Emmy and her husband Andrew welcomed a healthy baby boy, Osmanthus Willem, into their lives on November 13th. Emmy would like to thank everyone for their kindness and support during this exciting time. She will resume storytelling during the holidays, so please use her email address to book a program.
On this magical day, I thought I'd treat you to my top five tips on how to throw the best party ever!
Why listen to me? Nearly every week I plan and implement birthday and holiday parties for families. I've seen nearly every party theme and I often experience the perfect party scenario! This fun expertise has given me insight on which parties will work out fabulously and which parties will end up a stressful disaster. Here is my list of musts:
1.) KEEP IT SIMPLE.
I can't emphasize this enough. Children don't need bounce houses, pony rides or great-grandma Ann's famous 18 layer birthday cake. What they do need is for their family and friends to relax and have fun. The best way to have a stress free party is to KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Snacks and drinks
Games (an art project and/or an activity)
Smiles, hugs and plenty of love
Some sort of favor to remember the magical day
When it comes to an activity or game, make sure that all developmental stages can participate and that all guests (even adults) feel included in some way.
But don't stress out about finding the perfect activity or game (refer to tip #1). There are hundreds of indoor and outdoor variations of tag to fit your party's theme and a simple art project--even just providing a few coloring or painting pages-- is always a crowd pleaser!
If in doubt or stressed about the mere thought of entertaining a large group of children, hire a professional. Trust me, we do this all of the time and we will make sure everyone leaves your party smiling. It might surprise you just how inexpensive professional support can be. Here are pictures from my own birthday storytelling program:
Make sure the location suits your plans and always have a back-up plan should poor weather occur. If you are on a tight budget and your home is not an option for a party, then there are still many inexpensive places to rent a room or a picnic shelter. Call your local community centers, parks departments as well as churches.
If your summer party is outdoors, make sure that the children have a cool, quiet place to escape the hot sunshine. Also, provide plenty of fresh cool water as well as clean bathroom facilities. Similarly, if your winter party is outdoors, make sure that the children have a dry place to get warm.
4.) Let go and be a child again!
Choose a theme that excites you and that makes you feel childlike again! Your own positive energy and childlike excitement will have an enormous impact on your child and your guests.
Make a list of the of the colors, decorations, foods and activities that sound fun to you and go for it!
Make sure that your party is easy enough where you do not have to remain the host or hostess, but you can also let go and play!
This is a picture of the birthday girl's mother, Rachel. Not only does she love rainbows, but she is filled with magic, so this party was fun for her:
5.) Play it out
Imagine the worst case scenario and play it out in your head. Then take a few breaths to release your fears and worries...LET THEM GO. See how dropping that custom-made cake really can be funny?!
Now, step away from Pinterest and imagine YOUR party. Visualize the party and feel the party! See how everyone is laughing and smiling? That's because you kept it simple and you are having fun.
Hopefully everyone enjoys a holiday packed with sweet treats, magical tales and a party or two today! Lots of love and magical rainbow pumpkins! Xx
P.S. Feel free to e-mail me with questions about parties or for more party advice! Or visit my Facebook page to keep in touch.
A tragic event most commonly leaves us adults feeling confused, sad, angry and fearful. And if we cannot make sense of a tragedy or if our fears have been triggered, then imagine how children feel. If adults feel fearful after tragedy or its the aftermath, then how do we keep our children feeling safe?
With my background in the expressive arts and folklore, I've worked with traumatized children in a variety of settings. After receiving questions from a few parents and clients this past week, I decided to compile a quick list of the creative activities that I most commonly utilize. These activities have two main objectives:
1.) To make sure the child feels safe enough to open up and talk about anything with a parent or an adult
2.) To make sure the child knows that the parent or the adult will do everything possible to keep him or her safe in this world
While we may not always have the power to control what happens in the world around us, we do have the power to give children constructive tools to help them deal with the problems within the world as well as to show children that the world is still BRIGHT HAPPY and MAGICAL.
Before I list my activities, I would like to mention the importance of not creating a fearful environment for children. Children are extremely sensitive to the news and to adult reactions. If adults are walking around saying "How could this happen?" or "What an absolute tragedy" or if adults are fixating on the television, then this is creating a fearful environment for children. Try limiting your own news intake and read this post about creating a positive environment. It's good to let children know that feeling scared or sad is perfectly acceptable as long as we offer some tools to cope with the feelings. Just make sure that our own fears are not creating a fearful environment and make sure that the environment is appropriate for a child's developmental stage.
Here is a list of creative activities to help children work through a tragedy:
1.) Creative Writing and Storytelling. Telling and writing stories are not only excellent outlets for emotion, but they also help children process a tragedy, even when their creative story may not seem like it's related to the event. For example, I often hear tales of superheros and children born with special powers after a tragedy occurs. Even if the characters aren't engaging with the tragedy itself, it is soothing for children to believe in the safety these legendary people offer the world and it is empowering for children to believe that they have special abilities in a world where they may feel powerless.
Let children create their own stories regardless of the themes that may arise--they are inserting their concerns and feelings into the story. If themes of violence or tragedy do occur, then play a mutual storytelling game where the child tells the story first, then you either tell, reenact or use puppets to retell a modified version of the story. Throw in fun and magical twists as well as positive tools or messages to address any issues that appeared in the first tale. (Keep messages simple, "I love you," "I will do everything to keep you safe," "There is so much good in this world," etc.)
2.) Art. A variety of art materials should always be available to children. Sometimes children don't want to talk about what they have seen or heard about a tragedy. Chalk, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paints, finger paints and clay are all excellent tools to help your child express their conscious and unconscious thoughts. When your child is finished, ask questions about their artwork and really listen to their answers as well as acknowledge their feelings. Try not to push them into talking, just ask a few questions and let them lead the conversation.
3.) Creative Play. Children often process the world around them by engaging in play. Encourage children to use their imaginations to explore situations and outcomes. Try not to correct them if violence or scary themes arise, just gently redirect them to more positive ideas and solutions for resolving their anger. (Remember, we want to encourage children to open up and talk, so if we scold them for violent thoughts, they are likely to keep their ideas to themselves.)
A sensory table can also be therapeutic for a child. Fill a container with brightly colored sand or Kool-aid dyed pasta shapes and allow your child to use his or her toys (miniature humans, animals, houses, trees) for creative play. Pay attention because the child most commonly will use the toys to represent their needs.
And finally, interacting with puppets or offering some stuffed animals for comfort and anger release are also great tools to inspire creative play. Here is a quick tutorial on how to make your own puppets:
4.) Go to an uplifting movie or to a storytelling event. After a tragedy (especially a tragedy that directly impacts a child), it may be difficult for children to believe that the world is a bright and happy place and that there is an infinite amount of positive experiences just waiting for them. Experiencing uplifting, inspiring or even just silly stories often shifts this negative outlook. I specifically write and perform my stories to not only make children smile and feel magical, but my stories also keep them feeling empowered, inspired and hopeful. Engaging in positive stories can be key to helping children cope with tragedy.
5.) Focus on the good. Take a trip around town looking for all of the hardworking and caring people in this world. You can even design a scavenger hunt for younger children and include things like a police car, a police person, a fire truck, a fire person, a paramedic, an ambulance, healthcare workers, a teacher, a trained guide dog, a school, etc. By showing a child that there are lots and lots of positive people who care for this world, you are offering him or her hope and reassurance.
I do hope that this post offers you some ideas to help create a brighter and happier world for the children around you. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like me to address a specific issue in a blog post.
Are you looking for a unique gift? Emmy Blue offers custom written magical tales staring you, your child, your family or your friends!
This exclusive package includes a digital and a hard copy of your one-of-a-kind story and illustration as well as post cards, bookmarks and magical stones.
Writing and polishing the perfect 1,000-2,500 word tale and illustration can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Emmy Blue will send the story via email for you to proofread as soon as it's finished. (As with all of her programs, satisfaction is 110% guaranteed.)
Interested? Contact Emmy Blue at emmy(at)emmyblue(dot)com with any questions and your time frame. The only thing needed to start the writing process is for you to fill out a brief questionnaire and e-mail a current photograph of the child. Then Emmy Blue uses her unique method to create the perfect story!
This gift will surely make your child feel like the magical shining star he or she truly is!
Emmy Blue is now doing birthday parties at the Washington County Museum! Themed parties can include entertainment by Emmy Blue, managed activities and games as well as arts and crafts. For more information, write emmy(at)emmyblue(dot)com. Here are a few photos from Fiona's magical birthday party at WCM:
Hello, everyone! This is post number two from our Sparkle Saturday blog party! Enjoy! Xx
We all need to practice being more positive every day! Thinking positive leads to feeling positive and feeling positive leads to being the sparkling people that we truly are!
The following bright and happy exercises are perfect for inspiring children and adults to sparkle! The exercises are perfect for adults because we need to express our imaginations and open ourselves up creatively in order to feel happy, grounded and more childlike.
The exercises are perfect for children because children need to establish positive habits that will help them be happy and healthy for their lifetimes. (Children are constantly acquiring tools from us to help them in their futures.) Also, it is essential that children see adults caring for ourselves by playing and being creative because it makes growing up a more positive and exciting experience.
And most importantly, these are perfect exercises to do together because everyone needs to work as a team in order to build a positive foundation for ourselves, our families and our communities!
Emmy's creative activities for feeling positively sparkling:
1.) Create positive affirmation bracelets as a family. These can easily be made with paper and crayons, but if you are feeling particularly crafty try making a collage, or use found objects, felt, beads, a cut-up old t-shirt...anything works, really! Let the bracelets serve as positive reminders throughout tough times or stressful days.
2.) Blast your space with uplifting color! What colors make you feel sparkly? Let your child decorate your space (office, kitchen desk, a color shrine) with these colors. Then help your child decorate his or her space with their favorite colors. Surrounding yourself with your favorite colors is essential to feeling sparkly. If you aren't ready to make a permanent change, just hang colorful pictures on the wall using tape or sticky tack. You will be amazed at how positive you feel when surrounded by happy colors!
3.) Draw, paint, color portraits. Sit down with a child and ask the child to draw a portrait of sparkling you! (Trust me, the child sees so much more sparkle in you than you can see). While he or she is drawing you, you make a sparkling portrait of the him or her! Don't think about it. Just let what makes them sparkle flow onto your page. And never ever judge your artwork, it is absolutely perfect!
Be sure to post your portraits somewhere visible so that you can be reminded to sparkle whenever you need to! Seeing your sparkling portraits will help you both feel more positive as well as help with building a better self-image. You are also teaching your child the important lesson of taking the time to love and care for himself or herself in a fun and creative way.
4.) Try out storytelling. Take turns telling one another about your most sparkliest memory ever. Perhaps it was your child's birth or the big Valentine's Day snowball fight with your brother. Relive the sparkly moment by acting it out with your voice and your body.
Storytelling is an exciting way to pass along family fun and personal history so that your child knows where he or she fits into the big family picture. This strengthens and secures a child's self-esteem and self-worth. Storytelling is also important because it shows everyone that their lives are valuable and worth sharing with others.
5.) Create a sparkly snowflake out of paper. We are all unique and special just like magical snowflakes. What better way to honor our individual sparkly selves than to cover a window or to hang sparkly snowflakes in your home. You can even write what makes you brilliantly unique on the back of the snowflakes, so as they flutter around in the air, they spread your unique sparkling magic throughout your home.
Well, I have tales to tell and you have lots of creative fun ahead of you today! If you are in the giant snow storm, please stay snug and safe. Happy Sparkly Saturday! Xx
Lots of love,
P.S. Follow the sparkling trail to more "I Sparkle" Sparkling Saturday blog posts written by my sparkletacular friends...
In alphabetical order...
Yota Schneider: Seasons of Change Master Coach, writer, speaker, retreats facilitator , mindfulness meditation practitioner, mom, wife, friend, ever striving gardener and finder of beauty and peace in the little things. BlogFacebookWebsite
Lynda Shoup: School librarian, children's writer and poet with a sparkle in her eye and plenty of fairy dust to share. BlogFacebook
Kat Wynne-Brown: Creator of KatWB, an Online Holistic Arts Center! Enjoy her virtual classes, holistic coaching, a holistic blog, KatWB TV and resources for nutrition, sustainability & self-help. BlogFacebookWebsite
Emmy Blue and the Washington County Museum are happy to announce magical storytelling birthday party programs!
These star-themed birthday parties will make your child feel like the bright star he or she truly is!
Emmy Blue's birthday party programs at the Washington County Museum run around 45 minutes and can be tailored for audiences of children or families. The programs typically include participatory stories, puppets, music and magical scarves when appropriate. Some tales can be adjusted to your party theme, please specify when booking your magical program.
Birthday Party Themes:
Wish Upon a Star- Your child’s birthday wishes will come true with Emmy Blue's magical fairy tales told beneath the stars!
Slumber Beneath the Stars- Wear your pajamas and bring your sleeping bags because Emmy Blue's magical bedtime tales told beneath the twinkling night sky will get your slumber party off to a bright start!
Traditional Folk and Fairy Tales- Sprinkle some magic onto your party with updated and reinterpreted birthday-themed and star-themed folk and fairy tales from around the world!
Enchanted Forest Party- Let all of the magical and mythical creatures who live in the enchanted forests of Washington County help you celebrate your next birthday with Emmy Blue's original legends and tales!
More information about scheduling your birthday parties can be found here.
P.S. A big thank you to everyone who came out to see the Washington County Museum and Emmy Blue at the Beaverton Library for the Family Resource Fair!
Join Emmy Blue at West Slope Community Library on November 7th at 6:30 pm for an evening of enchanted tales! This lively storytelling program, geared towards children ages 6+ and adults, includes a seasonal selection of Emmy Blue’s original fall folktales and legends about the magical creatures who live deep in the enchanted forests of the Pacific Northwest. Emmy Blue’s uplifting program will surely fill you with gratitude and love as the holiday season approaches!
P.S. Don't forget to head over to Facebook and post photos of your favorite enchanted location for your chance to win an enchanted Emmy Blue prize pack!! (Feel free to post publicly or privately, however you feel most comfortable!)
It's been a magical week filled with hustling and bustling around town telling tales and spreading enchantments! And since it's a dark rainy day, I also thought I would share some visual magic with you! Here are fresh photos from my programs taken by parents and the Washington County Museum. I hope they put a smile on your face!
Hope you have a week filled with smiles, magic and lots of sparkling sunshine! Xx
I hope everyone is dancing! Here is another great exercise to help free our creative selves. This post is directed towards those who expressed on the Creative Playtime post that they would like to try storytelling.
The following storytelling exercise can be done with two or more people. If you are fearful about performing in front of others, I recommend trying the game with children first. Let a child begin the activity and notice how he or she has no "sensors" or embarrassment when the story does not come out perfectly. Children are good teachers because they simply and easily let ideas flow right out of their mouths. Learn from this and free yourself from the voices in your head!
Also, children make perfect creative mentors and playmates because they are supportive beings who love when adults drop their "guard." Children will not judge you and their magical smiles will boost your confidence!
1.) Have one person start telling a story (any story will do-- an imaginary tale, a favorite fairy tale, a memory). And don't just tell the story, act out the story by using exaggerated gestures and voices.
2.) At any point during the story, the other player(s) can yell "Freeze." When "Freeze" is called, the storyteller sits down. The player who called "Freeze" takes the storyteller's exact same physical position and either begins telling a completely different unrelated story, continues the story, or changes the outcome of the story.
3.) The new storyteller continues until someone else calls "Freeze" and so the story grows. Keep this activity going and going and going until you have a hilariously crazy story!
Storytelling offers magical freedom once you let go of your fear! Be sure to laugh and play as you practice letting your mind, words and body run wild! Happy Storytelling!
Hello again magical friends! Glad to see you back at the enchanted tree house so soon! Here is the second holiday blog post, enjoy! Xx
This week a concerned teacher and friend told me she had to return her daughter's Christmas presents because her husband lost his job. She cried, "What can we do on Christmas if there are no presents to unwrap or toys to play with?"
Remember, money and gifts don't make your holiday special, your imagination and inner magic does! I have never had the funds for a Christmas celebration like I experienced whilst growing up, but every holiday since has been just as magical and memorable! Here are a few activities that I use to brighten up my holidays...
1.) Gingerbread House Contest. This Christmas we are having an extreme gingerbread house building contest. A simple box of generic graham crackers, colorful and textured inexpensive candies and bright icings are all you need for hours of holiday cheer! (Don't waste money on expensive icings, just make a cheap paste out of sugar, water and food coloring!)
2.) Oral history. Share your traditions or special stories about past magical holidays with your friends, your children or your partner. Remember that children (and adults, too) are sensory-oriented, so add in "treats" and visual aids to turn your story into more of a "show and experience" tale. For example, if your favorite holiday memory is making cookies with your grandmother, then find the recipe and make the same cookies while you share the tale.
3.) Storytelling game. Place 10 holiday treasures or unique items on the table. Have every participant choose an item and then take turns telling stories about these items. Stories can be false or true! Here are some ideas to try: Make up a holiday pourquoi (a story that explains an origin) about that bizarre piece of machinery you found in the garage. Or come up with an incredible fantasy about how the Elf on the Shelf saved the life of a giant polar bear who had fur like a pine tree!!
4.) Treasure hunt. Make small gifts (like coupons, sweet treats, finger puppets and crayons) more special by creating a holiday scavenger hunt. Write age-appropriate clues that include hide-and-seek activities, riddles and challenges.
Here's an idea to get you started: Tell the players they have to call a relative and sing a holiday song in order to retrieve their next clue. (Be sure to call the relative in advance and give them the child's next clue). To make the challenge more difficult, let your child try to figure out which relative you chose. Hopefully several of your relatives will get a holiday serenade before your child finds the correct person.
Another idea for younger children would be to ask them to find tiny surprises that a little holiday elf or faerie left around your home. The possibilities are endless!
5.) Fill your day with a variety of holiday activities. Take a walk to enjoy the lights and the evergreens. Go sledding or make a village of snow people. Write and illustrate your own holiday storybook. Give your child the power of creating the entertainment. My favorite activity as a child was to put on holiday plays, musicals and puppet shows. (And dare I mention holiday charades around my family? This game will yield hours of laughter. And be warned, you just never know what's going to come out of Grandma Judy's mouth as she guesses!)
It doesn't matter what activity you choose, just make sure you fill your holiday season with BRIGHT COLORS, LOVE, LAUGHTER and MAGIC! And who knows, perhaps you will discover some new holiday traditions! Xx
Greetings friends! Like the blustery fall winds, I'm flying around Portland spreading enchantments! Whilst I'm busy with fall faerie tale programs and bonfire programs, I wanted to send some magical fun your way! Hope you enjoy! Xx
Whether you're enjoying roasted butternut squash stew around the hearth or sipping spicy apple cider around the campfire, fall is filled with enchanted foods, fragrances and festivities! Try making these autumn moments more magical with storytelling activities! You can also try these storytelling activities while heading to the pumpkin patch, the corn maze, the apple orchard or the colourful forests. (Hopefully you have lots of fall exploration adventures planned.)
Here are three of my favourite storytelling games that I have been playing since I was a child:
1.) Liar Tales
Have one family member tell a story about his or her day. It can either be true or it can be completely made up. After the story, have each family member decide whether the tale was true or a lie.
2.) Roundtable Tales
Have one family member start a tale by saying the first sentence. Then have another person add onto the tale by saying the second sentence. Continue having each family member add one sentence onto the tale until you have your very own story.
3.) Picture Tales
Show the family a photograph or picture. You can find one in a newspaper, a magazine or on the internet. It can also be a photograph or postcard. It doesn't have to be fancy, some of my favourite stories have come from advertisement mailers. Let each family member tell a quick story about the photograph. I guarantee that each unique story will start up dialogue, giggling fits or lead into more stories.
Telling stories is a great way to exercise the mind! Happy tales to you!! Xx
Yesterday, as the sun slipped behind the trees, I took the enchanted pup running in a park filled with children playing soccer. My decrepit running shoes plodded along to sounds of slobbery puppy pants and cheering soccer families. Then, after four laps around the park, a gang of bored soccer siblings ambushed the enchanted pup with hugs and handfuls of weeds. I believe it is the enchanted pup's enormous dangly tongue that attracts children (not to mention, it is her tongue that has parents cringing and reaching for hand-sanitizing potions).
After introductions, a boy, with what appeared to be purple jam smeared across his forehead, got into my face and yelled, "WHAT DO YOU DO? ARE YOU A LAWYER?"
"I'm a storyteller," I replied.
"WELL, TELL A STORY THEN!" another child snapped.
When disclosing my profession to a child or an adult, this is the most common response. And I typically oblige due to my rule to accept every storytelling opportunity offered. (Even when panting, sweating and wearing worn out jogging shorts and a t-shirt covered with neon sheepies circa 1993).
"What type of story would you like to hear?" I asked as the gang of sticky and sugar-fuelled children and I made our way over to the rusty bleachers.
Noting the female to male ratio, I was expecting to hear the usual cliché answers (princesses, princess fairy tales, Disney princesses and fairy princesses or even Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and Bella Swan). But then a pig-tailed four-year-old girl rolling on top of the enchanted pup yelled at the top of her lungs, "DEMON SLIME BABIES!"
"Ah, yes, demon slime babies. Great idea! Well, Icould tell a story about demon slime babies orI could tell you the story of a magical little creature who lives in the forest right over there."
She pushed my pointer finger down and said, "NO! DEMON SLIME BABIES!"
"What about the story of a peculiar little girl who finds a magical stalk of broccoli that..."
Whilst lifting his eyelids with his fingers until only the whites showed, a boy shouted, "WHAT?! MAGICAL BROCCOLI IS BORING, LADY! TELL A STORY ABOUT...ABOUT...*achoo*...PIZZAS!"
He proceeded to wipe nose sludge onto his bare arm and kneecap. "Sneeze pizzas?" I asked.
The children giggled and burst into the chant, "DEMON SLIME BABIES! DEMON SLIME BABIES! DEMON SLIME BABIES!"
Several parents joined the crowd upon hearing their children shout these words at a complete stranger. Knowing I had no stories about demon slime babies or sneeze pizzas in my repertoire, I looked at the growing audience of parents, curious joggers and chanting children and made a rash decision. "Okay," I squeaked. "A story about demon slime babies and sneeze pizzas it is."
"AND IT BETTER BE A GOOD ONE!" a child shouted.
This is why I love working with children. They they don't hold back their thoughts and they give instant feedback. Since I identified myself as a storyteller, they expected me to tell an award-winning story about demon slime babies on the spot. And if I so much as failed to entertain or if I allowed one single mind to wander, the children would not only blatantly deliver harsh criticism, but they would walk away.
I was both excited and terrified. On the one hand, storytelling to children of mixed ages in a location where they normally run wild without rules is an ultimate challenge. On the other hand, spontaneously writing and performing a story in front of a large group of potential clients in a brand new market is risky.
The only way to improve my skills as a storyteller is to do uncomfortable things and take risks.
To my relief, I whipped out a story (complete with audience participation) that engaged the children. (Phew!) I know my story about demon slime babiesand sneeze pizzas was not my best. However, as the children's faces lit up and smiles crossed their lips, I saw that this storytelling experience was magical to them (and as I floated away on a cloud of accomplishment, I realized that this storytelling experience was equally magical to me.)
The seed of this tale is that you must take risks in order to spread magic and feel magical! Are you taking enough risks in your life?