Naturally Fun Parties for kids is a new book by Anni Daulter with Heather Fontenot. Anni is the author of the well-loved books Ice Pop Joy, The Organic Family Cookbook, and Organically Raised: Conscious Cooking for Babies and Toddlers. Heather Fontenot is creator and editor of Rhythm of the Home and blogs at Shivaya Naturals.
In Naturally Fun Parties for kids, Anni and Heather take us into the world of children’s parties, and do so with the dedication to simplicity, reverence for the natural world, wholesome food, and beauty that we have come to expect from their work.
As soon as I picked up the book, I fell in love with the beautiful photos. My 6 year old son and I sat down together and thumbed through the pages, diving right in to the exquisite photos and commenting on what party elements we want to try. Just looking at the pictures had us dreaming up plans of all the parties we could have all year round.
One of my very favorite aspects of Anni and Heather’s book is the overarching concept of gathering children together for celebrations throughout the year — not just for birthday parties. While I love having parties to celebrate my children, this book emphasizes celebrations that take the focus off of one child. I can’t wait to get kids together just to celebrate, making each child an equal part of the festivities.
Throughout the book Anni and Heather have countless ideas for how to incorporate simple repurposed items or low cost purchases from thrift stores. There are amazing ideas for everything from invitations to decorations to games involving objects you can find around your home or in nature and save up for a special party. One decoration idea I’m fond of is to create a fabric banner by simply tearing old shirts, dresses or other fabric into strips and tying the strips to a long rope. Then, simply hang the rope across the entry way or over the table — anywhere you might hang something like paper streamers. Another great idea is to create Tic Tac Toe board using sticks, with stick X’s and stone O’s. All kids will be able to jump into a game, and it provides a wonderful way to use natural objects for play.
I deeply appreciate the strong move against the mass-produced and poorly made items found at super stores provided by Naturally Fun Parties for kids. I also think it is fantastic that the items are simple and beautiful and that the act of preparing for the parties can be an engaging and memorable experience of its own.
A few of the parties have a gender or age focus. But all the parties in the book can easily adapt to the needs of any party-goer. For instance, when I read about the “Natural Spa Party” I instantly thought it would make for a wonderful night with girlfriends. The “Wild Girls Tepee Party” could easily become “Wild Kids Tepee Party”, and this party happens to be high on the list of parties I hope to throw this summer for my son and his friends. Additionally, the “Knights and Dragon Quest Party” could become “Princesses and Dragon Quest Party”, with the strong and brave Princesses saving the kingdom from the Dragon. The creative ideas in the book inspired me to think up even more fun ideas of ways to play and celebrate with my children.
If you are looking for birthday party ideas, any of the suggested party themes could be turned into a birthday party. However, the theme of the one birthday party in this book is simply amazing — “Gratitude Birthday Party”. What better way to celebrate the birthday of a child than to celebrate all there is to be grateful for? That is a world I want to live in with my family.
Naturally Fun Parties for kids is also filled with recipes for food and treats at the variously themed parties. There are some recipes that I know would not go over well with my children, such as the Dragon Soup and the Lemon Mint Ice Pops. My kids consistently turn their nose up to any soup and are not fans of mint in any form. However, the variety of recipes provided can easily inspire good, wholesome food at any party, which is really the goal of the book. Instead of letting parties and celebrations be permission to eat unhealthy food, Anni and Heather show us that party food can be delicious and nutritious, that some sweet treats are okay, and that food should be both tasty and beautiful. Some of the recipes I would make for our next kids party, as well as just for our family to enjoy, are Vanilla Cake Donuts with Strawberry Goop, Cheesy Faerie Wands, Hearty Mac-n-Cheese and Ginger-Spiced Cookies.
Naturally Fun Parties for kids is certain to become a well-used, dogged-eared, and food-stained book in my library. While I would love to preserve the incredible beauty on all the pages, I know that this book will be used often and loved. Frankly, that will just make it more beautiful over the years, infusing memories of wonderful times with friends and family into the pages.
Anni Daulter and Heather Fontenot took some time to talk with Kelly about their life, work, families, and what living deliberately means to them.
Kelly: Hi ladies! Can you first share a little bit about yourselves and your work with Sparrow readers?
Anni: My name is Anni Daulter and I am a conscious family living expert and author. I have been blessed with the opportunity to create books that support families live a more natural simple life filled with sacred birthing, organic foods, attachment parenting, green nest awareness, and general earth lovin’ practices. I love the simplistic beauty of nature and all that she has to offer and find inspiration in creating in all forms. I have written 6 books; Organically Raised; conscious cooking for babies + toddlers, ICE POP JOY, The Organic Family Cookbook, Naturally Fun Parties for Kids, Sacred Pregnancy and Bountiful Baby Food. Each book is a complete labor of love and has so much of my heart and soul embedded in the pages that they are like sneak peaks into my life with my family and almost like an invitation to come on over for tea.
I have 4 kids (Zoe (14), Lotus Sunshine (7), Bodhi Ocean (4) and River Love (2) and live in the countryside of Philadelphia in a 200 year old farm house with my kiddos, husband Tim, and our two kitties Hazel + Nuts.
Things I am into: Gorgeous photos, Food styling, Yummy smells like patchouli, butter, brown sugar and grapefruits, Babies, Music that my 14 year old picks out like Bon Iver(!), Moments that move me, like when my baby randomly gives me a huge bear hug, Thrift store finds like mason jars and an amazing hand knitted sweater for my daughter, Homemade Jams + Breads, Waking up with the surprise of which kid (s) are in my bed, Memories of all the perfect moments of my life and all the in between, like my wedding day.
Heather: I am a mother to three young boys who range in age from 8-1 year. Prior to having children I was a yoga therapist for many years, and I think that work sparked my passion for natural living. My children brought out a creative passion that I never knew existed, and those two things came together and now fuel most of what I do.
My work has varied over the years, but in this moment of my life the focus has been on creating the most natural and playful experience for both my children and my readers. I am honored to call myself a writer and editor, and the words that I put to paper (or keyboard) are born out of a desire to see natural and sustainable rhythms return to the home.
Kelly: Can you tell Sparrowʼs readers what inspired you to create the beautiful book, Naturally Fun Parties for kids?
Anni: The Daulters love to throw parties and with 4 kids and a bunch of friends, we always have a house full of people. I liked the idea of creating a party book that celebrated the natural lifestyle that we live and gave people some fresh ideas for their own gatherings all year round. We are so used to throwing parties for birthdays, but don’t think to gather up some folks to celebrate the budding of spring or summer solstice or just gather kids up for a PJ pancake party. Creating these moments can be fun, simple and beautiful and only need a little imagination, ingenuity and effort. The spirit of each of the parties in the book was to inspire the reader to take the basis of the idea and run with it in ways that suit her own family and each was designed with an eco slant that support a simple and natural lifestyle. I wanted each party to reflect the season, nature, beautiful ideas that can be easily implemented and good healthy food that is out of the pizza party comfort zone. I am very proud of the book and think the parties are fun, beautiful, inspired, creative and reflect a healthy respect for connection, friendship and community.
Kelly: What do you hope readers take away from your book?
Anni: I want readers to open the book, and be inspired to read it cover to cover. I then want them to be confused about what to try first because everything sounds so darn fun! I love to be inspired and I hope this book feeds the soul of the family who devours the pages, ideas, and photos in ways that connect the family together with each other, their friends, local communities and Mother Nature. Tall order I know…but why not pursue it?!
Oh ya, and have loads and loads of fun!
Heather: I hope that the readers of the book take away the simple idea that you can create a beautiful, sustainable party for your family with ease. It is hard to realize how much we already have around our house that can make for a great children’s party, and that helps to reduce what we purchase and what our footprint on this great earth of ours becomes.
Kelly: What is your favorite child focused party you have hosted?
Anni: That is such a hard question, because I love each party for different reasons. What I love is celebrating the transition times in our lives, and as each season passes it’s so much fun to mark those with communal gatherings. The funnest party we threw while making the book was by far the Natural Spa Party. The facials are all edible and the girls had so much fun licking their chocolate face masks off their fingers, enjoying Italian ices on a hot day and smelling the essential oils of grapefruit infused sugar scrubs. It was a pamper me day with the theme being all girls are beautiful, special and unique. We had a great time.
Heather: I think that the best children’s parties that I have thrown have been ones that are creative in their nature. I love outdoor art parties. We did one a few years ago for my two oldest sons that included a paint throwing wall, a portrait center, and a clay modeling table. The kids all had a ball, and I felt as though it was something that each of them would remember for a long time to come. That is what makes something unique.
Kelly: Sparrow Magazineʼs mission is Inspiring Deliberate Living. How do you Live Deliberately?
Anni: I love this question because it makes me think, how do I live deliberately. The answer is I try to stay awake. Awake in the moment, present for the in between times of the day when I am passing by my husband holding a baby, two waters, a quesadilla and probably some wooden toy in my hand and he steels a quick kiss. I live deliberately by noticing my children are growing up right before my eyes and its going by fast, by honoring the days and seasons of our lives by living simply and in alignment with the earth. Mostly I live deliberately by being in love with my life and sharing what I love about the world with all of you.
Thank you so much for reviewing Naturally Fun Parties for Kids and allowing me to share myself with the Sparrow Community!
Peace + Blessings!
Heather: Living deliberately to me means that I am fulfilling the values in my own heart that are important. I think that I live every day in that way, trying hard to not be influenced by what is trendy, but rather by what speaks to my family and I. I think that NFPFK is a book that fosters deliberate living by telling it’s readers that a child’s party does not have to be full of commercial goodness to be fun, but rather that there are thousands of ways to create something unique and personalized for each and every child. It certainly shows you a few ways to put some real imagination behind your next gathering.
Thank you so much for having me.