My 7-year-old will be dressed as the Mandalorian on Christmas Day.
Yep. And my teenager will probably be dressed as Elton John.
(not pictured, the totally rad cardboard piano that he made to carry with him.)
Me? Powder blue tuxedo onesie Pj’s – coffee and Baileys in hand.
We call this, ‘business whimsical’
Why? Because like most of you, I’ve had more than enough upset this year.
I’m ready for some joy, even if I have to make it myself.
I’m finding catharsis through responding strangely to everyday stuff in order to cope with this monster year. Adding Halloween to our Christmas is just the right amount of self-inflicted chaos for me to feel some sort of control.
And, Jack The Pumpkin King would be proud. 🎃🎄💀
(Side perk about the costume thing, my kids are so excited about ‘dressing up’ for Christmas that they aren’t thinking about missing our traditional snow-trip.)
Another spot where I’m shoving joy into is my frustration with our family’s tighter budget this year (relatable much?). I am not going to let this upset me when I’m figuring out presents for them.
Now, I’m not saying I’m going to just shut my eyes and click add-to-cart, no.
I am going to just pull some tricks from yet another holiday (Easter!) to make less feel like more.
To extend that ‘we-get-to-open-our-presents’ joy in a year when there will be fewer gifts, I’m going to hide smaller gifts all over the house.
They’ll find out about my elaborate scavenger hunt in a letter from Santa that will give them the first clue.
I’m also going to throw in some family cocoa breaks 🙂 ☕️
The other part of the holidays that will look wildly different for us is our Christmas dinner. Instead of being stressed out while trying to cook alllllll the things, I’m putting my foot down. I refuse to take on that stress.
Instead, we’re having breakfast for dinner.
And my kids are STOKED about it. Even more than I am about not having to do anything but throw frozen waffles into the toaster and scramble some eggs.
I might even throw in some green dye, because chaos ❤️, to see if they catch the Green Eggs and Ham reference.
If you want to try some of these ideas to lower your own stress level, this children’s-entertainer-turned-mom doesn’t want you to have to brainstorm HOW to put together a scavenger hunt 4 days before Christmas, so I’ve done it for you:
Woah. It’s is embarrassing to admit this, but I only JUST now made an obvious connection that I’ve been missing for 12 years.
This year has been really hard on our house (I know I’m not alone here on this). Every room has been taken over by toys. Mess. Chaos.
*screams into unfolded laundry pile*
(this isn’t my kid, but man they must have had so much fun messing up that room for the photoshoot!)
Now that we’re stuck inside again, I needed a way to solve this, or I was going to move into the attic till spring.
The answer just hit me.
During shows, I’ve always used parachutes to wrangle children into tidy piles (hey, it’s fun)…
maybe I can do the same thing with their *toys*!
I tested it before writing this (to make sure it didn’t just feel like MORE work), and it totally checks out.
I threw a sheet down in the living room in the morning, and at the end of the day, we all grabbed a corner and ‘wrapped up’ the room. It took less than a minute.
I felt so stoked (and stupid for not thinking about this sooner). 😂
And there was a bonus that I didn’t even see coming.
The next morning, my kids knew where their favorite toys were (in the sheet) and I didn’t lose 20 minutes searching for ‘Peter Venkman’s’ lego head in the couch cushions. (Yes…this has happened. More than once.)
But wait…THERE’S MORE!
I found some other ways to use this magical sheet idea:
My 2 young kids sometimes (and I’m being generous with the word ‘sometimes’) struggle with sharing. So, I tried throwing down 2 twin sheets instead of just one to see if having personal play spaces would cut down on some of their bickering (because as much as I love wearing noise-canceling headphones while I sip my morning coffee – they’re not a cute permanent accessory).
Both kids liked having their own sheet so much that I barely heard from them AT ALL for hours.
By the end of the day, they had added a couple more sheets above them to make each space their own ‘fort’, and I listened to them making surprisingly calm peace treaties (I mean ‘sharing toys without fighting’) as well. It was…omg, so needed.
I know that it was the novelty that probably drove the success of this, so I thought a bit about how to drag it out. I ended up ordering 2 smaller versions of the parachutes that we bring to children’s parties so they could each have one (and it would feel a little more exciting than a sheet). It’s been a solid week of success with this so far.
*Warning. This is a break from our ‘normal’ posts.
This post isn’t normal for me because today…well, today was not normal.
(btw, it’s Fae writing this, I’m the owner here.)
I know. I know. Life hasn’t been normal for quite some time. But today in particular, when I was editing this image from this afternoon’s photoshoot (I’ll get into that later), well, it was the tipping point for me.
So. What was so different about today?
Well, for one, as you West Coasters noticed, the sky was on fire (hence, the right side of this image).
***psssssst…for those of you in other places of the world – this is ~exactly~ what it looked like here today – unfiltered. No joke.
(Don’t worry, the smoke was waaaaay above our marine layer; the air quality was fine).
Back to the story. OK. So, I was sitting down with the shoot’s images just now to…
(here come a lot of air quotes)
…‘clean them up’ to make them feel like they were
…‘social media ready’ in order to maintain that professional
….‘small business look’. (notice the left side of the image)
But I just…I just stopped halfway through doing it. I stopped because the photoshopped version didn’t feel like the honesty that we really need right now.
Families and school staff are frantically trying to educate safely. People are wondering where their next paychecks are coming from. Our country is splitting apart. We’re STILL in the middle of a pand…I can’t even say it anymore. I can’t believe it’s still happening.
But it is. This is ALL happening.
So, what is the point of me typing out all this stuff that you already know? Especially when it’s ‘our job’ to bring the cheer and laughs?
My point is…there is another thing that has been happening that I’ve been pretty quiet about on the public side. And I just want to bring it up once, because I know I’m not alone. I’m just tired of trying to hide it.
I’ve been trying to keep a live entertainment company going during a worldwide pandemic. Our entire industry is inches away from crumbling apart. The stress of trying to keep everyone’s jobs (and to be here for your children when they desperately need a pick me up)…it’s been unreal.
But stick with me, I’m not writing this to make you feel sorry for me.
I’m here to thank you.
Also, thank you to my family who stepped in right when everything fell apart back in March. The childcare, financial help, and endless listening ears you gave me while I cried got me through.
All of you reading this right now, you could have just doomscrolled right by (if you’re reading this on our blog, this was originally a post on social media), but for some reason you stopped to check in on us.
Maybe it’s because you’ve hired us before, or worked here, or wanted to work here, or just like magic.
Whoever you are, thank you.
Because of you, we’ve been able to hold on.
Today, I was able to call the performer in this image for the photo shoot – because they *still actually have a job here* thanks to all of you who booked online shows with us over the summer.
This morning, I was able to spring this last-minute shoot on our performer manager (sorry, Meadow!), who has worked here for over 10 years, because of all the in-person shows you’ve trusted us to treat with safety and care.
I’m sitting here working on a new way for you to make Halloween over-the-top for your kids (but super easy on you), because of all the gift certificates, referrals, and honest reviews you’ve written online about us.
Thank you. Thank you.
I love Happily Ever Laughter with every fiber of my being. I’ve worked so hard on her over the last 14 years, and so have the hundreds of performers who’ve worked here alongside me.
Thank you for keeping this magic alive.
I’m going to sleep now, but writing all this out made me feel ready to take on finishing these photos for you.
I bet you LOVE hanging out until midnight with your little ones on New Year’s Eve, right? I mean, who DOESN’T want to hang out with a 7-year-old for FOUR HOURS past their bedtime?…
NOPE. That’s not ‘our thing’ either. Lol.
That’s why I’m starting my children’s countdown to the New Year at 11:59 A.M. this December 31st. We’re ringing in the New Year just before lunch!
I’m all about the kind of New Year’s Eve party that doesn’t come with a side of sleep deprivation & a temper tantrum.
Gather the kids for a ‘Noon Year’s Eve Party’!
What-the-what is a Noon Year’s NOON Party? Yesterday, I hadn’t even heard of one. And now, I can’t stop thinking about it.
Here’s why it works:
1. Kids don’t feel left out of the late-night festivities. Awesome.
2. Kids don’t wake up overtired waaaaay too early on New Years Day. Sign me up.
3. It’s super easy. And to thanks to years of entertaining at (way too many) kids parties, here are some pro-tips that makes it easier to pull off than holding a full mimosa in heels (that’s the real magic trick, friends).
If you haven’t heard of one of these before, let me quickly explain.
A Noon Year’s Eve Party starts at 10:30am. Which is conveniently mimosa time.
It ends after an exciting ‘New Years Countdown’…at noon.
BTW, countdowns totally count as ‘practicing math’ over winter break.
And that, friends, is how you give your kids a chance to get into party mode (and back out of it, thank goodness) hours before bedtime!
Here are some fun ideas about what to do during your Noon Year’s Eve Party:
I collected some ideas for you from those oh-so-official parenting blogs, and also included some stuff I’ve seen actually get pulled off successfully at the kids parties I’ve been to. #pinterestfailfree
Invite Your Guests To Wear Fun Outfits
From Parents Magazine:
“Get the kids excited about their big day by allowing them to dress up however they want. Encourage sparkly, festive attire and explain to them the whole reason we celebrate the changing of our calendars. They’ll feel like rock stars with free creative reign over their looks.”
Don’t have a pile of costumes lying around? No problem. There’s nothing likeface painting to take ‘dress-up’ to the next level.
(I’m about to do that thing where I talk about my job…warning…3, 2, 1…)
Get your hands on a face painting kit, or free them up so you can hold that mimosa by having our professional children’s entertainers do it for you!
Ahem. The face painting, not the mimosa holding. *haha*
They’ll kick everyone’s looks up a notch, while you kick back and relax, with glittering face paints and sparkling glitter tattoos.
Oh. Neat thing. So the children don’t get bored waiting for a turn, we trained our performers to paint 3 – 5 faces at a time. Score.
Bonus: If your adult friends are there, we LOVE painting grown-ups to help them get into the spirit of the festivities too!
Pump. It. Up.
“It’s not a party without balloons, right? Confetti filled balloons will brighten up your space, then you can pop them at “midnight” (aka noon) for a confetti shower! You can fill these with helium or not—either way, the kids will love them. If you really want to wow the kids, stage your own balloon drop! You can make one by taping a plastic party tablecloth filled with balloons to your ceiling.”
100% of the parents I surveyed confirmed that they love tying knots at the ends of balloons.
Here it comes….don’t worry about the balloons. I’ve got you covered!
If you’re looking for a more interactive storytelling experience, we can bring one of our most popular activities for your celebration.
Our Children’s Magic Show is a fully immersive, 30-minute storytelling adventure that all the children can be a part of. So you don’t have to. ????
Set Up A Photo Booth
From Parents Magazine:
“Put your crafting skills to use by constructing a photo booth! Just hang a paper backdrop (festive New Year’s Eve wrapping paper will do the trick) and set up a camera on a tripod or have a designated phone photographer in place. Blast some music and have the kids dance around, posing with their new, festive props—they’ll have a blast and so will you. These photos will be a precious keepsake that’ll last a lifetime”.
Fun For The Whole Family
No matter what activities you choose for your Noon Year’s Eve party, your children are going to love feeling included.
And, we have a feeling you’re going to love watching them climb into bed at the right time that night. 🙂
Happy New Year!
Oh. And we have performers standing by who are open right now. Go ahead and see if we can travel to you!
Your party + rain + kids = omg it actually wasn’t that bad!
Moving your party indoors can be stressful. Especially if your house isn’t designed for 20 children to run wild through it.
Now I’m imagining a house with built-in slides and trampolines between couches. #goals
OK. Back to reality.
Here’s the thing. As a children’s entertainer, I’ve seen some crazy stuff that families have tried to pull off to keep wiggly children from tearing apart their houses.
Some were absolute disasters.
Some were just ok.
And then there the great ideas that still stand out in my mind, 2,000 parties later.
Literally. 2,000. (I’ve sung happy birthday that many times. I slay at the harmony part.)
But, before I share those great ideas with you, I get to tell you about a couple of disaster ideas because DRAMA is FUN.
Once, I went to a party as a Mermaid, and as a party activity, the family had the big idea to let all the children build fish bowls. Cue water and broken glass and rocks and sadness everywhere.
And then, as a party favor, bring a live fish home in it.
You. Should. Have. Seen. The. Parents. Faces. When. They. Came. To. Pick. Up. Their. Kids. One by one, absolute shock at the sight of their new family pet.
And the same question over and over…’how are we going to take that home…?!’. Yeah, that was a wild one.
Ok, this next one actually falls into both categories. It was AWESOME and AWFUL.
This family planned on having their party outside, but then the water dumped all week from the sky so they had to kill that idea. The problem was…their house was under construction. Like, no drywall on some of the walls. This family ran with it. They gave all the children hammers when they arrived and had them knock down one of the walls they wanted to remove.
Contrary to what you’re imagining, no, no one got hurt. Phew. But man…that poor dining room wall. It didn’t see those 20 kids coming.
Extra points for when the rain stopped and all the children took photos with me in the bulldozer that was in their front yard. I was in a very pink, very fluffy princess gown, and it was unforgettable.
So, now that you know what NOT to do with kids inside, here are my top 5 favorite things for kids to do at indoor parties:
The invitation asked all the guests to bring empty cardboard boxes. That’s it. No gifts, no food. Just empty boxes. And this was back before Amazon so I can’t imagine how rad this would be to pull off now!
Each parent was handed a giant roll of tape and a pair of scissors, and the children were handed crayons. While the parents built (it was hilarioussssss to see them get so creative!), the children colored in the windows, doors, and gorgeous scribbly wall accents. ❤️
By the end, this party had built a castle that was so elaborate that the family left it up for their children to play with for days afterward. Not only is that one rockin’ birthday gift for them, but the rain didn’t let up so they never ran out of indoor playtime ideas!
Shameless self-promotion here. Here’s the thing. Hiring a kids entertainer to keep the children busy for you is just so easy. You don’t have to do anything. They walk in. The children are stoked. The pictures are adorable. And you get to drink wine. Bam.
But here is when *not* to hire an entertainer for an indoor party…don’t do it if you have too many other activities you’re trying to pull off at the same time. Trying to compete with Frozen playing on TV, gingerbread house candy being consumed, and a rented rack of kids’ costumes being ransacked is a bad, bad idea. Ask me how I know this. I’m still trying to forget that one.
A few years ago, I knocked on the door of the party I was hired for, and when the mom answered the door, she asked me to ‘crawl through the cave of sparkles’. They had turned their entire house into an obstacle course, and that was the start of it (a few sheets draped over chairs with a disco ball/flashlight set up inside).
The children waiting for me on the other side had expressions that looked pretty much like that picture up there. Every single time a parent popped out the other side, they melted into giggles.
The hallways had pool noodles to jump over, and the kitchen had pieces of fabric (icebergs) for the children to scoot across the ‘slippery ice pond’. I bet they didn’t even spend a dime to make it all. It was absolutely brilliant.
Shameless plug number 2. If you like this idea but don’t want to lift a finger, our entertainers can bring indoor obstacle courses and lead the children through it for you. I know. I’m so good at this marketing thing. *laugh*
Cheap crafts that turn into an interactive show? 100% winner, every single time. And pro-tip, if you use paper bags as the base of each puppet, you don’t have to sit by each kid helping them cut out their designs.
Ask each guest to bring any craft item they have around their house (no buying anything new!) to get an extra fun spread of silly noses, ears, and accessories for your new theater troupe.
Or, to stick with my theme here, don’t do anything. Just sit back and let a pro entertain them with a puppet show. Gosh, I wonder where I can find one of those…OH HERE!
Freeze Dance. A.k.a. ‘The easiest way to have fun with children while doing barely anything except laughing.’
My favorite thing about freeze dance is that both younger and older children really enjoy it. The younger children like to get moving, while the older children like to show off their moves for their friends.
Well. Kidding. ACTUALLY my favorite thing is when I lead this activity at parties, the number of children who try to get ‘out’ on purpose so they can hang out with me instead. Yeah. That is my favorite.
Fun twist, have the children do specific types of dance while they are moving. Ballet, tango, leaps, twirls, and pirate dancing! I don’t know what pirate dancing is, but every time I say it the weirdest things happen, so I throw it in every time. Kids trying to dance like planks are funnier than cat memes.
‘But Fae, can you just lead Freeze Dance for me so I can just relax at the party?’
Beyond leaving a treat for a tooth, what does it mean to be a ‘good’ Tooth Fairy?
Can someone actually be a ‘bad’ Tooth Fairy?
The handy thing about being a children’s entertainer here at Happily Ever Laughter is that we’ve overheard thousands of stories from children about their Tooth Fairy experiences, and all of them, are 100% positive. 🙂
How is this success rate so high? Even when parents are forgetting to have money on hand, or forgetting their child even lost the tooth? Doesn’t that make them upset?
The best thing about your child’s ‘Tooth Fairy days’ is that they are happening when their imagination is at it’s strongest. Anything you do to create your family’s Tooth Fairy story only nurtures that imagination.
I’ll show you an example:
The other day I was tucking my 2 children in for bed (6 & 8 years old) and they both looked at me very seriously and asked,
“Mama. Are YOU going to be our Tooth Fairy?”
My brain thought quickly, ‘does this mean they don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy’?, and, ‘should I just tell them there isn’t one’?
I decided to be incredibly honest.
“Yup. It will be me. There are a ton of us. It’s a big job.”
“YESSSSS!!!!!!!!”, they both cried.
That for real went down. They were actually stoked that their mom was their Tooth Fairy.
I left their room and overheard them whispering about how small I’d get, or what kind of treats I’d leave. Their imagination ran wild.
(Try explaining to your kid why you get to go to parties every day but they don’t. That’s some real magic right there.)
The point is that my kids inserted their own magic on top of my very honest answer. I said I’d leave the treats, and they imagined me doing it 3 inches tall. #winning
If you do go this route, you can still have fun staying on the honesty train while pumping up their imagination by answering follow up questions with answers like this:
Them: “Do you change sizes when you are a Tooth Fairy?”
You: “You know, I haven’t actually looked at myself in the mirror when I’m your Tooth Fairy so I don’t really know!”
You’ll be surprised at how children actually take this honesty extremely positively and still consider it ‘magical’.
Ok, this is cute and all, but what if things don’t go according to plan?
What if they KNOW you are their Tooth Fairy and then you FORGET to grab their tooth?< Or worse. They don’t tell you. Just to ‘test’ you to see if you’re really the Tooth Fairy. It’s cool. Remember how you told them there are ‘lots’ of Tooth Fairies? I’m about to set you up for some serious success here. *high five* Just play them a real video of a Tooth Fairy.
No, you don’t have to get into costume and figure out how to run a film studio.
We did that for you.
One IwishIcouldtakeitback day here at the ‘Faerie Office’ (our headquarters here in Santa Cruz, CA, where we do all of our bookings and costume creation), I said –