For parents with youngsters whose birthdays are coming up soon, planning for celebrations has become more than a bit tricky.

Because of COVID-19, gatherings of more than immediately family members are pretty much out of the question, and the venues where people normally would congregate are closed for the time being.

Among them is Fox In a Box, Silvi Labovitz’s art studio for children in Bethel Park. In her more than 10 years in business, she has hosted many a birthday party to go along with other fun and educational activities at the studio.

With its temporary closing, she is continuing to do what she can to help relieve parental stress a bit when it comes to keeping their kids happy. For those who are about to turn one year older, she’s going the technological route to put on virtual parties during which participants make their own creations.

“Everybody is online with Zoom, and I teach them with the materials they have,” the Peters Township resident said.

And she’s enjoying watching what the youngsters are doing as they remain within the safety of their own homes.

For children who enjoy artistic pursuits, no matter when their birthdays may be, she can provide another creative outlet.

“The parents tell me the theme the kids would like, such as a unicorn,” she said. “I sketch out a canvas unicorn, and they get all the supplies.”

The resulting “art box” comes with brushes, themed stickers and various colors of paint, plus a tasty cookie to decorate.

“Whatever ideas people have, I can do and will do,” Labovitz said.

And to assist in meeting an ever-present need during the COVID-19 pandemic, her studio also is producing distinctive facemasks.

A native of Switzerland, Labovitz received her formal art training at the Neue Kunstschule in Zurich. She is experienced in a variety of genres, including acrylics, watercolors, oils, pencil, portraits, collage, sculpture, knitting and sewing.

She moved to the United States in 2005, and in 2009 – with the encouragement of her husband, Larry – she decided to open what at first was called Silvi’s Little Artists. Her studio has been at its McMurray Road location for four years.

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Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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