If you were a fan of the 1980s sitcom “Punky Brewster,” Soleil Moon Frye, who played the lead character, needs no introduction. But, it’s worth noting that the former child star has since grown into a successful entrepreneur, frequent talk show guest and social media celebritywith a husband and two children of her own ( a third is on the way). Now, Frye is adding another accomplishment to her roster: Her second book, “Let’s Get This Party Started: DIY Celebrations for You and Your Kids to Create Together,” is hitting shelves, offering tips on throwing simple, budget-friendly theme parties for children of every age. Frye talked with Bookish about her favorite DIY party ideas, the books she loves reading to her kids and what she really thinks about the unique celebrity baby name craze.
Bookish: What are common party planning mistakes parents make, and how do you suggest fixing them?
Soleil Moon Frye: One of the hardest things is staying within a budget. We go a little crazy wanting to do something really amazing for our kids, but oftentimes we don’t realize that so many of the things that we can use for a party are actually within our own home. One thing I always recommend is going through your house [looking] for things you can reuse for the party. The other day we did a spa birthday [for my daughter] and we used the napkins from my other daughter’s birthday.
Another thing for me is always having staples, like mason jars. I always have mason jars on hand and we use them for every party: We use them for vases, we use them for drinks, we use them for pretty much everything. They’re just a staple that always looks beautiful and adds style. Hangtags are another big staple for us. You can just use them as you need them for a party, as opposed to — again — going out and buying special labels for a birthday and then wasting some of them.
Bookish: In testing the ideas in your book, did you ever have any slip-ups or mishaps?
SMF: That happens all the time to me because a) I’m really clumsy, and b) I’m not the perfect person when it comes to reading directions. Sometimes things are backwards and sometimes I have to redo a dish. That was part of the fun of it: I wanted to [write] something that was all about embracing the imperfections and just trying our best. When I read blogs, sometimes I’ll be like, “Wait, hold on, that is way too many directions. Huh, I need a sewing kit to what…?” It gets overwhelming, so I really wanted to make these things that I knew people could do… These are fun, simple things you can do that make something special, but that also don’t need to break the bank, and that don’t make you feel bad about yourself. You actually feel good about what you’re doing because you’re having fun doing it.
Bookish: What are your kids’ favorite activities and/or recipes in the book and why?
SMF: [My daughter Poet] had so much fun with the spa chapter that she wanted to have a spa birthday. This past weekend we did a spa birthday: cucumbers on the eyes and painting nails with her friends. [We also] love making caramel apples and setting up a little candy bar so that [everyone] can make them their own. They’re so easy to make, and all the little toppings make it so much fun [for] the kids.
Bookish: You have a chapter devoted to the 1980s. What are your favorite aspects of 1980s culture?
SMF: I’m obsessed with the music [and] everything 1980s. Anything having to do with dress-up and music and having fun and reliving [your] youth is awesome. And the kids have fun with it, too.
Bookish: Did you have theme parties when you were growing up?
SMF: We once did a Caribbean theme [with a] little boat…for my sweet 16. I had a blast. We did a magic birthday once. [Most importantly] my mother was an amazing chef. She would cook a feast, and it was really just about having friends over and celebrating and having fun together.
Bookish: Have ever thrown a book-themed party, or do you have any ideas for one?
SMF: That’s a great idea. I have not thrown a book-themed party. I think it would be really fun to have—especially when you have [kids]. My nieces are really into “Harry Potter.” My girls are going through the “Judy Moody” kind of stage and they love Fancy Nancy. Doing a book party that’s inspired by your favorite characters where kids could dress up as different characters in the book would always be fun. I’ll have to use that idea. I like that idea also for adults.
Bookish: What are your favorite books to read to your children?
Bookish: Being book people, we love that you named your daughter Poet. What are your thoughts on the trend of giving children offbeat names (a la North West)?
SMF: I love unique names. In our house we have a Poet [and] a Jagger. I think people should name their kids what they want to name them. It’s funny: Any time I’ve given birth, people have just strong opinions. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I think it’s just fun to have different names.
Soleil Moon Frye resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Jason, and their two daughters, Poet and Jagger. Another baby is due in February!