrusts a piece of plastic mesh with plastic lacing running through it. “It’s a bookmark! This is the coolest craft I’ve ever done!” (I wince — I’m so easily forgotten)

“Wow, that is super great!” I say convincingly. (Really? The coolest? What about my card weaving project? How quickly we forget “Put Your Cards On The Table Week”.)

Later in the day, our lovely staffer has her friend over and shows her the bookmark. (Ok, here we go. I hope the lovely staffer doesn’t get her feelings hurt…) “WOW, that is sooooo cool! Can I make one?” The two run off to create with some extra pieces of plastic lacing the camp sent home.

Huh, well what do you know. Something so simple can provide so much bliss. That is definitely a lesson learned. Although, I should have known this brilliant bookmark — a monument to simplicity — is the result of many summers of fine tuning. Plastic Lacing, or what we called “Gimp”, is a Summer Camp staple. I myself remember working the Gimp at Camp Arrowhead back in the day.

So,if you can’t beat em — join em. This is our bookmark bounty from the craft store and it ran us $7.


We worked a few bookmarks ourselves and it is a great activity to do while you shoot the breeze. I got the 411 on the camp:

  • The head counselor just got engaged
  • The best person to push you on the tire swing is a third grader
  • The girl with all the woven key chains is not a good listener
  • The boys and girls bathrooms are kind of hard to tell part (There is more to that story)

Man, I miss Camp! I think this would be a great craft for a little girls birthday party. Or you could put together a craft kit to give as a favor.

Letting K.I.S.S. be my guide, I will stop here. There is really nothing else to say about this newly discovered craft — it is simply perfect.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go look up Natalie and Tootie on Facebook and catch up on old times.

Let’s Party Mondays: It’s a Circus!


Ahhh…Another weekend…Ugh…Another Monday…Yeah! LET’S PARTY MONDAYS!

Today’s Party Theme: Circus

This is one of my favorite party themes. I got quite goofy on this one and it was also one of the most epic battles between Me vs. the Evil Overdoer. (Also, me — but, picture me with little red horns dragging a very long to-do list).

Decorations

The grandest decoration was a circus tent ceiling. We took eight plastic tablecloths (4 red/4 white) and hung them from the playroom ceiling. They clustered in the center and fanned out to the walls. Finding a tape that would stick to the slippery plastic tablecloths, defy gravity and not mark the walls was a bit problematic. There were constant re-adjustments, even during the party (“Oh, excuse me sweetie, let me get that tablecloth off your head“). This was a circus party not a planetarium, such a heavy investment in ceiling decor was likely unwise. Advantage: Evil Overdoer

Pulling a little MacGyver, we collected some stuffed animals and turned them into clowns. The staff and I made clown hats out of construction paper and ruffled collars out of tissue paper. We had fun doing this a few days before the party to get us into the mood. Very festive results. Advantage: Me


Cake

Because I knew I would be busy decorating (raising a tent, creating a game — more to come), I decided to delegate the cake to someone else. (I was still smarting a bit from my Dino-disaster) I heard of this woman that made cakes out of her home and she was very fun and creative. The woman lived 20 minutes away. So, on the day of the a party, I ran a 50 minute errand (20 minutes there + 10 minutes getting lost + 20 minutes home). The cake did look awesome. Advantage: A tie


Game

I had played the classic childhood game, Cootie, with the staffers a few weeks before. Quick rundown, you roll dice and depending on your roll you earn different parts of the Cootie bug to build your own.

Brainstorm: I will make a Cootie Clown. We’ll roll the dice to earn different parts of the clown’s face. There were about eight pieces to the face which we needed for 6 players = 48 pieces were created. I sorted and put them into numbered envelopes. Okay, let’s play. We started with one player rolling the dice at a time. It was going s-l-o-w. I was losing them. Gave everyone dice and let them all go at the same time. That was chaos. Just gave everyone the pieces to make the face — we finished. The guests seemed happy with the results. (They may have just been glad it was over. Moving on) Advantage: Evil Overdoer

Acitivity

This was the best part of the party and, best of all, it lives on in video. We had the guest put on their own circus which Mr. Party MOMster dutifully recorded. We dragged out the dress-up bin, toys and other props to create the following acts:

  • Snake charmer (rubber snake wrapped around someone playing a whistle)
  • Tightrope walker (put a piece of tape on the floor while walking in a tutu with a parasol)
  • Lion tamer (wearing a pith helmut, throwing a stuffed lion through a hoop)
  • Lady on Horesback (Princess costume while riding a Rocking Horse)
  • Strong man (counted how many stuffed animals one child could hold — we got to 11)

We ended with a clown parade made possible by the purchase of rainbow wigs and red noses for the party. Following the parade, all the performers watched the tape on TV. It was a rousing success and we are often asked to bring out the tape to watch again and again. Advantage: ME

In the throwdown between me and the Evil Overdoer, it was a draw. But, as always the only casuality is, once again, ME. When the Evil Overdoer rears her ugly head, I am left feeling very tired and very stressed. Absolutely no fun — so not Party MOMster.

So, join the Circus with some great party ideas — the more the merrier. And don’t overdue or you’ll feel like a Party Pooper. (Speaking of, I’ve got a diaper to change. I think that also may become Party MOMster principle #3.)

PS (Let’s keep the Party going on Mondays — do the Pick A Party Giveaway!)


Party Tableau from My Talented Staffers

Super Foolishness (According to Me!)