Take time to celebrate
Ellen Pals of Happy Canyon, local author and expert in creating celebrations.
By Elise Brassell; photo courtesy of Michele Hafey
Wondering what to do with bored kids on summer break, when family comes to town, or when friends visit? Local author Ellen Pals said, “Take time to celebrate!” She may just make you question all you thought you knew about what makes a great celebration.
Pals, a Happy Canyon resident for the past six years, has found a way to share her personal experience with creating celebrations for kids and adults alike. Through books in the “Ellen’s Party Activity Guide” series, this grandmother of five offers a mix of vintage and contemporary activities designed to create a celebration that builds community and connects all guests in the spirit of having fun.
“What gives me fulfillment and joy is to see others having fun,” she said. Pals once created a party with painted gold nuggets to find in hay and people could be sent to “jail” and had to sing a song for their release. “Everybody didn’t want to leave and had so much fun – that was the moment I realized how important it is to have fun activities for people to do when you entertain.”
After a career teaching physical education at schools in Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado, Pals has learned a thing or two about what keeps kids engaged and having fun. Pals says most parties focus on food and decor, but kids especially like movement. She creates games to play quickly so kids aren’t spending time waiting for a turn, or sitting out. She also relies on tried and true favorites such as sack races and horseshoes, creating silhouettes and even playing leap frog with live frogs.
Her first two activity guides, “Fairy Party” and “Wrangle Up!” are available through Marquess Studios online. Her next two guides, one focused on Tom Sawyer-themed activities and one on farm-themed activities, will be released next. “Share in celebration – life is not what we gather but what we scatter,” Pals stated.