Aug 12, 2014

6 Amazing Book Week Costumes for Your Kids

With Book Week on its way, there's a good chance that your children will be asked to dress up as their favorite literary character by teachers. And, even if your little ones are too young to be in school, dressing up and acting out stories is a great way to foster a love of reading in even the youngest of children. No matter the setting, the best Book Week costumes for kids are the ones that come from the heart: A book that your child truly loves. Here are some of our favorites.

Harry Potter

Older children who have enjoyed J.K. Rowling's landmark series will love the chance to dress up as one of their heroes from the books. Whether it's Harry, with his round glasses and lightning bolt scar, or Hermione, with her trademark frizzy hair and school robes, it's easy to cobble together a realistic costume from items found in secondhand shops or even from around your home. Remember: Book Week costumes for kids don't need to be complicated for children to have fun.

Dr. Seuss

What literary roundup would be complete without a mention for dear Dr. Seuss? Thanks to his many books, your children would have a bevy of characters to choose from. If they like playing the villain, some green felt and a frown would make a passable Grinch, while a sweet disposition, pajamas and braided blond hair makes a Cindy Lou Who. Of course, red onesies and blue hair, paired with a paper disc declaring "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" would be an excellent choice for twins, siblings or even best friends at school.

Roald Dahl

What would we do without the tales of "Matilda," "Fantastic Mr. Fox" or "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?" And, thanks to the amazing descriptive imagery that Dahl uses in all his books, his characters make for excellent Book Week costume ideas. A fox costume can be made easily with a fox mask and a long, fluffy tail, while Oompa Loompas can be made from some silly orange face paint and suspenders. You could even have some wicked fun by dressing up as the Grand High Witch from his classic, "The Witches."

Fairy Tale Book Week Costume Ideas

Don't forget the old classics when brainstorming Book Week costume ideas. The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson were masterful storytellers who created characters that have lasted centuries. A classic princess in the same vein as Rapunzel, Cinderella or the Snow Queen would be a no-brainer for girls, while boys might prefer characters like the Huntsman or even sneaky Rumpelstiltskin. Read through the classics and see what inspires you – and your kids.

Where the Wild Things Are

Even the smallest of children can benefit from Book Week costume ideas, even if the only reading they do is on your lap. The story of "Where the Wild Things Are" might be short on words, but not on imagination. Dress up a toddler as the cranky Max, who refuses to eat his dinner and wears pajamas all day – sound familiar to you? It's a comfortable option for younger children who still want to take part in the festivities. Of course, older kids might appreciate getting to dress up as Max – or the Wild Things – too.

Fancy Nancy

Finally, if you are parent to an ultimate girly girl, then one of the best Book Week costume ideas is "Fancy Nancy," from the "Fancy Nancy" series written by Jane O'Connor. Nancy loves to dress up in tutus, pearls, lipstick and purses, so it's a natural fit for the child who is constantly digging through your closet and going through your jewelry box. It's also a costume that works well for a tight budget, since there's a good chance you already have many of the costume components simply laying around your house waiting to be used.

Give your children the gift of stories coming alive by taking a part in Book Week with gusto. Instead of simply reading along, dressing up and acting out some of their favorite scenes can help foster a healthy interest in learning and reading, especially for those who learn visually. And hey, you might find yourself itching to be part of the action as well – Willy Wonka, anyone?

Fun and Flirty Thirty: How to Make a 30th Birthday Memorable

As far as birthdays go, turning 30 can be one of the most difficult. It's when you officially wave goodbye to your fun and fancy free days of young adulthood and head straight into what might seem like a duller way of life. But 30 doesn't have to be a negative birthday! Whether you're the one celebrating or you're planning a party for someone else, there are ways to make 30 the best birthday yet. Try some of these 30th birthday party ideas and you might find that 30 suits you after all.

Bucket List

Milestone birthday s are a great way to take stock of how far you've come, where you are now and where you plan to be in the future. Why not take the opportunity to cross something off of your bucket list – your list of things that you'd love to accomplish during your life. Hey, you might not ever get another chance to go skydiving, ride a mechanical bull, perform improve or go to the hot spot restaurant everyone is talking about, so do it as a way to celebrate your years.

Themed Bash 30th Birthday Party Ideas

Go big or go home! If you really want to ring in your 30th year with a bang, throw – or plan for a friend – huge themed birthday party, completed with costumes, d├ęcor and a menu that goes with the theme. We love the idea of a 30th birthday Gatsby bash, complete with period-style clothing, plenty of champagne flutes, art nouveau decor and of course, Jazz pumping through the speakers. It's an elegant yet outrageous way to greet your 30s in style.

Taking a Trip

If you're not really one to throw a party or make a grand gesture, perhaps the idea of taking a 30th birthday trip suits you more. Planning a trip – whether it's traveling the globe or exploring an area in your own backyard – can help put things in perspective, unwind and relax as you enter your 30th year. Hey, there's something to be said for 30th birthday parties that involve little more than a tropical drink and toes in the sand.

30 Reasons Why

If you're looking for 30th birthday party ideas for a friend, consider throwing a "30 Reasons Why" themed party that reminds your pal just why everyone loves him or her. Invite at least 30 guests and have them prepared with a gift and a short speech that explains why that person loves the honoree. It'll be a special night for the group to share a night reminiscing and talking about what makes that birthday honoree so special to them in their lives.

Photo Booth Party

Even if your 30th year doesn't look as good as your 21st, you'll still want to save the memories so you can remember one day. Renting a photo booth doesn't cost much, and is a great way to commemorate your 30th birthday. Of course, you can combine it with other 30th birthday party ideas, but make sure you include plenty of props for guests to dress up and get crazy as they snap shots in honor of the big day. You can give guests copies, but make sure you keep a copy for each so you can scrapbook them later on.

While turning 30 might not be the most exciting birthday you've ever had, there's no need to brush it under the rug or ignore the occasion. With the right 30th birthday party ideas, you can ring in that year with a huge bang and prove to everyone that it's bound to be your best.

Aug 8, 2014

Party On! Top 5 Summer Party Themes for Kids

Whether it's because of your child's birthday or as a way to combat the dreaded declaration of "I'm bored," summer parties offer up endless possibilities. With beautiful weather and the added outdoor space to utilize, you can make a mess, invite more friends and have more fun during the warmer summer months. Of course, you don't want to throw just another party – you want to throw a bash that is truly memorable. Try one of these fun and original party themes on for size and your child is bound to love it.

Pirates and Princesses

It's official: All kids dream of being either a pirate or a princess. Having both characters at your party means that everyone can come dressed up in their fave party gown or their swashbuckling gear. But costumes aren't the only fun way to spend time at your Pirates and Princesses party. From playing a game of Damsel in Distress (hide and seek) or gobbling up roasted pig (hot dogs) your little ones can channel their inner pirates and princesses. You could even have pool noodle sword fights and declare a pirate captain and queen!

Beach Party Theme

Just because you're without a pool doesn't mean you can't have a summer beach party. In fact, getting out the sprinklers, kiddie pools and tarps can create just as much – if not more – water fun than having a pool. Ask all the kids to come in their beach party best, and you can play in the water, have a water balloon fight and even a sandcastle building contest in a contained sandbox. Just don't forget the sunscreen and snacks!

Art Attack

Your kids always seem to make a mess – why not let them with an art attack party theme? Huge rolls of butcher paper tacked up onto easels make ideal canvases for little artists. Make sure each child brings a smock that can get dirty, and you supply the paints and tons of fun painting tools. From brushes to stamps, sponges and anything you can pull out of your kitchen cupboards, the kids will love having free reign to make a mess right in your own backyard. Then, clean up and head inside for some paint-inspired brightly frosted cupcakes.

Drive-In Movie

If you're completely sick of all the same old party themes, try something completely original: A drive-in movie theme. Start by collecting as many large boxes as there are children. When the kids arrive, challenge them to make their own cars using construction paper, paper plates, glue, scissors and other materials. You can then drag those cute cars outside, where you set them in front of a movie screen (you can rent one or hang up a sheet) for a real movie night when it gets dark. Pass around the popcorn and the kids will love watching from their cars.

Campout Party Theme

Who doesn't love a campout, complete with tents, s'mores and naturally, a little bug spray? Even if the kids aren't planning to stay overnight, you can party while it gets dark by having a campfire – or at least lighting a fire in the fireplace or lighting a few candles if you can't have a campfire. Roast marshmallows and tell all the scary stories you remember while the kids hang out in their sleeping bags. It's a fun way to enjoy those last few nights of summer by filling them with memories.

Throwing a summer party means you can really think outside the box and come up with party themes that create meaningful memories for everyone involved. Surprise your kids by planning a party full of fun and sun.

Aug 5, 2014

6 Awesome Kids' Party Games

When it comes to kids' party games, it's the usual suspects that get the most attention. From "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" to a traditional ring toss, most kids have been there and done that when it comes to playing at a party. So why not shake things up by trying a few new games on for size? By using kids party games that no one has played before, you get children excited to be at your party and interested in participating in something other than the same old. Check out some new, fun party game ideas to use at your next soiree.

Donut Dare

For the Donut Dare, you dare the children to eat an entire donut without using their hands. You'll need a long stick (a broom handle works well) and string for each child. Tie the donuts through the holes so that they're suspended from the stick. Have a helper hold the stick up and ask all the kids to put their hands behind their backs. The first person to eat their hanging donut is the winner!

Backyard Scavenger Hunt

One way to keep kids busy and active during the party proceedings is to engage them in a kids party game that requires movement and thinking. A backyard scavenger hunt is perfect for summer parties, since it's done outside. Write a list of 8 to 10 items that are commonly found in your backyard, like a pot, a dandelion or a twig. Kids need to check all the items off of their list and the first one to bring you examples of each item wins.

Musical Spots

You've played musical chairs, but have you ever played musical spots? It's a fun twist on the classic game that causes pure chaos and fun. Start by cutting out 12-inch spots from construction paper in different colors. Make sure you have a spot for each child and scatter them around a large, open room. Play some music and instruct the kids to march around the room. When the music stops, they must find a spot to stand on. After each round, you'll remove a spot – by the end, all the kids will be crowded onto just one spot and everyone wins.

The Candy Game

If many of the children at your party don't really know each other, try making a get to know you kids party game with small candies like Skittles or M&Ms. Pass a bowl around and instruct kids to take as many as they want without eating them. Then, for each candy they took, they need to say something about themselves before eating one, like "My favorite subject is math" or "I love cartoons."

Cookie Face

Looking for a great photo op for your party? Try "Cookie Face." Grab a package of any cookies – Oreos work well – and ask each child to tip his head back so he's looking at the ceiling. Place a cookie on each child's forehead and instruct them to get the cookie from their forehead to their mouths without the use of their hands. It'll be hilarious to see them scrunch and wiggle to get that cookie.

Cupcake Wars

What kid doesn't dream of making a mess in the kitchen? Providing each child with an unfrosted cupcake and a selection of icing and toppings can create the ideal opportunity for a cupcake decorating contest. You set the time limit and when it's over, have the birthday boy or girl judge who did the best job.

Trying new kids party games might be a little intimidating, but it's bound to cause a lot of fun and laughter when it's something other than the old favorites. Sprinkle in a few new activities with your regular games to really engage children at parties.