Lake Bluff woman helps create survival guide for children’s parties
Libby Worsley Crouch (right) and her co-author Penny Barlow Liston (left), collaborated to write "Planning Children's Birthday Parties -- Libby and Penny's Survival Guide", are shown on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, at Libby's home in Lake Bluff. | Buzz Orr~Sun
NAME: Libby Worsley Crouch
BEST KNOWN AS: Co-author with Penny Barlow Liston of “Planning Children’s Birthday Parties — Libby and Penny’s Survival Guide”
HOMETOWN: Lake Bluff
Updated: September 17, 2012 6:10AM
LAKE BLUFF — It was a party to remember -- and not in a good way.
The in-class Halloween bash lead by parents was so chaotic and stressful that former teacher Libby Worsley Crouch started writing lesson plans for every classroom celebration after that.
“From that day on, I realized how important it is to be organized,” the 1969 Woodlands Academy graduate said.
Crouch got so adept at creating activities, timelines and to-do lists for kids’ parties, friends started asking her to write party plans for them. She was happy to comply.
“I helped moms create order,” she said.
Now retired, Crouch and friend Penny Barlow Liston noticed the prevalence of over-the-top birthday parties and harried moms trying to do it all.
Still looking for teachable moments, Crouch told Liston, “Maybe we should do something about this.”
Two years and hundreds of sticky-notes later, the duo wrote “Planning Children’s Birthday Parties — Libby and Penny’s Survival Guide.”
The 161-page book, released Aug. 2, is packed with lesson plans and tips for how to throw great kids parties at home, from creating the invitation list to setting up and practicing group activities to seeing the guests out the door.
How it looks
Drawing on their years as teachers, Crouch and Liston noticed parents often spend a lot of time worrying about how the party will look — with the perfect food, cake and decorations — but little or no time on activities.
“If you haven’t taught, you don’t really know what to do with a group of children when they show up at your house,” said Liston.
Their book includes details for themed parties, from a dinosaur party to a be-an-artist party to a backward party, moment-by-moment party timelines, art and craft activities as well as game ideas.
Crouch said following a timeline allows for parents to vary high-energy activities and low-energy activities, ultimately ending on a relaxed note.
Planning a party following their guidelines can make a child’s birthday as memorable as preparing for a family holiday.
“And you’re allowing them to participate in social skills that will be so important in their life,” Crouch, still a teacher at heart, said.
The Lake Bluffer admits collaborating with a friend made all the difference.
“Doing this with a friend was a big help,” she said. “Sometimes you just need someone else to prod you.”