Ensuring that your kids’ parties are something to remember, for all of the right reasons!
A1 turned 3 at the end of January, and A2 turned 1 beginning February. They are exactly 12months and 4 days apart. Yes I know, we were bad at the planning (or not planning), but this is now what we have and so we have to make the best of it. Because they are still small, and don’t really have their own group of friends each, we decided to have a combined birthday party for this year while still sticking to a theme for each. What initially sounded very complicated ended up being relatively easy. A1 chose Minnie Mouse, and A2 got unicorns. So we went with pink Minnie Mouse and pink unicorn. Smart huh?!? As you know I have a venue and guest house, and Husband works full time while studying for his MBA. So we are busy, and planning a 1st and 3rd birthday party takes a lot of work, meaning we had to start with the planning a lot earlier than what you would think.
We sent out the invites via Whatsapp and email 4 weeks before the date. 3 weeks before the party we started making the décor – Minnie Mouse party hats, cupcake toppers for the playgroup party, branded bags for the popcorn for both parties, black and white Minnie Mouse prints for in case it rains on the day so the kids have something to colour in. 2 weeks before I started making the cake décor – ears and a bow for Minnie with pink dots, and ears and a horn for the unicorn. Also small flowers for the unicorn cupcakes. The week before I started baking the cupcakes and cakes. These were then wrapped and frozen until 2 days before. I also started making the ice, some with lavender and flowers in for the lemonade and others with watermelon and rosemary in for the ice tea. 4 days before I made the marshmallows to give them enough time to dry. Then the day before the frantic sprinting to get everything packed and ready for the following morning. Husband cooked and prepped – all the food was his department. Me – both the cakes and cupcakes were decorated, balloons blown up, ribbons tied, etc. Luckily we started or otherwise we would not have been able to get everything done in time since A1 got severely sick the Fri afternoon and we ended up in casualty that evening. Almost 2 hours later we could go home, to get her in bed, A2 sorted, and finish the party things. The party was almost cancelled, saved by a good ER doctor and litres of electrolytes.
On the day of the party we just had to pack everything out. No assembling, cutting, pasting, or whatever is usually left till the last minute. I felt so organised and in control! All because we planned everything down to the last detail, even determining who would be responsible for what and by when. Boy how we have learned and grown from the last birthday party!
Although the party was a roaring success, there is always something to be learned. So here are my take-aways:
- Sometimes the build-up is bigger than the party.
A1 asked, begged, negotiated, for weeks before the party for her cake. All she wanted was a Minnie Mouse cake. Then on the day, when we revealed the cake she was like “oh ok, nice. Next.” Of course I was a bit upset by her lack of enthusiasm and joy, but then I realised after weeks and weeks of asking and waiting, the moment kind of fizzled out before it even happened. The irony – 2 days after the party she started crying again for a Minnie Mouse cake…
- All that matters are the photos.
What really happened on the day will eventually fade, and the only evidence left to build the memories around will be the photos. So take the photos. And take them from the right angles so that it looks like the kids had a ball, the cake was amazing, the food perfect, and all the details taken care of. The photos can make you look like the BEST mom who did the most. Use it.
- Cake is not dessert, so give dessert BUT don’t overdo it.
At a small kid’s birthday party, it is kind of inevitable that little fingers will find their way into the icing and cake. After poking around and numerous double dipping, do you really want to have cake as dessert? Unless there is a spit safe cake somewhere on a high table, have an alternative to serve as dessert. We had 2 cakes (2 birthdays) which was too much for the number of guests, but it had to be done. For dessert we had the sweets table with marshmallows, fruit, cupcakes, jelly, and popcorn. People had a lot of cake, but they still had the sweets as well. It was a kid’s party after all.
- Pick the starting time right
We started at 11h30. Perfect time – A2 was half way into her morning nap, and A1 on the way to hers. So while people were arriving and greeting and getting settled in they were resting. Once everybody had arrived, poured a drink and figured out where to put the presents they were awake and rested. No crying, no tantrums, no difficult kids. Will definitely plan it like this next time again!
- Give the kids proper nutritious food
Although it is a kids’ party, which in essence means sweets and nonsense-snacks, the kids still need something to sustain them. You cannot get angry with them for being difficult and watery if they have to try and survive on sugar and empty calories the whole day. Give cubed cheese, full cream yogurts, small sausages, and fruit for the little ones to snack on. We did A1’s favourite things – small cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks and carrot sticks dipped in cream cheese, hummus and basil pesto. There were also litchis, grapes, and apples. The food we supplied for the grownups were also kid-friendly – both A1 and A2 love rice with sauce, so the potjie on rice was perfect for them.
The snacks were gobbled up fast, the lemonade and ice tea enjoyed by all. The cakes were almost finished, which is a mean feat considering there were other snacks and food. All in all, I think we had a successful party, and if we can build on what we have learned this year then next year’s party will be even better!
What are some of your tried and tested tips for hosting a successful kids party? Leave some comments!