THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOR A FABULOUS CHILDREN’S BIRTHDAY PARTY

I have been to, and seen pictures of, kids birthday parties where tables are laid out with everything colour co-ordinated …even the food! I have seen amazing cakes in the shape of Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine or a fairy-tale princess. Whilst I totally appreciate the effort someone has gone to in order to achieve this, it’s not something I’m too obsessed with myself. To be honest there are too many other things for my little head to worry about:

  • What should we do?
  • Where should we have it?
  • Who should we invite?
  • What food should we provide?
  • How much food should we provide?
  • How healthy should the food be?
  • How much sweet stuff should we have on offer? Will the parents leave hating us for sending the kids loopy on too much sugar?
  • Should we have alcohol?
  • Should we provide entertainment?
  • Should we provide party bags?
  • What should we include in the party bags?
  • What cake should I do?
  • What if the cake looks awful? Worse – what if the cake tastes awful?
  • What if we’ve ordered too much food?  Worse -What if we don’t have enough food?
  • What decorations should we have?
  • Should we have a theme?
  • Do we have a backup plan in case it rains?
  • The biggest fear by far – WHAT IF NO-ONE COMES?

When my first child turned one we invited every single person we knew, bought way too much food and booze, heaps of party decorations and cups, plates and napkins all in the same colour. We held the party in our back yard which is sea facing and on that day it was gale force conditions. After spending the best part of an hour fighting with banners and balloons and pink pompoms whilst simultaneously trying to stop the matching pink plastic table cloth blowing away – I admitted defeat. Most of the banners ripped within 30 seconds and all except one balloon popped before anyone arrived.

For her second party I still hadn’t learnt my lesson and did exactly the same – same location, same issues.

My second child’s first birthday party was cancelled as we were all sick.

When my eldest turned three we opted for a joint (5 months late) 1st and 3rd birthday party for both. On this occasion I wasn’t taking any chances with wind so the location was a nearby park. Entertainment was sorted thanks to the playground and cycle track. I still battled with balloons and banners. It wasn’t so windy but several balloons popped as they blew against the tree branches. At this party I was late arriving (my husband had gone ahead of me). A friend and my mother-in-law kindly helped set up however they had to contend with mine and her children demolishing everything and trying to ‘help’. I didn’t care. As long as the food was enjoyed, I was grateful for the help.

My three-year-old had requested a dinosaur cake. I messaged my friend who makes amazing cakes. She suggested I make a chocolate mud cake with green buttercream icing and then knock together some fondant dinosaurs. Easy! She even sent me a picture of fondant dinosaurs to copy. It was the peak of summer and a particularly hot few days leading up to the party. I bought green, pink and blue fondant and enthusiastically set out to make these cute dinosaurs. Did I mention it was nearly 40 degrees? My friend did inform me afterwards that even she doesn’t attempt to make fondant decorations in the summer months. The first one wasn’t too bad. It bore absolutely zero resemblance to the picture however it did look semi-dinosaur like. I then made a couple more but my creative flare must have been a fluke as quite frankly my children could have done a better job than my other attempts. After several hours spent sweating in the kitchen I showed them to my daughter. IMG_5604She smiled and agreed when I told her they were dinosaurs. We said good night to them, popped them into a Tupperware container and I poured myself a huge glass of wine. The next day when I opened the Tupperware my little dinosaur trio were all sick. They were cracked, one had fallen apart entirely and one had lost all of his spikes. As there was no Dr for fondant dinosaurs nearby, I took a trip to Kmart and grabbed a heap of plastic dinosaurs. In the end the cake was a mixture of my sad looking fondant dinosaurs and their better looking plastic counterparts. The good thing was the cake tasted good (apparently) so all was not lost.

I’m writing this now the day after my youngest child’s 2nd birthday party. This was technically her first proper birthday party. I found myself in a new predicament – who do I invite? Should I invite all of my 3-year-olds’ friends too? My 2-year-old doesn’t really have any friends. She is still at the age where she plays independently of most other children except her sister. After a great deal of procrastinating I decided to open it up to most of the people who know the youngest too.

This was the first party I had done that wasn’t in the peak of the summer. As it is now spring I was hopeful the weather would be perfect. Not too hot that we need shade, if we have it down at the beach, not too windy and fingers crossed no rain. The day before was the worst rain we have had in weeks. I was a little concerned given I didn’t have a plan B. At least I’d ordered an online shop to be delivered with all the party food. On this particular day our delivery driver decided to go AWOL. The store couldn’t track down the driver so after waiting nearly 2 hours for the delivery to turn up, lots of swearing and tears by me and my 2 girls who were climbing the walls to go out,  I took the girls to our friends house for the play date we had planned. Not long after arriving there I received a phone call to say that the driver was at our house.  I drove home to see what state the shopping was in after being left outside in the rain. Luckily it survived.

On the day of the party the weather cleared. It was so hot we moved the location to a different part of the beach in search of shade. I spent 30 minutes fighting the wind with banners and balloons and after nearly decking it off the wheelie bin – to which my 3 year old had already said “mummy you really shouldn’t be climbing on there” I gave up. She then fell off the bench she was perched on. Meanwhile her younger sister who had climbed on top of the picnic table, was pulling all of the plastic cups out and laughing hysterically as she watched them blow away.

This party was different. The serviettes, plates, cups balloons and banners were more of an eclectic collection of the remnants of previous parties so there was no specific theme or colour scheme as such. The cake was baked by my friend’s mum. All I had to do was decorate it (easier said than done for someone who is severely lacking in the artistic department). I opted for pink buttercream and sprinkles in the shape of a number two. The wind prevented a candle blow out but all in all it was a good party and my husband and I only had one row the morning of the party.Roseanna's 2nd birthday

Whilst the parties I have done may not look exactly look good enough to share on Pinterest or Instagram, they have always turned out ok in the end. I have come to the conclusion that as long as there is a cake of some description and that a few children turn up….it’s a success!

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