| Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Real-life party princess ... or pirate

Little Sparkles party planners are making dreams come true

Picture this: a birthday girl blows out the candles at her princess-themed party while Cinderella and The Little Mermaid’s Ariel sing happy birthday. A birthday boy leads the games at a pirate bash, while a swashbuckling Captain Jack Sparrow joins in the fun. Surely a kids’ best birthday ever?

‘I can only liken it to seeing your favourite celebrity and having them turn up for your birthday, sit with you and want to spend time with you,’ says Rawa, co-founder of Little Sparkles Parties, a company that organizes all manner of fun events for kids, including ‘real life’ lookalikes of famous kids’ cartoon characters. ‘Seeing the children’s reaction is unbelievable. It’s so exciting for them, the kids really go for it, they really believe it and it’s lovely to see.’

Offering bespoke party packages, Little Sparkles works with either the child or their parents to find out exactly what would make their day special, whether it’s a live appearance by Tinkerbell or Batman, or the chance to dress up as their favourite storybook heroes and heroines. They can also provide a ‘dress up shop’, so that the birthday boy or girl and all of their friends can try on fancy dress and get into the spirit.
It’s all about tapping into the child’s imagination, explains Rawa. ‘Barney is a big favourite with the little ones, as are Teletubbies with this age group too. As kids get older, we tend to get lots of requests for superheroes and princesses. By the time they are eight or nine, the boys start getting into football, while the girls tend to get into tween musical movies, such as High School Musical or Glee.’

While the company has been operating for just over six months, the feedback from the parents is a good indication as to how the kids have been reacting. ‘I didn’t know my daughter and her friends would be this excited to see Ariel the mermaid but it was as though they had been transported into the actual animation!’ says Caroline, who enlisted the team to plan a Little Mermaid party for her daughter. ‘Every detail reflected the imagination of the girls so it ended up being a fairytale party. The activities were very fitting, the table setting was super pretty, and everyone left the party having had a really awesome time.’

For Rawa and her business partner and co-founder Dania, it’s been about finding a niche in the competitive birthday party market here in Dubai. ‘We’ve both got young children, and had been interested in the business for a while, planning parties for friends, and it just grew into the business it is today. There’s so many other people in Dubai who organize birthday parties, so we decided that we wanted to do something a bit different. We spoke to as many kids as we could to find out what would be their ideal party. We officially launched about six months ago, and it’s been great, getting busier by the week!’

There haven’t been any strange requests so far (‘Young kids are pretty mainstream!’ laughs Rawa), but they cover everything from A-to- Z, should the parents require it. Most Little Sparkles parties take place in families’ homes, and parents can pick and choose what they want to include, whether it’s a particular set up and activities, which has a starting price of Dhs1,500, or a complete party package for around 20 kids, which start at approximately Dhs2,500. As well as the core team of party organizers, they can organize lookalikes, make-up artists, football coaches, not to mention beautiful party settings, personalized chocolates, bouncy castles, themed invites and much more – in fact the sky’s the limit, says Rawa.

‘In fact, most parents throwing a party for the first time tend to get a bit carried away,’ she advises. ‘Especially for younger children, you really don’t need to go overboard. For little kids, parties should typically be a maximum of two to three hours, and by the time you’ve budgeted time for a few games and activities, the cutting of the cake and the blowing out of the candles, you’re almost there. Parents can overspend and try to fit too much in, when kids will end up just getting confused and won’t take part in all of the activities anyway. Keep it simple!’
To find out more about Little Sparkles Parties, log on to www.littlesparklesparties.com. Minimum spend Dhs1,500 (for 20 children), packages start at Dhs2,500.

By Claire Glasby
Time Out Dubai,

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