Party Party Party...

Children's parties often fill parents with terror and they really shouldn't.  At Mrs Fox’s we are professional children’s party planners and have come up with 3 rules for parents throwing parties for their young children.  They may not be foolproof, but give them a go...

Number 1:
Don’t try and be perfect - the kids don’t care about perfection, why should you?
The first thing I think any parent should do is to try remembering what it was like to be a young child. Ok the brands have changed and there are a few things you simply didn't have like multi-channel TV, and iPads but childhood is not so different. A birthday party is you making great memories for your child.

Kids love parties. They love that it is their special day.  Kids love parties in halls, kids love parties at home.  Kids love telling their friends they can come to their party and giving out the invitations.  Kids love party food.   They love party games, they love to win treats. Kids love to get hot and sweaty and shout at the tops of their voices. Kids love balloons. (And then some kids hate balloons). Nothing on this list is any different to the parties of my childhood.  

Don’t worry if you don’t have the perfect place settings and the perfect decorations.  Make some of it yourselves and have your child help you.  And the party boy or girls involvement is a great excuse for messy “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” banners and fingerprints on the party bags.  I try out all of my party craft ideas with my own children.
make a paper windmill

Number 2:
Give yourself time - plenty of time...
So, when planning a party for your child ask them what they want.  And really listen.  And if their request sounds a little random, go with it, it will be original.  A child I know said they wanted “balls” so their mother had a ball pit, balls as decorations, anything that could be round was round; the invitation, the banner, even the sandwiches were round.  The kids loved it. 

If you ask what your child wants and give yourselves time, you can do any kind of party and you will not have to spend a fortune.  If you want to include the children in creating things for the party you might find it takes a little longer, but by including them in the planning they won’t suddenly change their mind 3 days out saying they want a completely different party.

If your child’s idea for a party fills you with dread feel free to improvise around the theme.  If your little girl says fairies and you loath pink, who says fairies are not all the colours of the rainbow.  Even if they are really specific; say “Hello Kitty”; don’t give in to exasperation once you start price checking the Partyware on the internet.  You could buy “Hello Kitty” napkins take 2 or 3 colours from that and everything else could co-ordinate without all those licensed party products. 

Give yourselves time and don’t think of it as a one day exhaustive marathon, but as a gentle and enjoyable jog through your child’s creativity.  And if, like me, in your life BC (before children) you used to be very organised in a slightly OCD project manager kind of a way have a look at the party planning documents which are free to download from our website.  They should help you organise the heck out of any party!

Number 3:
Enjoy it!
Please, please try and enjoy the party, your child will.  They will think their party is the best ever and you are the greatest parent ever for making it happen.  

Ask for help.  Other parents, family, older siblings, tell them what you want them to do before the party starts and be sure they are comfortable with their responsibility.  

Have a plan detailing the order you are going to do things and how long they should take on the day.   We’ve an example of this on our blog.  If you start to run behind be flexible, drop the activity you think most complicated. Have one extra prize ready and if you have time at the end of the party play sleeping lions.  You’ll be exhausted and so will they.  If you have given yourselves time on the day as well as in the planning, you should be ready for anything, but if something goes wrong, probably no one will know but you.

Remember rule number one.  For example, if you are no good at baking, cheat and buy cup cakes.  You can buy the plain supermarket ones and decorate them, use cup-cake kits, or make decorating the cup cakes a party activity.  

Don’t buy too much food, party food will often hardly get touched, it is not a sign that you are a rotten chef, the children are too excited to eat.   We always put the meal in the middle of the party.  If you have helpers in the kitchen, the party tea gives you time to organise the next round of party games.  And we would suggest you have drinks, (and this can just be a jug of water and cups), available throughout the party, all that excited running about is a sweaty business.

When it comes to party games the oldies are the best; pass the parcel, musical bumps, musical chairs, oranges and lemons, treasure hunts etc.  They can all be played and adapted to fit most themes and ages.   I personally think it is still good to have winners in party games.  Just think carefully about the age of the children, make sure those who don’t win still get lots of praise and have consolation prizes on hand.  You can aim for every child to win something and have a big box of treats to bribe and cajol the good times.

And if you think that what you need is perfection, more time, and even more fun then get in touch with Mrs Fox,  and order one of our party boxes.  Because that is also as simple as  1, 2, 3 


Crafty or Not?

I have three little fox cubs, I shall call them #‘s 1, 2 and 3.  Cub #3 has just turned 3 and while he likes making marks, cutting paper and sticking glue any and everywhere, he is not driven to make

crafting with children

Happy to do so but not driven – as #2 is and always has been.  Now aged almost 5, she is prolific and spends probably 80% of her free time creating something in one form or another.  As long as she is creating, she is happy and will use any medium at her disposal.  She can drive me to distraction with the mess but I am loath to stifle her as she has a major natural aptitude for ‘making’, plus it keeps her quiet and content.

crafty children covered in paint

Cub #1 is a different story.  He just turned 6 and while happy drawing for a short time he usually gets upset because he thinks he is not very good at such things or frustrated because his ‘T-Rex does not look like a T-Rex’.  However, he has good concentration so when he puts his mind to it, or when coerced and encouraged, he can come up with some fantastic ideas and pieces of work.  He will often screw up something he has been working on saying, ‘This is rubbish, I am useless at this!’  After some coaxing or discussion about his aims we then find solutions and some new ways to look at things and he will get going again.  By the time he has finished he is often so proud of his work that he offers to sell it to me.

I think this frustration may be true for many children yet opening up their creative juices is not so difficult and the benefits are countless.  If they can sit down and feel that they will make something they will like, they will add a new notch to their confidence metre.  If they draw something which is impossible to discern but the colours are beautiful, focus their attention there and they will have fun simply experimenting with patterns and colour.  Getting messy with paint can be great fun, I once put paint onto paper plates and got my little uns naked in the garden – they then stamped in the paint and stuck their hands in before parading up and down a length of paper from a roll (you can use an old wallpaper roll too) making patterns.

I then laid them down on the paper and drew around them and they coloured ‘themselves’ in.  Once they understand that they don’t have to produce fine art but just enjoy creating, littluns will come up with and enjoy all sorts of creative pursuits.

I can’t remember why but one day before starting year 1, I had Pest #1 to myself and he wanted to draw a liopleurodon (prehistoric sea predator) but had reached his wits end and started frantically tearing up the paper.  After calming him, we sat down and thought about what we could create without drawing but still using an underwater theme and decided to start with something simple.  We taped together 6 A4 sheets of printer paper – you can buy economy reams of 500 sheets for under £3.00 – and attached it to our easel out in the garden.  In an old yoghurt pot he mixed a deep blue paint with green and white and began to cover the whole ‘sheet’ giving himself a blank underwater page.  While it dried, we talked about what we would like to see under the sea.  Just a few creatures to keep things simple so, starfish, seahorses and fish were what he came up with and we began making.  Using paper plates cut in half, we made jellyfish.  We painted them gold and silver, gave them faces and waited for them to dry before attaching strips of green paper to the undersides for the tentacles.  Using more paper plates cut with a few snips we made a fish and a starfish.  When he was happy with the faces he’d painted and the googly eyes were stuck, he positioned them on the paper and hey presto, one very happy camper.  We were so pleased with the resulting piece that it ended up in the downstairs toilet adding a very much needed splash of colour.

crafty children

Let’s not forget how easy it is to cover a plastic bottle in foil and make a rocket.  It doesn’t have to be tidy or complicated but they will be happy making something this simple and it’s easy for them to jazz it up a bit.  Pest #1 is of the mind now that although he may not be able to draw as well as his sister, he can actually be just as creative using mediums other than pencil and paper.

If you can put up with a bit of mess, maybe even sometimes a lot... you can encourage your child to let loose with their imagination.  Pest #2 often cuts up my weekend newspaper supplements and uses them to create her own pictures – for example, she will draw a crude table and then cut out any pictures of food and stick them to the table top before drawing equally crude people on chairs around the table – or simply cut people out and add them to the scene.  She doesn’t need encouraging but she will now also inspire #1 to get involved and create his own works too.

We get through miles of sticky tape and too many glue sticks to mention but the benefits far outweigh the clean up afterwards.  It’s not easy these days to give our children the freedom they need to express themselves outdoors but I hope that by giving them freedom at home to loosen some shackles I can make up for other freedoms they may miss.

Mrs Fox has plans, crafty Mrs Fox

Once upon a time there was a very crafty Mrs Fox.  She was a loving mother and enjoyed nothing more than getting creative making things with – and for – her littles foxes.  As soon as one of their birthdays came around, she would start planning, making and finally throwing, the best party she could muster.  Very soon she was being asked to create parties for her friends little ones too and so she found herself gainfully employed doing something she relished.

Mrs Fox had taken her own littluns to many parties and it had become clear to her that far too much throwing away was involved at the end.   Not to mention how much appeared in the party bags that she took home and discreetly binned.  Once out of the bag the contents were usually discarded, disregarded and quickly forgotten.
Thus Mrs Fox’s plan more or less created itself.  She would help other parents to put on fun, creative parties for their children that did not involve feeding the worlds land-fills.  Her partyware, wherever possible, would use natural products, products that are biodegradable, recycled or repurposed.  The criteria for party gifts; to include keepsakes, be imaginative, often craft based, something perhaps a little nostalgic and always fun.
Mrs Fox does not claim that she will never, not ever, use plastics but she does claim that every item she selects will have been deliberated over with care and consideration.

Pirate Party

The next party we are commissioned to do is a pirate party for little Miller.  Really looking forward to it as we haven't done one for a while.

Pirate Party images from Meri Meri

More Flower Crowns

Mrs Fox's flower crowns

This weekend I have been working on expanding the Mrs Fox's Handmade range some more.  To go with our leaf crowns I have designed a felt flower crown.  

Each of the flowers on the crown is hand cut and sewn and then sewn onto a felt band.  With a thin floral satin ribbon to fasten the crown it will fit any child's head size.

This would be a fantastic gift for a birthday girl who is having one of our Fairy Tea parties, it could be part of her costume.  We also think these would look great on a little bridesmaid.  I must get on and make some more...

A Party in the Jungle

Mrs Fox has always found it easier to create a party around a theme, and one of the first things to do is pick the colours.  I usually choose three colours, by defining them I can unify the look and feel of the party.  I try not to do the whole pink for girls and blue for boys thing, so one of my favourite parties is Mrs Fox’s Party in the Jungle.
Mrs Fox's Party Boxes -  A Party in the Jungle

Mrs Fox created her first Jungle Party for two little 4 year old boys who love animals, Archie and Morrie.  

We had a great idea for the invitation.  We created a kit to make a monkey mask using a paper plate, felt and elastic, and it is one of our very best invitations to date. “The Monkeys are breaking out of the zoo!  They're gong to Archie and Morrie's party in the jungle, why don't you come too?” said the invitation.  When Archie and Morrie gave out their invitations at school the sense of excitement was palpable.

Mrs Fox's Jungle Invitations are a monkey mask

We continued the monkey theme with our Mrs Fox’s No Tears Monkey Musical Bumps game.  We also had a crocodile pinata. A jungle themed pass the parcel. And a jungle birthday cake decorated with the Wild Bunch, four beautiful origami animals that we stock in the Mrs Fox’s shop.

On the day of the party Mrs Fox decorated the hall with a colour scheme of greens and orange, for the the tableware, balloons and decorations.  We created orange and green crepe paper bunting.  We made curtains of trailing jungle vines using garden twine and strands of green crepe paper.   We hung inflatable monkeys from and stuck chocolate bugs onto the vines and the children wripped them to shreds with glee at the end of the party.

Each child took home a drawstring cotton party bag containing, another of the origami animals, pencil, stickers balloon and chocolate jungle animals.  We used a jungle animal themed cup cake kit to decorate individual cup cakes for each child and these were wrapped in little compostable cellophane bags to take home.

We now sell this party on our website as one of Mrs Fox’s Party Boxes - A Party in the Jungle.  Created with care and attention to detail this party has a handmade and home made feel.  We include detailed advice and ideas to add to the jungle fun. 

Mrs Fox's Party Boxes, A Party in the Jungle

Felt Crowns

We have been coming up with some new ideas for the website, working towards a photoshoot with children in fancy dress.  We are, of course, making all the costumes.  So, this weekend I fancied having a go at making some crowns and other party headware.  I'm really enjoying working in felt at the moment and have been adding to my embroidery silks.  The walk in the woods last weekend has inspired me as well as little Una Fox and below is my first felt leaf crown.  I've been thinking how nice it would be to do a Woodland Fairy Party - Any takers out there?!

Felt leaf or feather head band or crown

This felt leaf crown is something I'd like to add to our Mrs Fox's Handmade range.  We will also be including some pretty red felt crowns, and I'm going to make a felt flower garland for my niece, Marni's, birthday so that should be added too.

Mrs Fox's Felt Crowns

Keep an eye out for our photoshoot pictures.  We are really looking forward to our new look.

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