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Representation and Inclusion is so important... especially in today's world. We are living in a global economy where we are all connected, especially with technology. The days are long gone of turning on the TV and seeing no diversity on tv shows, movies and music videos. I do recall watching movies of white actors and actresses putting on brown face and acting out roles that were supposed to be Indigenous, Middle Eastern or from other parts of the world. I also recall that one of the only princesses that I could relate to as a child was Princess Jasmine. She looked like me... or at least, kind of?

Today, we have Princess Tiana, the sisters from the lively Encanto, Asha, Mulan and now a Black Ariel! Disney sees the importance of representation and we are seeing that in newer films that are being released. It is so important that this representation and inclusion trickles down to children's character entertainment companies. Sadly, as one of the only BIPOC children's entertainment companies in the Toronto region, I quickly noticed the lack of representation within companies in our region. When I decided to launch my own company, (out of my sheer obsession with everything Disney.... and motivated by my own 3 daughters) I noticed it's just not my region but all of North America. Representation is lacking and glaringly so. Dream Parties has taken it upon ourselves to fill this gap. It is so beautiful to see little one's faces see a princess and say, "she looks like me." After all, every child should feel that they could be a superhero or a princess or perhaps a fairy!

Dream Parties incorporates kindness lessons into all of our packages. Whether you're a Superhero saving the world like Spider-Man, or a carpet-flying beautiful Princess like Jasmine... kindness is at the centre of their magical worlds. It is and should be the center of our world as well. If we all have this magical power of kindness, could you imagine what the world would look like? Representation, inclusion and fair treatment towards one another would not be a question, it would be a part of who we are - as kind, compassionate human beings.

It is also very important to note, when selecting the company that you'd like to hire for your next birthday or corporate event, also consider the background of why the company was started. I started Dream Parties from the perspective of a mother, who is really obsessed with Disney and my own 3 daughters and really trying to make the world a better place for them. We recently got approved by a local school board to present to classes about inclusion and belonging with our sister company - Inclusive Child. Look at the company values and background and then choose whom you'd like to celebrate your little one's day with!

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Princess Party

What is your budget?

The first thing you should do is determine what type of a budget are you working with. Birthday party venue choices can range from cheap - like doing your party at home, to extravagant - think banquet halls. We have been in the party business for 2+ years now and we have seen it all! But, this would be the first place to start your planning.

Where are you having the party?

We often get parents booking characters, face painting or balloon twisting with us and they leave the location blank. Often times the struggle is there for those of us who have family and friends that live far away. For example, so many people during COVID moved to "the country," or what used to be cottage country. We leave our family and friends in the city and then wonder, do we expect them all to travel 1-3 hours away for our child's birthday or do we come to them?

Indoor or Outdoor Party?

Superhero Party

Well for us Ontarians, we know we aren't having an outside party for at least 6-9 months out of the year due to the weather. The summer babies have the choice of indoor or outdoor, while the rest of us have to do it indoors - unless you're doing an ice skating party! You also need to consider, what will the main activities be at the party? Face Painting can be done indoors or outdoors, a Magician can be outside or inside, a bouncy castle will need to be outside, unless you get a smaller one and have the room for it indoors.

How many people will be attending?

If you have 50+ people, you will obviously need a larger venue. I am planning my almost 9 year old's party at the moment and many party venues give you a minimum number of children and adults and a maximum number. I am planning her birthday at a movie theater, with a surprise visit from one of her favourites characters in the party room. The venue has told me that the maximum number of children allowed is 15 and the minimum is 10. So, sometimes the number of people allowed is dictated to you depending on the venue and activity choice.

Entertainment Options

Planning a party at your local theatre entails entertaining your kids with a movie. What if you're doing a birthday at home? There are endless options to consider for entertainment. Hire an entertainer (inputting self promo here, wink, wink). Princesses, superheroes, mascots, face painters, balloon twisters, crafting parties, baking parties, magicians, animal visits, clowns,

Princess Party
Princess and Superhero Parties are a great entertainment option!

the list can go on and on. There are more and more creative ways to entertain your kiddos, you just need to ask them what they want... albeit, if your kid is like any of mine, they could change their minds multiple times.... which leads me to my next point.

Venue Availability

Sure, your kiddo finally made up their mind and they'd like to have their party at an indoor play centre. You have 3 weeks left for the party and you attempt to book a party room for your planned date and time only to find out, they are fully booked. Not just on the day you were requesting, but, for the next month! I highly suggest planning your party 4-8 weeks in advance. The earlier the better if you want to avoid slim pickings in terms of timing and options. The same goes for hiring entertainment for your party. I'm writing this article in early November and already booking events into spring! So, timing is key here, as they say.... the early bird catches the worm!

After you book

Decor, balloons, food, party theme - these are all things to consider once you book your venue. Some venues like indoor playgrounds offer add-ons that provide you with everything you need. If you're renting a studio or empty space then you need to look into bakers, catering, event planners for decor, etc. Once again, timing is key here, you will need to book well in advance if you're looking to get that Roblox cake or Ariel cupcakes. Many of the best bakers, caterers and event planners also book months in advance.

Have fun!

The biggest thing here is... have fun. Don't create too much work for yourself. Outsource where you can afford to. Every single time I've done a party at home, I tell myself afterwards that I should have outsourced things like the food - as opposed to cooking it myself. Consider hiring a cleaner to clean after the party, as that can be the biggest hassle of having a party at home. If you've decided to use an indoor playground, opt in

Mascot Party

for the option of having them do it all for you - if you can afford to. At the end of the day, as long as your little one has a smile on their face and has an amazing time, that is all that matters as a parent!

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We are a company dedicated to Inclusive character representation of heroes that our children look up to. Inclusion is at the heart of everything we do.

Dream Parties offers children's character entertainment from an inclusive standpoint, whether that be princesses, superheroes or unique characters that we create. This is the whole reason we launched - in order to represent every little child!

Dream Parties was founded from the perspective of a BIPOC mother with interracial children - Indian and Haitian descent. I grew up loving Disney and loving fairy tales in general. But, even as a child I realized none of these characters looked at all like me. I remember asking my mother as we walked down the aisle of K-mart (perhaps I've aged myself here with reference to this store), "why aren't there any dolls that look like me?" This is exactly the type of question I don't want my 3 daughter's to ask me, albeit, this is still very much an issue today. There has to be representation for all little children - I'm talking skin colour, ethnicity, anything related to body image, you name it!

My 3 year old cutie with the Easter Bunny

I have made it my mission to make children's character entertainment as inclusive as possible. Every child deserves to see themselves in their favourite superhero or princess! If you're looking for a Disney Park's character, I know there are companies that cater to that specific genre and we are most definitely not that.

Why is Inclusion so important in Children's Entertainment?

When I was a child, I don't believe we had the luxury of questioning things.... "it is just how things are." If I went to K-mart and got to choose a toy, it would most definitely not resemble the way I look. My parents would often just ignore the questions I asked as they knew this is "just the way things are." Lack of representation of brown and black people within children's and adult's entertainment, in the toy industry and in the media is "just the way things are."

"Just the way things are" is not okay today. We have realized and studies have shown, that having a diverse workforce and educational setting is not only beneficial to black and brown children, but, to everyone! There is a unique perspective an organization or educational institution gets when they operate from a standpoint of diversity and inclusion. There have been studies done to prove the advantages of having a diverse workforce in terms of productivity, creativity and overall well-being of these organizations.

So, what does all of this have to with children's character entertainment? Well.... a lot. Here's why. If a child grows up thinking "this is just the way things are" and there is no representation of themselves within their favourite childhood heroes, then where will these children find the confidence and comfort in vocalizing their ideas and thoughts? Their heroes sound and look a certain way, but not like them... so, how can they themselves be a hero if none resemble them? It is so crucial to have representation in schools, in the media and in entertainment for children so they can feel that they truly belong - no matter where in the world they may be. This is why I have made it my life's mission to focus on Inclusion in children's entertainment. We may not be everyone's cup of tea, but, we feel we are doing important things to help for a better, kinder and more inclusive future generation.

What type of characters will you find with us?

We have a diverse range of characters and performers on our team. While we do have some very talented performing artists, we also work with local youth within Simcoe County, GTA and soon in Durham region. We make it our mission to work with BIPOC performers and performers who work with children like teachers and ECE's. The one thing we all have in common is that we love working with children. This is more important to our mission than the "performance" piece of our job.

Since we do not have a big focus on being like a "Parks Princess," we are heavily activity based. We do activities from face painting to interactive games and crafts, song and dance and of course story-time and photos. We do have performers on the team who can sing and dance beautifully and some that can engage with kids like no other. This is where it helps to have teachers on our team!

We offer custom characters along with character representations of children's favourite princesses and superheroes. We are super excited to be launching a new project with Multicultural Princesses! This will be aligned with our Inclusion Project that will be launching shortly! We will provide parents with the option to include an Inclusive Story during the story times offered within our packages. We cannot wait to get this off the ground in 2023! We hope to work with parents that feel inclusion and representation is important in today's world and welcome you to follow us on social media to keep up to date on the latest news and of course new character developments!

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superhero party, princess party, mascot party

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