If my daughter was a super hero, she’d be “Party Girl” decked out in a sparkly cape made out of streamers and invitations. If there’s a celebration, a group of kids playing on the street, a gathering of any kind, she wants to be part of it.
However, the “different kid” isn’t usually at the top of the party invitation list.
So what’s a mom of kid who has special needs (one of them being the need to be included despite her disabilities) supposed to do when all her daughter wants to do is party?
First of all, you make sure she knows that she is amazing and that anyone who has the pleasure of spending time with her is lucky. You also make sure she understands that though it’s nice to be included, sometimes you’re not. And that’s okay.
Then, you throw a party at your house.
Actually, we host a lot of parties. Birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, end of the school year. And some for no reason at all. Sometimes we just invite over a few friends, order a pizza, put on a movie and call it a Friday Night Funfest.
But sometimes we want something with a bit more “wow”—like our recent Halloween-themed party. This year Avery wanted to make spooky treats. (More like she wanted to choose some from Pinterest and have ME make them). She also insisted we have some kind of entertainment.
I thought about hiring one of those companies who bring animals to your house. Reptiles and spiders and rodents. But after a brief moment, I was like, great idea except reptiles and spiders and rodents. Shudder.
Then we were introduced to a party company called Zoum Zoum Party. They service the GTA and offer several different party themes—Magic, Science, “Girls Cosmetic Creation.” All sound fun, but when my daughter heard they do Hip Hop Dance Parties, that was it. We were having a “Haunted Halloween Hip Hop Party.” Done deal.
Though these activities are usually associated with birthday party entertainment, they can enhance ANY party. Hosting a family friendly holiday party? Why not have some entertainment for the kids to keep them busy and having fun?
This activity was the entertainment for our party, but any home party would be set up in pretty much the same way (minus the creepy décor and costumes, unless that’s how you roll all year. Not judging.).
Here’s how we party, whatever the occasion.
1. Make a guest list.
2. Figure out the date and time. Three hours seems to be the home party sweet spot.
First hour: kids arrive, offer a few snacks, mingle, do an ice-breaker game or an easy, independent craft.
Second hour: Entertainment. Zoum Zoum party sends a trained party entertainer/instructor to your house. They bring the know-how, the patience, and the theme supplies. You supply your own earplugs. 😉
Third hour: Pizza and a fruit tray and dessert (cake if it’s a birthday party).
*Tip: Play a themed movie or show in the background while the kids eat.
Science Party—Big Hero 6 or Magic School Bus
Magic party—Harry Potter or Matilda or Magic Mike. (Just kidding.)
Dance Party—Center Stage, Billy Elliot, or Mad Hot Ballroom
It keeps the kids entertained, quiet (it’s been two hours at this point so…), and also for safety, sitting and chewing in one spot.
3. Send out invitations. Zoum Zoum party has free downloadable invitations on their website. Print one and then add personal details (date/time/address/special requests) and use as the master for colour photocopies.
4. Plan the menu. Ask guests to include any food allergies or aversions in their RSVP.
5. Have a sign in sheet for parents at drop-off. Include guest’s name, parent’s cell and email address. After the party you can email photos from the party. In our case, I sent them a video of the dance the kids performed at the party!
A note about Zoum Zoum Party— Their customer service is excellent. They were easily reached by phone and email and were happy to chat about party ideas and song choices for the hip hop dance. The dance instructor, “Mermaid” was friendly and fun. She choreographed a great dance for the kids to Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.” Man, eleven year old girls are mad for Taylor hey? FYI—forty-seven year old girls too.
She took the dancers through a warm up and then broke the dance down into steps. They practiced (and giggled A LOT) and then performed the dance on the stage (aka our back deck) for an eager audience—me, the grandparents, a few neighbours (out their window), and our dog.
I videotaped it for posterity of course because…cute!