by Rachel Minnie
Can’t get to the beach right now? Why not throw your guppy a magical mermaid birthday party instead? There are so many vibrant colors to use for this popular theme - purples, blues, aquas, pinks - that finding coordinating party items will be a sea breeze.
One headache-saver is this leotard mermaid costume from The Leotard Boutique. Use this and any color dance skirt, and your mergirl will feel like Ariel. This is one of those items that is so multi-purpose: dress up, Halloween, or a birthday party.
In fact, why not have all the guests dress up? One of the best kids parties I’ve ever attended against my will was a dress-up party. It was nowhere near October, but kids wore old Halloween costumes or whatever costume pieces they had around. The kids loved it, and the parents loved reusing costumes that otherwise would have stayed in the closet.
Top off the birthday girl’s mermaid costume with a spectacular crown. This Etsy find can be customized with any age or no age. I’d go with no age so that it can be more easily reused for dress up or Halloween.
This kit is definitely on a higher level than regular party balloons. It comes with all the supplies for a show-stopping mermaid tail. Bonus: these don’t need helium to look spectacular.
These paper lanterns are an easy, high-impact decorating choice that will make your guests feel like they are under the sea. Add some fishing nets and seashells for an even better sea vibe.
Another bang for your decorating buck is this kit with purples, pinks, and aquas. Personally, I can’t get enough of those tissue pom poms. Hang them from the ceiling, or just attach them to the wall with painter’s tape. That way, you only have to floof one side. Time saver!
We love the iridescence on these scalloped shell plates. Pair them with this set of iridescent plastic cutlery to complete the magical look.
I may or may not be overdoing it, but I love matching the wrapping paper to a kiddo’s birthday theme. The presents themselves become part of the decorations.
These are another one of those multipurpose items. Not only can these mermaid tail cones be stuffed with treats and used as party favors, they can be hung on string to make them part of the decorations. You’ll have to buy extra ribbon to hang each up, as the ribbons included are only enough for tying the bags closed.
by Rachel Minnie
Things are pretty scary right now, and not in a good way. Although no one is sure what trick-or-treating will look like this year, we still want to celebrate one of America’s favorite holidays. Here are our suggestions for a responsibly social-distanced Halloween celebration.
Don’t Skip the Costumes
Even if kids aren’t going trick-or-treating or attending their usual parties this year, do not skip the costumes. Dressing up as a kid on Halloween is one of those treasured childhood activities that should be maintained, even if you aren’t going anywhere. (Take a look at our wholesomely spooky girls’ and toddlers’ costume leotards in our Halloween shop!)
Share the (Candy) Love
This one takes a little planning ahead, but think about sending Halloween goodie bags to your child’s closest friends and relatives. Include a handmade card from your child along with a few pieces of candy, a pencil or two, and mail them a few days ahead of time. Your child will have fun getting into the spirit by sending the packages, and your child’s friends will love receiving them.
This is one trick I used when my family first moved to New Hampshire only a couple days before Halloween. We knew not one soul, had no neighbors, and didn’t even know yet where people did their candy peddling in that tiny rural town. So we had my four-year-old dress up in his costume, and while he and his daddy played outside in the early evening, I “hid” candy all around the house. He went through the house, collecting the candy (all his favorites - no duds). He loved it! Even at 11 years old, he still talks about that Halloween. Happy childhood memory - nailed it.
Even if you’re not feeling totally in the Halloween spirit, don’t skip the decorations. In fact, that’s even more reason to go a little more elaborate with indoor and outdoor decorations this year. (If you’re already one of those people who goes all out on their outdoor decor, you deserve a ghoulishly heartfelt thank you from the rest of us.) Not only will it delight your kiddos, but it will inspire the neighbors as well. Instead of driving around to look at holiday lights, drive around to look at all the Halloween decorations.
Keep It Spooky, Witches
Going along with decorating, if you have the space - and, more importantly, the time and energy - make your own outdoor haunted attraction. Who said a haunted house has to be the inside of the house? Backyards can be just as chilling. Set one up and let local families know via social media. On Halloween night, allow one family at a time to go through and provide hand sanitizer and disposable masks. With all of today’s new-fangled animatronic contraptions, you can set up a seriously spooky space with no live jump scares. Add a fog machine, scary recordings, and you’ve got yourself a Halloween horror treat not just for your family, but for your friends and neighbors as well. And if you set it up but don’t get many bodies, consider it a dry run for next year’s Halloween, which we hope will be more lively. Get it? I’ll see myself out.
Photo by @adayinthelifeofcecilia
by Rachel Minnie
Now more than ever parents need to invest in keeping their kiddos moving! With fewer in-person dance options, parents are finding many online platforms for their little dancers to have a reason to throw on their favorite leotards and dance skirts. Below are some of the most promising sites we’ve discovered so far:
Outschool is a well rounded learning platform that connects teachers and other professionals with students and parents. Anyone can sign up to be a teacher (so if you have an area of expertise or a hidden talent, consider offering your own class). In fact, there are so many classes available - especially now - that it can be a little overwhelming. Be sure to read reviews for teachers to help you make informed choices.
Class prices range from pretty reasonable to downright cheap. Choose from one-time classes, ongoing classes, seasonal summer camps, and long-term classes. Outschool classes are a staple in my house, and one thing that has impressed me is that they tend to be very interactive, not just between teachers and students, but between students and students. In this way, Outschool classes on Zoom can be a great alternative to in-person camps and classes that students may be missing during social distancing.
Available in either drop-in classes or session-based camps, dance classes on kidpass.com include ballet, rhythmic gymnastics, hip hop, tap, and more. While some classes are pre-recorded, others are live. The Kidpass platform allows you to easily schedule and keep track of multiple classes, perfect if you’re looking for lots of classes with different topics or if you have children of different ages.
And kidpass.com offers much more than just dance. You can also use it for academics, crafts, coding, foreign languages, etc. The Kidpass Digital Platform also uses Zoom. While some of the classes are pricey, you can find free classes that help even out the budget.
On sawyer.com, parents can find another platform for kids dance activities, as well as academic subjects and other fitness classes, like yoga and karate, offered by multiple providers. Available as drop-in classes, semesters, or seasonal summer camps, Sawyer’s classes can be booked for in-person classes (depending on your area), but there are more online programs than ever before as families look for ways to stay active and engaged remotely.
Search by day, time, age, or activity to find the perfect class for your dancer (or scientist, or linguist, or artist, or chef). Sawyer.com is also a Zoom-based platform. Overall, you can find many classes that are a good value for the money, some of which are only $5 a class. Gotta love that! (Bonus: Sawyer is a female-founded company.)
There are plenty of free videos and tutorials online from reputable companies like Kidz Bop and Go Noodle. Kids will love the wholesome songs and dance moves in both, but Go Noodle also has popular characters from Disney and Nickelodeon. Though these are highly flexible since there are no regular times - just pop on a video anytime - they are highly commercialized. Additionally, parents may have some reluctance to send their kids to YouTube. Just make sure to beef up your parental controls if that is a worry for you.
A nationwide kids dance studio franchise, Tippi Toes now offers online virtual classes with their instructors. For one new recorded class a week, you’ll pay just $19.99 a month, with a seven-day free trial. You get to keep all the recorded lessons for continued watching. Tippi Toes promises high energy and engaging dance content for kids 2-8 years old. While the classes are not live, that may be a benefit for some since it adds to its flexibility and convenience.