As a seasoned children’s party giver (mug?) I’ve worked through a wide range of themes, games and food and lulled myself into a false sense of security about how to create a successful kids party.
Until this year, that is, when Elsa turned 13 and still wanted a party, much to my surprise. All my failsafe games and ideas suddenly seemed totally inappropriate – classic party themes are way too much for a bunch of 13 year olds, everything that was fun last year is uncool this and they’re certainly not going to sit down and play pass the parcel.
So how on earth do you keep a bunch of teenagers who are already obsessed with social media and screens of all varieties, amused and engaged at a party? Quite easily it turns out, thanks to a random (and totally accidental) genius purchase in Selfridges January sale.
As I stood by the door watching this group of teenagers looking awkward and totally unready to party, I panicked. What on earth could I do to get them moving? We should’ve sent them home straight after laser tagging. But as I looked at them pouring over their phones (probably WhatsApping each other!) I had a Eureka moment, ran upstairs and retrieved (from the random-emergency-this’ll-make-a-great-present-for-someone-one-day bag) two packs of photo booth props.
I ripped the packets open, scattered the contents and within minutes all that teenage awkwardness had evaporated.
What better way to manage all those small glowing phone screens than to incorporate them into the fun. I can’t claim that it was a carefully planned idea but it’s amazing what you can come up with under pressure! Thank goodness I’d had the foresight to spend 50p (25p each) on these two little packets of joy and then remember that I had them!
The particular props I bought; ‘Groovy photo props’ and ‘English Gent photo props’ are, at the time of writing still available here but there are also loads of alternatives widely available, not for 25p of course, but still worth every penny of the £3 or £4 they usually cost.
An even better and more personal idea than these small packets would be to make your own photo booth props using magazine pictures glued onto cardboard and taped to skewers or other little sticks. This way your party guests could become famous actors, film characters, pop stars or (heaven help us) TV celebrities.
So with all this larking about our teenagers became kids again and from that moment the party went with a bang. They were up for playing games (more on those later) and blowing out candles – they even sang Happy Birthday with gusto and I stood back and watched Elsa have a fantastic birthday.
Of course none of this would’ve happened were it not for the fact that Elsa has a great set of friends who were ready to let their hair down, have a good time and help make Elsa’s day totally special. Lucky girl.