- Sophie &Friends
Yesterday we received a tweet (is that the correct terminology?) from @AnythingJoes, one of our friends (or is that Facebook? Are you a friend or a follower or nano-buddy on Twitter? Sometimes this technology overwhelms me!). He requested ideas for a Beauty and the Beast-themed birthday party. Since Twitter only allows 140 characters at a time, and the website we’re designing (which will be able to hand out ideas for parties just like this one in under thirty seconds!) hasn’t launched yet, I figured this blog was the best place to share those ideas! I know it’s a slight departure from the things I normally write about, but after all – this is what I do for a living.
I like to break every party down into six segments, each about 20 minutes long: the arrival, group games, crafts, entertainment (or more games), birthday cake, and a big bang ending (like a treasure hunt or piñata). I’m a huge champion of the two-hour structured party. I think anything longer than that and the kids start to melt. Now, if the party organically turns into children playing, while the adults talk after the initial two hours, that’s awesome. But I always find it’s best to plan a two-hour party. Leave ‘em wanting more, I always say.
I won’t go too heavily into the general party tips here, but here are a few to keep in mind:
1. If you’re hosting the party at home, close doors and block off any areas you don’t want used. Cover or put away any breakables and/or favorite toys.
2. Have plenty of simple snacks (Goldfish crackers, popcorn, cheese sticks, baby carrots) and drinks (water is essential, plus juice if you’re okay with that, or milk), but don’t feel like you have to go crazy with a full-out meal, especially if your party time doesn’t transpire over a normal mealtime.
3. Make sure you have a bathroom that’s easily accessible to all and that it is stocked well with TP.
4. Always have at least four extra of everything. (Read my earlier blog about RSVPing!)
Now, onto the party! Unfortunately I feel a little cramped here by the restrictions of a blog; I’d like to explain how to make everything you need yourself easily, but if I did, this would become a ten-page entry! So, I’ll just give a brief explanation of the ideas here. (You can always email me if you want more details!)
Turn your house into a royal castle! I love using inexpensive fabric, such as tulle or tissue lamé to add color, but you can just as easily use paper streamers. Swag and gather on and around doorframes, staircases, and fireplaces. Make heraldic banners out of felt or construction paper (you can create your own family crest!), decorate the table with flowers (roses, preferably) or flower petals, teapots, candleholders, and clocks with googly eyes (you can use little loops of scotch tape or adhesive putty to attach them). In the fairy tale, our heroine is an avid reader, so place piles of books around. (They can also be used for a game later!)
Guests’ arrival (first 20 minutes)
For fun, have someone greet the guests at the door and announce their name as they enter. If you have a horn or even a kazoo, blow it and announce the child’s name as they enter the party room. For example, "(Insert horn noise) Introducing, Princess Simone the Sassy!"
This beginning time, while you are awaiting everyone’s arrival, is a great time to have children do a simple activity. Many kids need time to warm up, so an activity such as decorating a name tag, making a paper crown, doing some face paint or temporary tattoos help pass the time and warm everybody up. You could also do a group project. If you’ve got an open wall, open space on the floor, or on the party table, cover it with white butcher paper and have the kids create the Beast’s garden with washable markers or crayons. Even the boys can get into it; tell them they can make the creepy crawly insects or creatures that live in the garden. The project then becomes part of the décor.
You can also set up a “beauty station”; try some nail polish, lip gloss, maybe a little blush…
Games (second 20 minutes)
Once everyone (or almost everyone) is there, it’s a great time to play a few games!
Father’s lost his gold
In the story, Beauty’s father loses all of his money. This game can be played two ways.
1. Place all the children in a circle on the floor. One child goes in the center; they’ll play the father. Father either covers their eyes or wears a blindfold. One child in the circle is handed a coin (or jewel or button), which is the “money.” With Father’s eyes covered, the kids in the circle start passing around the money. At any time Father can call out “Stop!” At that point they uncover their eyes as the children in the circle hide their hands behind their backs. Father must try and figure out who has the money just by looking around the circle of kids. (No peeking behind people’s backs!)
2. A gold coin (or button or jewel) is hidden somewhere in the party room. Children mst search for the missing “money.” For the first round, the “money” can be pre-hidden as long as you have a second similar “money” to show the children. Whoever finds it gets to hide it for the next round. This works great if you have two rooms so that the kids can go out while the coin is being hidden by the finder… I find that kids have a hard time covering their eyes while someone hides things… It’s too tempting to peek!
Stealing the rose
This game can also be played two ways.
1. Someone plays the Beast and stands with their back to all of the other children, who are lined up shoulder-to-shoulder facing the Beast’s back, as far away as the space allows. (The more distance, the more fun!) A rose is placed behind the Beast’s back. On “Go!” the children try to quietly sneak up and steal the rose. However, if the Beast hears the children he may turn around and “roar” – at which point the children must either run back to the starting line, or freeze like a statue. Anyone caught moving must go back to the starting line. If you’ve got a fun, animated Beast they can have fun stalking around the “statues” trying to make the players move. Play continues until someone gets the rose.
2. The Beast sits blindfolded with a rose in his lap. One by one the children sneak up and try to snatch the rose away. This is always fun if you let each child actually get the rose, but make a big deal about how keen your senses are and how no one will be able to take your precious rose… Kids love feeling like they are smarter or sneakier than adults!
Again, our heroine is an avid book reader. This relay race will need lots of books as props. Divide the kids into even teams. This challenge is to make the tallest stack of books they can. Set up a pile of books at one end of the space. Line the children up in their teams on the opposite side of the room. On “Go!” each team sends their first person to the book pile (the “library”). That person runs back to their team and stacks the book. They can choose any way they want to place their book: they can lay it flat, open it and put it on its side, stand it up on its spine… whatever they want! Once the book is placed, the next person in line runs up and repeats the process, placing their book on top of the other books. If at any time the stack falls over, the team must stop and set their pile right. No book retrieval can happen until the pile is righted. Play continues until everyone on each team has had a turn. However, the winning team is not necessarily the first team done – it’s the team with the tallest standing (emphasis on standing!) book tower.
Crafts (third 20 minutes)
It’s always fun to break up the games with a craft. The crafts can also serve as the take-home goodie. (My site, Sophie-World.com, will have all of our craft how-tos written up for you. For now, I’m having to get stuff from elsewhere on the web.)
Dollar Tree stores usually has little handheld or locker mirrors that can be decorated with stickers, glue-on jewels, pom-poms, lace, etc.
Making candle holders or candles
Usually Michael’s or JoAnn Fabrics carry these supplies. You can add googly eyes to make them look more like the animated characters.
Tissue paper flowers
All you need is tissue paper and pipe cleaners for this! Check out full instructions here.
In the book, Beauty is given a ring to help her return to the Beast. Use pipe cleaner or stretchy string to form the ring, and use buttons, jewels, and puff balls to make the fancy bits. Check out directions here.
Chocolate kiss roses
These are so fun! You can also make them yourself ahead of time to serve as a take-home goodie. Learn how to make them here.
Fourth 20 minutes
This always depends on how into things the kids are. You may find that you don’t have time for these activities, but maybe you will! In any event, here are a few more games and activities if you need to fill this time. This twenty-minute slot is the great equalizer and helps you stay on your timeline because it’s easy to cut if need be.
Read the story!
If you have someone who loves reading to kids, this should be fun! Get a nicely illustrated version of the fairy tale from your local library and read it aloud to the kids. You can even have the kids act out the story as you read it.
Don’t let the rose petals fall
Give each child a red or pink balloon. Play music and tell them they must keep the balloons (the petals) up in the air. If they fall on the ground the Beast will get ill. Again, if you’ve got a fun person to be the Beast, he can act out getting sicker and sicker as each balloon hits the ground.
In the book the Beast transforms back into the prince. Choose one child to be the Beast. Have them stand in front of everyone so that everyone can get a good look at him. Have the child then step out of the room and change three things about themselves (maybe roll us a sleeve, push down a sock, untie a shoe), then come back in and stand in front of the group. The group must figure out what three things they changed.
Cake (fifth 20 minutes)
Cake time! This bit is pretty self-explanatory.
Big bang ending (last 20 minutes)
A great way to end a party is with a treasure hunt or piñata. In all honesty, this will probably be more like the last ten minutes, but you can also do a treasure hunt to a piñata, so definitely allow twenty minutes for that!
Depending upon the age of the kids, you can either do picture clues, rhyming clues, riddles, or codes – it’s really up to you! I wish I could go into more detail, but here are the basics when doing a treasure hunt. Start at the final destination (where the goodies or piñata are hidden – or even the cake, if you want to flip-flop the fifth and sixth sections). Hide your treasure (it could even be something like the Beast turned into the prince!), then walk backwards to the place where you want to find your clue (like the mailbox, for example). There you will place a clue that will lead to that final hiding place.
So, say the final hiding place is in the shower. The hiding place before that is the mailbox, so in the mail box you would hide this clue: “You’re so close now, can you feel the power? If so, go check the bathroom shower!”
The clue before that could be under a sofa cushion, which might read “For your next clue, follow the trail, and look in the place you find the mail!”
We usually find that 5 to 8 clues total are good. And for the first clue that you read aloud to the kids, you can have a little poem that might go something like this:
Something’s happened, it’s quite alarming,
But our beast has turned into Prince Charming!
To find him, we must go on a quest,
And so we’ll need to act our best.
Follow the clues, one by one,
Work as a team – it’s all in fun.
Please don’t snatch, or grab, or push,
We’ve plenty of time there is no rush.
Now are you ready? Grab your hat.
It’s time to check under… the welcome mat!
Another few pointers here:
1. Make sure that an adult (or older helper kid) reads the clues, not one of the children. It keeps things equal.
2. Make a rule that if one child finds and picks up a clue, they may look for the remaining clues, but they must let another child pick it up – only one clue per child.
Finally, a few notes on piñatas, especially if you have one where the kids hit the piñata to break it open:
1. Make sure that the line for turns is formed at least 12 feet back from the piñata – we’ve had some close calls with bats!
2. To save in the tear factor, we find it best to put equal amounts of candy in little baggies instead of having it loose in the piñata. This makes it so each kid gets the same amount.
3. If you go the standard route with loose candy, always have extra candy saved separately, just in case you get those little ones who weren’t pushy enough to get to the front of the pile.
I hope you’ll keep watching our site; once it goes live all this information – and more! – will be fleshed out with descriptions, videos, and photos. In the meantime, I’m always happy to email in more depth!