Allana Baroni
The social police need your help in stopping mojo loss, spontaneity drain, workaholism, minglephobia and other assorted crimes of general beige-ness. The powers at your disposal? Humor and super laser beams that ignite stale entertaining with a modern eye.
This is a call to action for your alter ego—the vigilante socializer who uses her secret superpowers for good. Yes, comic book heroes fight crime in colorful costumes, and so can you.

Society needs more fun, and since you are fighting on the side of society, your mission is to battle social kryptonite (i.e., boredom) wherever you go. Whether it's friends, kids or your partner who is under social siege, here are some ideas to start the rescue operation.

Download free chapters of Allana's book Get Social
Be the Birthday Hero

Singing telegrams aren't exactly the contemporary vehicles for sending awkwardly funny messages, but harmless embarrassment plus special attention is always a winning combo. I decided to embrace the formula for a friend's birthday—a friend who is beloved by everyone, has a gazillion friends and, thus, a gazillion birthday gifts.

Rather than hop on the overloaded gift bus, I decided to up the mood at her low-key party and arrived dressed as a birthday superhero, complete with a sidekick—my 3-year-old daughter dressed as a ballerina superhero (she actually wanted to be a Santa superhero). My costume was simple: a wig, a New Year's Eve mask, a comic-themed coat salvaged from a secondhand store (found while looking for a superhero T-shirt), a black crinoline skirt, leggings and boots. In my hands, a clear, covered cake plate filled with kitschy birthday swag (paddle ball, silly putty, temporary tattoos, fake jewels, jacks, Chinese jump rope and lip gloss rings from my daughter's birthday party).

We presided over a cupcake ceremony and started a toasting circle where everyone gave heartfelt toasts about why our friend was their hero while my trusty sidekick handed out crowns and tiaras. The guests and the birthday girl loved the surprise and the nostalgic swag! The gesture was our gift to her. And now I get asked when the next birthday superhero appearance will be but it's a surprise!
Promote Reading with a Word Girl Playdate

Word Girl is the star of her own PBS show and my muse for celebrating Read Across America Day. It's March 2—Dr. Seuss' birthday, but you can observe the day anytime you are feeling the urge to generate enthusiasm for reading among the kids in your life. Fact: It is important to motivate children to read. Making it fun for them ups the probability that they'll be imprinted with good vibes about the reading experience. Here's how to make someone's day with a reading circle:

  • Invite your kid's friends over, especially the ones whose mom might need a little "me" time. Enlist a trusty sidekick to help with the event (perhaps a high school or college student friend might volunteer).
  • Do some cabinet-diving for super and crafty stuff. As soon as the kids arrive, get them involved making a Word Hero Costume; old sheets/pillowcases make great capes! Decorate them with alphabet stickers, vinyl or felt letters, fabric pens and letter templates. Use fabric scraps to make arm bands with letter "shields." If you're up for it, grab some plain half-masks (they start around $2.99 a dozen at Oriental Trading Company and decorate with letter stickers to round out the look.
  • Download bookmark templates, coloring pages and word games from Word Girl to engage the kids.
  • Serve a simple snack like alphabet soup or mac 'n' cheese made with alphabet pasta.
  • Pick a Dr. Seuss book to read aloud. After reading the book, teach the kids to recite the Word Hero mantra ("Three books a week, what a treat!"). Just insert the number of books appropriate for the kid's age range and make a date to read together again!
The Love Interest

Poison Ivy, Cat Woman and The Riddler may be fictitious characters, but it sure seems like Debbie Downer and Dr. Don't are alive and kickin'! So when you see your flame burned out from the daily grind, inject some romance. Even if he resists at first, just find his weakness and exploit it for the greater good—peace and love.

Kid at heart? Break out the comic books and read them together, preferably with a flashlight while lying in sleeping bags. Up the suggestive tone of the night and slip in a naughty comic book or two!

Competitive? Propose a battle of the superheroes using video games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 or X-Men—just check the games available in the super hero genre for your game system.

So let off some steam and have a little fun—it might even lead to another kind of fun! Oh, and sometimes costumes make their own kind of entertainment.


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