You may have heard (from me): my birthday is nigh! Which means, my annual opportunity to bring a little beauty into the neighborhood and joy to strangers is also upon us. I'd really like this tradition to grow. I hope for more beauty and cheer; I hope to include more communities; I hope to involve more people.
Consider yourself invited to join in the tradition. This year, I have not organized one set day and time for one particular activity. No no no no no! 2012's celebration (which I don't have a clever name for!) is flexible, like Jane Fonda. You can participate whenever you want, wherever you can! Just pick one of the following projects to plan and actualize, and do so knowing that you're giving me the best possible gift ever. Without further ado:
1. Flour some hearts on neighborhood lawns. Or attack some windows with hearts. Also, more public he(art) inspiration.
2. Make words from pipe cleaners and yarn, and tie them around your 'hood.
3. Gather a large bouquet of balloons and bring them to mortals in line at the DMV. Or recreate 2011's classic 100 Balloon Walk.
4. Paint rocks; distribute. Have fun finding the perfectly camouflaged hiding spots! Or perform another brilliant Color Me Katie project, and send tiny messages out into the world for folks to discover.
5. Pinwheel a fence that looks like it's in need of some whimsy.
6. Create "Have a nice day!" cards for elderly residents of an assisted living home, or a fun care package for someone you haven't spoken with in a while, and head to the post office. You may as well bake some cookies or muffins for the postal employees since you're headed to the P.O. anyway. ;)
7. Deliver the following to the waiting room at a hospital: fresh flowers (use jars or cans for vases—easily thrifted if you don't have extras); coloring books (Find cute printables here and here. Bummed we've already passed Chinese New Year! But, behold: Mardi Gras pages.) and crayons; sudoku and crossword puzzles and pencils; magazines headed to the recycling bin; and don't forget little envelopes of coins to tape to vending machines.
8. Craft up some crowns and costumes (see gorgeous image below, for which I wish I knew the source), collect musical instruments (or noisemakers—pots, pans, and wooden spoons in a pinch), and march down the street in a merry parade. Bounce around a lot, and if people ask what you're celebrating, say, "2012 is a Leap Year!"
9. Launch some guerilla gardening in your neighborhood, with this simple and comprehensive How To. Or for less of a commitment, drop some seed bombs where you'd like to see some color. (Stilettos and red bag optional.) Here's an alternative recipe that uses newspapers rather than fertilizer and clay. (Heart-shaped bombs also optional.)
p.s. Be sure to do your research, i.e. select plants or seeds that are hearty and native to your area, be aware of soil and weather conditions, etc.!
10. Set up a lemonade stand, but don't charge for your refreshments. Or create your own ice cream cart (insulated backpack + an umbrella?), and wander around the local lake or park distributing free, frozen yumminess.
11. Do you have a Polaroid (or any type of instant) camera? Set up a "booth" complete with backdrop (as simple as striped, floral, or solid bedsheets, or as fancy as this glamorous deal) and bag o' props, at a park or other public area. Props can include, but are certainly not limited to: pointy party hats, viking hats (I see a trend here), masquerade masks, superhero capes, Mr. Potato Head lips, face paint, mini-chalkboard + chalk, or anything you have on hand! Enjoy being photographer for a day, free of charge, to park visitors, tourists, and random passersby.
12. Do you have bunches of books on the shelves that you'll probably never read again? Or approximately $3 to spend on a bag of books at your local thrift store? Plant them all over your neighborhood—at laundromats, in cafes, on public transportation—a la Bookcrossing. Include little notes inside the covers (or using Post-its) of each book to let finders know you intended for them to find and read it. Encourage them to pass the books on as well!
13. Invent a similar project of your own! The only stipulation is that your scheme must bring joy (big, small, or both!) to at least one other person apart from yourself.
Whew! That's a lot of joy-creating to ponder. I do hope you decide to join me in embarking upon one of these missions, if not for bringing a unique experience to your community, then in honor of my birthday. ;) Also, remember when I said (oh so long ago, way up there at the top of this post) that I want this tradition to grow? To include more communities and involve more people? Please invite your friends and family to participate, and feel free to send this post all around your social media haunts. I'd love to hear about pinwheeled fences in Seattle, pop-up Polaroid booths in Austin, book fairies in Providence, or your very own idea wherever you may be!
Please RSVP in the comments, and let me know which project you plan to undertake! If possible, please take photos (or video!), and send me a little note when you've completed your mission. Ideally, I'd like to share all of the magic you create here on We hope for more. But, if you'd prefer to keep your magic between us, I'd still appreciate a recap. :)
Happy (my) birthday to you!