Help your children say goodbye with a travel-themed party
So you’ve planned your adventure, you’re starting to get packed, and the time has come to wave goodbye to those friends you’ve made in the town where you live. For adults, this can be tough, but thanks to social media and email it’s actually not too hard to stay in touch with the people who really mean something. For kids, however, it’s a whole different ball game.
Child friendships can mean so much to your little ones. Whether they’ve known their current circle of friends for a year or a decade, wrenching themselves away into the unknown is going to be scary, and it’s up to us as parents to do what we can to make things OK.
Having a ‘bon voyage’ party is one amazing way to say goodbye to the people we love, and to bring a happy slant to what can be a stressful time. Here are some ideas for things to include at your child’s leaving party if you’re moving away soon.
The instant guestbook
If you can get your hands on a Polaroid instant camera, or alternatively get set up with a digital camera and printer at the party, you can produce instant snaps of the guests who came to make into a treasured memory your child will love. Take photos of all their special friends, and stick them into a hard back book with a little message from each guest inside. It will last longer than all the ‘goodbye’ cards they’ll undoubtedly get, and will provide a visual reminder of all the fun they had at their party.
Pin the plane / motorhome / car on the country
Print out a map of the country or state you are moving to, and give each child a little cut out of a car, plane, bus or whatever mode of transport you’ll be taking to your destination. Show them which city you’re going to on the map, then blindfold each in turn and see who can get you the closest to your destination. Not only will this be a lot of fun for everyone, it will also give your child and their friends a better idea of where you’re going.
Themed party food… or not!
If you’re moving far away, why not cater the party with some traditional food from the place you are going to. If you’re going to Italy, get stocked up on pizza, pasta and ice cream. For Asia, go for Chinese snacks and noodles aplenty. Of course, if you don’t think your child and their friends will like the local food very much, in the case of heading to India and trying to serve six year olds curry (not going to happen!), maybe you could theme it with their favourite foods from the place they are leaving instead?
Giant poster art
If you’ve got little ones coming along, cover the lower half of a wall with a roll of poster paper or stuck together flip board sheets. Place buckets of crayons and felt tips along the wall, and encourage guests to draw, write and colour to create a unique masterpiece that your child can hang in their new room. A good alternative for older or teenage party guests is to get the guest of honour to wear a plain white tee shirt, and hand Sharpies to all the guests to decorate and message them all over their body.
The packing game
Set out some objects such as toiletries, clothes, books and suchlike, and two similar sized suitcases ready to pack. Have guests put together the best packed suitcase as quickly as they can, and get your child to pick the winner from each round. An alternative to this is to have a box full of different items, suited to different seasons and destinations. Call out a place name (Switzerland, Kenya, Australia etc.) and get people to race to pack the most appropriate items in the case.
Print out some mini business cards with your child’s name and contact details on. Email is a wonderful way to stay in touch, so even if your child is only little, consider opening them a free email account so that they can keep in touch with friends. Make sure the guests write down their contact details too, either in a notebook or in the guest book before they leave.
Moving away doesn’t have to be the end of the world for your child. By putting together a thoughtful leaving party with all their friends together, they’ll feel like they really had the chance to say goodbye to all the important people in their lives.