Tips and ideas for kids birthday parties. How to plan your child’s birthday party.
After a year of Frozen mania, I for one am ready to move on in a new direction. With the upcoming March 13th release of the film version of Cinderella, this theme is the perfect party idea for your daughter’s next birthday! For me, the Cinderella story has always been near and dear to my heart. Not only did Jennifer and I title our company after this princess, but I chose this theme for my oldest daughter’s first princess party at the age of four, many years ago. And it was that very first party long ago that inspired me to become a children’s event planner a couple of years afterward.
One of the things that I love about this theme is that you can use many different things for decorating: mice, glass slippers, carriage, pumpkins etc. I LOVE using and decorating with pumpkins, so I use them every chance I can. Pinterest is a great site for party ideas! Below are some party theme ideas.
You can usually find pumpkins at Michaels, Jo Ann’s or Hobby Lobby. I prefer using the white pumpkins and spraying them with a hint of blue paint and glitter. Years ago, I had one of my close artist friends create several Cinderella centerpieces for me because at the time, Cinderella was one of my most popular theme. The main piece that she created, was a replica of the the pumpkin coach that was on display in one of the shop windows on Main Street in Disneyland. She had carved out a door, used hinges, place gold duponi silk inside the cab and painted a gilded “C” on the door. The pumpkin was placed on an iron base that I had made with seat and and turning wheels! I then had several other pumpkins designed that represented the different phases of the coach development. A delicate briar patch type of greenery with pretty flowers will complete the look! For table linen, I like the idea of using a pretty shade of blue–something on the darker side to represent night time. I also prefer the romantic look of a cloth that drops down to the floor and always use a lightweight fabric that will drape more easily.
Depending on what your centerpiece is, and the look you are going for, these are cute.
Take Home Treat
I hope that everyone is off to a fabulous start for 2015! I know that I am. I for one am so glad that December, 2014 has passed though. I truly love the holidays, but they can be very hectic and very difficult. And for whatever reason, this December was a bit grouchy like it had a grudge to hold. Anyway, I am one of those people who like to get off to a positive and well rested start and for me that means organizing and being as efficient as I can be! Once Christmas is over, the tree and decorations comes down immediately. I always have to laugh at this because I truly believe that I was left behind in a former life or something, as I always have to be the first to leave or arrive somewhere. With this said. I love the start of a new year!!!! Jennifer and I accomplished quite a lot in 2014 and we now can get together to regroup and discuss our new goals for 2015. Business is already off to a booming start, so I want encourage everyone to start thinking about their yearly commitments. This of course means things like work schedules, spring break, taxes, summer vacations, and your children’s birthday parties of course. Please do not procrastinate on booking their party. Once January rolls around, everyone will become extremely busy and schedules will get booked up fast. If your child has a summer birthday, I would start doing your research now. Check out Yelp reviews, ask friends, do Google searches. We book out 2-3 months prior. Please don’t allow a company though to convince you to book out before then. The reason being is that people’s schedules change. Performers come and go all the time. Personal and work conflicts will also occur. You want to book with a company that will give you the greatest chance of securing a performer that you want.
When people ask me what separates The Cinderella Company apart from other character companies, my answer is always the same, “Jennifer and I along with our entire cast all love what we do and it is that devotion combined with our high quality and attention to detail that separates us from the rest.” We are a boutique style company whose focus will always be quality versus quantity. All you need to do is to read through all of our Yelp reviews (88 filtered and 66 non filtered) to understand that. This company was created many years ago out of our love for making people happy, and it is our heart and soul that is our driving force behind all that we do.
The Cinderella Company is devoted exclusively to entertainment of the highest quality, created to capture your child’s imagination and delight your friends and family in the process. It is the quality of our costumes, wigs and props, to our theme related activities, attention to detail and of course our very talented cast that is what sets us apart from the other companies. It is our daily goal to create lasting memories for you and your child. With all of these things combined, Bay Area Parent Magazine has awarded us with numerous gold, silver and bronze medals for the last 5 years, as we have won as Best Party Entertainer and Children’s Entertainment Company in the SF/Marin/San Jose/East Bay/Silicon Valley/Peninsula region.
Here at The Cinderella Company, we offer many different magical storybook themes for you to choose from. Imagine the look on your child’s face, as their dreams come to life as their favorite character interacts with them. Imagine the delight in your little girl’s eyes as the Princess she adores calls her by her name. Imagine the surprise your little boy will have when the superhero he idolizes asks him to help assist in some superhero training. These are not just moments to imagine but realities to experience. From our ever popular snow queen theme to our superhero parties for boys, our parties packages are a true hit with young and older guests.
Please call us today if we can assist you in any way for hosting your child’s event.
It’s raining today and I am so very happy because here in Napa Valley we are in need of some water. However for those of you hosting outdoor parties, the idea of rain the day of your event is the last thing you want to deal with or think about. Several years back while I was hosting parties, I had a client who was having a Barnyard theme. My staff and I were handling the decor and activities. We all knew that rain was expected, but was trying to hope for the best. The client however refused to accept the idea of it raining on her parade and requested that we still set up outside. We set a very cute table with gingham cloths and rustic table ware, there were hay bales in the back yard and game activities as well. The petting zoo arrived just after set up and that is when the rain began. Prior to setting the table though, I had some staff members make a large enough clearing in the client’s family room. The long table and chairs was immediately carried inside and the party took place indoors instead without a hitch. As for the petting zoo, they too had a roof over their heads in the garage. Having a “Back up Plan” is a major must. So, if you are planning an outdoor event and rain occurs you have some options. Below are some tips that I suggest.
As women, many of us are emotional by nature. I am a planner by nature. I need to always be organized and in control; I need to micro manage, this is just part of my DNA. But I am only human after all, and one of the things I cannot control is the weather. With that said, we all need to be able to go with flow when unexpected things happen. I always say that things happen for a reason, so just let it go. Take a deep breath and start making some decisions.
Move it Indoors
When rain threatens an outdoor party, you may have to move the party indoors. This unfortunately is not always easy to do without some preplanning. When planning your outdoor party, it’s a good idea to start plan for an indoor party as well. When creating the guest list, for example, consider how many people you can reasonably fit indoors. Take into consideration your house’s floor plan. Are there pieces of furniture that can be easily moved to another room for some additional space? Many themes can easily make the transition from outside to inside, while others are definitely suited for an outdoor setting. Ex. a pool party.
Several years back I hosted a Jurassic Park party for a client and for that event it was pouring rain. In this particular case, the client’s house was really small and she had invited a group of 12 -15 children and did not want to cancel on her son. We therefore decided to set up 2- tents outside and this is where we did our activities such as dinosaur digs and excavation craft kits as well as serving and eating lunch. The indoor space was utilized for our storytelling part of the party which was totally fine. The main challenge at this event is that it was a bit muddy outside so we had to make sure that the children removed all of their shoes before going into the house. This may have not been the most ideal situation, but the show still went on and that is what the client cared about. If you have a deck, patio, awning or gazebo you can easily do an outdoor part with coverage. Some people are even willing to use their garages if needed. Tents are pretty inexpensive to rent and purchase. Places like Orchard’s Hardware sells 10 x 10 canopy tents for as little as $99. You can also ask friends to see if they have one to borrow.
Word of advice though. Call parents on the day of the party and ask them to pack their kids’ rain gear. Being a parent myself, I would want to know if you are planning a party outside. If the temperature is warm enough, it won’t hurt your guests to get a little wet. If the temperature is colder, they will be prepared for that.
Setting a Rain-date:
Not many, but some clients will opt to reschedule their event due to the rainy weather. If your party truly relies on its outdoor setting and a sunny day, you may have no choice but to reschedule. Choose a rain date and add it to the invitation. Depending on where you are located, you most likely won’t have to use it, but it’s best for guests to know ahead of time what to do in the event of rain. A rain date is also a good way of letting guests know to keep the secondary date free, as well. If hiring a character company, a bounce house, petting zoo, etc, it is extremely important to find out if you will be billed a fee for rescheduling.
For my client’s Barnyard party, her husband was grilling hotdogs and hamburgers. Most men are fine standing under an umbrella if needed, but you may want to change your menu selection to something easier if you have a few days warning.
If you are planning a birthday party for your child and you decide to book with a character or entertainment company, please do your research. I know that booking a company can be overwhelming for many people, especially if you’re in a region like Los Angeles which is fully saturated with businesses, but it is really important to choose wisely. Our time with our children is fleeting, meaning that this time in their lives of believing in fairytale is quite short, so the last thing you want to do is to plan a party for them and to have a company flake out or not deliver for you. A few weeks back I posted that just because a company comes up first in the search engine and has a cool looking website, doesn’t mean they are the company for you. When booking with a company, you want to find someone that will be the right fit for you and your needs.
Below are some tips I recommend:
1. Do your due diligence.
You want to be sure to get recommendations from friends and acquaintance first. Next, you can start searching the internet for Yelp and Google reviews. Word of advice though, when dealing with social media reviews please take them with a grain of salt. (Please read my entry on How Yelp Really Works). Just remember that Yelp has its faults. Due to the way Yelp filters out client reviews, many newer companies are becoming quite savvy in going after positive reviews and will go to great lengths to have close friends and business acquaintances leave comments for them on Yelp and Facebook just to get a review. When going through someone’s Yelp reviews, it’s really important that the reviews are local and have no affiliation with the company. I always have to laugh when I see numerous reviews posted from the company’s staff members or business associates or from friends of theirs elsewhere in the country. For ex. I think I will have my Yelping friend in NJ leave me a review because she’s a Yelper and I know it will stick. That may work for a different industry such as a hotel or restaurant, but really not for the character industry. Granted, that’s not to say that one or two non local reviews may not be legitimate, but when you start seeing more than that, I would be skeptical. As for Facebook, any Tom, Dick & Harry can leave a review.
2. Who owns the company?
I am always a bit leery of companies that have an ambiguous About Us paige. As a consumer, you have every right to know who you are booking with and what is the company’s track record. Find out how long they have been in business. What do you know about the owners? Jennifer and I love what we do, and put our heart and soul into everything we touch whether it’s through blogging, Facebooking, updating our website. We have built a relationship with our clientele so we have developed a loyal following over the past 7 years.
3. Who are the performers?
This is where Jennifer and I are sticklers. Prior to starting The Cinderella Company, we both owned and operated our own children’s event planning companies. It was during this time, that we personally dealt with a number of local character companies that used “smoke and mirror” tactics. I can vividly remember hiring a Sleeping Beauty performer from a company for a party that I was hosting, and the performer was anything but Aurora. She may have showed up wearing a platinum blonde wig and a pink gown, but that was the extent of it. I took one look at her and the idea of a magical princess was lost for me in a split second . It was that experience long ago, that led to the creation of The Cinderella Co. A lot of companies will not post their performers bios or photos on the site nor will they promise you a performer. As a client, you therefore have no idea of who will show up to your event the day of the party–not cool in my opinion. I just took a booking from a client the other day and she flat out asked if my performer had braces or any visible tattoos and body piercings. She was very nervous about booking because she too had experienced some interesting characters at parties her daughter had been invited to.
4. What are your expectations and that of the company?
As consumers, we all have our own expectations. What are they? Are they reasonable? Are they the same as the company’s? You need to find out and be very clear with the company about what you are looking for and the company needs to be clear in what they are providing. Not every business is going to be able to accommodate specific requests. Jennifer and I put as much information about who we are and what we practice out there to prevent confusion and client dissatisfaction; this is one of the reasons that our website is as extensive as it is. We also believe in remaining true to the Disney philosophy and that of their characters. As a company, we may or may not be what some people are looking for and that’s okay. Jennifer and I and our entire cast do what we do out of love and are committed to providing the best possible experience.
5. How is their pricing?
Do a comparative market analysis. Is the company’s pricing competitive with the others? Is it more expensive or less? Start comparing. I get calls all the time asking about our pricing. When comparing pricing though, you have to make sure the companies are similar. We often get calls about a local non Disney character company that deals in fantasy characters. When someone mentions them, I always inform the clients they are comparing apples and oranges. You cannot compare the pricing on two very different companies because one is dealing with complex Disney style costumes and wigs vs fantasy characters that have no wigs or specific costumes to match. When comparing two similar companies, begin to analyze the quality of the costumes and the wigs. I will be as upfront and as honest as I can be, the costumes and wigs do not come cheap. Yes, there are companies out there that purchase their things ready made off the internet at a fraction of the prices, versus a costume that is more elaborately designed and has petti/hoopskirts and accessories. What is their attention to detail like?
6. Is the company easy to work with?
How long does it take the company to respond? Do they answer your questions fully? Are they informative? Do you feel they are being thorough with you or they simply want your money? Do you feel that they are listening to what you are saying? Is this a serious, reputable company or someone just dressing up on the side hoping to make some money? How do they handle challenges? Ex. performer illnesses, reschedules, unexpected situations? Again, what is their attention to detail like?
7. Do not assume anything.
Please be sure to get everything in writing. It’s important that you don’t assume anything. Just because you fill out a inquiry page and say you want to book, doesn’t mean that you’re booked or that the character is reserved for you. No booking is taken with us until a deposit has been taken from the client. Due to our high volume of business, we unfortunately cannot reserve a performer’s time until then. Also, be sure to read information that they send to you. As in any businesses, you need to make sure that you read and understand the the contract.
8. Does the company have a contract?
It behooves everyone for a company to have a contract. Contracts are established to protect both parties. Be sure to read and understand everything that is in it. Please make sure that all of the information is correct. With technology, one wrong click and you can have the wrong character showing up at your house on the wrong date. Submit changes in writing!!! Please don’t call the information in. You want to be able to hold someone accountable and you can’t necessarily do that when you say that you called the office. Jennifer and I keep track of everything.
9. Be Hesitant with online booking and payment:
Sorry, I just don’t believe in this because there is too much left to chance. I cannot begin to tell you how many calls I get from people who say a company had to cancel unexpectedly because of over booking. Don’t do it. You are not buying a dress, but booking your child’s party. Be sure to speak with them directly before putting down a credit card payment.
10. Does the company uphold the Disney standard?
Here at The Cinderella Company, we love all things Disney and are completely committed to staying true to their philosophy and characters, as such, we will alway do our best to bring the princess characters to life.
11. Is the company award winning?
Has the company that you are booking won any awards within their industry? If so, is there consistency with that? Often times new companies will promote that they’ve won an award for something when they’ve hardly been in a business for a long enough amount of time. Having your friends and family vote for you does not justify becoming the best of the best. Don’t be fooled by companies that are trying to work the system.
12. When to book a party:
Please don’t allow a company to convince you to book a performer 6 months out. The earliest you should book is about 3 months. The reason being is that life happens. Cast members will come and go, and for some companies they may not even be in business in 6 months. The character industry is not the restaurant industry, meaning we are not a famous 3 Michelin star restaurant that you are wanting to get into. The only exception to early booking is finding a company that is hosted by one performer, but even then I still don’t feel comfortable putting money out.
13. How does the company handle emergencies?
Each company is different. You want to feel secure in booking a company in that they will not leave you high and dry. I absolutely detest when I hear from people that a company has cancelled on them and has not offered any help other than a alternative phone number to call. Please keep in mind that performers do and will fall ill as they are around children often. If a performer falls ill, the company that you have booked with needs to offer some assistance in finding a replacement and I don’t mean by giving you phone numbers to call. There have been times that Jennifer and I have been up to the wee hours speaking with local companies on the behalf of our clients. I also encourage every parent to have an “Emergency Back up Plan”. If a company cancels and there is no one other company to help out, you will still have a party to get through.
14. How does the company bill for travel?
Some companies out there are charging hefty travel fees. How are they calculating costs? Are they charging for time and mileage? If so, that can be very expensive. Also, I would question a company that insists on charging a travel but will not guarantee a performer. How do you really know where that performer is traveling from. The character company is a mobile business and we are not booking performers out of a central location, but have performers all throughout the regions. If a company is going to bill a travel, it’s a fair question to ask what region the performer is traveling from. Don’t allow a company to bill you for something extra. The Cinderella Company does not bill for time but for mileage and tolls.
Prior to starting The Cinderella Co, I use to host children’s birthday parties throughout the SF Bay area. Although I absolutely love what I do now, there are times I really wish I was still planning events. I miss the energy and creativity of organizing and being on site. Since I’m no longer doing that anymore, I can share with you some party planning tips. If your child is between the ages of 4-6, this is a perfect time to have a Princess themed event. As I mentioned in a previous post, early planning is always wise. You want to have an organized plan of how your party will be. Depending on your budget, you can spend as much or as little as want. Here are some simple and reasonably priced ideas that I recommend.
Guest list: I am a firm believer of keeping things to a minimum. I am always going to favor inviting 12 or less children for this age group. If that is too small of a number, I recommend 15 or less. One way to keep the numbers lower is by inviting mainly girls and not extending the invite to the boys in the class. Granted, there will always be close friends of the opposite sex who you may want to include.
Invitations: The early bird gets the worm. As your kids start kindergarten, try to get your invitations out at least 3 weeks prior. Be sure to check your child’s soccer and school schedules to make sure nothing else interferes with the date beforehand. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from mom’s while taking bookings for The Cinderella Co, that another child is having a party on the same day or there’s a soccer match taking place and they need to reschedule. You can either purchase fill-ins, make your own or have them professionally printed.
Entertainment: If you are hiring a character company to come in and to entertain, please don’t procrastinate about this. You also want book the entertainment before you order invitations and have them printed. Choose a Princess theme.
Decor: This is where the fun starts. Start by choosing your color scheme. Soft pinks and golds, greens, etc. Balloons, crepe paper, fabric banners, tissue paper, tulle, ribbon, fresh and faux flowers are all ways to help decorate. You can rent juvenile table and chairs for this younger age group that are reasonably priced. Most rental companies have the long rectangular tables, but for smaller parties I prefer using round tables for a tea party theme. You can check to see if they carry those. Most of the companies have the ugly plastic chairs that I cannot stand, see if they have white wooden folding chairs. They are so much more attractive and will cost a little more. Depending on budget, you can rent cloth table linens. You can either rent an inexpensive white drape that goes to the floor with a colored overlay or a premium drape that goes all the way to the floor. You can swag the fabric if you like and use ribbon and flowers to decorate. I always like decorating the chairs with with ribbon, tulle and flowers.
Table settings: You can either pull out your fine china or purchase good looking paper products. If using your china, I never had a problem with breakage with small children. Centerpieces can either be fresh flowers or anything theme related that you find. You can accent with pretty confetti, gems or anything you find.
Craft Table: Kids love making crafts. You can use a matching disposable liner.
You can go as simple or as elaborate as you like. You can do almost anything from make fabulous crowns to assembling wands and decorating mirrors.
Activities: Games are dependent on the age group. Organized games such as Pin the Tail, Pass the Glass Slipper, having photo booth are all fun.
Lunch: Kids this age do not eat very long–15 minutes top. Small cut-out tea sandwiches with fresh fruit with dips and veggies are always a hit.
Dress-up: You may be able to rent costumes from a local event planner. If not, have everyone come in their princess best. Depending on budget, you can purchase inexpensive tutus that will all serve as a take home gift. You can have a friend or an older teen help with nails, hair and makeovers.
Cakes: I have to admit you can go crazy with castle and princess style cakes. Just keep in mind those cakes feed an army and are quite pricey. An inexpensive way around this is serving really fabulous cupcakes or a beautifully decorated smaller cake.
Pinata: Children love pinatas. If you’re not keen on candy, you can fill it with small inexpensive toys from Oriental Trading. For those who do have a sweet tooth, a candy buffet is always a welcome attraction by children.
I often receive phone calls from parents of young toddlers wanting to book a character for their child’s 2nd or 3rd birthday. When hiring a character, that can be a bit tricky due to the young age group involved. This is why Jennifer and I introduced our Magical Music Tour a couple of years ago. Children love music, so we designed our program with our performer singing and leading the children in music and movement. Even if children are too young to follow the simple directions on their own, parents are always on hand to help and encourage them. We have chosen to sing popular favorites and old nursery rhymes such as Old MacDonald, I’m a Little Tea pot, The Itsy Bitsy Spider to name just a few.
As parents, you have many different options though for this age. Below is a list of frequently asked questions.
Where’s the best place to have a toddler’s birthday?
This really comes down to preference. If you have the space, your house or a park is generally an easy place to have your child’s party for this age group. You can either hire a character company to come in and help or hire a local petting zoo to come over as children love animals. Parks are so convenient because of the play structures; cleanup is minimal and permits are quite inexpensive.
If your home or local park is not an option, there are many alternatives for you such as children’s museums, zoos, recreation centers, gymnastics schools, etc. When my kids were little, one of the places I enjoyed most in having a party was a children’s museum. A discovery museum or indoor playground is the ideal spot that offers young crawlers, early walkers and toddlers a multi sensory experience as they explore different things. They are packed with tactile activities to engage their minds.
Below is a list of some of the children’s museums in the Northern California
Bay Area Discovery Museum
557 McReynolds Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 95110
Sacramento Children’s Museum
2701 Prospect Park
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Babies and toddlers are drawn to animals! Researcher say that as young babies begin looking around their world, they are automatically attracted to things that move, are brightly colored, and are easy to see. They are fascinated by things that make interesting noises, are capable of interacting with them and are unpredictable in what they do and how they behave.
What’s the best time to have a toddler’s birthday?
Most children at this age still take an afternoon nap, so take that into consideration when scheduling your party. Children this age can go from excitement to anger in a matter of seconds. Therefore, you want children celebrating while they’re at their best, so you probably want to pick a morning or late afternoon, and keep it short and sweet — an hour or two is the most time that I would recommend.
Do I serve food at a toddler’s party?
For such a young age group, I don’t personally believe in serving food because children at that age are all eating differently. I personally believe in keeping it simple. You can serve healthy snacks though such as bite-sized fruit or muffins.
Do I hire a Mascot character?:
We don’t deal with mascot characters, but I do get a ton of requests for Elmo. You know your child best. In my opinion, toddlers tend to be easily spooked by costumed characters.
Unless there are older children at the party that you want to entertain, do not bother to higher a face painter or balloon twister. Balloons present a choking hazard to small children and the popping noise startles them. Children do love bubbles though!
Do you believe in faeries? My children and I certainly do! With Halloween quickly approaching, my youngest daughter and best friend have already decided they plan on being faeries this year. When both of my girls were younger, they opted for a faerie theme birthday when they were about 6 years old. There is nothing more magical than hosting a faerie party. This theme is so easy that one can go crazy decorating and planning.
Since faeries are found in nature, the best place to host this theme is outdoors if possible. You want to try to find the prettiest spot in the garden or park area. Faeries also love all things beautiful, so think pretty, dainty and magical.
You can use almost anything for this theme, but you have to decide if you want to go in a more childlike or adult direction. When decorating for this theme, I prefer to use plenty of fresh flowers to decorate with, but you’ll probably also add in faux and paper. Tulle and ribbon is also a must.
Use whatever you have for this theme. Tables can be round or rectangular. I prefer decorating tables in soft colors of purples and greens that drape all the way down to the floor. Fabrics that have a matte sheen to them are really pretty. You can also use lace trimmed linen if that is the look you prefer. Always use fresh flowers on the table and you can decorate chairs using tulle, ribbon and flowers. You can use either your own tea cups on the table or purchase pretty decorative paper ware.
Since there is so much history to share about faeries, I always recommend bringing in a faerie character to story tell. If you decide not to do that, make a story time corner where the children can look and read some faerie books. It’s also fun to include some faerie props if you like. Ex. A mason jar with glowing faeries, a faerie door or wand. You can hang a tulle canopy from a tree with some blankets books and pillows on the floor.
You can do anything from potting fresh flowers in a small pail (Target, Michaels), to making faerie wands, or head garlands to decorating faerie houses.
If you decide to forgo hiring a themed character, you can provide some simple activities such as whimsical face painting, a faerie hunt, and faerie games for the children to do.
It’s always nice serving lunch with this theme and fun snacks. Simple tea sandwiches work best with fresh fruit, vegetables and dips. You can also be more creative by serving something like breadstick snails as an appetizer.
Favor bags always look fabulous when decorated with butterflies, flowers or ribbon
Faeries love to dance to soft music. Give each child rainbow scarves or streamers to dance around with.
A Faerie character will lead your party for you and add to the magic of the day.
Whether you decide on serving cupcakes or cake, simple embellishments are easy to add.
For the parent who wants a little something extra for the children to take home.
These are just some of the simple things you can do to make your event more magical!
My youngest daughter was at a birthday party this past weekend and one of the birthday gifts was a very cute Manatea tea infuser. I immediately started thinking of stocking stuffers and gifts for the holidays! What can I say, I am in the party planning business! We also happen to big-time tea drinkers in my family. It doesn’t matter if it is morning, day or night, both of my girls love making and sharing a cup or pot of herbal tea for themselves and their friends. Below are some cute kid friendly infusers as well as an article that I enjoyed reading.
Article by Dr. Lisa Watson a Naturopathic Dr.
Sharing the Joy of Tea with Kids
There are few topics that I like to talk about more than tea. I love tea. I love the flavour of tea, the diverse kinds of tea, the ritual of making tea and the warm, calm feeling that I get when I settle in with a cup of tea. Tea is also one of my favourite ways of prescribing botanicals (plant based medicines) for adults and children alike.
While I would not recommend giving a child a cup of orange pekoe, chai or English breakfast tea (all of which contain caffeine!) there are an abundance of other kinds of tea that are perfect for children.
Preparing Tea for Kids
Making a cup of tea for a child is very similar to preparing it for an adult, with a couple of simple adjustments.
Children often prefer a weaker tea. Adults should steep tea for between 4 and 6 minutes (depending on the type of tea and personal preference). For children steep the tea for only 2 to 4 minutes. If the tea is too strong, add extra water to dilute the strength (this is also a good way to quickly cool the tea!).
The temperature of tea to be served to a child should be considerably cooler. I suggest serving children’s tea chilled, at room temperature or lukewarm (the same temperature used for baby bottles or formula – around 26-36oC).
Selecting tea is part of the pleasure of drinking tea. You can have tea that calms you, tea that wakes you up, tea that soothes a sore throat or an upset tummy, or tea that just tastes good. You can select tea for your children in much the same way.
Teas for Health
chamomile loose flowers 150×150 Tea for Tots
Anxiety – studies show that more and more children are experiencing anxiety, and at younger and younger ages. If your child has anxiety associated with school, friends, separation or for any other reason try giving them a tea to help calm their nervous system. Teas for anxiety include chamomile, oat straw, passionflower (for children over four), and skullcap (for children over six). Prepare a cup of tea and enjoy it together in the evening or before stressful events.
Colic – even young babies can benefit from tea! A tea made from fennel, chamomile or peppermint can be very helpful in relieving colic in infants. A breastfeeding mother can drink the tea (1 cup three times per day) or the tea can be diluted and given to the infant with a medicine dropper (1 diluted tsp three times per day).
Constipation – use a flaxseed tea (1 teaspoon flaxseed in 1 litre of water, simmered for 15 minutes) to cook oatmeal. Prepare the tea and then use the tea instead of water to prepare oatmeal for your child to eat. Or add ¼ cup of flaxseed tea to 4 ounces of juice and give it to your child once daily. Constipation should resolve within 24-48 hours.
Coughs – depending on the type of cough there are several options for teas to soothe a coughing child. For a cough with sore throat, marshmallow root or slippery elm tea can be very soothing. For cough with congestion, licorice or coltsfoot tea are both effective.
(Note: Do not use for more than 3 days in a row. Licorice should not be used in children with high blood pressure).
Peppermint tea is a mild cough suppressant and can be used in the evenings to help children with a persistent cough to get some sleep.
Fever – To decrease chills and increase perspiration (which will shorten the duration and intensity of the fever) try a tea with any of the following ingredients (in equal parts): lemon balm, chamomile, peppermint, licorice and elder flower. For a child over 2 years of age ½ cup of tea can be given up to four times daily for one day. Serve this tea as hot as your child can tolerate.
Note: Do not use licorice in a child with high blood pressure. Fevers are commonly a sign that the body is fighting a viral or bacterial infection. If your child’s temperature exceeds 102F (38.9oC) consider contacting a qualified healthcare provider for further guidance.
Nausea – ginger tea is very effective in decreasing nausea, vomiting, upset stomach and for soothing the digestive tract. Giving your child tea when they are nauseous or vomiting also provides much needed hydration. Use ½ cup of ginger tea, three times per day for the first 24 hours of nausea. Ginger tea is also very effective for motion sickness. Try giving your child ginger tea as needed during car trips to treat motion sickness.
Teas for Taste
There are a great variety of herbal teas available that children love. Try fruit based herbal teas as a delicious and low calorie alternative to fruit juice. Many of the fruit based teas are delicious served cold as an iced tea. Some of my family’s favourites are:
hibiscus flower 1 150×150 Tea for Tots
Hibiscus flowers give tea a bright pink colour kids love
Chocolate mint rooibos – a loose tea, naturally caffeine free and deliciously sweet. Available at www.steepedandinfused.com.
Passion by Tazo tea – hibiscus flower, lemongrass, mango and passion fruit combine to make a sweet, pink-hued tea. Fantastic as an iced tea. Available at Starbucks stores or many grocery stores.
Raspberry Zinger, True Blueberry and Country Peach Passion – all by Celestial Seasonings are favourites of my 2 year old son. Simple, sweet, fruity flavours are popular with young children and adults alike.
So go ahead and try serving tea to your child. There is no reason why a tea party need only be pretend! You may be surprised at how much your child enjoys the flavours and rituals of tea drinking.
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
This past week the Napa Valley experienced a 6.1 earthquake. In the 11 years that I have lived in Napa, this was my family’s first real quake. After the ground stopped shaking and the lights went out, we all kicked into emergency mode. Thankfully for us it only meant pulling out our flashlights, camping lanterns and cell phones, but with all that we went through I could not help but thinking about emergency plans– everything from quakes to children’s birthday parties. Whether you are hiring a company to host your child’s event or planning your own party, it is extremely important to have an emergency backup plan for your event. When hiring an event planner or character company, please do your research on the company before booking with them. Just because a company comes up in the search engine first and has a good looking website, doesn’t mean they are the company for you. I am not a proponent of Yelp, but they are one of the more reliable public review systems around. Check out any potential companies to see what people are saying about them first. Get referrals from friends and coworkers as recommendations are always wise.
As consumers, we all know that life happens and people get sick and unexpected situations occur like inclement weather.If something unexpected happens, don’t panic. I always say that things happen for a reason and there are times when you just have to go with the flow. I can’t tell you how many calls I get each week hearing that companies have had to cancel for one reason or another on a booking. We are only human after all, and this is a reality with any business. What defines the caliber of a company though, is how they deal with those unexpected moments when they occur. If you find yourself in a situation where a company cancels on you at the last minute, the first thing to do is hold that company responsible by having them help you find a replacement. It always upsets me when I get the frantic calls from clients, because the company that backed down on them gave them a list of places to call– that is not cool in my book. As far as I am concerned, they should be contacting other companies on your behalf because it is the least they can do for canceling the event. If an alternate business is unavailable, you can choose to use a different type of entertainer or company. Bounce house companies usually have a lot of availability or you may try contacting a face painter, balloon twister or puppeteer. If none of those are an option for you, you may have to fly solo.
If you have no other entertainment scheduled, you can do simple things depending on the theme. Remember though, early planning is the key. I also advise to keep parties to a inimum with 2-3hours max.
- Crafts: Children love to make things. Depending on the age group, your craft idea can be something as simple as decorating a frame, magic mirror, treasure chest or making an ocean in a bottle. These items are all inexpensive things to do and materials can be easily found at places like Michaels, Walmart, Holly Lobby and Joann Fabrics. FYI, Melissa & Doug offers great princess mirrors to decorate and pirate chests. They can also serve as a take-home favor if they are too pricey.
- Activities: Decorating cupcakes or cookies can go with almost any theme and is also very inexpensive to do.
- Dress up: For princess parties gather up any costumes that you might have around the house. These can be dance costumes from past recitals, Halloween costumes, etc. Ask your friends to borrow some of their kid’s things for the party. If you’re having a princess party, purchase some cheap nail polish and simple makeup from Target. You can also buy small little plastic clips and elastics to do hair twists or french braids. Call in a babysitter or two to help out at the party or an older sibling or friend.
- Theme activities & games: Keep in mind your theme. For example, if having a Faerie party you can have the children pot pretty flowers for them to water and take home. Lead them on a faerie hunt around the garden. Print out theme related coloring pages that they can color in with crayons or colored pencils. For boys, pull out the sporting equipment–soccer and basket balls, badminton nets, ring toss etc. Play simple games: sack races, Simon says, tug of war, musical chairs, duck duck goose. Use whatever you have. Put together a scavenger hunt. Go to the party store and get some inexpensive prizes. Kids love prizes and goody bags!
- Tattoos: Temporary or glitter. Oriental Trading (purchase in advance) you can find them in bulk or find them at a local party store.
- Lunch: Serve snacks or lunch; get a piñata.
The idea is to keep these things in the back of your brain because they can really help save you if a company backs down on you at the last minute. With all these things up your sleeve, 2 hours will fly by for you and everyone will have a fun time!
Written by Terri / Published by Jennifer