Oh the Scavenger Hunts I Love

IMG_5507A game of searching for something you want.
Or maybe it’s the journey that counts…


I love Scavenger hunts! Scavenger hunts can be Indoors or outdoors, Individual or team, require set up or not, materials and tools, or not, simple or complex. Themes, location, ages, numbers and goals all play a role in choosing the scavenger hunt of your dreams. There are so many kinds, but here are 4 of my favorite scavenger hunts for parties:


  1. Clue to Clue – in this kind of scavenger hunt individuals or small teams are sent from clue to clue with rhymes or puzzles, each clue sending the players on a journey to the next clue and eventually the final prize. I especially like to sprinkle in puzzles that reveal where to go next when solved, and hint at the story of the mystery itself. The participants can be almost any age, but must be readers or have a reader with them. The beauty of this style of hunt is that clues can be made simple for younger kids and really complex and challenging for older kids and adults. This kind of hunt is the foundation for our Mystery Party, a super challenging hunt to write and plant, but really tremendous fun.


  1. Web Hunt – This crazy fun hunt works well for ages 4 – 8, especially when you have a small prize to give. Tie a ribbon to the prize and have the participants follow the ribbon all around a room or area, under and over furniture and through other ribbons to find the goodie. Imagine a room filled with a web of ribbons, all leading to little animals or candies and all of the party kids following their ribbons through the web to find them. I call this hunt a “Spiderman Web Hunt” at a Super Hero Party or a “French Poodle Hunt” in an Around the World party. I just used this at a Harry Potter Party and called it the “Care of Magical Creatures” Class!


  1. Information Hunt and Photo Hunt – These two kinds of hunts can be each be on their own, but I like them together. Imagine sending small groups (3 to 6 people) with a list of information needed and pictures they must take to prove they found something. I have used this hunt as a fun challenge to help the players get to know a school or church. This kind of hunt can also be very competitive. I have a party called Extreme Home Survivor which is mostly a challenge photo hunt, and very recently, I ran hunts that were heavier on the information side for a New Student Event and a Confirmation Group hunt.


  1. Egg Hunt – This is the best kind of hunt for the littlest players, where they search for prizes hidden in an indoor area like a family room, or outside, like the back yard. I use this hunt to create a little running around time and its always filled with excitement and delight. My favorite way to introduce this kind of hunt is to tie it to a story where they have to go searching for something in the story. I hide Frogs or Pumpkins for my Royal Party and Shells for the Hawaiian Hula Luau.


There are certainly more kinds of hunts out there and I recommend you give them a whirl whenever possible! I would love to hear about your favorite hunts, so please comment below and share your fun ideas!

Delegate your way to Fun!

One of the three themes that MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) International has for the 2015/16 year is to “Embrace Rest”. I love this! My first thought was that it meant we should all go rest and relax in a hammock on a beach in the Caribbean. Wonderful vision, not always possible. What I believe “Embracing Rest” means more practically is delegating what exhausts you and enjoying the activities that energize you.

I love parties, it’s what I do, and I want you to celebrate. I truly believe that a festive gathering is one of the best, most joyful experiences to have. But if celebrating is only an exhausting stressful experience for you, then you are not going to do it. I have met many people who tell me that they would love to have a party for their kids, but it’s just too much work. Or their house isn’t clean, or they can’t bake a cake, or managing fifteen seven year olds is too overwhelming. These complaints can be very real. So what if you could get rid of the things that hold you back so you could get to the fun part. What if you could let someone else who is really good at that thing that drains you take care of it?
If you could delegate the things that exhaust you and keep the things that bring you joy, fulfill you, and energize you, wouldn’t that be perfect? Would you say YES to celebrating if it was fun, brought joy to your family and friends, and was filled with things you love? I gift
you a plan for getting rid of the exhaustion so you can embrace the best!

First, figure out what’s sucking the life out of you:

  1. Determine the things you hate to do.
  2. Figure out what is stopping you from moving forward.
  3. Ask if these things are essential.

Next ask, “Can these things be delegated, given away, or hired out?” If yes, then get rid of them and do the things you want to do! Find a baby sitter, Mother, friend, house keeper, or a professional. If cooking makes you stressed, then bring it in. If planning crafts makes you cringe, then bring someone in. Don’t do what you don’t want to do, do the stuff you love.

Finally, and most importantly, focus on the fun:

  1. What brings you joy?
  2. What do you find fun to do?
  3. What leaves you happy, proud?
  4. When you picture the after party time, are you glad you did it?

If you love making a pretty table, then do that. If being the party photographer brings you pleasure, then be it. Find the joy in your celebration. This is what Embracing Rest means to me – doing the fun stuff, having the celebration, and getting rid of the things that drain you.

Moms can have fun too!Need help with your party? We bring the games and crafts and run the party. Just ask if you need help to enjoy your child’s special day. I think this is an essential idea when preparing for your child’s next birthday. Do what you love, delegate the rest!

Birthdays at the Holidays – The challenge of sharing your special day

 My friend Nicole has her birthday on Thanksgiving. Why must she share  her birthday with a turkey? How can we make our kids’ birthdays special,  or even remembered, when the rest of the world enjoys a different special  moment. Jonathan has it even worse with a December 25th birthday. He  only gets one present a year while his big sister has two days of receiving  gifts. Jonathan and Nicole can’t even have a friend filled birthday party  because their friends have to travel or have family obligations during the  holidays. It’s not fair!

Not only is it hard on the birthday boy or girl, it’s hard on the family. As a  busy parent who knows the importance of celebrating my wonderful child  on his or her special day, I know it can be hard to focus and give the  attention to the planning needed during this crazy busy season. Nicole  claims she didn’t have an actual birthday party until she was 10!

Sure, when the kids are young, it might not be such a big deal to share a birthday when there is so much joy, family, and celebration. They might actually get multiple parties! My Grandfather who shared his birthday with the 4th of July had us all convinced the fireworks were just for him. The notoriety of being a New Year Baby or having a spooky Halloween birthday can actually be fun…. but only for a while.

Here are three things you can do for those people you love, big and small, who share birthdays with major holidays.

  1. Make sure to create a special birthday tradition that is just for them. Make chocolate chip happy face pancakes on the morning of her birthday, special even when there is Christmas dinner that night. How about a special shopping trip for a birthday gift, or a visit to the aquarium. In my family every person gets to pick their dinner restaurant on the night (or close to the night) of their birthday, even when it’s holiday vacation and we are traveling out of town.
  2. Keep the birthday distinct and allow time and space for other themes. Halloween themed birthday parties every year will get stale. Make room for Super Heroes, and Harry Potter, Cooking, and American Doll themed parties.
  3.  Move the party to a new date to avoid direct conflicts and vacations so that friends can attend and celebrate. Missing friends is the biggest hardship I hear from Holiday Birthday kids. The party doesn’t have to be on the actual birthday, so move it for maximum celebration! Mom and Dad birthday planners will appreciate this too.

Let me know how you handle the holiday birthdays in your life. What are your frustrations and solutions? Reply here or on Facebook!

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween

Halloween is a great reason to celebrate, and a wonderful spirited “kickoff celebration” to the entire American holiday season.  Halloween is so much fun with costumes, candy, and parties… I have lots of friends, clients, and acquaintances that can’t get enough of this crazy spooky festival!

How about you? Are you a decorator and put lights, cobwebs, blow-ups, and grave stones all over your yard? Maybe you just love to carve or decorate a pumpkin or two. Do you spend the year concocting scary treats and candy goodies to bring to school or pass out to neighborhood kids? Are you the crafty parent who loves creating amazing costumes from fabric and clothes hangers or maybe you scour the web with your kids, or just take them to Party City? How much fun is this holiday!

There are lots of ways to celebrate, with kids and with adult friends. My tradition has been to help my kids create their own costume ideas (trips to several stores and makeup support), carve a few Jack-o-lanterns to illuminate, and cook up a storm. My kids love my homemade green mac-and-cheese, and my adult friends have always loved my stew baked in a pumpkin and my famous hot mulled wine. We lived on one of these Halloween crazy streets for years in Chicago, and after the 14 huge bags of candy was gone, adults and kids would come inside for candy trading and feasting. My kids are bigger now, and we live on a quieter street, but we are still outside for the block party with a cauldron of green mac-and-cheese and my coffee taurine filled with the hot mulled wine… traditions I can’t resist!

What are your traditions? What’s fun for you? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook!

Keep the celebrations coming, and be sure to get a running start and a big leap for this “gateway” holiday for the season!

Curse You, Pinterest!

The Parties You Can Do Are The Parties You Should Do

Have you tried to plan a party with Pinterest? They make it look so easy, don’t they? Your child imagines a perfect theme, or you imagine a perfect party for your child, and you head over to one of the best places for beautiful ideas: Pinterest. A few clicks, and you see your whole vision is possible. Not only possible, amazing, outstanding, even fantastic! All of your paper goods match and are enhanced, the theme is present in every detail of the delicious food selections, center pieces coordinate, perfect colors in perfect lighting, perfect fonts, and best of all, the over reaching coordination is breathtaking. Each picture is better than the next and pretty soon your head is swimming with possibilities. All you need? A color printer, raffia string the shade of turquoise blue, a Wilton tip, and a hot glue gun. That’s all.

Yup, they make it look so easy. But we know it’s not. It’s overwhelming, even intimidating.  And an hour of clicking around later, you need a nap. At this point in the process, you are thinking of ways to get out of it.

Pinterest ruined you. The fantasy of “Martha” ruined the possibility of fun. If it wasn’t so exhausting, you might even be angry!

Well, it’s time to take back the fun, take back the party. Look for your ideas on line, but don’t let yourself get sucked into the vortex of perfection and appearances. Those Pinterest pictures are for someone who had much more time on their hands and a much better glue gun. Don’t let them scare you away, that stuff may be nice dressing, but the main course is what you can actually put on the plate without killing yourself. Don’t let them scare you off, forcing you to give up on the party, you can do this.

Stay away from the perfectly coiffed table setting and don’t be lured by the overlyIMG_1413 themed recipes. If it requires you to quit your day job and risk personal injury, it’s not necessary. Focus on your child, focus on the activity, and focus on the fun. If you need help with any of these, just give us a call, we are always available for a free party strategy session, and we promise to be less scary and way more fun than Pinterest.

Best Back to School Party: The Sleep Under! 

IMG_1143Everyone loves a Pajama Party – there is something wonderful about bringing the casual cozy fun of the night into a celebration. Especially at this time of year, when the sun is still up late, but you know the days will only get shorter. Whether your children are celebrating a birthday or just having a back to school get together with old friends or new, the end of summer and beginning of the school year Sleep Under is awesome.

Now I like a Sleep Over Party, don’t get me wrong, but the Sleep Under is so much better. You can put all of your party fun into a more contained time period, plan all of the fun games, crafts, and activities, and even a movie with blankets and pillows, but leave out the boring late night stuff like sleeping or maybe not sleeping. Skip the home sickness, the late night tummy aches, the giggling insomniacs – let them all go home and spend the night in their own beds. Keep the fun awake time party, and skip the rest!

Here is how to make a truly awesome Sleep Under: First invite everyone to come in their pajamas, you can even have a PJ fashion show as everyone arrives. Dinner is a great way to start, but keep it simple and choose your child’s favorite eats. Next, have games and crafts and more games. Finish the night with a movie on a huge pile of blankets and pillows.

Here is my favorite Sleep Under formula:

  1. Everyone arrives in PJs
  2. Sleep over Mad Libs
  3. Dinner (pizza, nuggets, or another finger food for ease)
  4. Scavenger hunt (to find craft materials for pillow making, pillow case decorating, or slipper making)
  5. Make fleece tie pillows
  6. Play games like charades or improv games, egg and spoon or other relays, or Minute to Win It games
  7. Decorate Flashlights
  8. Play story games with the flashlights
  9. Have an ice cream sundae bar – set out ice cream and toppings and let everyone make their own creation
  10. Then let them snuggle with blankets and pillows in front a fun movie (never ever scary)
  11. Parent pickup!

Make sure all of the games and crafts are at the right age and ability level for the kids invited. Also make a note of any allergies you need to be sensitive to when selecting your food and snack choices. Pick a light fun movie, nothing scary! Your child will tell you what activities they want and what games they love, so be sure to ask. Have fun and then send them home!

A Sleep Under is a great party theme for any reason at all. It’s a great at-home, simple, even low cost gathering you can do, but if you need help, you can always call Have A Bashery!

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!

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,

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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