Thursday, October 31, 2013

PPP Day 31: What's Your Gift?


       I had lots of ideas in mind for this final post in the series. But it is 9:45pm and I am sitting here in front of a blank screen. I just keep asking myself: what is the one thing that I want you to take away if you have read every one of the 30 posts prior to this one? Well, it is this: a perfect party is whatever you make it. It isn't what anyone else says or does, or recommends, or blogs about or posts photos of on Pinterest. It is you-using your talents and gifts to bless others through an event that promotes fellowship and celebrates people you love.

    So with that in mind, probably the first thing I should have written about, but didn't realize it is this: what are your gifts? Every believer has been given at least one (but usually more) spiritual gift(s).

"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."
1 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV)
A list of some of the gifts:

I say, "some" because there are a few that are debated that I didn't include, and some definitions vary. I'm not interested in starting an argument right now, so I won't say, "all".;) There is an excellent definition of each of the gifts and a link to a spiritual gifts assessment here. If you don't know what your gifts are as a believer, definitely take the time to look that over!

    When I think of party planning, I usually think of the gifts of: hospitality, giving, adminstration- even evangelism and encouragement (those are usually your "people" people!). Guess what? I don't have any of those gifts! My gifts are teaching, prophecy (discernment and interpretation of Scripture is a good definition of that gift-I don't predict the future!) and knowledge. But yet, I get to put those gifts into action when I plan a party!

   How? Well, part of my teaching gift shows in my blogging-I like to tell people how to do things.;) But a big part of teaching is preparing, right? Studying, planning, getting ready. I put all those skills to use. And prophecy- well, I try to incorporate Scripture into everything! I am constantly being inspired by the Word, and I seek to use it to inspire others. I plan devotionals for many of the showers I throw, and I always spend time in prayer for Scriptures that will be meaningful to the guest of honor, and either print and frame them, or include them in my present.  The gift of knowledge helps me to understand what needs to be done and how to do it: whether with the party schedule or a tutorial online.

   I am able to let the Lord shine through when I seek to use my gifts to bless others. I don't have the gift of hospitality-as a matter of fact, I have been told my whole life that I am a little cold and stand-offish. That is something that I am trying to remedy with maturity, but I will never have the gift of hospitality. But I choose to focus on the gifts I do have-and that helps me to work through my shortcomings. And that also forces me to depend on the rest of the Body of Christ-to aid me and shore me up-together we function as one complete whole!

   So,what are your gifts? Are you using them to glorify God? Don't try to fight what He has given you, or accuse Him of making a mistake by wishing for a different gift. Use what He has given you! Here are some examples:

If your gift is:
Wisdom- you probably know exactly what would bless your guest of honor concerning a theme or special gift.
Teaching-you are like me, and probably are good at planning out how to best "teach" your theme through displays and decor!
Prophecy- use Scripture to inspire you, and incorporate it into your theme, it will help it to come alive.
Mercy-you understand how special a party makes someone feel, you really sense what it is important to others, and you have a strong desire to bless them.
Giving-you will want to do your best, because you love to use your time and money to bless others!
Service-you won't mind the extra time and work a party requires, because you are humble and just want to benefit others through your actions.
Administration- party planning is a breeze for you, because you are organized and know how to implement schedules and complete tasks in a timely manner!
Discernment-you know how to decide what is vital and what can be passed over. You can tell what needs to be done to make the biggest impact!
Faith-you believe that no matter what you do, if you are doing it for the Lord wholeheartedly, your actions will be a blessing!
Evangelism-your skills with people make parties easy, you don't mind talking and you usually set people at ease.

This is just some of the gifts, but I think you get the idea!

     Can I guarantee that each statement is true for your particular gift? No. But I can tell you that your gift is something that the Lord gave you to glorify Him, and He will show you how to best use it if you ask! Do you know what comes right after the passage in 1 Corinthians 12? It ends with, "And yet I will show you the most excellent way." (12:31b, NIV) That's right, it's the "love" chapter, 1 Corinthians 13! Why do you think it is the most excellent way? Any time that you use your gift, it has to be in love. 

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." 1Corinthians 13:1-3

There no doubt in my mind that Paul is connecting these two things for a reason. He wants us to clearly understand two things: we are to always use our gifts to bless others, and we can only do that when we are motivated by love. You can plan a party that is "perfect" in the eyes of the world and everyone will walk away not being changed at all. You can plan a party that is an abysmal failure in comparison to the ones in magazines and on the internet and it will be talked about for years to come if you do it in love-because it will stick in the hearts and minds of those who attended that the Holy Spirit was present and they left blessed. So for my final thought: are you using your gifts to plan a party? That's just perfect!

I hope you enjoyed this series. It's over now, but there's usually something going on around here-I hope you will come back for more!

This is day 31 of "31 Days of Perfect Party Planning". See the rest of the series here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PPP Day 30: A 1st Birthday Party "Sweet Tea & Sunflowers"

Hi this is Clare's older sister Robyn! I am by no means a "Perfect Party Planner" but I have picked up a few ideas from my sis, and of course I have always love working with a theme in ALL things. So I am going to share my daughter's 1st birthday party that we held earlier this month, to show you how easy and not perfect party planning can be;)

I started by brainstorming ideas. I didn't want to do any of the usual suspects, and I really wanted something that reflected her little personality. I entertained "gone in a flash/camera", peacocks, and cute matryoshka (nesting) dolls as themes. And while I love all those ideas and may even use one or more in coming years, I kept coming back to the fact that my daughter LOVES sweet tea! More than anything else, the girl is never happier than when she has a straw and some ice cold sweet tea. So I decided to go with sweet tea...somehow:/

I really started planning by deciding on my color scheme. I quickly picked turquoise and mustard, simply because I am kinda obsessed with that combo lately. I threw in brown as an accent color, and because that's what color sweet tea actually is! One of the very next things I did was to start looking on Google, Pinterest, and Etsy for ideas. I, of course, shopped around for fun pieces to use as decor at Hobby Lobby, TJmaxx and even Walmart. I bought fabric and scrapbook paper to inspire me, and mostly I called my sister and cried for "Help!";)
 I don't have the gift for words that my sister does so I am simply go to walk you through the party via pictures and captions.

One of the ideas that I knew from the start that I wanted to use was a photo timeline. I had taken a pic of Gwen every month on her "birthday" and I printed them all out in sepia tone and attached them to wide ribbon with tiny wooden clothespins. Easy Peasy!
I used one of Clare's no fail party ideas and printed out a coordinating saying and framed it. It read, "When life hands you lemons put a slice in your sweet tea.". An egg basket full of lemons, and a single sunflower in a #1 vase rounded out this little display.

On the main wall I hung a basic pendant banner that I made and embellished with burlap rosettes, burlap bows, and the word "ONE".
Above it I made and hung an adorable wreath from coordinating colored tea bags.

My centerpiece for the table was actually a last minute find! I was running in Hobby Lobby the day of the party (for ribbon!) and found this awesome vintage crate and HAD to have it:) I had always, for some reason, pictured Sunflowers as my floral accents at the party and was lucky enough to find the HUGE type on sale for a dollar a stem at the local grocery store!
I used a completely unfinished piece of fabric as my "runner". On one side of the crate I had all the paper goods for dessert (plates,napkins, forks), a HUGE mason jar of gigantic sunflowers in the middle slot, and in the front spot are the favor bags. I also placed a little blue berry basket out with extra tea bags and honey sticks.

I couldn't resist putting out a small candy "bar". I found fun theme colored candy, displayed it in containers I had been collecting for the party, and put some coordinating muffin liners out for people to fill with the treats. 

I had a really high spot that I filled with Gwen's party hat and another cute framed saying. BASIC but better than boring and empty.

Finally I had my "vision piece"
 I had seen a small vintage sign on Etsy that simply stated "Sweet Tea" and I envisioned a larger stand alone sign for a corner of my party space. 
I shared my vision with my husband who willingly helped me crank out this:
This was a six foot board that I painted, distressed and stenciled. Love how it turned out! I propped  it up on a crate and stuck a small jar with a few sunflowers by it.

The favors you saw in the crate earlier simply contained the above. A bag of tea, a honey stick, and a couple of tea flavored candies. I enclosed it in a brown sandwich bag and closed them with cute embellished clothespins.

This was the gist of the party. We did serve dinner. I kept it simple and bought fried chicken and my mother-in-law prepared the sides. We served cupcakes for dessert (again from the store! I can cook and bake well, but NOT when I am the party planner;/)
Over all I think my little birthday girl was pleased, and of course the decor was more for me anyway;) 
All a 1 year old cares about is the cake!!!

Well thanks for letting me share with you! Hope you got an idea or two, and be sure to stop by my blog sometime and peek at what I do for fun:)

Couldn't you just eat my niece up with a *spoon*? Who cares about decor, I could just stare at the birthday girl all day long.;) Thanks to my exceptionally talented sister for posting! I wanted to do a party before the end of the series, but couldn't pull it off, so I am glad she had one to post for you. In my mind, this is definitely a "perfect party"- lots of love, fun, and special touches celebrating an adorable birthday girl! My sister is a whiz with themes- you should check out her fun muffin tin/bento box lunches, and all the other cute things she does on her blog, "Ramblings by Robyn".

This is Day 30 of "31 Days of Perfect Party Planning". See the rest of the series here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

PPP Day 29: After the Party is Over

       I know the series isn't over yet, but I have a guest post scheduled for tomorrow, and then Thursday will be the series wrap-up, so I thought today would be the best day to cover a part of party planning that is often overlooked. What do you do after the party is over? Well, besides heave a sigh of relief, I mean!

   Often the first thing is clean-up. You can save yourself a lot of time and energy if you think about what you will do with the leftovers beforehand. And I am not just talking about food! You will have lots of decorations to deal with, and if you handmade things, there may be some sentimentality attached. There are four things you can do with your decor and serving items:

1. Scrap it! It may be difficult to pitch the carefully constructed banner that took you three hours to make, but if it says, "Carson's Wild Rumpus" there is probably not much else you can do with it. I am ashamed to admit I finally threw out that banner this very week. I held onto it for 2 and 1/2 years! I don't know what I thought I was going to do with it. Take plenty of photos-they require a lot less space.:)  Mostly this is your best option for anything that was damaged (torn plastic tablecloths) or that is difficult to save, but would be easy to make again (a pom-pom garland). I am all for recycling, but in my mind whether you put it in the trash or the recycle bin, you are still getting rid of it.

2. Send it!  Home, with your guests. This is a great option for anything that could potentially be used as decor. I send home mobiles with my guests (although since the one from the Raindrop shower matched my playroom, I kept that one!) and also, usually anything I have framed, like the Scripture verses. I know of several nurseries that have my "art" in them. It is a lovely gift to the guest of honor, and it keeps your creations in use for longer than a three hour party.

     Don't just limit your "gifts" to your guest of honor, though. Does something match another guest's living room colors? Give it to them! Banners without words or phrases, can often be re-purposed as decor. Framed prints are cute, too. Ask the guests if anyone has use for an item you  are planning on tossing-you might be surprised who wants it!
    I often give away things to people with kids, too. At the Superhero shower, I sent some Pez dispensers home with a mom of boys. I also sent the onesies from that shower home with the mom-to-be (I carefully attached the capes so they wouldn't ruin the onesies). I gave away the butterfly nets from the purple butterfly shower, too. Kids love junk, and even if they only use it for a few days, you have extended its lifespan!

   You can also "send it" to Goodwill or another charity. They will happily sell even handmade items if they deem them worthy. I always figure it is better to donate it and let them decide to toss it. You can even send partially used rolls of streamers and opened bags of balloons!

3. Save it! If you throw parties frequently, you will often find that you can re-use items that might seem limited, but if you spent more than a few dollars on it, you may find that it benefits you later. I keep my floral foam and use it over and over. I also save paper/foil shreds. I use those to line containers with candy, and also at the bottom of vases that I put stick decor and balloons in. I put it in a ziploc bag and it stores easily. I also keep scrapbook paper pieces-I often put them overlapping on the diagonal for "table" runners, and if they didn't get anything on them, I simply throw them in a drawer. I use scrapbook paper all the time, so that doesn't go to waste.

   I also usually save my plastic serving pieces, even if they are just from the Dollar Tree. I buy plain ones (without words or specific themes) and use them over and over. I save things that are easy to store-I reused the lanterns from my 80's party at my clothing swap because they stored flat and it was a snap to put them in the basement.

   I also keep picture frames if the guest of honor doesn't want them. I switch out photos and printables all the time, so I usually have a collection of empty frames waiting to be filled. They are easy to store since they are flat.

4. Sell it! I purchased premade "Hello Kitty" decor for my daughter's 5th birthday. That stuff is not cheap! After the party was over, I carefully saved everything I could-I even went so far as to peel stickers off a "pin-the-bow-on-Hello-Kitty" game, and deflated a mylar balloon with a straw- and listed it on Craigslist. The woman even wanted my used "pull-string" pinata! I did not make back all my money-but it was definitely better than trashing it. I save all my paper punches, but I bet you could sell those easily on CL. You can also sell on Amazon, too. I haven't tried it but it looks easy. I purchased this cloud punch, and there is an option on the right side of the top of the page to sell it. However, I did notice there was a $0.99 per transaction charge plus "other selling fees", so this may not be the best option if your item isn't worth much. However, every little bit helps, right?

   Consider listing on Craigslist, eBay or a Facebook page to move stuff out of your house, and recoup a little of your costs. It won't take too much time to list on Facebook or CL, a couple of pictures (when I sold the Hello Kitty items, I just used photos from the party!) and a few minutes to meet someone to get your cash! Listing on eBay is a little more complicated, and I hate mailing stuff, so you will have to decide if that is worth your time.

      Also, don't forget to save all your receipts. I often have unused rolls of ribbon, or pieces of scrapbook paper that I don't need (and didn't use-I don't advocate returning used items-even if they seem new, that is dishonest) and I will take them back after the party is over. That is why I never open more than one package of anything at a time-often you won't need nearly as many napkins or plates as you think, and if they are unopened you can get your money back!

     My strongest encouragement is this: deal with everything as quickly as possible-perhaps even dropping stuff off at Goodwill on your way home! The longer stuff sits the less enticing it is to deal with. I am terrible about throwing everything in a laundry basket and shoving it in my basement, to have to pull out crushed paper and ruined decorations months later. Ugh!

    The tricky part is refraining from being a hoarder, while not tossing stuff that you will moan about needing later. I am getting better at this, but my rule of thumb is to keep it-as it is usually easy enough to get rid of it later. I had just decided that I needed to clear out all the things from the superhero shower when my friend told me she was having a superhero birthday for her son. I was so glad to be able to pass on some bits of all our hard work (she re-used the masks, canvasses and pennant banner)! However, it would not have been worth it if those things had taken up valuable space and been in the way. I don't usually repeat party themes, but I had debated having a superhero birthday for Carson, so that is why I saved them. Use your best judgement!

    Clearly label and store what you are saving-nothing will do you any good if you can't find it. I put like items together, rather than storing by theme. I have drawers for paper, felt, fabric and craft foam. I also have drawers for my punches and other embellishments. That also helps spur my creativity because I don't feel locked into a specific theme.

    If you plan on sending thank-you notes, try to do that as soon as possible, too. The longer I wait, the less likely that is to happen. Send some photos to the printer and write "thank-you" in Sharpie on the back. Hand them out, skip the postage and you are done! Everyone would rather have a photo to save, right?

     Don't forget to organize your photos! Delete the crummy ones right away, and it will make them easier to use in the future. I try to upload mine as soon as possible-and post a few on Facebook, too. Everyone loves to relive the memories, and it is great for those who couldn't make it. And if you are a blogger, go ahead and upload them to your blog. It will make future posts easy.

    And then start getting ready for your next party...;)

This is Day 29 of "31 Days of Perfect Party Planning". Find the rest of the series here!

Monday, October 28, 2013

PPP Day 28: How to Be A Better Guest

     When I was in 7th grade, I was painfully awkward. I was a walking, talking homeschool stereotype. I had bad hair, unstylish clothes, and thought I knew-it-all. I have a specific memory of attending a friend's theater performance: "Fiddler on the Roof". It was a very high-end production, especially considering that all the actors were middle or high-schoolers. I was filled with awe by their talent, the lights, the sets, the costumes and all the attention. I was consumed with the desire to be a part of all that. I could see myself on the stage, taking bows to the roar of applause...

    What I wish I could have told myself is that the role I played in that production was important, too, even though I couldn't see it. I wasn't an actor, I wasn't a tech person, I wasn't even a stage hand. But that show couldn't have gone on without the part I had: spectator. I know it seems odd, but a performance isn't a performance if there is no audience! As a middle schooler, though, I had no idea that being a spectator meant the world to those who had prepared specifically to please me, and those who filled the seats around me.

   In the same way a theater group performs for those in the seats, a party planner plans for the guests. Even if it is very intimate group of only 4 or 5, there is still the desire to please those attending, and pull everything together to leave everyone with pleasant memories and impressions.

    If your "only" role in a party is that of guest, it is still a vital one! Just as it is important for a theater patron to arrive on time, applaud, and not make out of place noises and gestures, there are some things that will help you to be a pleasant guest, and to "reward" all your host's efforts.

1. Offer to bring something. Your participation doesn't have to be limited to just showing up. I really try to check with my hostess and see if she needs me to bring a dish, or contribute in some other way. This isn't always expected, or even needed, but it is so thoughtful. Simply ask, "What can I bring?".

2. Arrive on time! This doesn't apply if you are the guest of honor, actually it is usually expected that *they* will be a few minutes late, so as not to arrive before any last minute preparations, and all the other guests. But if you are there to help celebrate someone else, try to be timely.

3. Offer to help. If you are there on time, chances are good that no matter how organized your hostess, there are still a few last-minute things that need to be done. Can you put veggies on a tray? Can you fill glasses with ice? Try to jump in where you see a need, without being pushy or getting in the way. Usually, there are plenty of tasks for willing hands!

4. Participate! The game may seem silly, or you may not know all the other guests, but try to be cheerful and involved. It is difficult to make sure conversation always flows smoothly, and often what seemed like a clever activity late the night before is suddenly ridiculous in the light of day, but your hostess has put so much energy and effort into it, is it really that important to remain aloof?  It may push you out of your comfort zone, but if for no other reason, try to be an enthusiastic guest just to honor your friend. Introduce yourself to others, or volunteer to be first in the game. She will appreciate it more than you know.

5. Bring a small token of appreciation. Even if you are not the guest of honor, it is never inappropriate to bring a hostess gift. You do *NOT* have to do this, and I don't think anyone even really expects it anymore. However, that makes it even more special if you do take the time to do it. I really like to do this for holidays, I try to take a gift to anyone who hosts our family for Thanksgiving or Christmas, particularly. This isn't something you need to do every time you are a guest, but think about if it would bless your particular host.

6. Aid in clean up. Hostesses are tired after putting together decor, food, and activities. Not to mention usually having cleaned the whole house! Offer to store food, gather trash or wash dishes. Many hands make light work, and it is often a great way to keep the conversation going after the party has "ended".

    It may seem like all you have to do is a guest is show up, but you can really bless your hostess and all the other guests by going a little further. It is really best thought of as "treating others the way you want to be treated". Take it from someone who has done a lot of party planning: nothing makes a party successful and worthwhile like the guests! With the holidays coming soon, I have a feeling we will all get the chance to practice to be perfect...

This is Day 28 of "31 Days of Perfect Party Planning". See the rest of the series here.

I'm linked up at "Thrifty Thursdays" at Living Well, Spending Less.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

PPP Day 27: Savvy Shower Tips (Guest Post)

Hello, I'm Katy, Clare's favorite, younger sister. I'm guest posting today as a favor to Clare, so please direct all hate mail to me.

I've decided to write my pro tips for a bridal shower. I am a bridal shower expert because I just got married in July, or something like that. In actuality I have never hosted a shower, because I was the worst bridesmaid ever. However I complied these tips in part from our other sister (there are a quintet of us) who has hosting experience. Enough about me let's get to the tips!

 The Little Things to Make a Perfect Shower as a Hostess
At both of the showers that were held for me it was the small thoughtful details that really stood out to me as a bride. Here are some of those details.
  1. Providing me a cute notebook to write down all the gifts and givers, much better than a napkin or envelope. You could even match it to your color scheme to be hostess extraordinaire. 
  2. Putting  labels on the packages as an extra layer of gift identification security. This really comes in handy when the gift list says " Jane Smith-drinking glasses" and the bride has received three different sets of glasses.
  3. Finding a crafty person to assemble the bow bouquet. I'll admit I didn't even think of this as a bride, so it was so nice to have someone assigned to this sentimental little detail.
  4. Both hostesses used my engagement pictures as part of the invite, which was really sweet because honestly what else are you going to do with those unless you creepily have a whole gallery wall in your house of nothing but engagement pictures or something like that.
  5. Favors! My hostesses made it rain like Oprah's favorite things, except with no cars or vacations, so maybe not. Anyway, even adults like prizes and favors. You should have seen the middle aged soccer mom at my shower who leapt two folding chairs in a single bound to win some chocolate.  
Bonus Tips for Shower Guests
  1. The $2 gift can really make the $30 gift shine. What I'm saying is some of my most memorable gifts were things like my hand mixer + a boxed cupcake mix or my bathroom accessories (toothbrush holder etc.)+ a lace doily because the guest said every woman needs a piece of old lace in her home.  
  2. Gift cards are totally great, I loved and used/plan to use every last gift card as a poor newlywed. However, the "perfect guests" went the extra mile including a little something personal with the gift card whether it was a Christmas ornament attached to the card or my husbands's childhood neighbor who  gave us a gift card + a fire extinguisher after spending many 4th of July's together.
  3. I will echo my brilliant sister who says "resist the lazy gift bag". Brides like cats and four year olds love the satisfaction of tearing open your beautifully wrapped gift, and everyone will "ooo and ahh" the way they never do for a boring bag. Lastly gift bags ruin traditions! Only wrapping brings the prized bows for the bow-bouquet!            

Thanks, Katy! I realized that a bridal shower is the only main party type I haven't had the chance to do yet. It is great to hear from the perspective of the guest of honor. So many of these tips would also work well for a baby shower, or even a birthday party, too!

This is Day 27 of "31 Days of Perfect Party Planning". See the rest of the series here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

PPP Day 26: All Fun and Games

     I don't always do party games. I find that especially at adult-centered parties, they aren't always a necessity. Usually if the conversation is flowing and everyone is having a good time, I am fine with leaving well enough alone. However, I like to have something prepared, just in case (especially if everyone is not well acquainted). And at children's birthday parties, and baby showers, they are somewhat of a standard. I don't like to repeat games/activities (or party themes, period) but I have a few suggestions that might get your wheels turning:

1. "Verbose" Song/Book Titles: We played a version of this at my "Totally 80's" birthday party, using 80's song titles. You take a song or book title (use ones that coordinate with your theme) and extend it, being as wordy as possible, and only using synonyms for each word in the title.  You can see some of my ideas in the picture above. I just type them up in Word. Be sure that you write your answers somewhere-it can be more difficult than you think to remember them! You could also do this for a baby shower with nursery rhymes ("Rhythmically move back and forth, farewell, tiny, new child" would be "Rock-a-Bye, Baby) or children's book title ("Feline in head covering accessory" would be the "Cat in the Hat".) You can award extra points or make it more difficult by asking people to list the author or artist, as well.

2. Acronyms: This is a great baby shower activity, using the new baby's name, but you could also do it at a bridal shower, using the couple's last name, or at an older child's birthday party. Kids love to hear complimentary things about themselves! You could also do a version of it at a party with couples-ask them to do their own last name separately and award a prize to the couple who have the most similar answers! You simply list positive adjectives for each letter of whatever name you are using. It makes a wonderful keepsake for the guest of honor. To simplify it, if you are doing it for a specific person or name, type the name vertically in large font in Word and print out copies for each guest to use. Have everyone share their "answers" after they are done.

3. Sign/color a book: A great keepsake/activity for any party that you have a guestbook for, is to have a specific book (a storybook, or illustrated children's book works really well) for guests to leave their comments in. You can even use a coloring book, and encourage guests to color the page they sign. At my sister's wedding, my sister Robyn, provided ink pads and blank index cards for guests to put fingerprints on and then create little characters/animals and leave their congratulations. It was very cute and much more personal than a regular "sign your name" guest book. I have also seen this idea used on diapers at baby showers, you write a witty comment on them in permanent marker, but I am not a huge fan of this, myself, but it  would be easy and  useful!

4. Craft project: At Carson's "Wild Things" party, each child made their own crown (in the book, Max wears a crown). When Josie had her American Girl doll party, I found mini craft kits that they could make doll headbands out of. See if you can find a simple project that relates to your theme and have all the guests make something! If it is a baby shower, you can make something all the guests can give to the guest of honor. I have seen showers where everyone creates a hairbow or onesie for the new baby. Or you can make something the guests can take home-at the art party all the girls made aprons. This was really easy-we just let them use sharpies! Take any aspect of your party to use as inspiration, and even consider pre-assembled craft kits to make it easy. Oriental Trading is a great source for this kind of thing.

5. Scrambled Words: This is a great standby, and also a good time-filler. You can scramble your own theme-related words, or you can use a puzzle-maker like this one. This site, Discovery Education, has tons of options to make your own word search, crossword puzzles, and lots of other things. You can have a lot of fun with it even if you aren't having a party!

    Don't force yourself to have a game or activity, but consider the possibility. Sometimes the goofier and crazier you get the better memories everyone will make! You don't have to have every minute planned-just one, perhaps two is usually plenty. And don't forget, sometimes simple is best: a pinata, or pin-the-tail/bow/any-piece-you-want on the whatever are always fun!

 This is Day 26 of "31 Days of Perfect Party Planning." See the rest of the series here.


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