Mummy Monday: After the Party
A few weeks ago, you may remember, I was planning Bunny’s 4th birthday party. Well, it’s over now and not only can I breathe a big sigh of relief, but I can also share my learnings from it!
I hired a local church hall for just over £50 for 4 hours (1 hour set up time, 2 hours party and 1 hour clear up). I made sandwiches, the birthday cake and fairy cakes but bought crisps, sausages, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, biscuits, carrot batons and grapes. I also bought some tubs of sweets from a local cash and carry that my mum has membership with to use as consolation prizes and party bag fillers. I had some serviettes, cups and plates left over from Bear’s 1st birthday party last year and just got some balloons to make the hall look a little bit better, although I lost the streamers I’d planned to use! I had some party bags left over from our wedding (!) that were perfect for the girls and just got another pack of non-gender specific ones for spares and for the boys.
I invited 25 children: 2 declined and 4 didn’t turn up (although I have had apologies from a couple of them since!). I was prepared for those I hadn’t had confirmations from to turn up anyway, so had spare party bags in case. I filled the party bags for the girls with a couple of matching hairbands (a pack of 30 were £1 at Primark), a novelty ring (reduced to 50p for a pack of 3 at Primark), a lolly, a candy watch, a pen and notepad or pencil and eraser from a £4 set from Tescos (buy 2, get 3rd free offer) and a pop-up toy like in the picture above but without the crazy hair and expressions (these were leftovers from my sister’s wedding favours and are BRILLIANT!). The boys had a finger laser and some football themed pens/pencils/erasers and notepads as well as the sweets.
I made a simple vanilla/lemon sponge cake in a pyrex bowl to get a more rounded shape for a ladybird birthday cake and cut it in half, using buttercream to sandwich them together and then covered the whole thing in pre-bought red fondant icing. I dyed some white icing dark grey (next time, I would buy the pre-dyed kind) as it wouldn’t go black and used this for the head and spots and the ends of the antennae. It was quite messy and I used lots of icing sugar to stop it sticking to the rolling pin but then it rather spoiled the effect of the colours and I wasn’t sure how to get it off without damaging the cake so left it. [Any suggestions welcome!]
I also made some mini cakes for the children and cupcake sized ones for the adults using the Hummingbird Bakery brownie recipe (I used to live around the corner from there and love their cakes!). I used cream cheese frosting dyed pink or yellow and these went down so well I couldn’t believe it! I even had mums asking for the recipe!
I was adamant that the music was age appropriate so we put together a selection of songs that were old, new, novelty and traditional. As it took hours to think of suitable tunes, I’ll share the playlist to help anyone else, as follows:
- Theme from Fraggle Rock
- Bananas in Pyjamas
- Birdie Song – The Tweets
- Theme from Bob the Builder
- Hokey Cokey – Black Lace
- Jump! – Girls Aloud
- Mahna Mahna (The Muppet Song)
- Never Forget – Take That
- Sweet Dreams My LA Ex – Rachel Stevens
- What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
- Birdhouse in Your Soul – They Might Be Giants
- Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
- Don’t Stop Moving – S Club 7
- Hey, Soul Sister – Train
- Lollipop – Mika
- Love Machine – Girls Aloud
- Wannabe – The Spice Girls
- I Wanna Be Like You (Jungle Book)
- Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
- Groove is in the Heart – Dee Lite
- Disco 2000 – Pulp
- Keep On Movin’ – 5ive
- Monster – The Automatic
- Reach – S Club 7
- (Is This the Way) to Amarillo? – Tony Christie
- Blame it on the Boogie – Jackson 5
- Round Round – Sugababes
- Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
- Walk the Dinosaur – Was Not Was
- Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr
- Push the Button – Sugababes
- JCB Song – Nizlopi
- She’s So Lovely – Scouting for Girls
- Shine – Take That
- 5, 6, 7, 8 – Steps
- Live While We’re Young – One Direction
- Baggy Trousers – Madness
- Friday I’m in Love – The Cure
- Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus
- Love Shack – The B52s
- Troublemaker – Olly Murs
- You’ve Got A Friend in Me (Toy Story)
We set the hall up with one large table for the adults’ food (cupcakes, nachos and dips), a small (child’s) table with the children’s food and then adult chairs in a messy semi-circle around the edge of the room with two small tables and chairs along one wall for some craft activity, leaving the rest of the hall empty for games and running around. Oh, and lots of balloons!
I’d planned to have an ice-breaker game to start (perhaps Hokey Cokey?) but as it turned out, the children were more than happy running around and playing with the balloons, so once everyone had arrived, I started with Pass the Parcel. I hadn’t done quite enough layers for the number of children, so there were some disappointed little ones that didn’t win some sweets, so that’s one lesson learned! Another problem was that the music that had seemed very loud when played in an empty hall, became barely audible once 20+ screaming children added to the noise! Next time, I’ll take a much more powerful stereo!
After this, we had food, and to my surprise, all the children wanted to sit at the tables, not on the floor, so I hurriedly got another table out and pushed the three together to make one long one. If I’d planned for this, I would have set four tables up to make a large square and put the food in the middle with a plate, serviette and cup at each chair, along with the hats I’d bought for the craft activity. As soon as they finished eating, they wanted to get on with decorating their hats, but again, I hadn’t prepared for this, instead expecting to use this as a distraction for children that lost party games while the others carried on playing. I should have had some little pots of glue, brushes and pots of bits to stick on with torn up piles of crepe paper and pipecleaners stationed around the table within easy reach for every child. In the end, it worked out ok, with the help of some of the parents, but could have been so much better organised!
We did play musical statues, but trying to round the children up for any further games afterwards proved impossible, so I left them to run around and play with the balloons. It felt like a bit of a cop-out, but the children were all enjoying it, so it seemed silly to interrupt. I possibly should have drawn the party to an end with a calm-down story , but singing Happy Birthday and blowing out the candles on the cake seemed to naturally signal the end of the party, so it wasn’t a major problem!
All in all, I’m glad I did it. It was hard work and stressful and difficult to let my inhibitions go at times, but the children all seemed to enjoy it, and Bunny certainly did. So it was worth it. And I have a proud mummy feeling that I’ve fairly successfully completed my first children’s birthday party.