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  • The Piquant Storyteller

Gloss, Glamour, and Glamping

“I like that there aren’t many people at this party. It’s easier to talk and have fun.”


Overhearing that observation made the whole party worthwhile to me. Hours later, this girl’s mom sent me a thank you text. Thanks for inviting her daughter who had so much fun and thanks for the party favors we gave her. My heart burst.


The theme was glamping. Glamping is glamorous camping, aka indoor pampering loosely held together with a nod to camping. Gwen has never been camping and therefore is not aware that it’s just a lot of work while pretending to be homeless for a period of time. I have been camping and I don’t miss it. Gwen still hasn’t forgiven my mom for getting married the same weekend Gwen was supposed to go to a father daughter campout with friends from our ward congregation. She will go camping on Orcas Island with the other 5th graders soon. I’m curious to know how she will feel about her first camping experience. Putting doors on the cabins is an improvement, but I don’t think sleeping in a bed in a cabin in the woods is true camping. Doors or not.


I had a lot of fun with the glamping theme. We glammed up the invitations by embossing the campfire and the words “Glam Camping” with gold foil. I also suggested the girls wear lotion and perfume rather than sunscreen and bug spray. Activities were a perfect mix of glamour and camping as were the fancy food labels.

At the last minute I stepped fully into the role of glamp counselor as I glammed up the schedule, including the use of camp themed stickers. Minutes before party time, Heath wished we had made signs for the house like Mess Hall. Since we didn’t have time to make any, I tried to use the words as I moved girls from activity to activity. Those tiny little details were so much fun. Some of the girls asked Gwen if she had any rainbow trout (colored goldfish crackers) left and if she could bring some to school. She will have to let them know that it was a big hit in our house and we are fresh out. The boys were excited that we had an extra stash of fish bait (gummy worms). The girls had eaten the buckets clean!


The girls played Uno as a gathering activity, dealing in each new guest as she arrived. They put their gifts for Gwen on a folding table I put a pretty tablecloth on in the front room. I moved the girls to the back of the house announcing the Mess Hall and showing them the table of snacks that they could graze from at will. The only eating time planned into the schedule was for S’mores and pie. Gwen was adamant she didn’t want cake for her birthday. She wanted a cherry pie with ice cream. By the time we were slicing pie, the girls had pain in their eyes as they respectfully accepted more food their tummies could barely contain. Each girl asked for a tiny sliver of pie and most girls asked for a small scoop of ice cream. One or two requested no ice cream. For a party with no meal, we stuffed those girls silly. We had most of a Costco cherry pie to share with Grandma and Grandpa when they came on Sunday to give Gwen her present.


One girl had S’mores for the first time in her life. We wanted to pull out the fire table and let the girls use their party favor roasting sticks to roast marshmallows outside. In the end we decided to just microwave the S’mores. Good thing because hail was actively bouncing off the deck during S’more time. It was a strange weather day. Mother Nature gave us sunshine, gray clouds, blustery wind, rain, hail, and everything in between.


We bought some balloons to display outside as a visual that the parents found the right place. The dragonfly was perfect for a glamping party and the purple balloons were so Gwen and matched great. The wind had picked up by then and I was afraid the balloons would either pop or blow away. The dragonfly didn’t look too good outside. He was sad and droopy. We thought he wasn’t filled enough. We brought the balloons in after the girls arrived. Draco the dragonfly was happier inside. He inflated back to full capacity and popped back up to the ceiling.


For the first game, the girls wrapped yarn around themselves making big knots while they answered Would You Rather questions. Most of the questions I found online. Some I wrote myself. My favorite was: Would you rather meet the man of your dreams with spinach in your teeth or with toilet paper stuck to your shoe? The girls all agreed that toilet paper on their shoe was better because he was not likely to look down and see it. One girl suggested just running away from him. I reminded her that he was the man of her dreams. She was confident she would find another dreamy guy later under less embarrassing circumstances!


The next activity was a craft where the girls made bandana tote bags. My brother in law suggested the idea. Tying knots in fringed bandanas sounds super easy and fun. I still looked it up online. I found some instructions that I printed for reference. Amazon had a good deal on 36 colorful bandanas. Which meant I had plenty to practice with. Gwen and her friend picked out six colors they liked best for the party. Three bandanas to each color and I only needed two bandanas for the totes. So I had a lot of extras to practice with. It was a good thing too because I was not good at interpreting the instructions. Halfway through my second practice bag, I realized I didn't cut the fringe long enough. Gwen's friend had only tied one side of the first bag before I let her give up. I was able to unpick her knots and "fix" my mistake.


As I prepped the party bags, I was afraid the project was too easy and wouldn’t take much time. It turned out to be the perfect amount of challenge for four 5th graders and one 7th grader. One girl was a rockstar knotter and braider. She helped the slower girls without being asked. It was also the perfect activity for them to just chat. The bags became their party favor holder. They kept their roasting sticks in the bags and the socks they got as a prize for solving the hike puzzle.


The hike was my favorite part. This is where we really used Gwen’s woodland creature theme. We borrowed stuffed animals from Grandma that fit the woodland creature and camping criteria. Between her stuffed animals and our stuffed animals, we had 21 creatures for the hike. I found the perfect camping phrase for the puzzle – may the forest be with you. I cut out the letters and mounted them on circles I punched out of scrapbook paper. Gwen taped the letter circles to each animal (they were out of order) and the boys hid the animals throughout the house. They didn’t really hide them as much as spread the animals around the house. I told them they were hiding animals in plain sight. The girls were told not to open any shut doors. The animals were in any room with an open door.


Hiking is hard work so the girls made their own trail mix and grabbed a water bottle. They hung their bags over their necks like a feeding trough for easy access to their snacks! I thought that was clever. They grouped themselves, as I suspected, to find the creatures and solve the puzzle. Heath and I were willing to give hints to get them started on solving the puzzle. We told them where the vowels were and they unscrambled the rest of the letters from there. Everyone was able to pick out which pairs of socks they liked best as their prize.


The last formal activity was the homemade lotion and lip balm. Heath geeked out teaching the science behind the ingredients and how we were combining them. The girls were impressed. The lip balm chilled in the fridge to set faster, but the lotion wasn’t quite ready before some of the girls had to go. Gwen took the bottles to school along with an extra for her teacher.


Karaoke Kumbaya was the last hurrah along with pie a la mode. I turned off the Sonos speaker we had been listening to and let them do their Karaoke. Heath and I sat in the front room congratulating ourselves on another successful party while the girls giggled and sang in another room. Parents showed up one by one to check their daughters out of the party.


I felt extra pressure with this party. Gwen and her friends had a great time. It was a good mix of girls and they all got along really well. I could see doing that again, although I still think it will be easier to celebrate a half birthday in August when the weather is more predictable and life is a little less busy.

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