Keep the Celebration Going

Sometimes birthdays can feel like they are filled with so much pressure. They are heavy with the promise that once a year, that birthday child gets everything he or she wants – to be the star of the day, have a super fun party, to have lots of presents, to eat a big cake made just for them. Do you know a child that doesn’t start planning their birthday nearly the day after the one before?

Unfortunately many birthday parties fall short. And it’s not the fault of the party, it’s the fault of the huge expectations and pressure that is felt around the event. If you spent all year planning and looking forward to your party, would reality really matter? And lots can happen to make it less than perfect, if perfect is what you were going for. Best friend gets sick, Mom makes you invite someone you don’t like, Dad is too silly, it rains, the cake has pink flowers instead of purple.… you get the idea.

What if we took pressure off the birthday party and spread the celebration? What if you celebrated the Half Birthday? What if there was an end of school party or a beginning of school party, or a Halloween or Valentines party to look forward to?

I know, you are probably thinking; she loves to party, she just wants us to think of all the ways to celebrate. And yes, this is true. But I’m also saying that this could make the annual birthday celebration even better – imagine: less pressure, less unreasonable expectation, less “all eggs in one party basket”.

When did we get out of the habit of inviting friends over, preparing special snacks, playing games and enjoying? You adults too! And isn’t it even easier with kids? They don’t care if the house is perfectly clean or the correct vegetables are on the crudités. They just want to play in the sprinkler, run circles around Duck Duck Goose, hunt for prizes, and eat some Popsicle.

Here are some awesome reasons to celebrate, all year long:Celebrations and Smiles

  • End of school
  • Summer Slumber Party
  • Pool or Water Fun Party
  • Back to school Party
  • Halloween Party
  • Winter Holiday Party
  • New Years
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Spring Fling

Do you think these ideas are fun? Do you think spreading your celebrations will make the Birthday Party more fun? Please comment and let me know!

The Goody Bag Dilemma

The bird houses they built because the goody Bag
The bird houses they built became the Goody Bag

Goody Bag is defined as small bag containing candy, little toys, and other prizes, handed out as a thank you gift to guests at a children’s party. I would like to add this to the definition: A major source of stress and annoyance for parents and children when preparing for said party.

What should you put in the goody bag? How much should you spend? Will it be remembered, used, adored, or just eaten or thrown away? You could lose sleep over these questions!

Love it or hate it, it’s a party tradition. Traditions like blowing out candles, singing Happy Birthday, and eating cake are signature elements of a birthday party and so is the birthday party goody bag. I’m Sorry. It cannot be ignored, but it can be managed. It can be managed by making sure it fits your style, interests, beliefs, and values, just like the party itself.

If you don’t like the cheap plastic toys that break even before they get home, don’t buy them. If you care about the dental health of children, don’t include gummy candy. If play dough has plagued your home in the past, don’t send it home to others. My favorite goody bag components not only match the host family in style, but also fit the party itself.

My feeling is, if you can’t fight the goody bag tradition, you can make it part of the party – the things the children make, do, or find during the party that you are already planning. Consider giving a book at a birthday that features a story teller.  Use the craft from the party as the goody bag. How about making an apron, cooking tools and recipes from a cooking party the gift to go home? How about sending home the decorated pillow cases the children made at the slumber party – add a sleeping mask and a flashlight if you want to make the bag more substantial? Or keep it simple.

Keeping the goody bag as part of the party is the best way to keep it under control. With this approach, the expense is often part of the cost of the party, and the contents already fit the child’s interests, and the values of the family. Don’t worry about size or extravagance, amount of stuff, or the bag itself, just make it fit the party.

3 Keys to giving your child a Special Birthday

1. Pick a theme that fits your child

What does your child love? What kind of kid is he or she? Making the theme something that excites your child is KEY. The theme must fit their style and their interests, especially if you want to keep them involved and excited with the planning and the party. If you have a sporty daughter, then don’t throw her a spa party. If your son prefers books, then don’t take him and his friends to an indoor soccer center. Stay true to your child and give up what you think would make a fun party in favor of him.

2. Keep it doable

Keeping it achievable makes it fun for your child. Always consider their abilities – if the activity is something that is overly difficult for them, they will not have a good time. If the craft or game is too challenging, it will not be fun. For example, we assisted with a party where the main activity was making fleece tie pillows. This is a great activity for a slumber party, it was age appropriate, and just what this little girl wanted. The problem that we noticed immediately was that she had trouble tying. She even had Velcro sneakers. A different, equally fun Slumber Party craft like decorating pillow cases, or decorating and playing with flashlights, would have let her avoid frustration and have more fun at her party. Not to worry, we were there to assist and her pillow turned out awesome!

3. Make your child the center of attention

This is my favorite thing! Nobody else at the party is as important as the birthday child. Plan everything around them, and be careful not to let anyone else take that spot light of focus. They should be first to pick, get the first slice of cake, be the center for any decision making. If they don’t like a game, move on. If they love a game, play a little longer. If your child has a great time, then the party is a success. We sometimes forget this, but isn’t your birthday child the point?

Smiling Birthday Girl

Meeting Moms in Atlanta


As many of you know, the Fortnow family moved last fall, and in January, I began to focus on bringing Have A Bashery to Atlanta.  Have A Bashery is a children’s party and event business, bringing activity based theme parties for children to private homes, rented locations, organizations, and businesses.

What do you do when you have an established business, solid products a good reputation and brand, but know no one? This has been my dilemma. Here are the 10 things I am doing to open my business in Atlanta:

1)      Networking – I am going to every networking meeting I can find, from women’s business groups to chambers, and introducing myself.

2)      Get involved in the community – volunteer, join committees, take leadership roles.

3)      Make friends – have lots of coffees and lunches out.

4)      Get referrals – everybody knows somebody.

5)      Talk to anyone who will listen – I have met many Girl Scout Leaders with their troops selling cookies, and talked to Moms in the locker room of my health club.

6)      Contact places that were good partners in Chicago – the JCC, country clubs, park districts, other kid businesses.

7)      Sponsorship – buy a booth at a show, make a donation, purchase ad space for a school fund raiser.

8)      Advertise – look for where Moms might go to find their party info, online sites and print.

9)      Reenergize my social media – start tweeting, connect on Linkedin and Facebook, Blog!

10)  Keep at it!

I’m looking forward to cracking this nut, and bringing awesome creative fun parties to Atlanta!

Looking forward to the party,

We are Expanding!

AtlantaYou might have heard: Have A Bashery is expanding! We are thrilled to announce our parties will soon be available in Atlanta! The same great theme parties we love giving in the Chicago area are moving south.

We have been offering amazing activity based theme parties for children and families for almost ten years in the Chicagoland area. We create those memorable events for birthdays, and special family celebrations of all kinds, at people’s homes or their desired location. We also provide these parties through our partner park districts, country clubs, and community organizations. It is our pleasure as well to provide more traditional event planning for family milestones such as Baptisms, Communions, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and Sweet Sixteen Parties.

If you are a parent who wishes to provide your child with that special memory, that kind of nostalgic party you had when you were young, gathering friends and having games, and crafts, celebrating within a super fun theme, we can help. If you are a parent, stressed for time and or energy, we can help. If you are a parent whose child wants an at-home party and having fifteen seven year olds in your home makes you nervous, we can help bring structure, supplies, and supervision to your party.

We have been thrilled to party with our wonderful families in Chicagoland, and owner Julie Ratowitz is picking up the helm and moving us forward all over Chicago and Illinois. Join us for our next blog to hear more about Julie!

Mitzvah Planning: A Few Of My Favorite Things

Here are a few of my favorite things when planning a Bar or Bat Mitzvah:

  • Taking the chosen theme through all of the party elements, like decor, prizes, place cards, and desserts.
  • Planning the schedule – Find the schedule that meets the caterer’s, entertainer’s and family’s needs; don’t assume these are the same!
  • Menu Planning – always looking for unusual food elements that fit the hosts and their guests: Cones of French fries? Individual lava cakes? Kid’
    s pasta bar?
  • Place card selection – so many unusual, theme related items can serve as place cards: shells, sun glasses, lollipops, and more.
  • Meeting and promoting vendors – There are some wonderful people who provide excellent, reliable services and maintain values consistent to mine. Not every vendor’s style fits every client so it’s often challenging getting the combination right.
  • Finding fun prizes and give-aways for the kids and the adult guests at the party – from “floor trash” to “activity take aways” to “big prizes”.
  • Day Of Management – The best bang for your buck! I know that my clients really benefit from having someone to manage the event. I manage the vendors and the schedule, schlep the challah, napkins, place cards, and prizes, avoid disasters and solve problems that the hosts never even know about. I have located lost buses of children, seated extra guests, and plunged toilets – to name a few of the tasks.


Everything You Need to Know About Electronic Party Invitations

By Frances Archer, guest blogger

Remember back when people used to question whether online party invitations were socially acceptable substitutions for paper invitations?

It’s no longer a question. Now nearly everyone is using online invitations for all types of events and the only question is which one you works best for your needs.Here’s a quick look at some of the options.

Evite to follow steps to creating a personalized party invitation.Many designs and themes available.If you just want to invite guests and track their responses, this may be the best choice for you.

My Punch Bowl More of a start to finish party planning site, electronic invitations included, all at one site.

Socializr Invites plus social networking. It used to be edgier than evite but that’s not necessarily true anymore. If you want to chat about your party planning with others, you’ll enjoy this site.

Zoji site for organizing events for a group that meets regularly. Think girls night out, skating parties, poker nights. Lots of social networking features including photos.Your entire group would have to join zoji to use the site effectively.

Crush3r Greatfeatures for getting together groups. Good for users who are very comfortable with social networking and don’t need a lot of prompting on how to use interactive websites.

Facebook You can also create an event on Facebook and send invitations out to your Facebook Friends. They’ll have the option of replying “Yes,” ‘No,” or “Maybe.”How well Facebook works for events depends on the type of event and the size.You also should know whether your guest regularly use Facebook to be sure they’ll see your invitation.

Paperless Post you are a traditionalist, you don’t have to give up the elegant looks and creative flair of custom paper stationery if you go the Paperless Post route. This site offer gorgeous choices. It’s free to join and you get 25 stamps free for joining, but you’ll need to buy additional stamps if you have a larger guest list. Paperless Post stamps cost less than regular U.S.P.S. stamps.You also be able to track your guests’ responses via Paperless Post.

Here is a handy list with the basic do’s and don’ts for using electronic party invitations:

How about you?Have you used email invitations? What’s your favorite site?


Guest blogger Frances Archer helps small business and organizations use social media. Find out more about her work at

RSVP – Why Bother?

There is some debate in the party community about how to deal with the RSVP. Some invitations give phone numbers, emails, dates to respond by, others ask for regrets only, or don’t specify at all. What is the proper etiquette?
The party host should specify the information they need to run a successful party. The invitee should reply as asked. It’s that simple.
if you are the person hosting the party, ask for exactly what you need. If you need an exact number 5 days in advance, then ask. Specify how to best contact you, and give a reply date. Do follow up if you don’t hear. Do not follow up/call/badger for more information or earlier information than you requested. A tie dye or a cooking party, for which materials are being ordered or created for exact numbers, require knowledge of who is coming. A magician party or a rental blow-up play house does not need an exact count. Be realistic, ask because you need the information. The reason I suggest a follow up call? Not only might you require the information, but sometimes that call can catch a lost or miss-mailed invitation.
If you are the recipient of an invitation with an RSVP, PLEASE RESPOND as requested. Do not apply your own philosophy to the situation. I had a Mom once tell me that she never responds as a policy, she believes in regrets only. Well, good for her, but its not what the host wanted or needed. It is not too much to ask to be considerate!
Finally, always include in your response if you will be late or need to leave early… again, it’s just polite!
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Best Themes for 2010

We are a week into 2010! Here is my theme forecast for this year:
  • Tie Dye – Always Strong, never fades.
  • Hunts of all kinds – I offer a Mystery Party, an Amazing Race Party, scavenger hunts, web hunts, hunts of all kinds, and a new Mall Hunt!
  • Fluff-N-Stuff – Who doesn’t LOVE making and cuddly new friend?
  • Around the World – Stay-cation? Travel without leaving your home.
  • Spa Retreat – A little pampering never hurts!

What is your prediction for 2010? Let us know your favorites –

My best Entertaining tips of 2009

With around 100 children’s parties and events under my belt in 2009, here are some of the best tips I’ve learned this year:
  • Don’t make your party too long – bored kids are dangerous!
  • Keep all nuts (the tree kind!) out of your party – You never know.
  • Don’t trust the weather, always have a back-up location planned.
  • Splurge on staff, its always best to have enough hands.
  • Have enough food – kids eat more as they get older, adjust!
  • Cupcakes are easy to serve and loved by all.
  • Remove or don’t use expensive furniture – they are kids, after all.
  • RSVP! What’s with not RSVPing?
  • Leave pets off the invite list.
  • If a child does not want to participate, don’t force it.
  • Defrost your ice cream cake ahead of cutting time!
  • Always stay calm and keep a smile on your face.
  • Make sure the birthday child has the BEST time.