April is big time birthday month in our family, with Hunter on the 3rd, me on the 10th and my Dad on the 12th. Nothing like 3 fiery Aries in the family!
Birthday month calls for lots of celebration! I have always loved a party and I’ve learnt a few things about hosting them at home over the years. Now, when it comes to children’s parties there is usually less actual time spent at the event by the guests and less booze consumed. Don’t worry though, there’s ALWAYS silly dancing at some point. So, while I was planning Hunters robot-themed 3rd birthday party this year, I realised I had picked up a few tips and tricks to maximise everyone’s enjoyment, including my own. You may like to consider these when throwing your next children’s birthday party.
Food & Beverage
As the party started at 11.30am we provided lunch for both children and adults.
- Childrens Lunchboxes filled with Popcorn, jelly cups, ham & mayo wraps, dinosaur biscuits, fruit kebab
These were ready on the table for the 11.30am start as I often find with kids if they are nervous in new surroundings food can be a good activity/leveler. Make a few extra so there are no squabbles or if accidents occur.
I used this fabulous Nigella Lawson recipe for the biscuit bases and used purchased fondant icing. You can buy the molds to make the words on to by searching “Alphabet Letter Cookie Baking Mold” on Trade Me.
- • Chips, popcorn & plates of extra iced and un-iced biscuits were dotted around the room
- A Platter
Just a simple one (yes I have a habit of going overboard so I really tried to rein it in for this party!) with soft cheeses, chutney, homemade bread, grapes, honeycomb & crackers. This was aimed at the adults while the kids had their own party lunchboxes.
- Sausages, Salad & Breads
Platters are gorgeous but can get expensive if you are feeding 20-30 people for lunch. Instead we had 2 types of sausages sourced from my husband’s family farm, I put these in the oven at 10.30 and they sat warm in the oven until ready to serve. There was also 2 types of focaccia that I made the day prior using our bread maker, plus a big salad. For the salad, I was lucky enough to pick lettuce, pumpkin & tomatoes from our garden and added a can of lentils and topped it all off with a homemade herby balsamic dressing.
Again, make extra of the main offering so the children can help themselves to this if they are feeling adventurous. It also means you can have leftovers for dinner because no one wants to jump back in the kitchen and cook after party clean up either!
The Chelsea Winter dairy free chocolate cake is quickly becoming our signature birthday cake because it ticks a lot of boxes. Chocolate – tick, low in allergens – tick, no nuts, no dairy, no eggs, and easy and forgiving! Tick, tick and tick!
As it was a day time affair we kept the drinks light
Wine : Rose & Sauvignon blanc
Beer : 1 craft option and one mainstream
Non alcoholic : a drink stand with soda water (made in our soda stream) with berries and grapes from our garden as garnish. We also had bottle of elderberry cordial that hubby made earlier in the year, that guests could help themselves to.
Other Handy Tips
- Prep from a week out and split into daily tasks
This sounds OCD but it helps my stress levels immensely! I.e., Monday make biscuit dough and freeze. I am a visual person so having one list helps me focus and at the end of the day I look through and if I haven’t completed something that just gets moved onto the next day’s tasks. Try and do as much as you can BEFORE party day. For example I like to get all plates cutlery glasses out and cleaned and set up the night before.
- Have hero pieces
Not everything needs to be a work of art. Kids still love popcorn which is zero effort. Having a few items like this means you can spend your time making the cute cake or the extravagant decorations because you are bulking out your offering with some easy options.
- Keep within your means and outsource where necessary
If cooking isn’t your thing then hire a catering company, or order pizza or fish and chips. If your house isn’t set up for 15+ 3 year olds and their families go to a venue or picnic spot. Remember the key is less stress so you can enjoy the party too.
- Have a few helpers you can rely on
My husband is now balloon garland extraordinaire. Give people you can trust jobs to do that make them feel involved and makes your job a whole lot easier! Delegate delegate delegate!
- Activities or games
I decided not to do games this year but we made robot heads out of cardboard boxes and spray painted them silver. We also had a colouring in station with pictures of robots I found on google images. It is nice for the children to have the option of something to do if they are feeling a little shy, lost or bored.
Make a note of who gave what so that you can talk about this with your child after the party AND you can say thank you to the appropriate people. I also like to write who attended in their baby books.
Take them! I took no photos at River’s first birthday and it still guts me! If you are too busy ask a friend to do a whip around. They don’t need to be fancy but a memory of a special time. If you can try and get a photo of all the guests together, and then another with your family together, you won’t regret it. These will be cherished in years to come.
I haven’t actually included any “in the moment” party photos in this post as I know that not everyone is as free as I am when it comes to photos of their children on the internet, and I want to respect this.
Last but not least, reward yourself! It was a lot of work cooking and prepping for all the little people and their parents, so when it was my birthday a few days after Hunter’s party I went to Arrowtown Hair for a fresh hair colour. I lapped up that childfree environment, the intelligent adult conversation with my stylist Jo and savoured every sip of my hot coffee. Not to mention feeling revived and downright gorgeous when I walked out the door! It is all about balance and to have that little treat just for me was perfect.
I love going to Arrowtown Hair as they have a conscience. They use paper not foils, they use environmentally friendly, vegan, hair products and are constantly looking at how they can make a smaller footprint on our world by choosing sustainable products and processes.
- What would I do differently next time?
Well, because I am always re-evaluating and tweaking, I think a couple of small things such as labels on the elderberry cordial and the soda water in the drinks canister would be helpful for guests. Also I was a little eager putting the candles in the cake and perhaps went a little overkill with candles, a cake topper and a toy robot? Oh and the next time I do lunchboxes I will probably make some stickers to seal these and make them more attractive from the top. Little things but nice all the same.
I hope you enjoyed sharing a special slice of our celebration with us and that you picked up a tip or two for your next party.
I was lucky enough to be a guest of Arrowtown Hair but my opinions are 100% my own.