As many of us complete our first full month of social distancing, the kids are still running around the house. School has been canceled for the remainder of the school year too. So, if you’re running out of ways to keep your children occupied, we hear you.
To keep things fun, we spoke with Maria Alves of NoVA-based Confetti Teepees on how to celebrate birthdays, host family sleepovers and keep friends connected in these unique times.
She’s a party-planning pro and brings smiles across the region with her local business, a slumber party rental company that prides itself on creating whimsical, themed and camping-style sleepovers for kids across NoVA. And with kids of her own, she shared plenty of great tips on how to make the most of your increased time at home. Highlights from our conversation are below.
In these odd times of COVID-19, sleepovers with friends are currently on hold, but lots of siblings are spending more time together. When it comes to planning something fun or creative for your kids, what are some essential products parents should have?
Unfortunately, due to this pandemic situation, we had to reschedule our parties and many were canceled. But of course, the fun won’t stop here, we have lots of ideas that we would like to share with parents to keep the fun going. When it comes to planning something fun and creative, these are my must-haves: Painting materials to create and get crafty, cooking accessories to make delicious recipes, scrapbooking items to collect all the good memories being made, plenty of blankets for blanket forts, fairy lights and Christmas lights to make the house fairy-like (and even more playful!), cardboard to repurpose and make DIY projects, a teepee tent for quiet time and nook reading, chat apps for virtual play dates, as well as games and coloring activities to do during virtual calls with family and friends.
Say a child is celebrating a birthday, how would you recommend hosting a family birthday party (and sleepover, of course) during the pandemic?
Start by choosing a theme and ordering a party in a box. Many companies deliver unique party-ware, balloons and the decor you need to make this party special. Confetti Teepees offers DIY packages for small sleepovers where we deliver the equipment, and the customers set it up and decorate, and next day we collect everything. But on top of that, celebrate at home with family, blow out the candles and dance like it was the best day ever. Call your friends and family to participate on video and organize a virtual party. You can organize a virtual sleepover on a chat conference app with friends where kids can have a sleepover at their own place, play virtual games and do their favorite things together. Host a tea party with all of your child’s dolls or toys, you can even make it into a garden party, afternoon tea or a teddy bear picnic and do some baking together. Decorate the house and surprise the birthday girl/boy as they wake up on their birthday! Ask everyone in your family to make signs, posters, drawings and hang them up. Hang twinkle lights in the living room, turn on the fireplace and build a blanket fort for an epic sleepover (and you could also order a few teepees from Amazon too). Also, prepare crafts activities to keep the kids busy, and cook their favorite meal.
If a family is trying to plan a sleepover outside to switch things up, what would you suggest for getting set up with your kids? What types of products are essential, and how can kids have the most fun?
A backyard camp out makes a terrific sleepover or birthday celebration! You can easily set up a sleepover tent by tying a rope between two trees and hanging a large tarp, blanket or canvas over top. Just lay a waterproof tarp underneath, then make it comfy by layering lots of blankets and cushy pillows on top. You can complete the setting by stringing lights inside the tent and over nearby bushes. The more lighting you have, the more magical the night will appear to your children.
Also, make it cozy inside with an air mattress, yoga mats or multiple layers of sleeping bags and cushy comforters.
To create an epic backyard sleepover, you will need these essentials:
- Tent, or another alternative like a trampoline, and backyard chairs
- Sleeping bags, blankets, rugs and pillows
- String lights and flashlights. They will illuminate your backyard with a soft glow, and help everyone feel more comfortable spending the night outdoors.
- Projector screen, for viewing outdoor movies or videos. (Confetti Teepees also rents an inflatable movie screen with seating for fun-filled movie nights!)
- Bug repellent and/or sunscreen, due to warmer weather and curious insects.
- Books to read aloud with kids, since reading books under the stars can be a memorable experience.
- And after running and playing around, you will want wind-down games like playing cards and more.
- Here’s a selection of games my family likes: Creating an outdoor gym with obstacles and creating our own “Olympic games.” Going for a nature scavenger hunt and playing classic games like Simon Says, tag and Red Light/Green Light.
As a bonus tip, choose themes like movie night or a s’mores party to get the kids even more involved. My husband also loves to tell stories, so when we are sitting outside and enjoying our time together, there are always some stories to share around the fire pit. I also love looking at the glow of lights in the backyard, as it is just so perfect for nighttime games and activities.
How are your own kids handling quarantine and social distancing during this time?
They have ups and downs, but they get happier at end of the day when they are allowed to use the devices and have free play. We have more family playtime during the weekend and the children get to create and explore something new. At the moment my older daughter is writing a blog about photography and learning to sew face masks, and she is very excited with the new things she manages to accomplish each day. After dinner we all watch a movie together before the kids go to sleep. Once in a while we do a family sleepover in the game room (this is when they are allowed to sleep in late), and I’m sure I will cherish all these moments.
Are there any additional tips you have for parents and families to make this time even more fun?
Build blanket forts to create a quiet corner. It’s amazing how kids can get so creative when building forts. After my son had a disagreement with his sisters, he decided to build his own fort under the table, and he got so creative (plus, he had his alone time). My teenage daughter is doing a 14-day exercise challenge with her dad every morning and they seem to enjoy the time together. We have also decided to take part in some of the social media challenge videos, which was something my daughter has been asking to do since last year, just to make memories that we can save, and we end up not posting the videos on social media because we get too silly. My last suggestion for parents is to take each day as a blessing and opportunity to make memories as a family. Don’t put too much pressure on home schooling and enjoy every moment given with children.
Lastly, how are you all at Confetti Teepees using this time as a company?
We are taking this opportunity to create new party packages, update our website, increase our connections and take advantage of so many courses available online that will enhance my experience in the party-planning area. Also, we are now selling gift cards for parents or family members wishing to send a special gift to their loved ones, this way they can support small businesses like ours.
Apart from children sleepovers, we also host adult slumber parties. I’m excited to explore new adult parties, such as bachelorette slumber parties, baby showers, graduation nights or anything to do with adults themes, in the future. We received many inquiries for adults and we even had a few moms that call us back to set up a sleepover for adult friends! Summer is right around the corner and that’s when we get lots of play dates bookings and outdoor picnics, so we are excited and ready!
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