How to Plan a Child’s Birthday Party

OK, you have now successfully planned a party for adults, so you have the experience and battle scars to plan your first children’s party. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, though if you have ever participated in kiddie birthday parties before, you know that there is no such thing as rest: you have to be on and alert from the time the first child arrives to the second the last one heads out the door.

OK, let’s get started:

Pick a Theme

You can stage any old birthday party, but having a theme tends to make the kids more engaged. It can be anything under the sun, though you should definitely involve the main child in the decision making process.

How Many Guests?

Logistics are key here: how many adults will there be to supervise? Don’t allow so many children that you can’t adequately keep a handle on things. Have at least one adult for every five children.


If you are doing an activity like bowling or going to a movie, you might want to book some form of entertainment. Decide on what kind as soon as possible and book immediately; that way, if there is a cancellation, you can find someone else.

Plan the Day

It can be tough to have little children following a schedule, but do your best to plan the day so that everything happens in its proper order at an appropriate time. For example, you don’t want to be opening presents right when the clowns arrive.

Make Sure Everything is Ordered

Have you ordered the food? What about the party favors? Napkins, hats, and other things for the table? Don’t forget the cleaning supplies!

Children’s birthday parties can be pretty trying, but they can also be great fun and very memorable moments in the life of your child. If you have everything well planned in advance, chances are it will come off without a hitch.

How to Be a Good Party Host(ess)

Party planning is a major part of the challenge, so the actual party is smooth sailing, right? Well, it can be, if you keep a few things in mind.

Here are some tips that can help ensure that your party is the success you’re hoping for:

  • Keep a level head. It’s impossible to plan for every possibility at a party; let’s face it, spontaneity is fun! Also, if you’re serving alcohol, there is always the possibility that someone might start to enjoy themselves a bit too much. If something like that does happen, keep cool! Don’t get mad. Anger does not help get things back on track.  Also, if you are too anxious, that doesn’t set the right mood either. Try to do something relaxing before everyone arrives and hold on to those vibes for the rest of the evening.
  • Stick to your strengths. Do you have a dish that tends to go over well with people and you are very comfortable making? Choose that over one that you have never tried before. If you want to experiment with your cooking or designing skills, choose a small scale affair first, not the party where you’ve invited your boss and mother-in-law.
  • Choose the right music. You don’t want to bore your guests with Muzak and you don’t want to blow out their ears and their conversations with heavy metal. Try and find music that falls somewhere in the middle ground and reflects the tastes of most of your guests.
  • Mingle! Remember, you are the host(ess): people are here to see you, too! Hanging around in the kitchen or spending a great deal of time with one set of friends comes across as being rude. Get out there, talk, and make sure everyone is enjoying themselves.
  • Be flexible. It’s great to plan things out, but the timing does not always jibe. Don’t interrupt a rewarding group conversation because it says in your schedule that it’s time for appetizers. Play it by ear and imagine that you are among the guests; when does it seem right to you for the next stage in your evening to occur?

Dealing With the Aftermath of a Party

I recently discussed party planning and how some people find it quite difficult. Well, congrats! I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you have had your first party planning experience and I hope it was terrific.

Another less than great aspect of parties is dealing with the mess afterward. Yes, it’s a necessary evil that no one likes, but we all have to do it, so why not do it the right way? Here are some tips on how cleaning up after your party can be less of a soul-sucking ordeal:

Deal With Those Spills and Stains
Before you do anything else, tackle the various “oopsies” that occurred during the evening. I’m guessing you already attacked the ones you noticed during the event, but there are always ones left over that we don’t see until the morning. The longer these sit, the worse they are to deal with, so get cracking.

Collect the Trash
OK, you can now advance to garbage patrol. Pick up all of the cups, napkins, bottles, food leftovers…everything that is not supposed to be there. Recycle anything you can.

Dishwasher Time!
If you didn’t use paper plates (and good for you if you didn’t), start putting your cups, glasses, and plates in the dishwasher. Depending on how big your party was, this might take several loads.

Dust and Vacuum
Lots of guests means lots of traffic, so dust was no doubt stirred up or tracked in from outside. Dust all of your surfaces and vacuum the rugs. If you had to soak some areas of a rug to remove a stain, hold off on this step until the area has dried sufficiently.

See? It’s actually not all that difficult, especially compared to planning a party. However, it’s always good to have a system as that makes the task more efficient and less time-consuming.

Quotes on Party Planning

How is the party planning coming along? As a follow-up to my last post, here are some fun quotations about parties and party planning that will help to make you smile while making all of those preparations:

“I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade…and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.”
― Ron White

“I’m gonna party, see how intoxicated I can get and how many rules I can flaunt. That’s my motto.”
― H.G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

“Telling an introvert to go to a party is like telling a saint to go to Hell.”
― Criss Jami, Killosophy

“Partying means drinking. It also means playing records by Lou Reed and Chicago, which I thought was a city but is also a band it turns out.”
― Ron Currie Jr., Everything Matters!

“It is easy to decide on what is wrong to wear to a party, such as deep-sea diving equipment or a pair of large pillows, but deciding what is right is much trickier.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Slippery Slope

“I always think the opening moments of a party are the hardest, before everyone has had enough to drink.”
― Stephanie Clifford, Everybody Rise

“Nudist Colony Halloween parties are especially scary. They give the word “moon” a new cruel meaning.”
― Ray Palla, H: Infidels of Oil

“The easiest way to be the prettiest girl at a party is to rig the guest list.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo

“Friends will always be there for the party. REAL friends will be there after the party…”
― Bray Love

“I can party like a twenty-four-year-old but it takes me almost a week to recover.”
― Amy Poehler

“When you’re the most happening person at the party, it’s time to leave”
― Kelly Cutrone, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You

How to Overcome Your Fear of Party Planning

Everyone loves parties. Well, not everyone. Planning them can be quite stressful because you want to do well by your guests and have everything moving smoothly and organically.

Do you get stressed out when asked to organize a party? It used to be a major source of anxiety for me, but these tips helped me to calm down and actually look forward to this social role:

  • Plan, plan, and plan. Like any situation, the more you know going in, the smoother everything will run. How many people will be coming? Is there a theme? Do you need to send out invitations? What kind of drinks do you plan on serving? What kind of food do you need? Do any of the guests have food allergies that you need to think ahead about? If you are not having the party at your place, where will it be held and how soon do you need to book it? Thoroughly plan out as many details as possible and you will not be unpleasantly surprised.
  • Start small. Very few of us are thrust into the role of party planner. We often feel that it is something we should do in order to reciprocate for all of the bashes that our friends have thrown for us. Just as with anything in life, start small. Organize a party for two or three friends and judge how that goes. If something should go wrong, your friends will take it all in stride and you won’t potentially be ruining the evening for dozens of people.
  • Don’t be afraid to enlist help. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, ask for help. There is no reason to feel bad about this. In fact, if you are too busy because of other commitments, getting assistance will take some of the burden off of you. The end result will be a successful bash and that will make you feel more confident in your party planning abilities moving forward.

Things to Think About When It Comes to Music Festivals

Have you been to many music festivals? They can be an absolutely amazing way to experience bands! They are also wonderful for meeting new people and bonding with them over a shared love of music.

Even though I have been to several music festivals in my lifetime, there are things I do not always keep in mind. So, I decided to draw up a list and the share them. Have any suggestions that I forgot? Let me know in the comments section!

  • Wear comfortable shoes. You will be standing for a very long time, so think about your feet! Also, choose shoes that will protect them from crowds (i.e. you are going to get your feet stepped on a number of times, so don’t wear flip-flops).
  • Moderate your “refreshment” intake. And by refreshment, I mean drugs and alcohol. It’s going to be a very long day/days and, while it doesn’t hurt to loosen up and have fun, don’t get so wasted that you can hardly stand up or appreciate what is going on around you. Quick rule of thumb: if you can’t carry on a basic, coherent conversation, you’re overdoing it. Being this wasted also makes you more vulnerable to accidents and abuse.
  • Put away your phone during the show. It never ceases to amaze me how many people watch the concert through their phone…even during shows that are being professionally recorded for live or rebroadcast on television! Yes, a memento is nice, but you can get that by recording the concert when it airs. In the meantime, live in the moment and enjoy the experience! That said, you still want your phone working during the rest of the time you are there, so do bring along a portable phone charger.
  • Consider a money belt. Admittedly, these are not a great look, but the more people there are, the more pickpockets there are.
  • Plan ahead with your friends. What happens if you get separated, your phone dies, or you somehow lose contact another way? Arrange to meet ahead of time at a certain, easily accessible and nearby spot so that you don’t waste prime concert viewing time wandering around for hours and just missing each other.

Happy 40th Birthday to the Elora Gorge Cinema!

When most people think of a night out at the movies, it usually means going to one of the many multiplexes found coast to coast in Canada (about 75% of which are now owned by Cineplex Odeon).

However, it wasn’t always this way. Theatres used to be large, single screen affairs in big cities and long, narrow structures found on the main street of small towns. In addition to first run houses, there were also repertory theatres. Smaller, more intimate affairs, rep houses ran movies that had already finished their time in first run theatres, as well as movies that were often quite old, but ripe for revival.

Rep houses were a pretty common sight in big cities and some small towns, but have grown increasingly scarce in recent years, particularly with the switch over to digital, an expense that not all independent cinemas could manage.

One that has managed to weather all of the changes that have occurred in the industry during the past four decades is the Elora Gorge Cinema. Located in the lovely small town of the same name and now in its 40th year, the Gorge served as both a small town cinema and a rep house, running new-ish movies alongside classics from other eras.

Nowadays, the Gorge rarely runs older movies (though Roman Polanski’s CHINATOWN from 1974 is on the schedule this month), offering instead films that have run their course at Cineplex as well as indie and foreign movies that would not be booked at multiplexes. It’s a nice mix that serves both cinephiles and casual moviegoers.

Admission price is comparable to the chain theatres, though a bit less if you buy a membership. The theatre itself is nice and cozy, with a good quality digital projector and sound system. The stone walls provide a different kind of ambiance from your generic corporate theatre and are very appropriate given the close proximity of the gorge. It’s a great place to see a movie and another reason to stop by this lovely town when in the area.

2017 Ribfest Guelph

2017 Ribfest in Guelph

Every year, Ribfest travels nationally to spread the joy of BBQ ribs, flavourful snacks, and live entertainment. Ribfest will be returning to Guelph this August, and it’s time for the locals to get excited.

Ribfest will be in Guelph at the following dates and times:

  • August 24, 2017, 5PM – 11PM
  • August 25, 2017, 12PM – 11PM
  • August 26, 2017, 11AM – 11PM
  • August 27, 2017, 11AM – 8PM

Events will be held at Riverside Park (709 Woolwich St.), and this year, you can expect the same great vendors and sponsors like Sleeman brewery.

Although ribs are the focus, you should still consider attending if you’re vegetarian or are looking for somewhere to take the family. Alternate options include Billy Bob’s Bloomin’ Onions, Ontario Corn Roasters, Tornado Potato, and more.

Aside from food, there will be vendors who will attend and run contests or sell their products – great for family fun! A few non-food vendors that may attend include Bell Canada, Bath Fitters, and Oktoberfest.

Have kids? Bring them and keep them entertained by getting their faces painted, enhance their reading by visiting the Guelph Library Bookmobile, or keep them active by stopping by the Guelph Bulldog Fitness booth.

Young adults? Enjoy live bands and the fresh beverage booths.

Love cars? There will be a classic car show on the Saturday and Sunday from 9AM to 3:30PM. You can enter the show with only $5 per car, with approximately over 300 vehicles attending. There will be a trophy, and a 50/50 draw winner that will be announced on both days on the main stage.

Full vendor and event confirmations will be announced weeks prior to the events. Stay tuned by following them on Facebook at Ribfest Guelph, and Twitter at @RibfestGuelph.

For more information, please visit: