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Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

What to Do When Your Favorite Party Goods Aren’t in Stock

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

rainbow balloon arch

You had your heart set on the perfect supplies for your carefully orchestrated party plan. Yet when you get to your favorite party store, some of the items you really wanted weren’t in stock. What gives?

More importantly, what are you going to do now?

Don’t worry! We’ve got solutions for all your party planning challenges, and items being out of stock is a party challenge just like any other.

Where are we seeing shortages?

Latex, helium, and certain balloon colors have been hard to get ahold of lately. We’ve also struggled to keep posterboards, signs, and banners in stock. We’ve also had trouble keeping pinatas in stock.

Banners have been really hard to find too. That’s because demand was quite great when everyone was doing everything outside, and suppliers struggled to keep up.

The Reasons

Some of our customers really want to know why we’d ever experience a shortage, so we thought we’d devote a little time to explaining. There are quite a few things that could be going on behind the scenes.

First, there are times when the item is being made at a higher cost and so we have to sell it at a higher cost and don’t order as much.

Another reason is that some of our goods are shipped from China, and right now shipping and trucking costs have gone through the roof. That means we are bringing in fewer shipments. The items will be here, but you may have to wait!

Sometimes there are shortages because the supplies are needed in other industries. For example, latex is used to make medical gloves.

Sometimes the problem is that we’ve lost our manufacturer. Some of them went out of business during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ones we were working with aren’t making those goods anymore. Some companies have also let their representatives go or the company has moved to another state, which can slow down the process of reordering.

Unfortunately, going to another shop won’t always even help when these problems rear their heads. If your favorite store is dealing with these issues then chances are your second choice will be dealing with them, too.

Fortunately, there are workarounds. Read on!

The Solutions

birthday spelled in balloonsIf you’re having trouble finding latex balloons, don’t worry. There are lots of other balloon types to choose from!

Can’t find helium? All sorts of stores are having trouble getting it, which is why there’s been a huge surge in organics. Create columns, pillars, arches, and strands of multi-colored, multi-sized balloons. They are light, portable, and can replace other things that are getting hard to find, like banners.

Can’t find the balloon colors you want? Did you know we can make balloon colors? It’s just a matter of slipping one balloon inside the other.

birthday girl with non helium balloons

For example, purple and green are the hardest balloons to find right now. So we just take a blue one and put it inside the red one. We blow them both up and voila! Purple.

As for a lack of posterboard, signs, or banners, we have a couple of solutions. One is to use rolls of paper in solid color to create the banners yourselves. Another is to use mylar balloons with the messages pre-written on them. Another way would be to find the individual letters, which we often have as big individual items, and then linking them together with brads.

Can’t find piñatas? It’s easy enough to make your own. By the way, piñatas can hold a lot more than candy. You can stuff them with all sorts of favors. They can be an adult-friendly party game, too!

homemade-heart-shaped-balloon-pinataWhen all else fails, you can become a maker! Create things instead of buying them. Use the raw resources you have at your disposal. Get creative! You’d be surprised what you can upcycle into incredible party decorations.

Looking Ahead

Nobody can predict how supply shortages will continue to play out as America recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet Americans are ingenious. We’ll come up with other avenues.

As a consumer, it’s important to hold on to your patience and your sense of humor. Unfortunately, these shortages aren’t anybody’s “fault.” They’re just conditions we’re all facing as we all try to get back to normal.

Here at Paper Plus we are devoted to helping you solve all your toughest party challenges. Can’t figure out what to do? Come on out and see us!

Build a Balloon Bouquet for Any Interest or Occasion

Sunday, August 1st, 2021

pink and gold stars balloon bouquet

Balloon bouquets are a fun alternative to sending flowers to mark just about any occasion. They’re fun and festive, often last a little longer without special care, and carry some other benefits, as well.

For example, there are so many shapes and sizes of balloons available that each bouquet can be tailored to the recipient. You can theme the balloons around hobbies like football or Fortnite. You can focus on fandoms, creating a Spiderman balloon bouquet or a Frozen balloon bouquet. Or you can just focus on the occasion.

You can fit the balloons to the recipient’s personality too. If they’re serious, use elegant balloons. If they’re a bit more laid back, use humorous ones. You know your loved one best, so use your imagination.

Another benefit? You can send a balloon bouquet across the country, having it delivered just about anywhere, any time. That’s a boon during a time when travel is still feeling a bit dicey.

Birthday Balloon Bouquets

purple and red balloon bouquetThe right bouquet will depend on the age and temperament of the recipient.

For example, if it’s a 50th birthday you can send a funny balloon shaped like the Grim Reaper that says, “Relax, I’m just here for the cake!” If you’re putting together a Sweet 16 balloon bouquet you could go with an elegant rose gold balloon bouquet.

Look at anything that interests the person. Dog lover? Grab balloons in the shape of paw prints, frame them with a few confetti balloons beneath, and put it all together with a weight to make a fine arrangement.

Graduation Balloon Bouquets

We covered these at length in our graduation balloons post, but these are a fine way to make your grad feel special. There are dozens of congratulatory graduation-themed balloons out there that you can take advantage of.

Valentine Balloon Bouquets

red valentine heart balloon bouquetYou can combine flowers with balloons to create some truly unique Valentine’s day gifts. Get balloons shaped like roses or simply find a collection of Valentine-themed balloons that you like.

They’re especially fun and festive to deliver to your significant other at the workplace!

Mother’s Day & Father’s Day Balloon Bouquets

Tired of overthinking your Mother’s Day or Father’s Day presents? Balloon bouquets for the occasion mean that you can show your parents you’re thinking of them without stressing over figuring out yet another gift to give.

Anniversary Balloon Bouquets

There are some truly great Happy Anniversary mylar balloons available. There are even mini 5-inch mylars that you can attach to larger balloons so you can customize them for the anniversary date or occasion.

Another popular option are giant hearts, which are available in up to 36″ in all colors.

Baby Shower Balloon Bouquets

pink and white balloon bouquetBalloon bouquets make great decorations for baby showers even if they aren’t necessarily good baby shower gifts. Combine them with a balloon arch to make the parent-to-be feel especially special on the big day!

Get Well Soon Balloon Bouquets

The tradition of giving out get well soon balloons is alive and well. Listen, any stay in the hospital is hard and stressful. So is any recovery from surgery or any major illness. Getting balloons can help your friends or loved ones know that you’re rooting for them in their hour of need.

They’re even better than flowers because scents can be very difficult for people who are sick to bear.

Make sure any balloons you send to hospitals are made of mylar and not latex.

50 Balloon Bouquets: A Showstopper for Any Occasion

You can really go for it with some giant balloon bouquets, and you can mix and match all sorts of options.

Not sure what to do, what balloons to include, or how to arrange them in a pleasing fashion? Reach out to your local party store! It’s a great way to create a memorable bouquet while working with experts who create these fun gifts every day of the year.

 

Here at Paper Plus we have an enormous selection of balloons available. We don’t have any cookie cutter bouquets, but we will help you make your own. We have letters to spell names, Hawaiian balloons for luau themes, flowers, emojis, hearts, stars, diamonds, cubes, teardrops, and more. We’ve got a plethora of colors, characters, and encouraging messages to share. Browse some of our selection or give us a call today.

What to Put in a Piñata Besides Candy

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

adult-pinata-with-small-alcohol-bottles

Piñatas are becoming a staple for pandemic era parties, but what can you put in a piñata besides candy? After all, most adults are watching their waistlines, at least a little bit. Some adults have health problems that mean they’re trying to stay away from sugar. Many parents are trying to keep their kids off sugar. What’s a party planner to do?

Turns out there’s lots of options! You don’t have to settle for cheap plastic toys that just end up becoming junk. You can put fun, useful items in a piñata, too.

Piñatas: Not Just for Kids Anymore

First, let’s talk about what’s making piñatas so popular, and why they’re not just for kids anymore.

Primarily, they’re the perfect outdoor party activity. They let you engage everyone in a fun game while ensuring everyone continues to social distance. You have to be six feet away from a piñata to work it safely, so everyone’s already playing safely. And hey, what do you even need a blindfold for when you’re already wearing a mask?

taco pinata

All jokes aside, let’s face it. Beating some of your pandemic-era frustrations out on a big colorful object is the kind of fun just about everyone can get behind right about now.

Of course, kids still love piñatas too. Nobody wants to be cooped up with kids while they’re high on sugar, so we’ll include a few age-appropriate candy-free ideas below.

Ideas to Make Your Piñata Party Awesome

Consider playing around with a theme. This can help both with choosing a piñata design and with what to put inside.

For example, if you and your friends are all craft enthusiasts then you could do a craft-themed piñata. Just choose a really pretty piñata and then fill it up with all sorts of craft supplies. Who couldn’t use more yarn and washi tape?

Ideas for What to Put Inside a Piñata for Kids (that isn’t candy!)

For kids, think of toys with some actual value:

  • Yo-Yos
  • Chinese jump ropes
  • Blacksmith’s puzzles
  • Play Doh
  • Tops
  • Masks
  • Playing cards
  • Miniature notebooks with pens attached
  • Packets of balloons
  • Finger traps
  • Finger puppets
  • Friendship bracelets

 Ideas for What to Put Inside a Piñata for Adults

unicorn pinataFor the aforementioned craft party:

  • Yarn
  • Knitting or crochet needles
  • Washi Tape
  • Lanyards to make keychains
  • Prepackaged DIY crafts
  • Pincushions
  • Embroidery thread
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Fuzz Balls
  • Glue
  • Paper

For a true grown-up party:

  • Small bottles of alcohol (make sure they’ll fall on a soft surface)
  • Jewelry
  • Healthy snacks
  • Gift cards
  • Nicer pens and pencils

You might have even more ideas. Consider:

  • Items people can use more than once
  • Items that aren’t too large so they can fall out
  • Items that fit the party’s theme

A little creativity can take you a long way in filling a piñata with something other than candy!

Paper Plus has dozens of piñatas, as well as plenty of items you can use to fill them up! Or, make your own piñata! Stop by to see us today.

Staying Close to Loved Ones in Assisted Living

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

childs artwork for family in assisted living

The Covid-19 pandemic has been very hard on the relationships between people and their elderly relatives. Many people in assisted living facilities have had almost no contact with their loved ones.

While phone calls and video chats are nice, they aren’t available to all seniors. In addition, it’s sometimes nice to have something tangible to hold on to during a tough time.

As a result, there’s been a real resurgence in card-making and care packages.

Using Card-Making to Make Communication Stronger

Many people think of cards as things that are sent only on birthdays and holidays. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way.

Take home a stack of blank cards and keep them close. Write whatever messages or daily reflections you come up with. Tape or glue recent family photos to your cards, or slide them inside the card and envelope. Discuss family updates or even just the events of the day.

Your senior wants to know. Remember, people in assisted living lockdowns don’t necessarily have much going on in their lives. This can even limit their ability to maintain a phone conversation because they won’t have much to talk about.

child creating artwork for assisted living residentThe physical reminder of connection can make isolation and separation easier. They also make calls easier. You’ll be able to discuss the topics on your cards and will remember them better. Often the events of a single day fade in the onslaught of a busy week. Your elderly loved one will have all those little stories right in front of them, though, and can ask you about them.

It’s a talking point for you both, and it can really help.

Note this is a tradition that children and grandchildren can really take advantage of. They can add stickers, draw pictures, write little notes to show the recipient is being thought of, and otherwise participate in the process.

Tip: use cheery, colorful card stock. Vision is dwindling for many seniors and bright, colorful cards can make the messages easy to send.

Putting Together a Great Care Package

assisted living resident with phoneThe residents of assisted living facilities used to get visitors on holidays to have meals together. This is no longer happening. So consider putting together an old-fashioned care package!

Grab a pretty box. Add pretty tissue paper. Send a baked good. Add some crafts that the children made. Add puzzle books like Sudoku puzzles or crossword puzzles. Add a nice new book to read and perhaps some more pictures or magnets. If you can think of any other little thing that your senior will love it’s a good time to add that, as well.

This Resurgence Is Here to Stay

While the pandemic may be over by next year this is a tradition that seems like it’s going to have some sticking power. The pandemic has definitely taught us all about the importance of family ties, and about the ways that separation can harm us all.

Let’s face it, receiving a tangible reminder and love and care is important to seniors no matter what is going on in the outside world.

So stock up on supplies, and remember to keep your senior firmly in mind even after the pandemic comes to a close. Our lives can get busy. Theirs can get lonely. This tradition is a wonderful way to keep in touch.

Stop by Paper Plus for all your card-making and care package supplies! We have boxes, tissue paper, card stocks, envelopes, stickers, glitter, care package gifts, and more. We’re still following Covid protocols in our store, so don’t be afraid to pop by and see us. 

Celebrate Graduation 2021 with Graduation Balloons

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

berkeley school color graduation balloons red and yellow

The Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, which means another round of graduates won’t be able to walk the stage with their peers. We don’t know exactly how schools will be handling their graduations this year–perhaps with a drive-thru celebration? We do know it won’t be what it was before, with hundreds of proud parents packed into a stadium, waiting to watch their child pass this important milestone.

As humans, we’re designed to celebrate accomplishments. While we can’t do it the way we want to, we can find ways to go all out for our graduates. The pandemic has robbed them of the ability to enjoy so many important milestones. Here are some ideas to help – hint, they include graduation balloons!

Graduation Balloon Bouquets

One easy way to help your grad celebrate is with graduation balloon delivery. Create a gorgeous bouquet in the school colors, and have some fun with them. For example, some balloons have latex grad caps on them. Why not spruce them up a little more with some tassels?

Sending a huge, grand, over-the-top balloon bouquet is a great way to show your grad that you care. Make sure it has some encouraging messages on it. Your grad needs all the warm well wishes they can get!

Zoom Graduation Balloons

If you are on Zoom you can have the balloons in the background!

The thing about a Zoom celebration is it has to feel like a real celebration. It can’t feel like a cop-out gathering. So decorate it like you’d decorate a real party.

To give a nod to the fact that you’re all online, why not take advantage of some emoji graduation balloons? They’ll be fun and funny and your teens, especially, will love them.

Go Nuts with Home and Yard Graduation Balloons and Decorations

graduate in cap and gownShout your grad’s accomplishments to the entire neighborhood by turning your entire front yard into a giant graduation tribute!

Go all out. Try a balloon arch and have a front yard graduation walk.

Go all out with graduation balloon decor all over the yard.

Personalize the front yard with crepe paper, window spray, and banners. Got yard signs from your school? Personalize those and attach some balloons in the school colors. Add balloons that offer a tribute to sports or hobbies so you can celebrate everything your graduate did.

Even people who drive by will know how awesome your graduate is!

Want to carry the message out to the whole world? Take a moment to decorate your car, too.

At a Socially Distanced Graduation Party

Some schools are doing socially distanced parties at convention centers. You can use balloon bouquets to help your party find you safely and with ease. As your customized graduation balloons rise high in the air it will be easy for the rest of your Covid pod to find you quickly and safely.

The balloons, of course, will also make your graduate feel appreciated while making the entire day feel festive and bright.

2022’s Graduates Will Have it Better

happy graduate in capWe won’t have to come up with creative ways to make our graduates feel special for much longer. By next year, graduation should be back to normal.

 

We have 40 different kinds of graduation balloons at Paper Plus, from kindergarten graduation balloons to PhD balloons. We’ve got all kinds of messages like: Congrats, you did it! Way to go, you rock! We’re so proud of you, Class of 2021! We also deliver; call the store to check availability. 

Easy Thanksgiving Decorating for Your Zoom Dinners

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

metallic thanksgiving balloons

Most people won’t be doing a lot of travel for Thanksgiving this year. Instead, we’ll use Zoom to get our togetherness time while stopping the spread of the pandemic.

Yet there’s no reason to think you can’t be just as festive as you were when the entire family gathered in your dining room. With a little creativity, you can make your virtual Thanksgiving just as special as your in-person gatherings.

Decorate the Gathering Space

easy thanksgiving decorations - cornYou don’t have to decorate your whole house this year, and that might be kind of nice! Instead, you can just stage your Zoom background.

Of course, nothing says you can’t decorate the whole house, especially if your immediate family will be there, celebrating Thanksgiving with you. Indeed, going all-out might help you create a festive space in the middle of an uncertain time.

Banners and crepe paper in festive fall colors are an easy way to get this done. If you want an even easier way, think outside the box and go with balloons. Some examples of great Thanksgiving balloons include beautiful latex balloons with leaves, which come in burgundy, gold, brown, and yellow, and which have elegant prints. You might also opt for metallic gold and silver balloons with a chrome finish, or look for the same in mauve or rose gold. Another option would be to go for mylar balloons with Thanksgiving-themed graphics on them, like turkeys, cornucopias, scarecrows, bales of hay, or ears of colored corn.

Allergic to latex? Mylar balloons are a solution.

Of course, don’t neglect the basics, like a stunning Thanksgiving table.

Outdoor Gatherings

easy thanksgiving table decorations for outside zoomIf you and your family have formed a “Covid Pod” then you might be doing an outdoor gathering this year. Look for decorations that won’t be defeated by wind. If you’re doing balloons, add weights to them to keep them in place.

Use cloth napkins outdoors…paper napkins tend to fly all over the place.

If you’re still Zooming with remote family members remember to set up the Zoom area inside…wind can cause a lot of mic interference and the Wi-Fi signal usually isn’t as good outside the house.

Wear Hats

If you don’t want to go all out with decorations for a Zoom call, hats are a great solution! You can DIY “pilgrim” headwear, or make boppers with turkeys on them. Make a cornucopia fascinator, or just find some premade hats.

They’ll be funny and festive, and you can take them off when it’s time to get ready for dinner in your own home.

Remember It’s About Connection

red fall leavesThere’s no glossing over the fact that a Zoom Thanksgiving isn’t “the same” as the festivities you’ve enjoyed in the past. Try not to let that get you down. If you treat your call with your family and friends like an event for the day that allows you to connect and catch up, and go out of your way to make it as festive as possible, then your holiday can still be meaningful and special.

Remember: this pandemic won’t last forever. You can still make memories this year while looking forward to better ones.

Want lots of options for your Thanksgiving decorations? Come to Paper Plus, where we’ve got a huge selection at incredible prices.

Celebrate the Mask, It’s Here to Stay

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

cartoon faces with masks

Wearing masks on the regular was an adjustment for everyone, but now they’ve become an integral part of every day life. Given Covid-19 may not be going away any time soon, they’re the one reason we can live, work, shop, and play outside.

If we can’t get rid of them, we might as well make them fabulous! Celebrate them! Done right, masks can be anything from an elevated fashion accessory to a fun excuse to dress up in costume every day of the year.

Fashion Masks

woman wearing pink maskGet more than one mask. You need more than one because you have to wash them anyway.

Buying an assortment will let you mix and match your masks to your outfits. Try to get an assortment of colors that work well with any outfit, from business to casual. Don’t forget to have fun, too: if you love rocking animal print there are plenty of masks that will let you do just that.

The next thing you’ve gotta do is get the right fit. A mask that’s too baggy won’t look any better than a pair of pants that’s too baggy. A mask that’s too tight will feel unbearable to wear.

Another tip? Use masks with earloops. They let you keep your hairstyle nice.

Fun Masks

Got a holiday coming up? Match your mask to the occasion! This is an especially fun technique on Halloween. It’s effortless to integrate a mask into a ninja, samurai, or bandit costume. Full-on face masks like traditional monster masks still count for masking purposes.

faces painted on masksAre you a super fan of a TV show like Star Trek, Supernatural, Game of Thrones, or Stranger Things? There are plenty of face mask makers out there who will make a mask with your fandom in mind. Try Etsy for just about every kind of mask you can think of, or make your own.

Have a special, socially-distanced outdoor celebration with your Covid pod coming up? Add a holiday-themed mask and make things festive. Use falling leaves for Thanksgiving, or a festive red and green theme for Christmas.

Mask Comfort Tips

Don’t like the feel of a layered or flat mask against your face? Try a “beak” style mask, which only puts a little bit of pressure on the bridge of your nose, your chin, and the sides of your face, leaving your mouth and nostrils clear. They’re also easier for glasses-wearers to adjust, which means you don’t have to deal with foggy glasses.

Pay attention to the fabric you’re using, too. Silk, for example, isn’t going to breathe very well. Denim is easy to mix and match to your outfit, but it can be downright miserable when the day gets hot.

Masks for Kids

adult putting mask on childHaving trouble getting your kids to wear their masks? Remember to lead by example…if you don’t wear yours, your children won’t wear theirs. Yet you don’t have to make it grim and gloomy. Get the masks that are fun for your kids! Help them think of getting to wear a mask as being akin to getting to play dress-up every time they go out. Help them get masks that are comfortable for their face, and let them choose the ones that make them feel special.

Mask Etiquette

According to the CDC, you should wear your mask every time you go out in public while continuing to practice social distancing. You should be sure to wear your mask correctly by pulling it over your mouth and nose while securing it under your chin. Your mask should fit comfortably on the sides of your face.

If you’re just walking around outside, it’s okay to keep it down, but pull it up if you pass people on the sidewalk.

Remember, masks are how we protect each other from the virus. Any one of us could be a “silent” carrier. If we all observe this basic courtesy, we can all get back to life as we know it a lot faster.

Want supplies for a fabulous costume mask? Come to Paper Plus, where we’ve got a wide selection of options for you to choose from.

How to Keep Kids Connected to Friends While Staying Safe

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

childs hand with crayons and coloring social distance activity

A socially distanced summer doesn’t have to be lonely, and your kids don’t have to stay glued to screens to stay in touch with their friends. With a little creativity and a few art supplies, your kids can have fun, connect with their besties, and brighten the days of all their friends.

Here are five easy, inexpensive activities you can do with your kids this month. Many encourage you to strap on your mask and get out for a walk or a drive, which can help add a sense of excitement and adventure after months of being locked down at home due to COVID-19.

1. A Good Old-Fashioned Chain Letter

Chain letters may carry some crazy connotations for those of us who grew up in the 80s, but their basic concept is both simple and innocent. Someone starts a letter and mails it (or drops it off at) the house of a friend.

The friend adds a bit of artwork, or a message, and then passes it on, like a long relay that only grows more fun as the letter grows.

You can send it with US Mail or you can walk it or drive it over to the next-closest friend. Whatever makes sense for you and your family.

Get creative! Nothing says the chain letter message can’t get a little 3D. Add some glitter, or forge an actual tiny construction paper chain to dangle off the side of it. The important thing is to have fun both reading and contributing.

2. Cards for Classmates

If you’re willing to spring for more stamps or know everyone lives close enough for a walk-by mailbox delivery, then kids can make cards for all their friends and classmates. Think “summer Valentines,” without all the pink.

If you’re not going to mail them, and you’re feeling a little fancy, you could even make small goodie bags. Include tiny favors like stickers, pencils, and erasers, wrap them in nice paper and add a bit of ribbon. It’ll be a summer surprise sure to leave a smile on every face.

3. Sidewalk Chalk Messages

sidewalk chalk messages for friendsIf you want to encourage your kids to get out and get walking, then this can be a fun low-investment idea that still brings a lot of cheer. Grab some sidewalk chalk, then visit friends’ houses one by one. Leave a quick message in the driveway or on the sidewalk.

Get together with other parents so they can encourage their kids to do the same. Seeing the list of messages grow can be exciting and a lot of fun for kids.

One caveat: if you live close to all your child’s classmates it may be a nice idea to visit every classmate you can find, not just every friend within your child’s circle. If everyone lives close together less-popular children may see messages and grow upset when they don’t get any. By being conscientious about this, your child can work to make everyone feel included.

4. Rainbow Windows

rainbow and hope painted on windowsGrab some window paint and paint a bold, beautiful rainbow (or anything else your child wants to paint). Include an encouraging message for friends, the neighbors, essential workers, or anyone else your child wants to give a shout-out to.

Coordinate with other neighbors to fill the neighborhood with them, then go for a walk to see all the fun messages. It will be a little like the tradition of going around the neighborhood to see the holiday lights, minus the holiday (and the lights).

Be sure to get washable window markers or paint for this project so you can safely remove the message later.rainbow and clouds painted on windows

5. Stuffed Animal Safari

This idea is better for younger children. Coordinate with your child’s friends. Get as many of them as possible in on putting stuffed animals in their window. Make a checklist of each friend’s house and then take a walk to find each animal. Match the animal to who it belongs to.

You might even have your child make a small blue ribbon to mail or deliver to the home of the kid who successfully found the most animals.

Stay creative and optimistic!

stuffed animal bunny outsideThis summer doesn’t have to be a drag. With a little work, you can make it one of the most memorable your child has ever had. Don’t forget to schedule in other fun arts and crafts activities for you and your children, like this one for Father’s Day! They may appreciate the extra time with you, and with a little luck, they’ll be a little less bored (and distracting when you finally have to sit down for that conference call).

Don’t forget, Paper Plus has all of your arts and crafts supplies, and we’ve modified our store to remain as safe as possible for social distancing due to COVID-19.

You can even walk up and pick up your order at the curb if you don’t want to come inside. We’re all in this together!

How to Celebrate Your Birthday While Social Distancing

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

two handfuls rainbow sprinkles

Though the Berkeley area is gradually reopening, social distancing as much as possible will remain a smart idea until a COVID-19 vaccine is found and is widely available. This can be a bummer for those who have to stay at home on their birthday. It can be especially rough on kids in quarantine.

COVID-19 is forcing all of us to get creative. Fortunately, creativity is the key to launching an amazing socially distanced birthday party! Here are six ideas to get you started.

1. Launch a Socially-Distanced Birthday Parade

You’ll need to recruit family, friends, and neighbors to support your loved one on their birthday. Have them decorate their cars with streamers, happy birthday posters, and whatever else their creativity can come up with.

Then ask them to drive by the house. Have each person bring one balloon, and you’ll have one big birthday bunch at the end.

This idea is especially great because it gets to the heart of what a birthday celebration is all about: showing someone that they’re loved! It doesn’t take a huge party to accomplish that, and the effort it takes to organize and turn out for a parade does such a great job of communicating the sentiment while making the recipient feel special.

2. Go Big on Yard Decorations

backyard birthday celebration chocolate cakeIf you’ve got a yard then put it to use! Go big with large-letter signs, posters, balloons, and more.

You don’t have to be the sole source of these decorations. Ask friends and loved ones to stop by and add giant cards to the mix. Your birthday person can read the cards when it’s time to return the yard to normal.

Going big can be hilarious and can make your loved one feel extra special.

And how about a night of backyard camping?

3. Get a Cameo

Does your loved one have a favorite celebrity? If so, they might be on Cameo.com, especially right now. This site accommodates everyone from Instagram influencers to Clark Gregg, who plays Agent Phil Coulson in ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD.”

You’ll find celebrity chefs, reality show stars, rock stars, and baby animals all waiting to make a video, especially for your loved one.

Each star sets their own cost. When the video is done you get a link, which means you can send it to them by email, text, or via your favorite messenger program. For the true fan being personally recognized for a short video can be an absolutely thrilling experience, and may entirely make up for being stuck at home.

4. Party By Mail

birthday cardsThis is an especially effective celebration for family and friend groups who are scattered across the country, especially if video chats aren’t an option. Pick out one thing your loved one really enjoys: bears, frogs, teacups, unicorns, whatever.

Then, use social media or email to recruit as many people as possible into sending pictures, cards, and small tokens on this theme. These don’t have to be expensive! A teddy bear picture or construction-paper cut out can be just as meaningful as an actual teddy bear.

Try to arrange this all about a month before the birthday so the mail will all come in at once.

This is especially lovely for younger children, who are often absolutely enamored with the idea of receiving any kind of mail.

5. Participate in a Global Scavenger Hunt

small white dog outside with birthday hatIf you haven’t heard of GISH yet, now might be a great time to check it out. GISH stands for the “Greatest International Global Scavenger Hunt.” Usually, GISH takes place for one week every year and inspires people to do things like create giant replicas of board games or to do silly things in costume out in public, all while earning money for the charity Random Acts, which has gone on to do a huge amount of good all over the world.

Right now GISH is hosting 24-hour quarantine “hunts” at home, and each scavenger hunt item is designed to be do-able at home. Some involve Zoom chats, others involve making art, and still, others involve making funny videos. At the moment, all funds are going to keeping kids fed during the COVID-19 crisis.

If your birthday person’s special day happens to fall on or near the next hunt, you could form a team of family or friends and spend the day competing to finish as many items as possible. It’s a great way to bring everybody together while making a difference…and yes, younger kids can participate too!

6. Host a Virtual Party

virtual birthday via zoom showing two dogs on zoomVideo chats have become the coronavirus go-to for social interactions of every kind. How can you turn it into a party?

One way is to get everyone to dress up. Have a princess party, space party, or zombie party by having everyone dress up. Host some good video-chat party games like charades or Pictionary. Or just get together, have some good food, and chat.

If you need a little more structure you might try a karaoke party. If you have Discord or another streaming platform you can share party games like the ones put out by Jackbox Games.

The Netflix Party app is another awesome option, allowing your family and friends to watch a movie together while commenting in a shared chat.

Plan, Get Supplies, Go Nuts

child celebrating quarantine birthday with cakeThe specifics of what you do don’t really matter. What matters is showing your love for each other on your birthday, spending time together, and having some fun. Think outside the box, gather some art or party supplies, and try not to let your disappointment over not having “normal” birthday activities bring down the mood.

Still, don’t forget to order some ice cream and cake via delivery. We don’t want to throw all the traditions out the window just because this virus might be around for a while, and cake is sacrosanct.

Come on by!

Starting May 9th, 2020, Paper Plus is offering all your party supplies, as well as some essential items, in a properly socially-distanced environment. Grab your mask and visit our store to stock up on all your birthday needs. We are located at 1629 San Pablo Ave in Berkeley, CA. Question? Give us a call at 510-525-1799.

5 Epic Backyard Camping Ideas

Friday, May 1st, 2020

There are lots of reasons why pitching a tent in your own backyard makes sense. The number one reason right now is that in California, we are all sheltered in place due to COVID-19.

Backyard camping is always an option! If you have little kids who want to experience camping you get to let them do it without taking them too far from their own comfy beds, toys, and routines (many will want to go inside eventually). If money is tight you can this is the perfect idea for a fun staycation.

Here are some fun backyard camping ideas that with a little creativity won’t break the bank.

1. Pitch a Perfect Tent

cartoon gray tentIf you’ve already got a tent then pitch away! Then jazz it up with fun decorations, strings of light, and a big air mattress. Since you don’t have to worry about car space you can bring your own sheets and blankets, creating a bed that’s both more attractive than a standard sleeping bag and more comfortable.

Don’t have a tent and don’t want to buy one? If you have a tarp or fabric lying around, you can make one of your own. There are quite a few tutorials on YouTube on how to do so, and figuring out how to make a tent could be a fun family activity in its own right.

 

2. Bring on the Bonfire

roasting-smores-over-firepit-while-backyard-camping-If you have a fire pit then you’re all set, but what if you don’t? What if you live in a neighborhood that bans open flames?

You could create a fake bonfire out of LED lights. Simply wind coils of orange and white lights together and set them in a circle, or use a wide basin or birdbath to contain them. Or just hang light strings: the effect is magical, and it will make you all happy to be outside once the sun sets.

Doesn’t look ‘flamey’ enough? Try cutting paper flames out of orange, red, and yellow tissue paper, then gathering them together on cardboard “logs.” You can again use a birdbath or other basin to contain your ‘fire.’

Obviously the fake fire is for backyard camping with kids. If you’re backyard camping with adults skip the fake fire and go straight to the barbeque pit, or pop open a bottle of wine under the stars.

 

3. Don’t Forget the Food

smores-supplies-on-table-in-front-of-fireWhy not pack a cooler and have a picnic? Grab s’more supplies and make them. You don’t have to have a fire: you can make skillet s’mores.

As for other things you might serve, the sky’s the limit. Hot dogs and hamburgers are popular and fun. Chips and healthy vegetables with dip offer fun finger foods. You could even set out a big bowl of trail mix to keep the camping theme going strong.

If you’re having a party you can have even more fun with this. For example, you can get compostable plates, cups, napkins, spoons, and forks. That way you’ll be helping the environment even as you enjoy your camping fun.

 

4. Let the Games Begin

girl-using-sidewalk-chalk-backyard-patioWhat would your staycation weekend be without backyard camping games? Here are a few ideas:

  • Use sidewalk chalk to make a giant copy of any one of your favorite board games, then let your kids pretend to be the pieces.
  • Create a scavenger hunt with a number of clues appropriate for your kid’s age: 3-5 for a younger child, 5-10 for an older child, and up to 20 for a tween.
  • Go classic with horseshoes, croquette, or cornhole
  • Wear animal masks and play “wild animal hide-and-seek” with stuffed animals.

Add a few more outdoor activities that aren’t competitive. Bring out the soap bubbles, or bust out the sidewalk chalk again so the kids can decorate your back patio.

5. Have a Wind-Down Plan

Eventually, you’re going to want your kids to go to bed, and this break in routine might make it difficult if you don’t have a plan.

Signal the beginning of nighttime activities by passing out wearable glow sticks. Get a family clean-up effort going so your back yard “campsite” doesn’t get overrun with flies and ants.

Then it’s time to settle in for a story, or perhaps a movie under the stars if you have a projector and a screen.

Sleeping arrangements are up to you. Some kids will want to sleep in the tent. Others will be ready to go back to their own beds. Use your judgement.

In the morning, give yourself a high-five! You’ve planned and pulled off an amazing family day activity that will be the subject of good memories for years to come. Have a victory mimosa at breakfast to celebrate a successful backyard campout night. You’ve earned it!

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