In the days pre-pandemic, parents would visit the Little Vikings website to look for the best birthday parties in York for their children. They could enjoy a party with a Viking host at JORVIK DIG, have a chocolate-themed affair at York’s Chocolate Story or hire a hall and let the likes of Story Craft Theatre come along and take care of the entertainment. With that sort of party off the agenda, for now, Zoom parties have fast become the next best way to celebrate. Let us introduce you to Karen from Old Forge York, who has created beautiful Forest Craft and Play boxes that are perfect for online birthday parties.
About the Forest Play Boxes
“I had to CE mark a stick. Yup, my thoughts exactly. The most natural object for a child to play with and yet not something we associate with the words “hygienic or “no risk of injury”. This is the brief story of my journey and passion for giving all children a forest school experience, wherever they are. With many mums now facing the huge disappointment of a child’s second lockdown birthday, I have fire in my belly to host as many forest play parties on zoom as I can.
My family and I moved to The Old Forge in Sand Hutton in 2013. We fell in love with the wildness of the garden. Untouched for twenty years, it was a sleeping beauty’s forest. The brambles and overgrowth were so dense, we bought the land without being able to see our boundaries. Freddie my son was nine and just wanted to eat, sleep, and play outside. He climbed trees, fell into stinging nettles seven foot high; ran into to tell me and ran straight out again. I would invent a story and we would go foraging in our sleeping beauty forest to make a dragon’s nest or fairy bed.
The forest play boxes started as gifts for families visiting our holiday cottages. During lockdown 1.0 families asked me to post them one and the word spread. The sticks come from The Old Forge York and private woodlands nearby. My carpenter Sid makes sure they are just the right length with no nasty sharp ends. His record is sawing six hundred and four in two hours! Sid is very shy and won’t let me take any photos of him at work so I have found a photo of his doppelganger and put that on our website, scroll down to the bottom of this page.
Every box is handmade and packed with fresh leaves, bark, moss, and a few purchased natural items (felting wool for hair and wooden peg dolls). So that when you open your box, it is as nature intended. Unprocessed and completely natural. The smell is a wonderful woodland smell. The sticks are checked for bugs and slugs before packing (all rehomed in my garden) and that is it. We do as little as possible to everything we pack in your box.
Forest Craft birthday parties
The idea for a forest play party on Zoom is thanks to a friend who is also a customer. Her daughter loved her first Forest Play Box so much they booked a Forest Craft Party here at Old Forge York in our woodland. When Lockdown 3.0 was announced we had to improvise and so we met on zoom with forest craft boxes. Everyone had their own box with everything they needed to make a willow crown and peg doll toy for play. I plaited some willow crowns and cut out some felt dresses and capes for the peg dolls. With fresh leaves, bark, pheasant feathers and pampas grass we had a wonderful hour together. My friend created an incredibly special birthday for her daughter. We laughed and played together. Despite lockdown we had a shared experience. At the end of the hour, the girls talked happily about meeting after lockdown with their peg dolls and building them fairy houses in the park.
How to host a Forest Craft party
The lockdown birthday boxes are designed to be a stress-free, easy craft activity so parents can hold a birthday party for their child (and their friends) on Zoom. All you need are scissors and glue. Everything else is provided and packaged as an individual box for each child attending the party. Full instructions and illustrations are included so that you can host the party yourself. If you prefer, I would be delighted to host it with you (free of charge) and lead the crafting activities. For more information on our lockdown birthday boxes please contact me, Karen Griggs, on Tel: 07926381022 or email me “