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Berthoud wedding planner A little bird told me you'd like some help with your event.....

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sofia the First Party

{Real Parties}


Its no surprise that my kids have always loved Disney Junior.  From Little Einsteins to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, my kids have grown up with these sweet, beloved characters.  So as my daughter's favorite tv show, Sofia the First, she requested the theme and planning of this new child princess whose mother marries into royalty, almost 1 year before her birthday.


The color scheme was easy, a variety of purples, pink, silver, gold and white. I made tissue paper pons and fans, embellished with flowers and jewels as backdrops for the area where I knew we would be taking pictures as well as behind the dessert table.  I sewed by hand the satin table linen with a tulle border.

Now I know that every little girl has their own favorite princess, so we invited guests to come in costume.  We had a trunk of additional dress up clothes as well as beads, tiaras and necklaces to add to the ensembles. Each girl also decorated a magic wand with their names and other sparkles.


Girls took turns getting their nails painted and gems and sparkles applied.


As a surprise to the little girls, we invited Sofia herself to come and share stories and play games with us. She was so good at answering their questions about her family, animal friends (whom she has magical powers to speak to,) and the land that she is from. Wands and Wishes is an amazing, Colorado based company with a ton of real live princess visits to choose from (and they have princes and pirates as well.)


Happy Cakes of Longmont supplied us with a scrumptious variety of cupcakes, including gluten-free options.  Each girl decorated her treat with sprinkles, candies and sugar.


We served strawberry milk at each place setting in these cute plastic milk bottles with patterned purple paper straws (say that 3 times fast!)


Each girl left with a Sofia the First favor bag filled with stickers, notebooks, lipgloss, barrettes and crayons.


Happy 6th Birthday Hailey!




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blending Families and Including Children in the Wedding

A local magazine recently asked me for my input on how to involve children in their parents' weddings.  For those of you who weren't able to catch the article, here is the interview and my responses.

When people get married who have children, do you think it can be important to include the children in the ceremony?

The blending of two families and changes in lifestyle, living arrangements and day to day routines can be an emotional time for everyone involved, especially children.  Some children, no matter what their age, may feel resentment towards their parent’s new partner for taking their time and attention away from them.  If their parent was previously involved in a relationship or married to their mom or dad, the child may harbor hopes that they could have still possibly gotten back together and worked things out.  If new children are going to be introduced into the family or home, children may be worried about how their space and personal items are going to be affected.  Marriage can sometimes also lead to other big life changes including moving to a new home, or new town.  It is important, during all of these changes, that children are reassured that they are an important part of the family and likewise, the wedding.  It should be noted though, that no child should be forced into involvement in the wedding if they are feeling uncomfortable or otherwise resentful.  They should only be involved as much as they wish.



What message can it send to a child who is entering a new family setting to be involved in a wedding ceremony?

Through the involvement of children in the wedding ceremony, vows and ceremonies may emphasize that the child is important to BOTH the bride and the groom.  They need to know that they are not losing a parent, but gaining a new special someone.  Not only will they be able to feel the love and support that their parent’s new partner is promising to give the child, but also illustrates the strength and bond that the new partner has with their parent.  Kids like to feel safe and secure, this spiritual and many times religious ceremony will help to solidify the family’s bonds, as a whole.

What are some ways for the kids to be involved in a wedding?

Ceremonies such as SAND POURING CEREMONY -each family member has a vase of a different color of sand, they are all combined into one container to show the blending of each member of the family. This makes for a great keepsake, something to keep on the fireplace mantle.  Even have the large glass etched or engraved with everyone’s names and the wedding date.
SALT COVENANT CEREMONY- is similar to the sand pouring ceremony, but each individual has identical collections of salt.  The idea is to pour them all together in one vase and the bond of family members cannot be broken, just as the grains of salt cannot be separated back into different piles.
CANDLE LIGHTING CEREMONY- Each child and parent has their own taper candle, lit by either the officiant or maybe grandparents.  Together, the family members light one big, pillar candle.
TIME CAPSULE CEREMONY- Each family member writes a letter to each other (ahead of time) and places it in locked box to be opened some time down the road, together, maybe on an anniversary.

Another way to incorporate children into the wedding ceremony is to give each child a special, sentimental GIFT.  Recommendations for these gifts (typically given after the exchange of rings,) could be a ring on a chain to be worn as a necklace, a special family heirloom that has been passed down like a pocket watch, a popular Family Medallion Pendant, which has intertwined rings or a bible.

Written vows including the children are a low key way to involve the children without being too intrusive.  Each parent should include a promise to love and support the child, not only the other partner.  Children can be asked to write their own vows to say to the parents, or a simple “repeat after me” correspondence will suffice, especially for young children or shy children.



Are there different ways to be involved, depending on the children’s ages (ie: say, a 5 year old, vs. a 15 year old)?

Ways for children under 5 to be involved in the ceremony and reception:
They can act as the flower girl or ring bearer in the processional (and either choose to stand with their parent at the altar, or may have a seat once they get to the front.)
One of the ceremonies listed above (minus the candle lighting ceremony)
Instead of having the officiant ask at the beginning of the ceremony, “who give this woman?” and the reply being by the bride’s parents, the officiant can ask “who shares this woman?” and the kids can answer “we do.”
If the bride has a long train, small kids can act as “pages” and carry her train during the processional and recessional.
Young kids like to feel helpful. Give them duties such as passing our programs or bubbles to guests prior to the ceremony.
Have them release butterflies or help with a dove release at some point during, or after the ceremony.
Have a mini bouquet toss at the reception, but have it exclusively for the daughter to receive it.

Ways for older children to be involved in the ceremony and reception:
Sons and daughters can be part of the wedding party as bridesmaids, groomsmen or ushers.
Put older children in charge of carrying the rings.
A bride’s son may choose to walk his mother down the aisle to give her away.
Have the child read a scripture or poem during the ceremony.
If the child in musically inclined, have them perform a solo.
Again, only if they are comfortable, have the child give a toast to their parent and new step-parent at the reception (or rehearsal dinner.)
Have teens help with putting together a music playlist for the dancing portion of the reception.
Take an older young lady with to shop for a wedding dress/bridesmaid dresses. (Limit the excursion to only a few stores at a time, or it can become overwhelming, and stop for a lunch or coffee break.)
Coordinate to have a father/daughter or mother/son dance, but maybe keep the song choice more upbeat, or even choreographed with a surprise song switch half way through.

Involve kids of any age:
A professional family photo can be taken ahead of time and included in the ceremony program or in a photo mat, to be signed by guests as they arrive (in lieu of a guestbook.)
Have a custom, family cake topper made for the wedding cake.
Take the child with you to the cake tasting and allow them to choose one of the flavors for one of the tiers of the wedding cake, based on their favorite.
Wedding invitations can list each family members’ names as the ones hosting the wedding, such as “Bob Taylor, Lizzie Taylor, Janie Thomas and Curtis Thomas invite you celebrate in the wedding of Bob and Janie.”
Instead of a “head table” with the wedding party and spouses, have a “family table” with only the couple and their children at a table.
Include the children in the getting ready before the ceremony, invite them to get dressed, etc in the changing suites, take the girls to get their nails and hair done.
Also involve them in pre-wedding parties, such as a pre-wedding golf game or bridal shower. 
Your honeymoon, if you are taking one, should be adult-only.  It is important to have this alone time to bond as a newlywed couple.  But, if possible, plan a pre or post wedding family vacation where everyone can relax and have fun together.



Are there examples of clients for whom you have planned weddings that had their children involved? And how did that work?

Yes.  I have planned weddings where older sons walk their mom’s down the aisle.  It is adorable and always brings tears.  A wedding rehearsal is important to plan in any processional involving children or non-traditional order.

I planned a wedding with 3 young daughters who did the sand pouring ceremony.  That worked well and I believe they also participated in a bread breaking ceremony as a family.  The little girls loved that instead of flower girl baskets, they got to carry “magic fairy flower wands” down the aisle.

Some kids really have some impressive dance moves.  I love when they are allowed to let their talents shine.  I had a bride who had taken dance lessons with her son, for their choreographed, mother/son dance.  The song started out slow but then changed to hip hop and break dancing by the young son.  It was so fun!

I helped at a wedding last weekend with a younger son of a bride and we sent him down the aisle as a “ring bearer” but he decided to come back up the aisle, once he escorted the flower girl to her spot, to join his mom, the bride.  I guess he wanted to walk his mom down the aisle, along with the bride’s dad, we just rolled with it.  Kids can be unpredictable and flexibility is a must.


I, myself, along with my brother and sister, were adult children at our father’s 2nd wedding.  I think that he handled things well, by asking us each to perform certain duties that we were comfortable with, including me to coordinate the vendors, finalize a menu, etc and having my brother plan (an appropriate) bachelor party.




Monday, March 3, 2014

The Confetti Foundation


I want to officially introduce everyone to a non-profit that is dear to me,  The Confetti Foundation.  This charity, started by Stephanie Frazier Grimm, collects donations: monetary, supplies, talent and volunteers, to deliver party starter kits to children spending their birthdays in the hospital.  This idea is quickly becoming national and at this point in time is in 29 Children's Hospitals in 20 states.


Each party kit comes in a 15"x11"x4" box that is to represent opening up a gift.  Inside, children will find: 2 tissue pom decorations, 4 wooden spoons & forks, 4 Napkins, 4 Plates, 4 Cups, 4 straws, Themed Coloring Pages and Crayons (or a bookmark for older kids,) Stickers, a Happy Birthday Banner and a handmade Birthday Card.

Here's how I'm doing my part:



Not only have I been named official "Birthday Fairy" for The Colorado Children's Hospital in Aurora Colorado. (This means that I am the liaison between the foundation and the hospital.  The hospital will let me know when they need more boxes and if there are any special theme requests from their patients.)  The boxes are delivered to my home and I get to personally deliver them to the hospital. I am also getting my 3 children on board to teach them the importance of volunteer work, early on.  They will accompany be to drop off party kits.  Above you see my daughter, age 6, who is excited to be a "birthday fairy."
(She asked if she could dress up like a fairy to do the delivery.)
The hospitals that are getting involved in this project are so excited and have let me know that there is a great need for more boxes.  Enough boxes can only be made though, according to how many monetary donations are received by the foundation.  (Each box costs $22 to make, ship, etc.)  I have decided to donate 10% of the profit that I make from contracting wedding and event planning services to the foundation.  Likewise, for every party kit that is purchased via my ETSY website, one will be donated to a child in the hospital.

Here's how you can do your part:

  1. Donate via paypal! Any amount is greatly appreciated.  They are currently trying to earn enough to make 200 boxes by March 15th.
  2. Be a Birthday Buddy. 
  3. Do you love to shop for party supplies as much as I do?  Donate NEW party supplies such as paper straws, stickers and tissue paper poms. View full wish list here.
  4. Donate your talent.  Do you have experience in graphic design?  Create new themes for the stickers, banners, etc. More details here.
  5. Be a Birthday Fairy or Birthday Hero.  If the Children's Hospital in your area is not yet on the list, reach out to see about bringing them some smiles.  It's not a huge commitment and it is so fulfilling, trust me.  
  6. Think of other ways to help: Plan a fundraiser, sell lemonade or cookies.  Do you know any little people who like to color, draw, use stickers and stamps?  Each party box comes with a handmade birthday card, have your child and their friends, or class, or girl scout troop, etc make generic birthday cards (single-sided, on card stock and each in an individual, unsealed envelope,) and mail to:

The Confetti Foundation
78 Thames Street
Newport, RI 02840

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

6 unconventional kids birthday party venues

If you saw my last post on pros and cons of choosing some of the more popular children's birthday party locations, you know that I have planned A LOT of kids birthday parties.  And I sometimes get bored with the same old same old locations.  I often plan my kids' parties at home because then I have the money that I would have spent to reserve some place, to decorate and transform my own space to fit the theme of the party.  But here are a few other suggestions, forgive me, some of them are local for my Longmont Colorado peeps, but you'll get the gist.

1) Tea House-
Does your little girl love to play tea parties?  Why not invite her friends to the real thing?  Make reservations at a tea house or historic hotel for cream tea and finger sandwiches.  Each girl can come in costume: a dress, hat, gloves and pearls.  The inn keeper may be able to give a lesson on proper etiquette and table manners.

Local Recommendations:
Thompson House Inn Longmont, Colorado
The Boulder Dushanbe Tea House Boulder, Colorado
Lavender n' Lace Eaton, Colorado


2) Factory-
Kids love learning how things are made and to watch big machines.  Even better if there are sweets to sample.  Do some research to see what manufacturing plants are in your area and ask them if they offer group tours.  They may even have a private room that you can use for cake and gifts.  Near me we have a candy making factory, yes with samples, a tea factory, my son loved getting to wear one of their hairnets during the tour or you can watch donuts freshly made and coming down a conveyor belt.  Fun!

Local Recommendations:
Hammonds Candies in Denver, Colorado
Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, Colorado
Krispy Kreme, various locations


3) Toy Store-
What do kids love more than toys?  So what better place to have their birthday party?  Hey, and if you haven't had a chance to pick up a gift, no problem, lots of last minute choices.  Many larger toy stores (and some boutiques) offer a connected play or party room and of course, the best kids of party favors for your guests.

Local Recommendations:
Grandrabbits in Boulder, Colorado
Lego Store- ok, I guess they no longer offer parties on site, but you could still take the kids there for some play and pick some goodies for their party bags.
Toys R Us- Again, not a complete party, but if you sign up for Geoffrey's Birthday Club (free) and then stop by the store around their birthday, they will get a birthday crown, balloon and personalized announcement broadcast to the store.


4) Concert Venue-
Is your child an aspiring pop-star diva like mine?  Some kids are just drawn to the stage and want nothing more than a party where they are the star, spotlights on, music loud.    Concert venues and community theatres are sometimes available for private rental and have some great a/v inclusions.  A big dance floor for the littles to get their wiggles out is a must.  You may even want to spring for a kid-friendly disc jockey to put in charge of spinning those age-appropriate tunes.

Local Recommendations:
Dickens Opera House Longmont, Colorado
Jesters Dinner Theatre  Longmont, Colorado
Boulder Theatre  Boulder, Colorado
Nissi's  Lafayette, Colorado



5) Movie Theater-
Wouldn't it be cool, not just to take the group to watch a movie, but to have your own private viewing of Johnny's favorite flick?  Smaller, privately owned theaters are available to rent and may offer catering options (and mommy and daddy drink options,) as well.

Local Recommendations:
The Kress Cinema  Greeley, Colorado
Boedecker Theater  Boulder, Colorado
Liberty Theatre  Pagosa Springs, Colorado


6) Paintball-
You wont find me there, getting all bruised up, but I bet my boys would love to get out their aggressions by chasing each other around with paintball guns, and I'm sure their friends would too. Make sure to get parents to sign release forms first though.

Local Recommendations:
Blitz Paintball  Dacono, Colorado
American Paintball Coliseum  Denver, Colorado
All Star Paintball  Colorado Springs, Colorado


I would love to hear about the unique place that you held your child's birthday party!  Please leave your comments below.




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pros and Cons of popular kids birthday party venues

I have 3 kids, ages 12, 9 and almost 6.  I love planning parties and have planned parties for each of their birthdays, every year.  This means that at a minimum, not including planning my husband's, friends, family members' and my own birthday parties, that I have planned 27 birthday parties at various locations.  With this experience, I feel that I can share with you some of the pros and cons of booking some of the more popular locations for your child's birthday party.

1)Park/Playground-

Pros-
  • Its free, or close to free if you choose to reserve a shelter.
  • Easy entertainment- there is usually a play structure, swings, a grassy area to throw a ball around or sand to dig in.
  • Easy cleanup- dispose of your trash and pack up the rest.  (Although some shelter rentals do include a cleanup checklist that may include sweeping, etc.)
Cons-
  • Weather dependent- you may have to make a back up plan if it rains or snows.
  • Cooking on site may be difficult- find out ahead of time if there will be grills or firepits to cook on, otherwise you will have to bring all of your own food.
  • Bathrooms- may not be easily accessible, or even in the area at all.

2)Pool-
Pros-
  • Unlimited hours of fun in the sun- who doesn't love sunbathing and splashing in the water?
  • Fun for all ages- if you have a variety of ages coming to the party, this fits the bill for any age
  • Easy favor ideas- give each kid a squirt toy and a beach ball and they are good to go.
Cons-
  • Again, weather plays a factor.  Obviously you can only do a pool party in the summer, unless you plan at an indoor pool.
  • Supervision- many pools, for good reason, have requirements on how many adults need to be there to supervise small children.  If parents are dropping off their kids and coming back later, you better keep a good eye on their prized possessions while in your care.

3)Bowling-
Pros-
  • Taking a group of kids to a bowling alley is an affordable party option.  Just pay for their shoes and however many games they will play.
  • No reservations needed.  Unless you are reserving a party room, just show up with your clan.  You should probably at least call ahead though to make sure that its not a league night.
  • Great music!  Bowling alleys are always playing the top 40.  An added bonus, plan the party for their nighttime laser bowling times.  Have your guests wear white and blacklight friendly clothing for extra fun!
Cons-
  • This party will only work with kids of a certain age and certain athletic ability.
  • Bowling can be a competitive sport.  Hope that none of your guests end up taking the game to seriously and then put in a sour mood if they lose the game.

4)Home-

Pros-
  • Its free!  No deposit required.
  • You will have unlimited time to set up and decorate.
  • On site kitchen.  
  • It will give you an excuse to clean the house?
Cons-
  • Limited room- if your house is like mine, you may have limited seating and table space.
  • No built in activities.  You are going to have to plan some activities to keep the kids busy if you don't want your house destroyed.
  • Pets- you may have to lock up Fido during the party.  Also, if you have a dog or cat, give your guests a heads up in case they have any allergies.
  • You will have to clean your house.

5)Rollerskating Rink-
Pros-
  • It will bring back nostalgic feelings about your own childhood parties.
  • It is great exercise.  Parents will be thanking you for how well their kids sleep that night.
  • No one will feel left out.  Yes its fun to skate in a group, holding hands, but kids can also skate individually, at their own speed and there wont be any hurt feelings about who is whose "best friend."
Cons-
  • Someone will inevitably be injured, hopefully not badly, but someone will be bumped into, get there fingers run over or hurt their bum when they fall.
  • A color scheme? If you like to coordinate all of your party decor, this may be a tough one to figure out based on the venue.  How about a rainbow colored theme?
  • Favors? Again, if you like to give out party favors centered around a theme, rollerskating is a tough one to figure out.  How about some glow in the dark shoelaces that the kids can wear in their skates during the party and then can take with them afterwards?

6)Mini-golf-
Pros-
  • This party is pretty inexpensive as well.  Just pay for the games that are played.
  • Older siblings and families can join in the fun as well.
  • Choose an indoor or outdoor mini-golf range, depending on the season.
Cons-
  • Some kids have short attention spans.  Mini-golf is still a hit or miss with my younger two kids.  I feel like someone in our family always ends up just kicking the ball into the hole once we get about halfway through the course.
  • Depending on how many guests you invite, you may have to split up into a few separate groups, otherwise the game will go on way, way too long.
  • At most mini-golf courses you are going to run into the problem of not having anywhere to do the cake and gifts.  Ask in advance if you might be able to set up camp at a nearby picnic table.

Hopefully this list saves you some time to figure out what the best option for your child's next birthday party will be.
Stay tuned for my next post on pros and cons of some of my more non-traditional venue suggestions.