Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Ice Skating Party

Last year we did a skating party on the Public Session on the big ice. The kids had fun, but it was tough to round them up amid the crowd, we couldn't do anything special, and we noted that the kids separated themselves into skaters and nonskaters, which made things a little awkward.

This year, we have the small rink to ourselves. Dad and I discussed the lessons from last year, and so I have a plan to make this year more inclusive.

Hospitality: One Parent is in skates, on the ice with the guests. The Other Parent (or Friend to Whom You Owe Beer for the single parents out there) is in the lobby, greeting guests, tying skates, running down safety and ensuring everyone is comfortable. I was Lobby Parent last year, Dad was Skate Parent, so I'm assuming we'll switch roles this year. Bring extra gloves for kids who may need them.

Food:  Kidfood. Pizza and Cake. Always a win. Don't cast pearls before swine, just give them what they want. Non-spillable drinks. Hand Snacks I'm avoiding, as I don't want food on the ice, and I don't want to be Food Police, watching for someone chewing while they skate.

Treats: No gum or hard candy until they're walking out the door. It's too easy for someone to be tempted to waltz onto the rink with a lollipop and suddenly we're doing the Heimlich instead of swizzles. Also, small candies get dropped on the floor, waiting to be picked up by a skate blade and then dragged on the ice. So, while I love candy, there won't be any for the duration of the party.

Favors: Again, nothing until they're walking out the door. At least nothing small and easily dropped or ferreted onto the ice. (Kid Party Favor Rules apply: NO WATER GUNS and NO WHISTLES.) For some On-Ice fun, I'm thinking of handing out ribbon batons to the girls, and I can make a second billowy cape for my other Boy. Who knows, I might get an impromptu Ice Capades. Small goodies can wait until it's time to go. Typically I buy the bag of Pinata Mix and distribute evenly into cheap bags tied with a pretty ribbon. No one's complained and it's half the price of prepackaged favors.

Contingency Plan: It's not a Kid's Party until someone cries, and since we're all courting disaster by skating in the first place, it's double the fun. The Rink has ice packs on hand, but I'll bring my first aid kit all the same. If any parent leaves, and they're welcome to do so, they need to leave me their phone number. I think everyone this year has skating experience to some degree, but last year we kept an eye on the first time skaters, helping them as they needed it.

Games: Since we have skaters and nonskaters in attendance, making sure everyone has fun is a challenge. This year we can actually have organized games. While I don't intend to take up the whole party with them, they are a good way to break the ice with kids who don't know each other very well.

Beanie Baby Relay: Just like a relay race, but instead of batons, the kids have to make it around the rink with a Beanie Baby on their heads. (Tip: for any racing game, outline the course with cones. Kids are smart, they will cut the middle unless it's marked.) Among the Skaters, I know who has terrible posture, so I can make this a fair fight.

Pairs Race: One goes forward, the other backward, and see which pair makes it around first! We can pair a skater and a nonskater for this game, evening out the odds.

Flag Tag: I don't like Tag Games on the ice since kids get carried away and end up checking each other. This isn't safe for the nonskaters, so let's change it up. Each kid gets a belt with a flag on each hip attached by velcro. When those two flags get taken, they're out. I can make Flag Belts pretty easily with scrap material I have now.

After some rounds of games, we will eat pizza, cut cake, and they can skate free until the end of the party.

The idea at any gathering is to keep everyone comfortable, safe, well-fed and feeling welcome. It can be a challenge when dealing with kids who have varying degrees of skill, but I think we can pull it off this year.

Stitch is still super bummed thinking there is no party, and it's so hard to not clue him in. I keep telling him to wait, sometimes Life surprises you. Sure as hell surprised me. His Zuca bag is on hold at the Skate Shop. I know it's dumb but he's going to be so happy.


  1. You can also hire a coach or one of the rink teens to do a quick safety lecture, to do rental skate checks, and to work a little with kids who've never skated. A lot of coaches will do this for a standard lesson fee, but will stay for the entire party, if there is cake involved. (and stickers. We definitely want stickers)

  2. Excellent post- you've got this party planning down!

    Xan, that is exactly the same comment I was coming by to post- Our rink sells party packages (just on public skate, though I suppose you could rent the ice out), and one of the add on options is to have a skating instructor.

    As for the idea of skating parent and lobby parent: very very good idea. As fun as skating is, someone needs to be off-ice. I did a lot of Girl Scout parties as a skating instructor and was a bit of a spy: I also worked for the Girl Scout council at the time, and the rulebook says that at least one leader can't skate, and I enforced it. The adults would always whine and ask why. You're here for the kids and if you're the one to fall and medical care, who is going to be watching them?

    Love that you are surprising skating son with a skating party! And a zuca bag...I'm off and on about whether I want one or not.

  3. Hope Stitch and his friends have fun at the party!

    I've not done the childrens party thing since i was a child myself, but from skating club parties, i have the following suggestions:

    - musical bumps (no cheating by doing shoot the duck or little man), should help get any nervous skaters over the fear of falling.
    - obstacle course - could include slaloms, climbing under a chair with a cup of water, pushing a puck through cones. You could do it as a relay and make sure the non-skaters get things they can do and the skaters get the more challenging things.
    - sliding on your tummy is ALWAYS a hit lol! I saw one coach do a party where all the kids wanted to do was skate fast and slide lol! Even at club parties we always seem to end up doing this.
    - stand on the barrier and step round in a circle while moving along the barrier. Continue to the end (or until too dizzy!). The skaters could do three turns. I don't get this one personally, but the kids and teenagers seem to lvoe it o_0

  4. Xan, thanks for the advice about a Coach to help. I'd enlist a Junior Coach for this task, personally. I can pay her entirely with stickers if that's what she's into...

    Skittl, Girl Scouts are Life Scouts.

    Awesome ideas, Turnip! I will keep those in my pocket!