Photo by Michael Matthews
You did it! You raised a tiny human for 12 whole months, so now it’s time to celebrate. The one caveat? There’s a pandemic still raging, so the party may look a little different than you imagined. We talked with Andrea St. Onge, the creator of Literati Party, about all the things you should keep in mind while planning your little one’s fête. You can still make the celebration magical, no matter if it’s socially distanced or virtual.
PLAYGROUND: First, tell us about Literati Party.
Andrea: We’re a children’s birthday party planner and online shop featuring quality party supplies and books. Literati Party was created by combining my experience and passion for party planning with my love for books. I believe in celebrating life’s most important chapters and think books make great gifts. My services also include custom party boxes shipped nationwide, local balloon décor installation and complete birthday party planning and styling. For custom events, I always create one-of-a-kind party designs that infuse my clients’ ideas with my creativity. I personally curate the party items and handcraft most of the balloon designs and detailed décor.
PLAYGROUND: Why do books make for such a great party theme, and what are some easy ways to incorporate them into the décor?
Andrea: Children’s picture book parties are my favorite kind of party! There is so much you can use from what is on the pages, and sometimes you can even use the pages themselves! Starting with the invitation, set the tone by incorporating the characters in the design, even abstractly. From there, mimic the book’s setting in your venue. For example, if you’re inspired by a barnyard tale, have the event at a farm, or if it’s a mermaid storyline, make it a pool party. The illustrations can inspire the color scheme. Create a backdrop behind the dessert table or try using the actual pages as décor by framing them or making them into a banner. Other fun options include having the guests or birthday child dress in character, serving any food or drink mentioned in the story and giving the book as a party favor.
PLAYGROUND: How has COVID-19 changed party planning dynamics?
Andrea: Overall, there is definitely more of a reliance on virtual communication throughout the planning process, from Zoom meetings to phone calls and emails. Plus, you may only see pictures of the party space prior to the setup. There are extra precautions for safety as well, like wearing gloves and masks when assembling items, setting up or breaking down. Plus, there’s a more directed attempt to making everything individualized for the party, especially when it comes to food: cupcakes vs. cake, wrapped treats, boxed lunch items, and even the activities and favors in order to be considerate to all invited.
PLAYGROUND: It also must be a challenge to figure out how to celebrate — virtually or socially distanced. What are some factors you should keep in mind when deciding between the two?
Andrea: I think it all boils down to what you and your family are most comfortable with. However, it’s important to realize that whichever you chose, there is still going to be planning, coordination and cost involved to make it a true party.
The benefits of a virtual soirée are that you don’t have to worry about the health and safety of guests, friends and family from all over the country can attend, and best of all, no major cleanup or expense. On the other hand, it requires planning in advance, and tech issues could hinder the party from going according to plan. You also need to manage the flow of the event and prevent others from talking over one another.
That’s why some people, especially those experiencing Zoom fatigue, may opt for a socially distanced party instead. This route allows you the freedom to go all-out in terms of décor and food, and there are so many more activity and entertainment options, especially if it’s outdoors. It’s just important to keep in mind the safety of everyone by paying special attention to the handling of items like food and encouraging mask-wearing if you deem it necessary.
Bookmark Andrea’s Party Ideas!
- Looking for something beyond the pages of your child’s favorite book? Check out these clever themes that will wow your guests — no matter if they’re attending virtually or staying 6 feet apart.
- Camping Party: Pitch a tent in the backyard for a day or night filled with outdoorsy activities that can include everything from trivia to crafts to a scavenger hunt. Give campers personalized s’mores kits or badges for completing different activities.
- DIY Party: Whether it’s an arts and crafts, painting or baking project, a DIY theme is a fun way to get together virtually or in-person. Come up with the activity yourself or use YouTube for inspiration — just make sure everyone has the right materials to get the creative juices flowing!
- Scavenger Hunt: While it may take some coordination, plan an epic outdoor quest. Create clues, hide objects, and send guests on a journey they won’t forget.
- Outdoor Movie Night: Rent or set up a projector and screen (a white sheet works too!) to show your fave flick. Theme the event around the film or do a “drive-in“ and have everyone seated in their own cardboard car that you can craft ahead of time.
- Epic Water Gun Fight: Build an outdoor arena with many obstacles to hide behind and assign a mission to complete. Provide water guns or have guests bring their own. Pro tip: give attendees a white shirt and dye the water so you can tell who got hit!
- Game Night: Everyone loves some friendly competition, even if it’s digital. Games like Pictionary, Scattergories, Heads Up, Bingo and Minute to Win It all translate well virtually. You can also download apps with built-in games. Personalize the celebration by delivering Game Night boxes ahead of time with game supplies, snacks, sweets or even something goofy for attendees to wear.
- Slumber Party: Now that it feels like we’re all living in PJs, show them off by hosting a virtual sleepover. Send goodie bags filled with popcorn and candy, then have everyone tune into Netflix Party, where you can stream the same show or movie while messaging in the chat box.
- Special Entertainer: Feel like seeing a little magic? How about petting some zoo animals? Want to meet your favorite Disney character? A hired entertainer can be your guest of honor, whether they’re performing for guests on a screen or at a distance.
Want to learn more about Literati Party? Check out their website literatiparty.com.